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When your WordPress website encounters issues—whether it’s sluggish performance, misbehaving plugins, or unexpected crashes—error logs come to the rescue. 

These digital detectives keep a record of error messages, timestamps, and the culprits behind those hiccups.

In this guide, we’ll demystify the process of locating and accessing these logs, empowering you to troubleshoot like a pro.

What are WordPress logs, and why are they essential for troubleshooting?

WordPress logs are records of activities and events that occur within a WordPress website. These logs capture a wide range of information, including errors, warnings, debug messages, user actions, plugin activations, theme changes, and more. They provide a chronological history of what’s happening behind the scenes of a website, offering valuable insights into its operation and performance.

Now, why are these logs essential for troubleshooting? Here’s why:

  1. Identifying errors 

WordPress logs serve as a diagnostic tool to identify errors that occur on a website. Whether it’s a plugin conflict, a misconfigured theme, or a server issue, error logs provide detailed information about what went wrong, making it easier to pinpoint the root cause of the problem.

  1. Debugging code 

For developers and website administrators, error logs are invaluable for debugging code. They provide real-time feedback on PHP errors, deprecated functions, database queries, and other technical issues, helping developers identify and fix bugs more efficiently.

  1. Tracking user activity 

WordPress logs also track user activity on a website, including login attempts, content edits, and settings changes. This information can be useful for security purposes, allowing administrators to monitor for suspicious behavior and unauthorized access.

  1. Monitoring performance 

By analyzing error logs, website administrators can monitor the performance and stability of their WordPress site. They can identify recurring issues, performance bottlenecks, and server errors, allowing them to take proactive measures to optimize the site’s performance and ensure a smooth user experience.

  1. Improving security 

Error logs can also play a role in improving website security. By monitoring for error messages related to security vulnerabilities or hacker attacks, administrators can identify and patch potential security holes before they are exploited by malicious actors.

How and when can WordPress error logs help?

WordPress error logs can be instrumental in troubleshooting common WordPress website issues. Let’s explore how and when error logs can help with specific scenarios:

  1. The WordPress White Screen of Death (WSOD):

How error logs help: When your WordPress site displays a white screen instead of its usual content (WSOD), error logs can provide insights into what caused the issue. They may reveal underlying PHP errors, plugin conflicts, or memory exhaustion problems.

When to use error logs: Whenever your WordPress site encounters the white screen of death, accessing error logs can help you quickly identify and resolve the root cause of the problem.

  1. PHP errors:

How error logs help: PHP errors can occur due to syntax issues, deprecated functions, or other coding mistakes. Error logs capture these PHP errors along with their corresponding file paths and line numbers, making it easier to debug and fix the underlying code.

When to use error logs: Whenever you encounter PHP errors on your WordPress site, such as syntax errors or undefined function errors, referring to error logs can provide valuable clues to help you rectify the issue.

  1. The invalid JSON error:

How error logs help: The “invalid JSON” error typically occurs when there’s a problem with the JSON formatting of data sent or received by WordPress. Error logs can help pinpoint the specific file or script responsible for generating the invalid JSON, allowing you to correct the issue.

When to use error logs: When your WordPress site displays an “invalid JSON” error, reviewing error logs can help you identify the source of the problem, whether it’s a faulty plugin, theme customization, or server configuration issue.

  1. “Sorry, you are not allowed to access this page” error:

How error logs help: This error message indicates that the user attempting to access a specific page or resource does not have the necessary permissions. Error logs can reveal any underlying issues with user permissions, authentication failures, or plugin conflicts that may be causing the error.

When to use error logs: Whenever users encounter the “Sorry, you are not allowed to access this page” error on your WordPress site, error logs can help you troubleshoot and resolve permission-related issues, ensuring that users can access the content they are authorized to view.

Enabling WordPress debug mode with a plugin

  1. Selecting a debugging plugin. Start by choosing a WordPress plugin designed to facilitate debugging and error logging. Several reputable plugins are available in the WordPress plugin repository, such as “WP Debugging” or “Debug Bar.”
  1. Installing and activating the plugin.: Once you’ve chosen a debugging plugin, install and activate it on your WordPress site. You can do this directly from the WordPress dashboard by navigating to the “Plugins” section, clicking “Add New,” and then searching for the plugin by name. Once you find it, click “Install Now” and then “Activate.”
  1. Configuring debug settings. After activating the debugging plugin, you may need to configure its settings to enable debug mode and specify the level of detail you want in your error logs. This typically involves navigating to the plugin’s settings page, where you’ll find options to enable debug mode, display errors on-screen, and log errors to a file.
  1. Enabling debug mode. Once you’ve configured the plugin’s settings, you can enable debug mode by toggling the appropriate switch or checkbox. This action instructs WordPress to log PHP errors, warnings, and notices to the designated error log file.
  1. Viewing error logs. With debug mode enabled, WordPress will start logging errors to the specified log file, typically located in the wp-content directory of your WordPress installation. You can access these error logs via FTP or a file manager tool provided by your web hosting provider. Alternatively, some debugging plugins may provide a user-friendly interface within the WordPress dashboard for viewing error logs.

Enabling WordPress to debug mode using code

  1. Accessing wp-config.php. Start by accessing the wp-config.php file in your WordPress installation directory. You can do this using an FTP client or a file manager provided by your web hosting control panel. Once you locate the wp-config.php file, download it to your computer for editing.
  1. Editing wp-config.php. Open the wp-config.php file using a text editor like Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac). Look for the following line of code:
  • phpCopy code
  • define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false ); 
  • If you don’t find this line, that’s okay. You can add it anywhere before the line that says /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy publishing. */.
  1. Enabling debug mode. To enable debug mode, change the value of WP_DEBUG from false to true, like so:
  • phpCopy code
  • define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, true ); 
  • This tells WordPress to start logging PHP errors, warnings, and notices.
  1. Defining error logging. Optionally, you can define additional constants to specify where the debug information should be logged and the level of detail to include. Here are some common constants you can add below the line defining WP_DEBUG:
  • phpCopy code
  • define( ‘WP_DEBUG_LOG’, true ); // Logs errors to wp-content/debug.log file define( ‘WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY’, false ); // Prevents errors from being displayed on-screen 
  • Setting WP_DEBUG_LOG to true will log errors to a file named debug.log in the wp-content directory.
  • Setting WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY to false will prevent errors from being displayed on the website, keeping them logged to the file only.
  1. Saving changes. Once you’ve made the necessary modifications to wp-config.php, save the file.
  1. Testing. Finally, visit your WordPress site and perform actions that may trigger errors, such as loading pages, submitting forms, or interacting with plugins. Any PHP errors, warnings, or notices will be logged according to the settings you’ve configured.

How to find and access WordPress error logs

To find and access WordPress error logs, you’ll typically need to navigate through your website’s files. The error logs themselves are files that contain records of various events, warnings, and errors that occur within your WordPress site. Here’s how you can locate and access them:

Access to your WordPress site’s hosting environment

This usually involves using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client or accessing your hosting provider’s file manager through a control panel like cPanel or Plesk. Once you’re logged in, navigate to the root directory of your WordPress installation.

Look for the wp-content directory 

This directory is within your WordPress installation and contains various folders related to your site’s content, including themes, plugins, and uploads. Within the wp-content directory, you may find a file named debug.log if WordPress debug mode is enabled. This file logs PHP errors, warnings, and notices that occur on your site.

If you don’t see a debug.log file in the wp-content directory, you may need to enable WordPress debug mode to start logging errors. You can do this by editing the wp-config.php file in the root directory of your WordPress installation. Look for the line that says `define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false );` and change `false` to `true`. You can also define additional constants like `WP_DEBUG_LOG` to specify where the debug information should be logged.

Locate the debug.log file.

Once WordPress debug mode is enabled and errors are being logged, you can return to the wp-content directory to locate the debug.log file. Download this file to your computer or open it directly within your FTP client or file manager to view its contents.

Alternatively, some WordPress plugins provide user-friendly interfaces within the WordPress dashboard for accessing error logs. If you’ve installed a debugging plugin, check its settings or options page for a feature that allows you to view or download error logs directly from the admin area.

Once you’ve accessed the error logs, you can review them to identify and troubleshoot any issues affecting your WordPress site. Error logs provide valuable insights into PHP errors, plugin conflicts, theme issues, database queries, and other potential problems, allowing you to take appropriate corrective actions to maintain the stability and functionality of your site. Remember to disable debug mode once you’ve finished troubleshooting to prevent sensitive information from being exposed on your live site.

How to fix issues found in WordPress error logs

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to tackle common issues found in error logs:

Step 1: Identify the error

Start by carefully reviewing the error logs to identify the specific error messages or warnings that are being logged. Pay attention to any patterns or recurring issues that may indicate underlying problems.

Step 2: Understand the error 

Once you’ve identified the error messages, take the time to understand what they mean and how they’re impacting your WordPress site. Research the error codes or messages online to gain insights into their potential causes and solutions.

Step 3: Check plugins and themes 

Many WordPress errors are caused by incompatible plugins or themes. Begin by deactivating all plugins and switching to a default WordPress theme (such as Twenty Twenty-One). Then, systematically reactivate each plugin and switch back to your original theme, checking for errors after each change. This process can help isolate the plugin or theme responsible for the issue.

Step 4: Update software 

Ensure that your WordPress core, plugins, and themes are all up to date. Developers often release updates to address security vulnerabilities, bug fixes, and compatibility issues. Updating your software can often resolve errors and improve the overall stability of your site.

Step 5: Check file permissions 

Incorrect file permissions can sometimes cause errors on your WordPress site. Make sure that file permissions are set correctly for directories (755) and files (644). You can adjust file permissions using an FTP client or a file manager provided by your hosting provider.

Step 6: Review configuration settings 

Review your WordPress configuration settings, including those in the wp-config.php file and any server-side configuration files (e.g., .htaccess). Check for any incorrect settings or directives that may be contributing to the error.

Step 7: Debugging code 

If you’re comfortable with PHP and coding, you can use the information from the error logs to debug and fix issues directly in your WordPress files. Look for the files and lines of code referenced in the error logs and make appropriate changes to resolve the issues.

Step 8: Database optimization 

Database errors or performance issues can also cause problems on your WordPress site. Consider optimizing your WordPress database using plugins like WP-Optimize or manually optimizing your database tables using phpMyAdmin.

Step 9: Seek professional help 

If you’re unable to resolve the issues on your own, consider seeking assistance from a professional WordPress developer or technical support. They can provide expert guidance and assistance in diagnosing and fixing complex issues.

Disabling WordPress debug mode

We advise turning off debug mode for your WordPress website once the problem has been resolved. Leaving it turned on poses a security risk to WordPress and might cause your website to load more slowly and leak private information. 

To disable the WP Debugging plugin, just go to Plugins > Installed Plugins if you activated debug mode using a plugin.

If you used code to activate debug mode, just make the same changes to the wp-config file.

The WP_DEBUG and WP_DEBUG_LOG lines of code must be changed to “false.” 


Finding and accessing WordPress error logs helps you navigate through website troubles. By following these steps, you can uncover the root causes of issues, whether it’s a pesky plugin misbehaving or a misconfigured theme causing chaos. 

Remember, error logs are your trusted companions in troubleshooting, helping you turn challenges into opportunities for growth. 

So, don’t be afraid to delve into your site’s logs when things go awry. With a little patience and persistence, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your WordPress site running smoothly for visitors and clients alike.


1. Where can I find WordPress error logs?

WordPress error logs are typically located within the wp-content directory of your WordPress installation. You can find them in a file named debug.log if debug mode is enabled. Otherwise, you may need to enable debug mode to start logging errors.

2. How do I view the error log on a website?

You can view the error log by accessing the debug.log file directly using an FTP client or a file manager provided by your hosting provider. Alternatively, some WordPress plugins offer a user-friendly interface within the WordPress dashboard for viewing error logs.

3. How do I enable an error log in WordPress?

To enable error logging in WordPress, you need to edit the wp-config.php file in your WordPress installation directory. Set the WP_DEBUG constant to true and optionally define WP_DEBUG_LOG to true to log errors to a file

4. What should I do if I find errors in my WordPress error logs?

If you find errors in your WordPress error logs, you should carefully review them to identify the root cause of the problem. Once you understand the errors, take appropriate action to fix them, such as deactivating conflicting plugins, updating software, or debugging code.

5. How often should I check WordPress error logs?

It’s a good practice to check WordPress error logs regularly, especially after making changes to your site, updating plugins or themes, or experiencing issues reported by users. Depending on your site’s activity and complexity, checking error logs weekly or monthly may be sufficient.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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