Fixing my broken WordPress Blog

If you don’t have an interest in the guts of WordPress or your WordPress blog isn’t broken, you can probably just skip this posting.

I had my own, fairly heavily customized theme based on the original “Kubric” theme from WordPress’ earlier days.

I also have a mish-mash of plugins that support insertion of “Gallery2” plus “Picasa” images into the blog and a bunch of other little nice-to-have functions.

A few days ago, my ISP decided to upgrade a bunch of things on my server that I seem to depend upon, PHP was upgraded, the Zend optimizer, etc. this plumb broke my site – all the text was there but absolutely none of the graphics or gross formatting (columns in particular) was there. It was like being back in the late 80’s on the web. 🙂
Any attempt to access the admin panels or to do anything except just look at the basic posting pages was met with an “Internal Server Error”

I realized quickly that the LunarServers ISP techs would be of no use to me so here is how I got back. I’m not 100% there yet, but the site is functional and be refining it over the weekend. You can bet I’ll be using much more standardized plugins and themes from now on.

I don’t know why it’s so hard but I have absolutely no idea what version of WordPress I was running before. I think it’s around 2.3 but I can’t seem to find a way to tell just from looking at the files.

First, I backed up all of my WordPress files – I always keep a copy of my website on my computer synched nightly with the server version. I backed these files up to a safe, temporary location.

Then I blew away all of my WordPress files except those in wp-images. I knew I’d need some of the files in wp-content eventually but I wanted to be as clean as possible to get my site up and then pull in my older content into a fresh install.

Then I laid down the new WordPress files (2.6.1 – it says so on the zip file 🙂 ).

I went and both created a new database for this test and backed up my old database… just in case.

I set up wp-config.php as described in the 5-minute installation document (and in the wp-config.php file itself) – I didn’t copy over my old wp-config.php ’cause I knew there were new elements in the 2.6.1 version in support of new security features in wordpress.

I keep WordPress in a folder off of the root so I need to specify it when I invoke the following scripts, you may not need to do this or you need to specify the name you gave your folder.

I used the script to initialize the site and the “new” site worked just fine. This proved to me that the issue was not with WordPress so much as the stuff I’d added to it.

I went back and changed my wp-config.php file to point to my old database. This resulted in a blank screen when I tried to invoke my site. No errors (either on screen or in the error_log file in the WordPress folder).

There were tables that I could see (using phpMyAdmin) in the new
database that were different from those in my existing database. So I used the script to upgrade the database design.

This still didn’t help. Remember that I was not able to disable my plugins (couldn’t get to the admin panels) before all this started. And my theme folder no longer existed on the server.

So I was thinking about trying to migrate my data from my old (not working) database to the new one. But most of the suggestions involved having a working WordPress installation- even for the older ones you could get a plugin that could be used to export your data. So that didn’t help me much.

I tried playing with my database by deleting all of the items listed in the “options” table for “active_plugins” and adding a row for “current_theme” (which did not exist in my old file but I could plainly see in the new installation’s db). But none of this worked so I backed out those changes.

Finally it struck me that my admin panels might be working now with the new WordPress install. They did!

So I opened them and walked through most of the panels, especially the design and plugin panels and just saved them. Tweaking here and there as I went along.

For the plugins I was informed that all of the plugins were being deactivated because the associated files could not be found (since I had removed them), Yes!

For the theme, this is most likely the cause of my blank screen, I explicitly selected the default them and activated it and *presto* the site was working again.

Admittedly I have a road ahead of me re-customizing, but I think I’ll just use plugins now rather than writing my own stuff since it’s WAY too much work trying to keep up with the various wordpress releases and dependencies.

Hopefully somebody else in a similar position will see this and can take advantage of what I ended up doing.

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