How Plugin Updates Can Get You into Trouble

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Do you regularly log into your WordPress dashboard and apply important updates? Good for you! Preventative maintenance is as vital for your website as it is for your car.

But what do you do when something goes wrong?

The Problem

A client recently emailed me because after updating her plugins, she got an error message and could no longer access her WordPress dashboard.

Upon investigation, I determined that one of her plugins wasn’t compatible with the old version of PHP that her site was running.

What is PHP and what’s it got to do with me?

WPBeginner explains that “PHP is a programming and scripting language to create dynamic interactive websites. WordPress is written using PHP as the scripting language.”

Your hosting company enables PHP on your hosting account, and most of the time, you don’t even need to think about it. Some web hosts periodically update your version of PHP. My clients’ apparently didn’t, leading to the problem described above.

The Short-Term Solution

  1. I installed WP Engine’s PHP 7 Compatibility Checker plugin.
  2. I ran some tests and discovered that her WordPress theme was likely to have problems with any of the newer versions of PHP.
  3. I updated her theme and then her PHP version, fully restoring site functionality.

Fortunately, this particular problem only affected the WordPress dashboard. Sometimes an incompatible plugin will cause your whole website to crash – which may drive potential clients right to your competition. Can you afford to have your website offline for even a few hours?

The Long-Term Solution

If you don’t have the time or technical expertise to look after your website, it may be time to sign up for one of my new Website Care Plans.

Casual Photo of Janet Barclay

Janet Barclay

I eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, cooking, watching movies, drinking tea, and spending time with my family.

Join the Conversation!


  1. Seana Turner on November 20, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I know this one from personal experience for sure! In fact, I think you saved me when this happened to me:) YOU are a treasure, Janet! I am always trying to learn and stay up to date, but it is a challenge to do this while also running a business. So thankful for this client that you were able to find and fix the problem.

  2. Sabrina Quairoli on November 20, 2017 at 9:33 am

    It’s so frustrating when you update a plugin, and then it conflicts with something else. My tech guy and I did this exact task to get the WordPress login working again. Having a person as a backup helps us, solopreneurs. Don’t assume you can handle everything alone. Thank you for supporting people like us, Janet. We really appreciate it.

  3. Linda Samuels on November 20, 2017 at 9:46 am

    I don’t have a WordPress site, but I definitely can relate to when something on the tech side goes wonky. And having people that know what they’re doing (like you,) that can identify and quickly fix the problem is key. Go Janet!

  4. Janet Barclay on November 20, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Based on these comments, it sounds like everyone runs into this type of problem eventually! It’s better to be prepared before it happens. 🙂

  5. Jhon Smith on December 4, 2017 at 2:33 am

    Nice Informative article, Plugin updates is necessary for every website to make website function updates and secure. thanku again for discussion on the important topic with the help of your article.

  6. The rock on December 13, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    Yes, I regular visite our WordPress dashboard to see any plugin update If any update is available that time I make sure that I update it recently Because of its necessary to secure your website and get more feature.

  7. Janet Schiesl on September 30, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    This is why I leave it to the experts. Thanks Janet.

  8. Janet Barclay on October 1, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Ha ha! Thanks to you too!

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