How To Fix A Broken Website

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Running a successful website can be a great achievement, that is until something breaks. Many website owners have experienced that dreaded moment when they get a notification that their website is down, or is currently displaying errors. If this situation has ever happened to you, or if you looking to prepare for it in the future, I have great news. Many website issues can be fixed rather quickly if you know what to look for.

Fixing a broken website involves a series of steps to diagnose the issue and apply the necessary solutions. While some website issues are best left to the professionals, there are many items you may be able to fix on your own. Here’s a general outline of the process:

Identify The Problem

Determine the specific issue with the website. Is it a broken layout, a 404 error, a server issue, or something else? It is very important to first determine the issue before moving forward. You will save time and resources by properly identifying the problem before attempting any repair. This will also assist in thoroughly explaining the issue to a professional if you end up needing their assistance to fix the broken website.

Check The Error Logs

If your website has error logs, review them for clues about the issue. Common error logs include server logs, PHP logs, access logs and JavaScript console logs. If you do not know where to locate the logs for your website, your hosting provider can often provide them for you.

In most major web browsers, viewing your browser console log is quite easy. If you are using Chrome for instance, you can use the following keyboard shortcuts to open the browser console:

  • PC – F12
  • PC – Ctrl + Shift + J
  • MAC – Cmd + Option + J

You can find detailed instructions for other browsers by visiting:

Chrome Browser Console Log

Inspect The Code

The next step to fixing a broken website is to examine the website’s source code. This may include HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and back-end programming languages like PHP, ASP or Python. Look for broken links, missing files, or syntax errors.

If a broken layout is the problem, you can often track down the issue to recently added software, or a change in the source code. Maybe the layout was designed to contain only specific content and the new additions do not match the requirements. Check with other staff members or developers to see if they recently made changes you may not know about.

Check For Recent Changes

If the issue appeared after recent updates or modifications, consider reverting to a previous backup or reviewing the changes for possible errors.

Keeping a fresh backup of your website, including all files and database, is critical. Automated backups can save you hours of time and thousands of dollars. If you are unsure if your website is being effectively backed up, it is best to contact your hosting provider for details. Many web hosts include backups as part of their standard service package, while others require a separate add-on purchase.

If you are seeing a 404 error, make sure to check your deleted posts or the most recently updated pages. Was a URL accidentally updated, or maybe the URL change was desired but the page links were never updated to match. If the 404 page is located on another website, it may be best to remove the link altogether or find a newer resource to link to.

Validate Your Code

Use validation tools like the W3C Markup Validation Service (HTML) and CSS Validation Service (CSS) to check for errors or inconsistencies in your code. If you are experiencing page speed issues, we suggest following the troubleshooting steps mentioned in this article.

How To Fix Broken Website 2

Examine Server Configuration

If the issue seems to be server-related, check your server configuration files (e.g., .htaccess, nginx.conf, or httpd.conf) for possible issues. This is a more advanced step in fixing a broken website, so if you are not experienced, we suggest reaching out to a professional. Your web hosting provider should be able to review the server for you and report back if they find any issues. Make sure to provide them with screenshots and error messages if available.

Check Third-party Plugins Or Themes

If you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, disable all third-party plugins and themes one by one to see if the issue resolves. WordPress for example, has over 65,000 registered plugins and themes. While most of these are designed well and do not pose a threat to your website, older or poorly written software can cause errors and even security vulnerabilities. It is highly recommended to only install highly rated plugins and themes on your website. It only takes one poorly written line of code to take down your entire site.

Look For Browser And Device Compatibility Issues

Test your website across different browsers (e.g., Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge) to ensure it’s compatible with each one. Browser developer tools can help diagnose compatibility issues. It is also important to test on multiple devices such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Some issues may only appear on certain devices and this can help determine the needed fix.

If you do not have access to multiple devices, there are quality third-party services that can assist in your testing:

Check The Database

If your website relies on a database, ensure it’s functioning correctly and that the connection details in your website configuration are accurate. If you are seeing strange code or spam links on your website, this is clear sign that your website has been hacked. This is typically done by a malicious user who found a vulnerability in your site code and then manipulated the content in your database.

If you believe your website has been hacked, this is a great time to use your backups to revert your website back to a time previous to the infection. Once completed, you will want to thoroughly update all of your software, plugins and themes. If you need help with this step, Website Restore can assist with cleaning up any hacked WordPress website.

Consult A Professional

If you’re unable to fix the broken website, contact your hosting provider or a professional web developer for assistance. They can help troubleshoot server issues and may have access to logs or backups that could help diagnose the problem. Quality web developers will be able to determine not only the root cause of your website issue, but the best steps for ensuring your website stays running well in the future.

Remember that each website is unique, and the specific steps to fix a broken website may vary depending on the issue and the technologies used. We’re you able to fix your broken website? We would love to hear about it in the comments below.