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cURL, or ClientURL, is a library that enables WordPress to communicate with other servers. It’s crucial for various tasks, like fetching updates or sending data to third-party services. Error 28 is one of the common cURL issues that you may encounter.

The PHP library offered by cURL facilitates communication between your WordPress website and other websites. The cURL error 28 indicates a connection timeout, which means WordPress is unable to receive a response from a requested server within a specified time period.

Addressing a failed cURL requests promptly is crucial for preserving your website’s performance and ensuring a positive user experience. In this blog, we’ll explore the causes and various methods to fix the cURL error.

What causes cURL error 28 (connection timed out)

The causes of cURL error 28 can range from server-side issues to problems with your WordPress plugins or themes.

This error essentially indicates that a cURL request didn’t complete within a certain time frame, and thus, the connection was terminated. In the context of WordPress, you might encounter cURL error message when a plugin, theme, or the core WordPress software is trying to communicate with an external server and fails to do so within the expected time.

Here are some common reasons for cURL error:

  1. Server response time: The external server that WordPress is trying to connect to is slow to respond or not responding at all.
  2. Firewall issues: Some hosting providers have strict firewall rules that might block outgoing connections. You can temporarily disable firewall to check if it is blocking the cURL request.
  3. Network issues: General network problems or misconfigurations can cause connection timeout.
  4. DNS problems: If the DNS server is having issues or if there’s a misconfiguration, it can lead to cURL timeout error when trying to resolve domain names.
  5. Incorrect API endpoints: If you’re trying to connect to an external service and the API endpoint is incorrect or has changed, it could lead to timeouts.
  6. PHP configuration: The default timeout settings in php.ini for cURL might be too low. You can increase the default_socket_timeout value in php.ini to see if that resolves the issue.
  7. Hosting Provider limitations: Some shared hosting providers may have restrictions on outgoing connections.
  8. Proxy servers: If there’s a proxy server in between the WordPress site and the external service, it might be causing the connection issues.
  9. Outdated cURL library: An outdated version of cURL on the server might be incompatible with the server it’s trying to communicate with.
  10. Plugin conflicts: CURL requests for data transfer are initiated by WordPress plugins. If a plugin sends an excessive number of requests or takes an extended period to finish, it can trigger the cURL connection error in Site Health.

How to diagnose cURL error 28 in WordPress websites

Diagnosing cURL error 28 involves checking your internet connection, server, and WordPress configuration. You can use online tools to check server response times or try disabling plugins and themes to see if they’re causing the issue. Also, check the PHP error logs for any clues.

Simple ways to fix cURL error 28

Diagnosing ‘cURL error 28 (connection timed out)’ in WordPress websites involves a systematic approach to narrow down the root cause. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to diagnose the issue and fix the cURL error in the simple way (more advanced troubleshooting is below).

1. Check server error logs

Before delving deep into troubleshooting, check your server’s error logs. These logs might have more details regarding the last timeout error or any other issues causing the error message.

2. Check WordPress Site Health

WordPress 5.2 and later versions come with a Site Health tool:

1. Go to WordPress Dashboard > Tools > Site Health

2. Check the “critical issues” or “recommended improvements” sections to see if there are any relevant alerts.

3. Deactivate plugins & themes

WordPress Plugins and themes are common culprits:

Temporarily disable all the WordPress plugins. You can do this using the ‘bulk actions dropdown menu’ in the WordPress dashboard.

Another method is by renaming the plugins folder in wp-content via FTP.

Check if the error reappears. If it doesn’t, reactivate each plugin one by one until you find the offending plugin.

Switch your theme to one of the default WordPress themes (like Twenty-Twenty or Twenty- Twenty-One). Check if the issue persists.

Advanced troubleshooting to fix cURL error 28

If the basic troubleshooting steps above didn’t fix the cURL error 28 (connection timed out), these advanced tactics should help.

1. External API connectivity

If a plugin or your theme is trying to connect to an external API:

  1. Confirm if the API endpoint is correct, and that the API is operational. You might need to contact the service provider.
  2. Test the API using tools like Postman or simply your browser (if it’s a GET request) to ensure its responsiveness.

2. Server configuration

  1. PHP version: Ensure you’re running a version of PHP that’s compatible with your WordPress version, plugins, and themes.
  2. Increase PHP default_socket_timeout: Adjust this in the php.ini file or ask your hosting provider to do it.
  3. cURL version: Check if cURL is up-to-date. An outdated cURL library might have compatibility issues.
  4. Firewall or Security modules: Tools like mod_security or server-level firewalls might be blocking cURL requests. Your hosting provider can check this.

3. Test with WP_DEBUG

1. Add the following code to your wp-config.php file: define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true);

define(‘WP_DEBUG_LOG’, true); define(‘WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY’, false);

3. This will enable error logging to a debug.log file inside the wp-content folder. Reproduce the issue, then check the log for any relevant error messages.

4. DNS issues

Check if there’s a DNS resolution problem:

  1. If you have SSH access to your server, you can use commands like ping, dig, or nslookup to test DNS resolution.
  2. Check with your hosting provider to ensure there aren’t any ongoing DNS issues.

5. Manual cURL test

If you have SSH access:

  1. Use the cURL command to manually try connecting to the problematic endpoint.
  2. Check for any TLS/SSL certificate errors, which might indicate incorrect SSL configuration or outdated protocols.

6. Update everything

Make sure WordPress core, all the plugins, and themes are updated. Developers often release updates to fix known issues in outdated software.

7. Test on a different environment

Sometimes local development environments or specific servers might have unique configurations causing the error:

  1. Try cloning your WordPress website to a staging environment or a different server/host.
  2. Test to see if the error persists there.

If none of these steps lead to a solution, it might be a more intricate issue requiring deeper server-level diagnosis or consultation with web development experts. Always remember to take backups before making any significant changes to hosting server.

When to seek professional help for cURL error 28 issues

If you’ve tried the above solutions and are still encountering cURL error 28, it may be time to seek professional help. WordPress experts or your hosting company support team should be able to assist.

Deciding when to seek professional help for a cURL error 28 (connection timed out) may be a good idea depending on the following factors:

  1. Experience level: If you’re not comfortable with troubleshooting server configurations, file edits, or diagnosing PHP errors, it’s a good idea to seek professional help early in the process.
  2. Business impact: If your website is crucial for your business or has significant traffic, even a small mistake during troubleshooting can be costly. In such cases, it’s often better to consult a professional right away.
  3. Duration of the issue: If the error has been occurring for an extended period and isn’t just a transient issue, professional intervention might be needed.
  4. Elimination of basic causes: If you’ve gone through basic troubleshooting steps such as deactivating plugins, switching themes, checking with your hosting provider, and the issue persists, it might be time to escalate.
  5. Server access: Some diagnostic steps require server or SSH access, and if you’re unfamiliar with command-line tools or server configurations, it’s better to have an expert handle it.
  6. Potential external causes: If you suspect that the issue might be related to an external service, API, or third-party integration (and especially if it’s critical to your website’s operation), a professional might be better equipped to diagnose and liaise with the third-party provider.
  7. Risk assessment: If you feel that a potential solution might jeopardize your site’s security, data integrity, or uptime, consult a professional before taking action.
  8. Recurring issues: If cURL error 28 or other similar issues recur even after you’ve addressed them previously, it suggests there might be a deeper, underlying problem that requires expert attention.
  9. Complex configurations: Websites with custom configurations, integrations, or bespoke code might behave differently than standard WordPress installations. In such cases, generic solutions might not apply, and an expert’s eye would be beneficial.

In essence, if you ever feel out of your depth, it’s better to seek professional help sooner rather than later. It’s always preferable to prevent potential issues rather than trying to recover from a misstep.

15 tips to prevent cURL error 28

Preventing cURL error 28 (connection timed out) involves a combination of proactive monitoring, server optimizations, and best practices. Here are some essential tips to minimize the chances of web host encountering this error:

1. Choose a reliable hosting provider like Bluehost: Opt for a reputable hosting company known for reliable uptime, good server response times, and top-notch customer support.

2. Keep server software updated: Ensure server software, including cURL, PHP, and your web server (like Apache or Nginx), is up-to-date. Updates often include performance enhancements and security fixes.

3. Optimize server configuration: Adjust PHP settings, such as default_socket_timeout, to appropriate values based on your website’s needs. In addition, make sure your server isn’t overloaded. Monitor server resources (CPU, RAM, I/O) and upgrade or optimize as necessary.

4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN): A CDN can help offload server requests, decrease latency, and speed up connections for global users.

5. Monitor third-party services: If your site relies on third-party services or APIs, monitor their uptime and performance. Choose reliable service providers and be ready to switch if they become a bottleneck.

6. Optimize DNS: Use a reliable DNS provider. Consider reducing the Time To Live (TTL) for DNS records if you’re making frequent changes but avoid extremely low values unless necessary.

7. Implement monitoring and alerts: Use monitoring tools to track your site’s uptime, server health, and response times. Set up alerts to notify you of potential issues before they escalate.

8. Limit external requests: Every external request adds a potential point of failure. Minimize the number of plugins or themes that rely on external services. If such requests are essential, ensure they have appropriate timeout period and error handling.

9. Implement retry logic: For crucial external requests, implement retry logic, so that if a request fails, the system will attempt it again after a short pause.

10. Backup WordPress website regularly: While backups won’t prevent cURL error 28, they will ensure you can quickly recover if something goes wrong during troubleshooting or if an issue persists.

11. Review firewall settings: Ensure your server’s firewall settings aren’t too restrictive, potentially blocking necessary outgoing or incoming connections.

12. Keep WordPress, themes, and plugins updated: Developers frequently release updates that fix known issues and improve compatibility. Regularly updating reduces the chances of encountering errors.

13. Test in staging: Before making significant changes or updates on your live site, test them in a staging environment to catch potential issues.

14. Good coding practices: If you’re developing custom plugins or themes, ensure good coding practices. Proper error handling, efficient code execution, and adhering to WordPress coding standards can reduce the likelihood of issues.

15. Stay informed: Regularly check with the WordPress community, plugin/theme developers, and hosting providers for any known issues or recommended best practices.

Importance of regular WordPress maintenance

Regular maintenance of a WordPress website is critical to the success of your online store or blog. At the forefront of its importance is security. Given WordPress’s popularity, it is frequently targeted by hackers. Consistent updates to the core platform, plugins, and themes ensure that known vulnerabilities are patched, safeguarding the site against malicious attacks.

Beyond security, performance optimization plays a pivotal role. As websites evolve, databases can accumulate unnecessary data, and outdated plugins or themes can become sluggish. Periodic maintenance, like database optimization, can notably enhance website speed and responsiveness.

The wide world of web technology means that software components may have bugs or glitches. Regular updates often come with bug fixes, ensuring the website operates smoothly and provides an optimal user experience for visitors.

Lastly, as the digital ecosystem grows and changes, maintaining WordPress ensures compatibility. As new plugins are introduced or web standards evolve, it’s crucial that all components of a website interact harmoniously. Regularly updating and testing guarantees that the myriad elements of the site work in tandem without conflicts.

Other common WordPress errors and fixes

Apart from cURL error 28, there are other common WordPress errors you may encounter. These include the white screen of death, internal server error, and error establishing a database connection.

Here’s a list of some of the most common WordPress errors in 2023:

  1. White Screen of Death (WSoD): No error message, just a blank white screen.
  2. Internal server error: Typically indicates a problem with the server, but not always specific to WordPress.
  3. Database connection error: WordPress is unable to connect to the database.
  4. 403 forbidden: The server understands the request, but it refuses to fulfill it.
  5. 404 not found: A specific page or post cannot be found, but it’s not always due to content being removed.
  6. Syntax error: Typically occurs when there’s a mistake in the code, often in the functions.php file.
  7. Memory exhausted error: Caused when a script or plugin exhausts the default memory limit.
  8. “Are You Sure You Want to Do This?”: Often related to nonce verification or permission issues.
  9. Maintenance mode error: WordPress gets stuck in “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.”
  10. Too many redirects: Caused by misconfigurations in redirect rules or incorrect settings in WordPress Address URL.
  11. Failed to write file to disk: This can be due to incorrect permissions in the WordPress directories.
  12. HTTP error: Often seen when trying to upload images or other media in WordPress.
  13. Error 500 – internal server error: A generic error, which can be caused by numerous issues.
  14. Connection timed out: When the web servers take too long to respond, often due to high traffic, resource limits, or slow network connection.
  15. RSS feed errors: Display issues or errors with the RSS feed.
  16. 403 error – forbidden: Often due to web server permissions or security plugin.
  17. Maximum execution time exceeded: When a PHP script runs longer than the configured maximum execution time.

Conclusion

Dealing with errors like cURL error 28 can be frustrating, but understanding what causes these issues and how to resolve them can make the process much smoother.

With regular maintenance, monitoring, and a bit of troubleshooting knowledge, you can keep your WordPress site running smoothly.

  • 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!

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