Troubleshooting WordPress Flash

Is Plugin Detective a godsend for troubleshooting WordPress?

6 min read
Tom Rankin

Errors in WordPress are not all that common, and when they crop up they can usually be stomped on pretty quickly. However, depending on the error, diagnosing the problem and fixing it might not be so easy. Plugin Detective is a new plugin that hopes to isolate an the cause of an error, letting you get rid of it almost immediately.

This post is going to look closer at Plugin Detective, and how it could offer a speedy way of fixing WordPress errors of all stripes. Firstly though, let’s talk about why plugins can often be the cause of your WordPress problems.

Related: 25 bug tracking tools for websites

Plugins: Vital to WordPress, but can rain on your parade

As you’ll probably know, core WordPress is very friendly under the hood. This can be immensely helpful from initial coding to final tweaks. However, as you probably know, the core functionality can be extended through plugins. While they can be tremendously helpful, they can also cause as many problems as they solve. It’s tempting to believe that anything other than the plugins you’ve installed are the root cause of your problems, especially if you’ve invested time and money into finding workable solutions.

Plugin conflicts are the root cause of many WordPress errors. Carefully consider whether each one has a place on your site.

However, poorly coded plugins (or plugins whose code conflicts with others) can bring a site to its knees. In fact, plugin conflicts are a primary reason for many common WordPress errors, meaning you need to carefully consider whether each one has a place on your site.

Why we need to constantly harass plugins

By now you’ve probably ascertained that you should closely monitor your plugins, but that obviously doesn’t mean you should treat them all as the Devil’s own code. Admittedly, if you’re carrying out your research and choosing solutions carefully, there’s likely only going to be outlier issues to deal with. However, those issues can always arise, mainly due to the myriad updates each plugin receives (along with core itself). You could feasibly have multiple updates per day, and each has the ability to affect a site if there’s a conflict. Of course, you likely already know the danger of installing plugins without thought. Though, isn’t it nice to know there’s a legitimate reason not to install too many plugins on your site?

Introducing Plugin Detective (cue the ‘Cops’ theme)

Troubleshooting WordPress Plugin Detective

Of course, errors rarely occur at a good time, so fixing them quickly is a priority, especially for clients. Usually, you’ll need to FTP into the site, disable every plugin, then enable each one individually to check for conflicts. It’s time-consuming, but if you have to perform this ritual regularly, you’ll have the process down pat (although that’s a red flag in itself). Enter Plugin Detective.

This free plugin takes the work you’ll do to hunt for troublesome plugin conflicts, and automates aspects of it.

This speeds up the repair process, and — because it’s essentially a bot — can carry out some other tasks for you, too. As long as you provide the relevant information at the right points, Plugin Detective should be able to sort your issue. What’s more, the plugin is also free to use (although there may be premium features added in future).

Q: Why are you so sweaty? A: I was watching Plugin Detective

Troubleshooting WordPress Plugin Detective Settings
Troubleshooting WordPress Detective Otto Bot
Troubleshooting WordPress Holding Cell
Troubleshooting WordPress Solved

Once you’ve installed Plugin Detective, you can find the settings screen in two places: by heading to Tools > Plugin Detective from WordPress’s menu, or the Troubleshoot Plugin Conflicts link within Plugins > Installed Plugins: At this point, your site will be in the hands of Detective Otto Bot, who has been assigned to your case: Yes, we know, but this helps to “humanize” the process — which is refreshing from what amounts to a utility plugin. You’ll first need to show the plugin where the issue lies by simply navigating to the error on your site and clicking the I’m there button. You’ll then need to name any required plugins your site uses. When the action begins, plugins are collected in a “holding cell,” before being interrogated, then either “cleared” or bundled into the wagon: The plugin will work to “solve the crime,” checking in with you to see whether your site is working again: You’ll also be pleased to know that Plugin Detective can be used when the admin screen can’t be accessed — when encountering the White Screen of Death (WSOD), for example. The plugin can be installed manually as usual, and by heading to wp-content/plugins/plugin-detective/troubleshoot using FTP and logging into the site, the troubleshooting process can begin.

Is Plugin Detective a godsend for troubleshooting WordPress?

Overall, we believe that Plugin Detective is ideal for installation on a client site that’s going to be worked on internally. In other words, if non-technical clients like to make changes and call you when there’s an issue, Plugin Detective will help you solve the problem immediately.

It could also help to self-solve issues without your input. For day-to-day developer errors though, you may not need the plugin. You’ll likely already know the cause of many errors, and how to fix them. However, you’ll again find that solving client site errors potentially becomes quicker, which can be a massive benefit depending on the client and the issue in question.

Related: WordPress troubleshooting with cPanel


Rooting out the cause of WordPress errors can have you sniffing around like a pig hunting for truffles. However, unlike the porcine beast, your tracking skills may be less laser-focused. Plugin Detective can make the process a snap, and will help you carry out some of the remedial repair work, too.

End users will probably find this plugin most valuable, especially for errors where the cause is not obvious. However, there’s also value for developers, as you can get to the cause of an issue immediately, cut out site downtime, and get a site up and running again in a flash!

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