How to Fix the Error Establishing a Database Connection in WordPress

If you have been surfing the web for a while, you have at least seen this error a few times. Error Establishing a Database Connection is one of those curses that could be caused by many reasons. As a WordPress beginner, this could be awfully frustrating specially when it happened on its own without you changing anything. We ran into this issue yesterday on our own site. It took a little over 20 minutes to detect and fix the problem. While doing the research to find possible causes, we realized that there was no good article that covered everything. In this article, we will show you how to fix the error establishing a database connection in WordPress by compiling a list of solutions all in one place.

Why do you get this error?

Well in short, you are getting this error because WordPress is unable to establish a database connection. Now the reason why WordPress is unable to establish a database connection can vary. It could be that your database login credentials are wrong or have been changed. It could be that your database server is unresponsive. It could be that your database has been corrupted. In our experience, majority of the times this error happens because of some sort of server error however there could be other factors as well. Lets take a look at how to go about troubleshooting this problem.

Does the problem occur for /wp-admin/ as well?

First thing you should do is to make sure that you are getting the same error on both the front-end of the site, and the back-end of the site (wp-admin). If the error message is the same on both pages “Error establishing a database connection”, then proceed onto the next step. If you are getting a different error on the wp-admin for instance something like “One or more database tables are unavailable. The database may need to be repaired”, then you need to repair your database.

Remember, the user does not need to be logged in to access this functionality when this define is set. This is because its main intent is to repair a corrupted database, Users can often not login when the database is corrupt. So once you are done repairing and optimizing your database, make sure to remove this from your wp-config.php.

If this repair did not fix the problem, or you are having trouble running the repair then continue reading this article as you might find another solution to work.

Checking the WP-Config file

WP-Config.php is probably the single most important file in your entire WordPress installation. This is where you specify the details for WordPress to connect your database. If you changed your root password, or the database user password, then you will need to change this file as well. First thing you should always check is if everything in your wp-config.php file is the same.

Check your Web Host (MySQL Server)

Often you will notice this Error establishing database connection when your site gets swarmed with a lot of traffic. Basically, your host server just cannot handle the load (specially when you are on shared hosting). Your site will get really slow and for some users even output the error. So the best thing you should do is get on the phone or livechat with your hosting provider and ask them if your MySQL server is responsive.

For those users who want to test if MySQL server is running yourself, you can do a few things. Test other sites on the same server to see if they are having the issue. If they are also getting the same error, then most definitely there is something wrong with your MySQL server. If you do not have any other site on this same hosting account simply go to your cPanel and try to access phpMyAdmin and connect the database. If you can connect, then we need to verify if your database user has sufficient permission. Create a new file called testconnection.php and paste the following code in it:

<?php
$link = mysqli_connect('localhost', 'username', 'password');
if (!$link) {
die('Could not connect: ' . mysqli_error());
}
echo 'Connected successfully';
mysqli_close($link);
?>
Make sure to replace the username and password. If the script connected successfully, then it means that your user has sufficient permission, and there is something else that is wrong. Go back to your wp-config file to make sure that everything there is correct (re-scan for typos).

If you cannot connect to the database by going to phpMyAdmin, then you know it is something with your server. It does not necessarily means that your MySQL server is down. It could mean that your user does not have sufficient permission.

This is a really frustrating error. What have you tried that seemed to work for you? We would be happy to expand on this resource, so others do not have to waste as much time finding a solution.

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