Can't Get Into Your Site? Here's What To Do.

Authored By: James LePage
Published On: May 17, 2020

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We created this quick guide to help you get back into your WordPress website if you were locked out. We know that there are a lot of other articles online that discuss how best to do this, but we feel that they're lacking in guidance and screenshots. Especially if you're a first-time user of the WordPress CMS, and you're probably extremely lost and frustrated right now. Let us try to help you.

 When you're locked out of your WordPress website, the first thing to do is identify the reason behind it. Did you simply forget your password? Is there a plug-in that is causing this lockout issue?

Assuming you can access the frontend…

(if you can’t skip to the next section)

If you forgot your password, the best thing to do is use the lost password functionality on the WordPress login page. 

Underneath your login box, you will see a “lost your password?” link. Click on that link,  enter your username or password, and hit reset password. Then check the email of your user account, and you should have received a password reset email. By clicking on the link in the password reset email, you'll be sent back to your website and can now reset your password using the input field.

That Doesn’t Work

Typically, if we're linking you to this article or if you've ended up on it from a Google search, because the issues a bit deeper than that. Perhaps you have forgotten your username and your password, it could be that the frontend login doesn't work, or maybe you're simply not receiving the reset password email.

The first thing to do is check if it's a plug-in problem.  A major reason behind failed logins are security plugins.  If you were using a plug-in like Securi or WordFence, both solutions that we recommend should be implemented in your website, they may be recognizing you as a false attacker and locking you out of your own website.

The quickest way to check if it's a plugin problem is to deactivate these plug-ins.  Because you can't access your front end, you can't go the traditional route of clicking the deactivate button in the plug-in section of your website. 

Instead you'll need to log in via FTP to where your website is hosted.  the way you go about doing this difference between hosts, but you will need to get your credentials, and use an FTP client like Filezilla to do this. You can search up host-specific tutorials on Google, I guarantee you will find one that works for you.

Once you have logged into your FTP, and are in your WordPress root folder, you need to navigate to your plugins directory.

Wp-content → Plugins.  Now you can deactivate the individual plugins that you think may be the issue by simply renaming the folder. For example:

If we needed to deactivate Akismet for this website, we’d simply add _OLD to the end of this. This will deactivate the plugin. We can go back to the wp-login.php  page of our website and see if the plugin was blocking our login. 

 If nothing changes but you still think it may be a plug-in, we recommend going ahead and deactivating every plugin included in your website. There's no point to having a running website if you can't get in, and while deactivating is plugins will break your site for a little bit, simply naming them back to their old name and activating them via the frontend will make your site fully functional again. 

That Didn’t Work?

Make a new user via PHPMYADMIN

If none of the above methods worked, your last resort is making a new user via phpmyadmin, going into the back end of your WordPress website, and debugging from there. There's an issue with the website, and to find it you need access to it. By making the new user in phpmyadmin, you'll have another log into a user with administrative capabilities.

This is fairly complicated, and if you click the wrong rows, you could break your site. We are going to walk you through step-by-step how to do this (with screenshots), and if you follow the instructions here, you will have a new administrative user login to get into your website.

PHPMYADMIN manages the database behind your WordPress website. In this database, all user information blog posts, and any dynamic information that is stored and then called when loading a page is on this database.

What we are going to do is add several new rows to this database which will create a new user login with administrative capabilities for your WordPress website.

To access this database, you typically need to log into your web host, and navigate to the phpmyadmin. If you're using a cpanel host, you can access PHPMYADMIN by going to the advanced settings of your host, searching for PHPMYADMIN and then clicking on the logo. You should be automatically logged in.  

If you have trouble locating your PHPMYADMIN or difficulties logging in, you may want to get support from your host. You can also Google host specific tutorials on how to access phpmyadmin, and I guarantee you'll find one that works for you.

If you have several WordPress websites on your hosting plan, you will probably have multiple tables to choose from in the left-hand menu. One of these databases is connected to your website. If you're lucky you would have titled it a unique identifier that you can remember a nice to your website. If you're not, it's a random collection of letters and numbers -- you’ll need to figure out which one is specific to the site you’re trying to log into. 

You can find the one that you need to focus on by either taking a look at your wp-config file via FTP (you’re looking for the line that says “define( 'DB_NAME', 'database_name_here' );”), or by going into each individual database entry and locating your respective site name in the wp_options.

In this example, we’re working on the ElementorQA database. We found it’s name by going into the WP-Config file and seeing this record define( 'DB_NAME', 'elementorqa' );

The first thing we always recommend doing is backing up your database. This mitigates the risk of damaging your website -- if you click the wrong thing you can simply restore the old database.

Click on the database for your website. Then click on the Export tab.

Then click the “Go” button. The database will be downloaded to your computer.

Now, let’s add a new admin user via PHPMYADMIN. First, these are the only 2 tables you’ll be using. If you find yourself in something other than WP_USERS & WP_USERMETA, you’re in the wrong place. 

Here’s a checklist on what to do. For guidance with screenshots, keep scrolling. 

Step By Step Instruction On Adding An Admin User Via PHPMYADMIN:

  1. Click the _users table
  2. Click the Insert tab
  3. Fill in the following fields.
    • ID is any number you choose
    • user_login is the username for accessing the WordPress Dashboard.
    • user_pass is the password for the user. Make sure to select MD5 in the functions menu
    • user_nicename is the nickname for the user
    • user_email is the email address you want to associate with this user
    • user_registered is the date and time for when this user is registered
    • user_status should be set to 0
    • display_name is the name that will be displayed for this user on your site

Click GO.

Click the _usermeta table

Click the Insert tab

Fill in the following fields:

  • user_id is the ID you entered in the previous step
  • meta_key should be the phrase wp_capabilities

Click GO. What this does is give the new user that you just created administrative privileges. 

On the same table, hit insert again.

  • user_id is the same number you entered in the previous step
  • meta_key should be the phrase wp_user_level
  • meta_value should be the number 10

Click GO.

You should now be able to log into your WordPress website using your username and password that you just set via the /wp-login.php login page.

If this didn't work, you may want to go back and disable your plugins, and then try to log into the website using your new administrative login.

Sometimes it's not worth all the hassle and struggle that comes with trying to get back into your WordPress website. Isotropic offers a Consulting division where we will walk you through the steps on how to do this in person, or do it ourselves for you. If you would like to schedule a consultation, you can use our self scheduling system. If you would like us to create a new record in your database to help you get back into your website, reach out via the live chat to the right. We would love to help you!

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James LePage is the founder of Isotropic Design, a digital agency that builds WordPress websites. I read, write and design constantly!

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