WordPress Plugin Conflicts: How To Uncover and Resolve Them

Apr 29, 2024  | How ToWebsite Maintenance

Although plugins are handy, they can also give WordPress users headaches.

For example, what happens when you face the white screen of death? Or, if your website looks scrambled up like an infuriating jigsaw puzzle?


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You’re likely experiencing WordPress plugin conflicts. Thankfully, they’re as common and easy to fix as they are annoying.

Below, we show you how to fix plugin conflicts – regardless of whether you can log into WordPress – and who you can call for support. Spoiler: it’s us!

What Are WordPress Plugin Conflicts?

WordPress plugin conflicts are errors that occur when one of your plugins can’t work while your theme or another plugin is enabled. Conflicts often happen when you use complex or custom code that contradicts something else that’s running on your website.

This lack of compatibility not only prevents the offending programs from working but also often ceases the functionality of the WordPress website as a whole.

Ultimately, it means you need to break up an internal argument, and there’s going to be a loser that gets deactivated!

Why Do Plugin Conflicts Happen in WordPress?

The blanket reason for plugin conflicts is that the code of one element doesn’t agree with another, resulting in your website going blank or developing errors.

However, it’s more than just a straightforward argument.


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Sometimes, your plugins conflict because they use highly complex code and rely on the same resources. Similarly, some plugins clash when they execute code that restricts another – it’s not always easy to spot. Beyond that, you might be running a poorly coded plugin, which could bring down the whole site.

Or, you might have updated a plugin, assuming the new plugin would work fine with your theme. The same goes for your version of WordPress if you haven’t run updates for a while.

What Do Conflict Errors WordPress Look Like?

You can normally tell if plugins are conflicting if your website crashes completely with a critical error, stopping visitors from accessing it and preventing you from logging into your WordPress dashboard.

Even if you can still access WordPress, plugin conflicts can cause your site to develop the “white screen of death” or display visuals strangely.

Either way, it’s an annoying turn of events that we recommend you start fixing by backing up your site. Do so through a plugin such as UpdraftPlus or contact your host (especially if you can’t log into WordPress).

If you have access to WordPress, set automated backups now if you haven’t already, so you have checkpoints ready for future issues.

Now, we can start getting your site fixed up. Below, we’ve arranged step-by-step guides into two sections:

  1. Steps for fixing plugin conflicts without access to the dashboard
  2. Steps for fixing plugin conflicts when you can still log into WordPress

Jump to the section that applies to your error, and let’s get fixing.

6 Steps For Fixing WordPress Plugin Conflicts (Without WP Admin Access)

Rest easy. You don’t have to log into WordPress to check plugin conflicts. Below, we take you through the manual steps to get back online.

If you’d prefer to ask for help, contact StateWP devs for support.

Otherwise, let’s make a start.

How to check plugin conflict in WordPress and get back online: A summary

StepIn brief
1. Install an FTP clientInstall FileZilla, a program that lets you access your website without the dashboard
2. Connect your websiteAsk for FTP login details from your host
3. Access your files and disable plugins and themesIn FTP, rename your “Plugins” and “Themes” folders temporarily
4. If you regain access to the dashboard, jump aheadJump to the second part of our guide and follow the steps
5. If you’re still locked out, contact your hostAsk for urgent help via web chat where possible
6. For help fast, contact a WordPress developerContact StateWP via Proto for help and a fix within 24 hours

1. Install an FTP client

File Transfer Protocol – or FTP – clients let you log in and change your website when you don’t have admin access through the main dashboard.

So, start by downloading FileZilla, which we recommend because it’s free and arguably the most accessible client of its kind.

2. Connect your website

To log into an FTP client, you need specific details from your host, so contact them through their web chat or by calling them directly.

Time is of the essence here – so we’d suggest you hop straight into a web chat.

3. Access your files and disable plugins and themes

Once logged in, you should see a screen similar to this:

You usually find yourself in your root folder, or public_html, where your WordPress files, such as plugins and themes, are stored.

Look specifically for the folder marked “wp-content” and see your plugins folder and themes folder.

Let’s deactivate all your plugins and your theme in one go. Right-click and “Rename” your Plugins and Themes folders to something memorable.

Renaming these folders disconnects them, meaning you should be able to reassess your website with default settings.

Clear out your browser cache just in case its settings conflict with your website, and try reaccessing your site and dashboard.

4. If you regain access to the dashboard, jump ahead

This step is short and sweet. If you’re at this point, it’s time to jump to the second half of our troubleshooting guide, as you need your dashboard to apply some final fixes.

If you’re still out of luck, don’t worry; steps five and six take you from here.

5. If you’re still locked out, contact your host

At this point, we recommend contacting your host, especially if you don’t mind waiting for a response.

For example, head to their contact page and try to contact the team through their web chat if it’s available.

6. For help fast, contact a WordPress developer

Alternatively, waiting for hosts to fix problems like the dreaded WordPress 503 error or the white screen of death can take days.

Therefore, if you need access back fast, contact a WordPress developer at an agency such as StateWP.

With access to WordPress, you can use Proto, our service dashboard, to raise requests. While you’re locked out, however, you can still call our support team and get a fix arranged within a day.

8 Steps For Resolving WordPress Plugin Conflicts (With WP Admin Access)

We’ve arranged eight simple steps and a host of screenshots below to guide you back online via the dashboard. But if you’d prefer a WordPress dev to help you out, by all means, skip ahead.

How to fix plugin conflicts in WordPress: Summary using the dashboard

How to fix plugin conflictsIn brief
1. Clear out your browser cacheDelete cached files that might contain outdated code (usually through your browser’s settings and browsing data menus)
2. Update WordPressSelect “Updates” on your dashboard and follow the instructions to install the latest version
3. Update your pluginsFollow step two, but look for plugin updates and instructions on the same page
4. Check if there’s a plugin conflictUse a WordPress plugin conflict checker to find any remaining issues, then try installing another theme temporarily and deactivate all your plugins at once – to check where conflicts might be coming from
5. Track down the plugin(s) causing the issueUse a WordPress plugin conflict detector to deactivate your plugins individually and check your site’s status – or deactivate them one by one from your Plugins list and keep checking your site
6. Replace the faulty plugin and report itLook for an alternative plugin and inform the developers of the fault
7. If all else fails, restore your backupRestore a backup stored before the conflict (but be wary of what might have caused the issue)
8. Contact an expertAsk your host or a WordPress developer at StateWP to try more technical checks

1. Clear out your browser cache

Sometimes, your browser cache can retain outdated code, meaning it’s always worthwhile clearing it out after updating your WordPress site (plugins or otherwise).

So, let’s assume you’re running Chrome. Head to the top-right of your window and select the three dots like so:

Then, select “Clear Browsing Data” from the following menu:

Select “All time” from the dropdown box in the following menu, and check “Cached images and files.” Then, select “Clear data.”

Reaccess your site. If it’s back up, your browser was to blame.

2. Update WordPress

There’s a chance your plugins simply don’t get on with your version of WordPress.

So, look toward the top-left of your dashboard once logged in. If there’s a red marker next to the “Updates” menu, select it.

The Updates menu tells you if there’s a new release for WordPress that it recommends you install:

Click to update WordPress and give it time to process. Then reboot your browser and try accessing your website again.

3. Update your plugins

It could be that you’ve updated WordPress, and your plugins no longer communicate with it.

So, head to WordPress’s Plugins page and look through the installed plugins list. You should see warnings next to specific plugins that have recommended updates. Click to install them and refresh your browser.

You might also see them grouped into “Update Available.”

If you’ve already run the manual checks from earlier, uninstall and reinstall your plugins to see if problems continue.

4. Check if there’s really a plugin conflict

It’s now time to run a thorough WordPress plugin conflict test.

One of the best ways to do this is to run manual checks or install recommended plugins (ironically) to perform the checks for you.

First, let’s check if your plugins are compatible with the running WordPress version.

Go ahead and use the “Search plugins” box in the Plugins menu to look for a WordPress plugin conflict checker:

“Download” and “Activate” the plugin you’d like to run from the links above and follow the individual instructions.

These plugins typically find the vast majority of conflict issues, and some even advise where the fault arises.

Let’s now check if your plugins clash with your theme. To do this, head to the “Appearance” and “Themes” section of your dashboard.

Then, use WordPress’s browser to search for and install a free default WordPress theme, such as Twenty Twenty-Three.

Activate the theme and return to the live site in a different browser. Have the errors disappeared? Your previous theme was likely to blame.

Unfortunately, that means you should ideally look for a new theme to replace it or hunt down the rogue plugin.

Finally, let’s see if a plugin vs. plugin conflict is causing the issue. Head back to the Plugins section in WordPress and select all the plugins available, then choose “Deactivate” from the “Bulk actions” box.

Then, check your website once more. If it loads fine and doesn’t seem broken, you have one or two plugins that react poorly to each other.

5. Track down the plugin(s) causing the issue

Now that you should hopefully have some idea of what’s potentially causing the plugin conflict, it’s time to hunt down the culprit.

One of the easiest ways to spot a conflicting plugin is to use another plugin – this time, we recommend using Plugin Detective.

This plugin helps you activate and deactivate your software individually so you can pinpoint which might be causing the issue. Install it, and the software appears in your sidebar under “Tools”:

The manual route for checking faulty plugins is to deactivate them one by one from the active plugins list.

Deactivate a plugin from the list, check your website, and then reactivate it if the site is still down. Once your site comes back up or stops showing errors, you’ve found your culprit.

6. Replace the faulty plugin and report it

No matter how much you might rely on a faulty plugin, it’s time to remove it and look for something similar (and more reliable). You can’t hold out forever for plugin developers to make your site’s major plugins more compatible!

For example, if you use a plugin that helps your website lazy load images, go back to the Plugins search engine and look for alternatives.

Then, it’s worth saving other WordPress owners from the same headaches you’ve just experienced.

Search for the plugin’s installation page and select “Support.”

This takes you to an open forum where you can raise and discuss faults for that plugin.

7. If all else fails, restore your backup

If you remember when your site didn’t crash to white or develop annoying visual problems, check for backups to roll back to. Using a plugin such as UpdraftPlus, you can easily find backup files by time and date through its menu in the sidebar.

Here’s where you can find the restore backups option:

Alternatively, if you save backups via host, contact them directly through your specific user panel.

For instance, with WPEngine, you can find backups available through “Sites,” the name of your site or staging environment, and then “Backups”:

8. Contact an expert

If you don’t have the time to explore or feel confident making these changes to your website, it’s always best to contact an expert.

As mentioned, speaking with your host is a good initial avenue. Reach out through their web chat service or support forum for the fastest response – unless you’re willing to wait through their email queues!

It’s always best to speak with a WordPress developer for a faster, more in-depth response.

Through StateWP, you can raise a service request and inform the developer team what you’ve done to resolve the problem thus far:

One of the main benefits of contacting developers for help is that we can discuss more in-depth fixes if the tips above don’t bring you joy.

For instance, we can run manual fixes by debugging your PHP and JavaScript (essential coding elements your website relies on) – particularly useful if, say, you absolutely need that rogue plugin and can’t remove it.

Before You Go: 5 Prevention Tips To Avoid Plugin Conflicts

To avoid getting stuck in this plugin conflict headache in the future, we recommend five steps to protect your site health with preventive measures so it’s robust and ready to bounce back:

  1. Back up your website regularly
  2. Use a staging or local site to test changes
  3. Keep your plugins updated
  4. Delete any plugins you don’t use
  5. Partner with StateWP

Here’s a bit more detail.

1. Back up your website regularly

Automated backups ensure you always have save points in case you experience faults like these in the future.

However, we recommend setting a regular schedule to back up your website manually or automatically. Again, plugins such as UpdraftPlus can help.

2. Use a staging or local site to test changes

Staging sites are local or “practice” versions of your website that you can use to test out changes before going live.

Several WordPress hosts, such as WPEngine, offer staging sites as standard. If you want to explore any potential changes you’d like to make to your site rather than edit the live site version, simply load up a staged version and change plugins through there.

Let’s say you’re using WPEngine. Log into their user portal and head to “Sites.”

Then, click the name of a site or environment and select the dropdown box next to the environment’s name. You can then choose “Add Staging.”

You can then fill in the details for your staging site and wait for WPEngine to email you to confirm it’s ready to go.

In the future, log back into your host’s user portal and your desired staging environment to make changes.

3. Keep your plugins updated

Many plugin-theme and plugin-WordPress conflicts happen because you’re using an outdated plugin version that doesn’t work well with others.

Therefore, be sure to update your plugins carefully. We recommend switching off auto-updates so you’re not blindly updating them. Instead, keep an eye out for the “Updates” section of your dashboard sidebar, which lets you know when new versions might be available.

By being discerning when you update your plugins, you can narrow down which updates cause problems for your site should you experience errors. You know which plugin to remove almost straight away.

While at it, always try to update your plugins to the latest versions unless advised otherwise. Read the release notes so you know why an update occurred.

Beyond this, don’t install plugins that haven’t received updates for a while. Avoid installing plugins that aren’t available through WordPress’s search engine, as you can’t always guarantee third-party plugin developers stay on top of updates.

4. Delete any plugins you don’t use

When it comes to WordPress plugins, less is more. The more plugins you install unnecessarily, the more you risk developing conflict issues due to increasing resource demand and code.

Think carefully about the plugins you use and need. Slim down your plugin library and be discerning about future software you install, especially if these errors occur regularly!

5. Partner with StateWP

When you register your WordPress site with StateWP, you have a partner behind you every step of every error fix. Unfortunately, WordPress sites commonly develop problems, so it pays to have 24/7 support on call.

Should you develop any conflict problems in the future, just raise a support request through Proto and let us investigate. You can also count on our developers for advice on installing and managing plugins.

Put an End to Annoying WordPress Plugin Conflicts

WordPress plugin conflict problems are very common. That doesn’t stop them from being frustrating – but thankfully, you now know some quick and easy ways to bring your site back from the brink.

And, if you need help or would prefer the guidance of WordPress developers to get your website back online, StateWP is here as your 24/7 pillar of support. No matter what you’ve tried, contact us so we can help get you back online.

In the meantime, if errors plague you and you want to learn how to read some of WordPress’s more intricate reports, read our guide to the WordPress error log.

WordPress Plugin Conflict FAQs

Now you know how to find and fix conflicts in WordPress plugins, here are some final points to consider.

  1. Make changes to a staging site first
  2. Keep your website backed up and your plugins updated
  3. Avoid auto-updating your plugins
  4. Only install and keep the plugins you need
  5. Partner with WordPress developers who can help you if you need them
How do I fix a conflict in WordPress themes?
  1. Start by clearing the cache in your browser in case it’s using outdated code
  2. Update your plugins to the latest versions
  3. Check what happens to your website if you switch to a default theme
  4. Deactivate and reactivate your plugins one by one to find what’s causing the conflict

Learn more about how to fix plugin–theme conflicts with our walkthrough.

How to test plugin conflicts?
  1. Set up a staging or local site environment with your web host
  2. Install and uninstall plugins to check if any errors develop
  3. Run plugins such as Plugin Detective to narrow down what might be causing problems
  4. Test out different themes to see if problems persist
  5. Ask a developer to debug your site for any deeper errors
How do I fix a broken WordPress plugin?
  1. Disable the plugin outright
  2. Check if there’s a newer version you can install
  3. Head back to the plugin’s installation page and activate a new copy (in a staging site if possible)
  4. Test for any potential faults or conflicts
  5. Uninstall the plugin and report the fault to the developers
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