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Theme keeps breaking

  • I recently took over admin duties for an organization called the American Club of Lille. They were using WordPress 2.3 hosted on a server run by one of their members (to which I have FTP access).

    As one of the first steps in repairing and updating their site, I updated the WordPress to 3.5. There wasn’t an automatic upgrade button on such an old version, so I did it manually:
    -I asked the server owner to back up the databases.
    -Made a local copy of all the files on the server.
    -Downloaded 3.5 as a zip.
    -Deleted wp-admin and wp-includes, uploaded ones from zip.
    -Merged wp-content from zip with existing wp-content, overwriting where necessary.
    -Uploaded loose files from zip to the directory containing the directories wp-content, wp-admin, etc

    Thankfully everything seemed to work right off the bat. Until it didn’t.

    No matter which theme I select, it will stay that way from a few minutes up to hours, then will switch to a blank screen and then to the default theme.

    I deleted the default theme and now it resets to the TwentyTwelve theme instead. I tried disabling all plugins and nothing changed. I’ve tried automatically reinstalling 3.5 via the button on the dashboard, but no change. I’ve checked the file permissions based on advice from other threads; they all seem to be 755.

    If I log into the dashboard while the website is displaying a white page, I see: “ERROR: The themes directory is either empty or doesn’t exist. Please check your installation.”. Once I click to the themes page, everything is fine, and going back to the dashboard shows the TwentyTwelve theme selected.

    I haven’t been able to figure out what’s causing the random reset, let alone how to fix it.

    Please help me figure out how to get the theme to stay put. If you need any info I didn’t provide, let me know and I’ll be happy to give it.

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
  • It looks like you might need to review the steps in the Extended Upgrade Procedure to make sure you didn’t skip any of the steps.

    For example, did you run the WordPress upgrade program after doing the initial upload of files in order to upgrade the database? I’m not sure if it would be done if you reinstall. That might be it.

    linux4me2, perhaps that is it.

    I clicked through the link you posted and reinstalled following those instructions religiously.

    At the moment, I’m waiting to see if the problem occurs again; I’ll be sure to post if it does. Thanks.

    It just happened again. And when I login to the dashboard, I again see:
    “ERROR: The themes directory is either empty or doesn’t exist. Please check your installation.”

    esmi

    @esmi

    Forum Moderator

    Did you make a backup at each upgrade step? Did you check the site thoroughly after each upgrade step?

    I made backups at the beginning, and I asked the server owner to back up the databases.

    What should I have checked after each step? The site started displaying a php error when I started deleting files, and stopped when I was finished uploading all the new files. I checked to make sure the upload/download/delete occurred correctly if that’s what you mean. I’m not being sarcastic; I don’t know what you mean.

    This should not be marked as resolved. That was a mistake. Can a mod “un-resolve” this thread?

    “ERROR: The themes directory is either empty or doesn’t exist. Please check your installation.”

    This message, along with the theme resetting itself to default from time to time, leads me to suspect that your problem is somewhat deeper than WordPress.

    If a drive is failing or if the drive is on the network and the network temporarily becomes inaccessible, then this can lead to directories “disappearing” for a short time on a unix-based machine.

    If you happen to access WordPress at that time, and the wp-content directory or themes directory or theme directory is not there, then WordPress will switch to default. It has no choice, really, the theme it’s trying to find isn’t there.

    So I’d ask your host to look closely at the drives in that machine, or check the network connections, or something else. This is indicative of a failing filesystem.

    And make *darned* sure you get a total and complete backup of that site, immediately. If the drive fails and there’s no backups… yikes.

    Samuel Wood, I’ve forwarded your post to the server owner and asked him to verify normal function on his end.

    Also, I’m pinging the host every second from now until after it resets again, then I’ll check the results for anything unusual.

    If a drive is failing or if the drive is on the network and the network temporarily becomes inaccessible, then this can lead to directories “disappearing” for a short time on a unix-based machine.

    How long would the drive have to be offline for? I pinged the host every second and then every half a second and waited for the error to occur again – no packets were lost and the longest one took < 400ms to come back. Then again, I don’t know if pinging is useful here. From what I understand, all these files would be on the same drive/machine, right? So for the themes folder to become inaccessible for a short while because the drive is blinking out, it should become inaccessible to me for a short period, right? Or am I an idiot?

    esmi

    @esmi

    Forum Moderator

    How long would the drive have to be offline for?

    At a guess, less than 1 second.

    From what I understand, all these files would be on the same drive/machine, right?

    That would be my understanding, yes.

    Or am I an idiot?

    Well, it all sounds quite logical and correct to me. Are you running this server locally?

    Are you running this server locally?

    No, the hosting is provided by a member of the club – the site existed for years before I came along. I don’t know if he owns his own server, whether it’s real or virtual, or if he just has a paid hosting plan somewhere. I still haven’t received a response from him.

    Well, it all sounds quite logical and correct to me.

    Ok, but I pinged the server every half second until after the site broke again. None of the pings failed to come back, and none of them took longer than 400 ms. Should I try pinging more quickly if it may only be blinking out for less than a second?

    esmi

    @esmi

    Forum Moderator

    I think you need to speak to whoever is hosting the site – either your club member or (even better) the actual hosting company. It’s really not up to you to diagnose server issues and you don’t really have access to the right tools to do it properly.

    In terms of evidence for a server problem, check your site’s error logs (assuming you have access to them). They may provide the evidence that you need to create a ticket with the hosts.

    check your site’s error logs (assuming you have access to them)

    I have FTP access to the subdomain. Would I be able to find them that way? I don’t know much about this kind of stuff.

    Pinging the site won’t help, so you might as well stop doing it.

    Bottom line is that you don’t have the kind of access to the server that you need to diagnose the issue. You need root access, to examine the logs. You need physical access, to examine the drives.

    You need to tell the host, basically. And if they don’t fix it, then you need to switch to a new host.

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
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