How to switch WordPress theme via FTP when you can’t login to dashboard

Is your WordPress dashboard broken? How can you fix it if you can’t get to the WordPress Dashboard? Maybe your site seems ok until you try to login, then it is all broken? Lets see if we can fix it.  Before trying anything complicated, try reloading the page a few times. Wait a minute or 3 & try again. If that helps then maybe the problem is with your web host or your server may be overloaded.

If you switch to a different theme can you login to the WP Dashboard?
If you disable all plugins can you login to the WP Dashboard?

It is ok to disable plugins first or switch themes first. Your choice. I’ll start with the theme. You’ll need FTP for them both.

HOW TO SWITCH THEME without using WordPress Dashboard:
If you can’t login to the dashboard you can still change themes by using PHPMyAdmin.

• 1. Log in to the phpMyAdmin that is associated with your WordPress database.
• 2. In the WordPress database, locate the wp_options table (or similar name).
• 3. Select the template option, then change the value to twentyfourteen .
• 4. Select the stylesheet option, then change the value to twentyfourteen
• 5. Select the current_theme option, then change the value to twentyfourteen
• Done! You have switched your WordPress theme to the default twenty fourteen theme.

If you are using DreamHost PHPMyAdmin is here:

The db host name, username & pw are all in the config.php file at the root of your WP site.  You can see that with FTP or SFTP.

Hot Tip: –> A quick way to find the 3 theme selection fields is to sort the db by option_value, which you can do by clicking the column title twice. They will then be together.

DoubleClick to edit value, or use the “Edit” button on the same row. Click accurately!
Stay away from the “Delete” buttons!
You can get the exact name of the theme to switch to by using FTP to look at /wp-content/themes/
You can use that name (probably no spaces, no caps) in all 3 places as mentioned in the link above.
You can switch to “twentyfourteen” or any unmodified “year” theme that you have in that themes folder.

If changing the theme lets you login to the dashboard, that indicates a problem in the theme or associated files. You’ve successfully diagnosed the problem!

If your site has a major problem; you can’t login to the dashboard, but you can still disable the plugins via FTP. In many cases that will un-break the site enough so you can get back in. Login to the site via FTP .
Navigate to /wp-content/
Make a new folder in wp-content/ I usually call it; plugins-DISABLED
Move all plugins from /wp-content/plugins/ to this new folder.
Done! All plugins are disabled.

Check for function. Obviously without your plugins, some fancy parts of the site will not work, but in this simple system, all the basics ought to work such as the dashboard & login. That is what we need to know, and it tells us where the problem is.

If you are now able to get to the dashboard, or do whatever wasn’t working, that is great! You may now enable plugins, one at a time, and test for problems before enabling the next one. You might need to login out & back in to really see a plugin problem.

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