Just Like That… My Website Was Gone

Have you ever had this happen?

You have a WordPress site up on an hosting account. You're adding posts and pages to it, using it to create short links for affiliate-offer redirects, etc.

Then, one day when you go to make your next post, you get an error message saying your site can't be reached. You can't get into your control panel to make that post you just thought of.

Then, it gets worse.

You go visit your site's main page — and you see the same error message.

That very thing happened to me today.

Here's what I did to quickly get my site back online.

First, I went to my hosting account and selected the option to manage my site. There, I had a link to login to cPanel.

Once in cPanel, I selected the File Manager tool.

In my Public_HTML folder — the root folder of the site — I saw an error.txt file with a very recent timestamp on it. I downloaded and opened that file.

At the bottom of the file (most recent error messages appear there), I saw a message like this:

PHP Fatal error: <br>The encoded file 
...WPDownloadPageProtector/WP_download_page_protector.php
has expired. in Unknown on line 0

I then made the quick (at least short-term) fix right in File Manager — I simply navigated to the WP plugsin folder and renamed the folder for that plugin so that it ended in XXXCausingError. Renaming it in any way would have accomplished the task. I named it so that months from now, if still there, I'd know why.

Immediately after renaming that folder, my site was back!

Now, if that's a plug-in my site relies upon, that was only the short-term solution, as I said above. The next step to getting that plugin working again would be to reinstall it and then if my issue persist to contact the vendor for support.

Note that, depending on what you find in your error.log file, your resolutions steps may vary. The key is knowing to go look in the cPanel File Manager for an error log file and then figuring out the next step(s) based on what the error message(s) say. If the solution for your error is not obvious, then you can:

  • Google search the error text for possible solutions
  • Contact the vendor for the plugin or tool indicated as causing issues
  • Contact an IT person who is knowledgeable in WordPress (or your site platform of choice) for assistance

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