How To Manually Disable or Deactivate WordPress Plugins

Eventually, you will need to know how to manually disable or deactivate WordPress plugins. Today I logged on with the intention of writing a post here on my site, and I noticed that I had quite a few WordPress Plugins that had updates waiting to be installed. I have an automated backup system that runs every night, so I knew that I already had a good backup in case something went wrong. If you are updating your WordPress site, always be sure that you have a recent backup! Anyway, I went to the Updates section from the WordPress Dashboard and checked the check-boxes of the plugins that I wanted to update. Then I clicked Update, and… uh-oh. I must have looked pretty funny sitting there staring at my laptop with my mouth wide open. The screen said “500 Internal Server Error”. 

I tried refreshing the page, no luck. I tried manually typing the address to the admin area, still “500 Internal Server Error”. Clearly something went wrong while I was updating the plugins, or one of the updates was incompatible with something else on my site. I could try to figure out which plugin was causing the problem and disable or uninstall it, except now I couldn’t even log in to my site to do anything at all!

Google to the rescue. I found a few different schools of thought on how to manually disable or deactivate WordPress plugins, but here is the method that I like best.

You will need to go to the CPanel (or dashboard area) of your web hosting account, and find the MySQL Database for the website that you are working with. You will need the username and password for the database, if you don’t know that information contact your web hosting support to point you in the right direction. Near the database name in the MySQL section you should see a button or link for Php MyAdmin for the database. Click that, and log in using the database username and password.

Click the name of your database on the left hand side, you will probably be on the Structure Tab. Click on the SQL Tab and simply paste this in to the big empty field:

UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = ‘a:0:{}’ WHERE option_name = ‘active_plugins’;

Then click GO at the bottom right. You have just run a SQL query!  You should see a message that the query completed successfully. Now, you should be able to see your website again. It may appear a little funny because all of the plugins are disabled. Next, from the regular Plugins area from the Dashboard, enable each plugin one at a time and refresh your site in a different window until you find the one that breaks the site. Pay attention to which plugin you just disabled, because you will be locked out of the site again!

Run that SQL query again to Manually Disable or Deactivate WordPress Plugins, then go back to the Plugins area and activate all of the plugins you want to use except for the one that caused the problem. You should go to the website of the Plugin and tell the support team about what happened, and see i they have any suggestions, etc.

I will be adding some screenshots and maybe a video to this post for a better visual example of how this is done.

I hope I’ve helped somebody today, please leave a comment below and share this post!


Tagged with:

Filed under: WordPress How To