How to regain access to wp-admin after a »critical error«

If you get the critical error message on your WordPress page, stating »There has been a critical error on this website and you can not access wp-admin. Learn more about troubleshooting WordPress.«, you don’t necessarily have to update anything in the config via FTP just yet…

critical error message when accessing wp-admin ("There has been a critical error on this website, Learn more about troubleshooting WordPress.")
Trying to access wp-admin, WordPress generates a critical error message – what to do?

Access wp-admin after WordPress ciritcal error via Jetpack

Before going crazy trying to (re)gain FTP access, cause you’re a noob and you only used it once to install WordPress, and then bragged about that to your evenmore noob-ish Mac user friends, you can try this:

  1. If your page is synced your page with WP.com via JetPack, go to WP.com and access your site there.
  2. Deactivate all kinds of silly plugins that are non-essential to your layout such as
    – SEO tools
    – widgets
    – cache optimization
  3. Then access your wp-admin page again via mydomain.com/wp-admin and if you are prompted a “your database needs to …” or “your database has been updated…” or whatever message, just follow the instructions, wait, and pray.

This is how I resolved critical errors on my own page a bunch of times, but on a sidenote: Please make sure you know what to do and how to do it, if this little fix doesn’t do the trick for you.

WordPress plugins that can be deactivated to regain wp-admin access if a critical error occurs.
Deactivate plugins: In case of a critical error from your WordPress page when trying to access /wp-admin, you want to deactivate unnecessary plugins. You can do that many different ways, but the fastest and easiest, when still logged in to WP.com and synced with your page, is to just hop over to WP.com and shut it down there. You might save yourself 1 hour or searching your FTP password and experimenting with some client, cause you haven’t done this before and are stressed out for no reason.

Why critical errors occur

In many cases, you may just encounter that your wp-admin was not actually down, but a recent update interfered with the running wordpress version. This can happen due to automatic updates. I recommend to always deactivate automatic updates, because it is important to do them in the correct order anyway, as in:

  • update all your plugins before a major wordpress update
  • and update them regularly but manually to ensure you don’t run into the issue of having an updated plugin before an updated wordpress core!

This kind of error usually is a database issue. So if this does not work, you might have to enter your WordPress install in debug-mode.

Prevent further issues when working with WordPress

Please also consider educating yourself on WordPress and PHP, because panicking over something like this is ridiculous and you are unworthy of hosting your own WordPress installation if you get freaked out by stuff like this. Get a HTML 2.0 Website and code it all yourself in a text editor, if you’re scared of databases.

That’s it, hope this helps!

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