WordPress Plugin Conflicts: How to Find, TroubleShoot, and Debug Them

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WordPress plugins are extremely useful tools. They can enhance your website and enable you to make it your own so you can achieve whatever goals you’ve set. Unfortunately, due to the open-source nature of the platform, plugins sometimes have conflicts with each other and WordPress’ core.

Gravity Forms down plugin conflicts.

The good news is with a little time and effort, you can troubleshoot any errors that crop up. Plus, there are also measures you can put in place to avoid WordPress plugin conflicts and prevent them from happening at all.

In this post, we’ll show you how to find, troubleshoot, and debug WordPress plugin conflicts. We’ll also point out some known issues in popular plugins, and provide some tips for preventing related errors on your site. Let’s dive in!

In This Article 🔭

Our team at WP Buffs helps website owners, agency partners, and freelancer partners safely install and update plugins to avoid errors and conflicts. Whether you need us to manage 1 website or support 1,000 client sites, we’ve got your back.

An Introduction to WordPress Plugin Conflicts 🔌

One of the best things about WordPress is that it’s an open-source platform. This means users are free to modify and redistribute it however they like. Developers also have access to the core code so they can create products such as plugins and themes.

This makes the platform highly customizable, but it also means there are many different developers creating plugins, themes, and WordPress core code. Each has their own preferences, style, and training, which can lead to some issues.

🖥️ While WordPress' open-source nature comes with many benefits, it also has some drawbacks – including the potential for plugin conflicts. #WordPress Click To Tweet

Conflicts can occur when a plugin’s code doesn’t work well with your website’s theme, other plugins, or WordPress core itself. The results can vary, but they’re generally unpleasant. It may be that just one function or feature is impacted, or your entire site could become unavailable.

Plugin conflicts most often occur right after a new installation or update, when new code has been added to your site. Any time you’re bringing a new tool into your arsenal, it’s important to proceed with caution to avoid serious errors.

How to Find, Troubleshoot, and Debug WordPress Plugin Conflicts (5 steps) 🔎

Every WordPress plugin conflict is a little different depending on the severity of the result and which elements are involved. However, there are a few general steps that should help you troubleshoot the issue, regardless of its root cause.

Step 1: Note Any WordPress Plugin Conflict Symptoms

Before you can start resolving a plugin conflict, you have to realize whether there is one. When there’s a problem or error on your site, it’s usually fairly easy to spot. However, the cause of the problem is not always evident right away.

There are a few symptoms to watch for that might indicate a plugin conflict is occurring on your site:

  • The plugin isn’t working as it should. If one of your plugins isn’t functioning the way it’s supposed to, it could be because its code is conflicting with your theme, another plugin, or WordPress’ core.
  • Some element of your site is broken. A ‘broken’ WordPress site can take on many different forms. Your site’s appearance may be off, certain functions may not work, or you could see full-blown errors. These issues could be the result of a plugin conflict.
  • You’re seeing the White Screen of Death (WSoD.) One of the most infamous WordPress errors, the White Screen of Death, often occurs because of a plugin conflict. This is one of the most serious symptoms, as it prevents users from accessing your site.

If you’re seeing one of these issues on your site, you’ll want to proceed with the next steps to determine it is indeed due to a plugin conflict.

Step 2: Restore Your Last Backup

Your first course of action should be to restore a backup of your site, especially if you aren’t able to access your WordPress dashboard. This will clear up the effects of the plugin conflict so your site is useable again.

How you carry out this step will depend on how and where you’ve saved your backups. However, if you’re experiencing a plugin conflict there’s a fair chance you may not be able to access your site’s back end. In this case, you’ll need to restore your backup manually.

Fair warning – this process can be a bit complex. You’ll need some basic knowledge of phpMyAdmin and File Transfer Protocol (FTP). To get started, log into phpMyAdmin via your hosting account:

Divi builder known plugin conflicts.

Here you’ll restore your website’s database. Select the current one, then click on the Import tab:

WooCommerce plugin conflicts.

On the resulting page, click on the Choose File button and select your backup database. Plugin conflicts often occur after a new installation or update. Ideally, you’ll want to revert your site to the way it was before the most recent addition or change to your lineup:

BackupBuddy plugin conflicts.

Make sure SQL is selected from the Format dropdown, then click on the Go button to finish restoring your database. Next, you’ll need to restore your site’s files. Using an FTP client such as FileZilla, connect to your server:

Known Slider Revolution plugin conflicts.

Find your backup files on your local computer on the left side of the FTP client window, then drag them over to the public_html directory on your server. You should have the option to overwrite the current files:

Overwriting website files via FTP.

Your backup should now be restored. In the event you don’t have a recent backup you can use, you can still follow the steps below to resolve your WordPress plugin conflict.

Step 3: Determine Which Plugin Is Causing the Problem

Although restoring a backup will clear up the symptoms of your plugin conflict, you probably made the changes that led to the issue for a reason. So, it’s important to do a little more digging to find the root of the problem and get your website in tip-top shape.

This means tracking down the plugin causing the conflict. If your site broke immediately after a specific installation or upgrade, you probably already know which tool is the culprit. However, automated and bulk updates may leave you in the dark.

🔌 Although bulk and automated plugin updates save time, they can make it harder to determine the cause of plugin conflicts. #WordPress Click To Tweet

If this is the case, the best place to start is deactivating all your plugins. To do so without access to the back end, you’ll need to connect to your server via FTP. Then, navigate to wp-content > plugins:

Accessing the plugin directory via FTP.

There are two ways to deactivate your plugins from here. You can either create a backup of all the files and delete them from your server, or you can simply rename the files on your server:

Renaming a plugin file via FTP.

Then, start re-activating each plugin one by one. Either upload your backup files one at a time, or change the file names back. Check your website after each reactivation to see if the conflict has re-occurred. Once it does, you’ll know that the most recently restored plugin is the one causing the issue.

Step 4: Delete, Replace, or Roll Back the Conflicting Plugin

Once you’ve determined which plugin (or plugins) is causing the conflict on your WordPress site, you have a few options for dealing with it. If it’s not integral to the function of your site, you may want to consider simply deleting it and going without.

If you do need the functionality the plugin provides, you can always search for an alternative. It’s pretty rare to not be able to find two plugins that provide similar features, so this shouldn’t be too difficult.

Finally, if a recent update instigated the plugin conflict on your site, you can roll it back. This simply means you’ll revert to the previous version of the plugin. One of the easiest methods for accomplishing this is with the WP Rollback plugin:

The WP Rollback plugin.

This tool enables you to select any version of a plugin and quickly restore it with minimal effort. Simply navigate to the Plugins area of your dashboard and click on the Rollback option:

The plugin rollback option.

Keep in mind that plugin updates are a vital security measure. Choosing to run outdated code on your WordPress site will leave it open to vulnerabilities, so this method isn’t recommended if you can delete or replace the plugin instead.

Step 5: Notify the Developer of the Problem

At some point during this process, it’s both wise and considerate to let the offending plugin’s developer know you’ve experienced a conflict. This will give them a chance to fix the problem in their code, or otherwise troubleshoot the error for other users.

For plugins found in the WordPress Directory, the easiest way to do this is via the support forum:

Accessing the plugin support forum via the WordPress Plugin Directory.

If your conflict involves a premium plugin, you’ll likely have to contact the developer directly by whatever means they’ve specified.

Recognizing Conflicts for 5 Popular Plugins 🤔

Since WordPress plugin conflicts can present themselves in many different ways, it can sometimes be difficult to recognize them right away. Below, we’ve discussed how this issue might appear when you’re using some of the most popular plugins available for WordPress.

We’ve also pointed out any known incompatibilities and suggested alternative solutions where applicable.

1. Gravity Forms Plugin Conflicts

The Gravity Forms plugin.

Gravity Forms is a popular plugin for creating contact forms, surveys, quizzes, and more. Having interactive elements on your site and enabling users to get in touch when they need to are both important, so making sure there are no conflicts that might interfere with this plugin’s functionality is key.

The developers do not have a list of known conflicts, but they do have a short Gravity Forms as well as a Debug Add-on. This handy tool is only available to those with an active Gravity Forms license, and enables you to test other plugins and themes for conflicts.

When you activate the Debug Add-on’s Conflict Tester feature, it will automatically deactivate all your other plugins and switch your site to a default theme. You can then reactivate your plugins one at a time to determine which one is causing the conflict.

2. Divi Builder Plugin Conflicts

The Divi Builder.

The Divi Builder is actually a theme, not a plugin. However, it includes page-building capabilities and its functionality can sometimes cause conflicts much like the ones we’ve been discussing throughout this post.

This sometimes results in the Divi Builder being absent from the post or page editor. Instead of being able to launch the drag-and-drop visual editor, you’ll just see a blank space where it’s supposed to be. If this is the case, you’ll want to start running through the steps to find and troubleshoot a plugin conflict.

Other times the Divi Builder may fail to load or modules may not open the way they’re supposed to. While there isn’t a list of conflicting plugins available, caching tools and any extension that impacts the way the default WordPress editor functions are the most likely to lead to problems.

3. WooCommerce Plugin Conflicts

The WooCommerce plugin.

As the most popular e-commerce plugin for WordPress, WooCommerce is vital to the success of many online retailers. Keeping known plugin conflicts in mind can help you avoid any errors that might cause you to miss out on sales.

WooCommerce’s developers have a list of known conflicts, which includes:

  • Easy PayPal Custom Fields. This plugin has not been updated since 2012, so it’s not recommended that you use it on your site. When installed with WooCommerce, this plugin prevents taxonomy archives from displaying products.
  • Frontpage Category Filter. Like Easy PayPal Custom Fields, this plugin has not been updated in several years and isn’t recommended for use. Additionally, when paired with WooCommerce, it messes up product variations and sale prices.
  • W3 Total Cache. Caching can be a helpful strategy for improving your site’s performance. However, the popular W3 Total Cache breaks the extensions WooCommerce Subscriptions and Follow Ups.
  • Yoast SEO. In addition to many other useful features for improving your site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Yoast can change your permalink structure to make it more readable. This breaks the WooCommerce checkout process. Fortunately, you can fix this by turning off the permalinks setting in Yoast.
  • WP Customer Reviews. Although customer reviews can help encourage more sales on your site, creating them with WP Customer Reviews adds HTML to the WooCommerce order confirmation emails.

While these plugins are known to cause conflicts, it’s still possible for other tools to lead to errors and other issues. Keep in mind that you’ll still want to follow best practices when installing or updating other plugins, too.

4. BackupBuddy Plugin Conflicts

The BackupBuddy plugin.

As you’ve likely already seen throughout the course of this post, backups are important, especially when things go wrong. Using a plugin such as BackupBuddy is one method for making copies of your site and saving them just in case.

The BackupBuddy developers have a list of common issues users experience with the plugin. While it doesn’t include a list of known conflicts, it does have some helpful troubleshooting tips you may want to consult.

Plugin conflicts with BackupBuddy sometimes appear in a few unique ways. If you see an error 9038 message reading HTTP Loopback Connections Disabled on the Backups page, you may want to start working through the steps for troubleshooting above.

You may also notice the BackupBuddy tab missing from the WordPress dashboard. This is sometimes the result of a plugin conflict, but may also be related to a WordPress Multisite issue.

5. Slider Revolution Plugin Conflicts

The Slider Revolution plugin.

Image sliders are particularly useful for those who need to display a large volume of images on their sites but don’t want to take up too much space doing so. Slider Revolution is one of the best premium tools on the market for creating these types of displays.

If you notice your images are not showing up in your slider, or that the display is missing entirely from your site, it could be the result of a plugin conflict. Although the developer doesn’t have a list of known conflicts, there are a few that have shown up repeatedly in support forums, including:

  • BJ Lazy Load: This plugin is outdated and no longer recommended for use. It also causes Slider Revolution displays to disappear.
  • The Events Calendar: Useful for a wide range of sites, The Events Calendar makes it easy to share, book, and keep attendees posted on upcoming occasions. Some users have found that, when installed alongside Slider Revolution, this plugin causes their image displays to disappear.
  • SiteOrigin Page Builder: Plugins such as the SiteOrigin page builder can go a long way to speed up your editing process while also giving you more customization options. Unfortunately, sometimes this tool conflicts with Slider Revolution.

Make sure to test these plugins before installing them alongside Slider Revolution. You may need to seek alternatives if you aren’t able to resolve the conflict.

How to Avoid WordPress Plugin Conflicts On Your Site 🙅‍♂️

Of course, it’s always ideal to avoid WordPress plugin conflicts in the first place, rather than having to troubleshoot them. There are several best practices you can follow to prevent this type of issue so you don’t have to wade into phpMyAdmin or FTP.

For starters, always carefully vet any plugin you’re thinking of adding to your site. Every plugin in the WordPress Directory includes key information that can tip you off to potential conflicts.

First, check the WordPress version and PHP version compatibility:

Checking the WordPress version and PHP version compatibility in the Plugin Directory.

This will let you know if the plugin might conflict with your WordPress installation’s core code. The date of the most recent version release is also important to note, as plugins that haven’t been updated within the last six months are more likely to produce errors:

Checking the latest plugin update in the WordPress Directory.

It’s also wise to check the plugin’s reviews and support forums to see if other users have experienced any conflicts. Additionally, you may want to consider taking the time to run updates one at a time to eliminate some of the guesswork if an error does come up.

Using a WordPress staging environment to test out plugins and updates before adding them to your live site can alert you to issues, too. This keeps the conflict from impacting your users and gives you a chance to find alternative solutions.

Finally, as you can see from the steps we listed above, having a recent backup comes in handy when you’re dealing with WordPress plugin conflicts. Setting up a reliable system for creating and saving them will help get your site up and running again quickly if need be.

Wrapping Up 🎁

WordPress plugin conflicts can cause serious problems for your website. Whether you’re missing key features and functionality or your entire site is down, this type of error can create frustration for your users and require time-consuming troubleshooting.

In this post, we walked you through five steps for resolving plugin conflicts on your WordPress site:

  1. Note any WordPress plugin conflict symptoms.
  2. Restore your last backup.
  3. Determine which plugin is causing the problem.
  4. Delete, replace, or roll back the conflicting plugin.
  5. Notify the developer of the problem.

At WP Buffs, we know how important it is to avoid downtime and errors on your site. That’s why our WordPress Care Plans include careful weekly plugin and theme updates. We move your tools up to the next version one at a time and carefully watch for any resulting issues. Check out our offers today!

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