Are you trying to access your WordPress site and instead you see an error, “This site can’t be reached“? Before you raise an alarm, you should know that your site is alright, and this is most probably a temporary glitch.
As with other glitches, this common WordPress error can be resolved easily.
But before we resolve this issue, we need to understand why this error occurs in the first place.
Reasons for “this site can’t be reached error” in WordPress
As with other WordPress bugs, the inability to access your site can be caused due to different reasons like:
- Plugin or theme conflict
- DNS issues
- Outdated software
- .htaccess error
- Other reasons
I always feel that if an injury can be cured by administering medicines then there’s no need to perform an outright surgery. The same holds true for fixing this unreachable site error in WordPress.
For this reason, you should start with the most obvious solutions first.
1. Clear the browser cache
It could be that your website is unreachable due to a problem with the browser cache. To rule out any browser issues, try clearing your browser cache.
Press CTRL+SHIFT+DELETE simultaneously on Chrome, Firefox, Brave, or Opera to clear your cache.
Now try accessing your site. If you can access it, it implies that our simple browser hack worked.
2. DNS issues
Not all site unreachable errors are WordPress related. In fact, this error could often be caused by some or the other DNS issue or it could be some hosting-related problem.
Are your A and CNAME records set up correctly and is your site URL correct, meaning, you’re (or not) using HTTPS if it’s activated by your web host?
These and many other minor DNS issues can torpedo the connection to your site making it unreachable. If all this sounds geek to you, let me troubleshoot your DNS issues.
3. Plugin or theme conflict
Did you recently install or update a plugin or theme? Or maybe you added some code to one of your theme files that caused the “this site can’t be reached” error.
We will start by resolving any plugin or theme conflicts that have arisen.
Since you cannot log in to your WordPress dashboard, you should be able to access your WordPress directory using an FTP/SFTP program like Filezilla. You can get FTP credentials from your hosting provider.
Once you have connected your site over FTP, go to the wp-content folder. Within this folder, you will see a folder called ‘plugins‘. Rename this folder to some other name like plugins.old.
Now try accessing your site. If you can access your site, it means that one of your plugins was causing the error. To detect this faulty plugin, you will need to log in to your website and navigate to the plugins panel.
You will notice a message that reads “No plugins are currently available“. This is expected since we have renamed the plugins folder.
To restore the plugins, again go back to the wp-content folder and restore the name of this folder to “plugins”.
After this, when you go to the plugins dashboard, you will notice that all the plugins are deactivated. Since you wish to detect conflicting plugins, you need to activate them one by one.
Once the error occurs again, you have identified the conflicting plugin. Now you don’t need to rename the plugins folder.
Instead, use FTP to navigate to the plugins folder. Within this folder, you will see a folder of the conflicting plugin. Rename this folder to any other name and the plugin will be deactivated. Since this also resolves the error, you can log in to your website normally.
After logging in to your dashboard, check whether this conflicting plugin was recently updated. If the conflict was caused by a recent update then you can roll back to the previous version of the plugin and raise a support ticket with the plugin author in the meantime.
If renaming the plugins folder did not resolve the error, you can try deactivating your current theme. Use FTP to connect to your website and again navigate to the wp-content folder. Within this folder, you will find the themes folder.
When you click on the theme folder, you can see folders of all the themes installed on your website. You should rename your current theme folder. Let’s say your theme folder is Libre. Rename this to libre.old.
The theme will get deactivated and your site will switch to the default WordPress theme. If this resolves the error, it implies that the theme was causing the site unreachable error.
4. Outdated software
WordPress runs on PHP. Please ensure that your website is using PHP 7.4 or higher version. Although PHP 8.x is the latest version, many hosting providers still do not support the latest version of PHP.
However, your server should be running at least PHP 7.4. Also, make sure that your themes and plugins are compatible with your PHP version or that could also cause the “this site can’t be reached” error in WordPress.
You can ask your hosting support to upgrade your website’s PHP version. Some quality hosts like Dreamhost allow the option to manually upgrade to the latest PHP version. If this fix doesn’t work, you can always switch back to the earlier version.
5. .htaccess error
The .htaccess file contains important settings required for the proper functioning of your permalinks apart from settings required by plugins like a cache plugin or a security plugin.
A bug in these settings can also cause “this site can’t be reached” error in WordPress. So what you can do is use an FTP program like Filezilla to connect to your site. Then locate the .htaccess file in the root folder of your website.
First, you need to back up the .htaccess file before making any changes to it. So copy and paste the entire content of this file to a text file on your computer. Next, delete the contents of the .htaccess file and save it.
Now try accessing your site. If you can access it, then the first thing you should do after logging into the WordPress dashboard is navigate to Settings > Permalinks.
Click on the Save Changes button to restore your permalink settings in the .htaccess file. This step is crucial, otherwise, you will get 404 page not found errors on your site.
If deleting the content of the .htaccess file did not help, you should restore the content from the local backup that you created earlier and save the file.
Finding this solution required considerable effort and time. Consider rewarding me with a coffee!
6. Check the debug log
When none of the above solutions work, it is time to turn on debugging to determine the exact cause of the website unreachable error.
To do this, use your FTP program to access the root WordPress installation on your hosting. Then find the file named wp-config.php and enter these three lines after the line
define('WP_DEBUG', true); define('WP_DEBUG_LOG', true); define('WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', false);
Now save the file.
The first line will turn on debugging in WordPress. The second line will create a debug log file and the third file will prevent displaying the errors on-screen since you do not want everyone to see the errors on your site.
To access this file, go to the wp-content folder and look for the file named debug.log.
You will see a list of errors in the file. You can either attempt to troubleshoot these errors yourself or you can share this debug file with your web hosting support to resolve the error for you.
I hope one of these solutions worked for you. If you are still having difficulty resolving the “this site can’t be reached” error, you can order our reliable WordPress bug fixing service for a quick resolution to your problem.
Please share your experience in the comments below and any other method that might have worked for you.
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