Support » Fixing WordPress » Plugins and Themes cannot be activated or deactivated

  • Background

    I am running WP 4.9.8.

    I setup a new site in my WP multisite network recently and I can no longer activate or deactivate any plugins or themes at the site level nor can I network-activate or network-deactivate any plugins or themes at the network level.

    What Happens

    When I try to activate or deactivate a plugin or theme at the site or network level, I get a white screen message in WordPress that states “the link has expired”.

    What is also strange is when I move from any admin panel page to any other admin panel page, I can momentarily see a white screen with a single backtick (`) in the upper left corner of the screen for a second or two before the target admin page loads.

    <strong>What I Know Existed At One Point In Time</strong>

    I did happen to catch that my theme’s functions.php file had a backtick in the file at the very beginning of the file preceding the initial <?php. I removed it and replaced the functions.php file on the server.

    <strong>What I Have Done Thus Far</strong>

    I have looked at every row in the column in the wp_35_* mysql tables including all the wp_35_options key/value data and there is no backtick in the database whatsoever.

    I have removed the entire theme directory for this site from the server.

    I installed the WP-Optimize plugin, trying anything I can think of, and ran it and it did not resurrect the site.

    Also, the wp_35_options table has a key active_plugins and a value of a:0:{}. Yet, all 15 plugins that were present when I set the site up yesterday still appear in the list. It is as if there is some sort of cached version on my admin panel — but I do not have any cache plugins installed or running.

    I Need Help

    Essentially this site is dead in the water and I cannot do anything with it.

    Has anyone experienced something like this?
    How did you resolve it?
    Any thoughts on other troubleshooting methods?

    • This topic was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  sme44.
    • This topic was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  sme44.
    • This topic was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  sme44.
Viewing 14 replies - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • Moderator t-p


    Yeah, I read through that post yesterday @t-p and that did not give me any insight into my issue.

    Moderator t-p


    Ha ha…Yeah — I posted it @t-p 🙂

    It’s loaded in a separate browser tab…

    Moderator t-p


    Also check wp-config file, and your theme’s functions.php for any snippet that might be doing it.

    As stated in the OQ — I removed the theme entirely from the server. Therefore, there is no physical functions.php file on the server for this theme.

    And what might I be looking for in the wp-config.php file @t-p?

    Continued Troubleshooting

    1. Method 1 – Disable Plugins = did not wipe the plugin list of 15 installed plugins…they still all appeared
    2. Method 2 – Replace Theme = did not solve the problem
    3. Method 3 – Review Theme’s functions.php script file = since the theme did not exist, there was not functions.php file to review
    4. Method 4 – Reinstall a fresh copy of WordPress = did not solve the problem
    5. Method 5 – Turn On Error Debugging = did not show anything but the backtick still appears
    6. Method 7 – Install Health Check Plugin = did not reveal anything

    Moderator t-p


    Have you discussed this with your hosting provider?

    No, I did not @t=p.

    Why would the 34 other sites in the network work?

    I know my hosting provider will tell me they do not troubleshoot applications – they merely manage my servers. They’ve said that to me frequently over the years when I stretch the boundaries of the support service.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  sme44.
    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  sme44.

    I even deleted this site from the WP network in its entirety and then added it back.

    When I added it back, I got all the plugins showing up as “network enabled” even when I did not yet enable them.

    It is almost like there is some sort of cache issue here in the database or something…

    Moderator t-p


    Sorry, I’m out ideas.

    The answer lies somehow in getting rid of the expired links. They get in the way and prevent me from network/site updates to Themes and Plugins. Just need to figure out how to flush these links…

    More Troubleshooting 9/22/18:

    Added these to .htaccess file = did not solve the issue

    # 2018-09-22 added per suggestion found on web
    <IfModule mod_php5.c>
    php_value max_execution_time 300
    php_value post_max_size 64M
    php_value upload_max_filesize 64M
    #php_value upload_max_size (value setting does not exist on my machine)
    php_value max_input_time 1000
    php_value memory_limit 256M
    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  sme44.

    Also installed this plugin ( and it too did not remove the expired link to the stray backtick the appears in the white screen.

Viewing 14 replies - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.