A WordPress Nightmare!

Posted on Sunday 17 February 2008

First off let me apologize to everyone, for my being off the air for so long!

Part of the issue was almost back to back holidays. We didn’t plan it that way, but that’s the way it happened. The first holiday was a spontaneous “get away”, just to shake out the stuff that had been accumulating between our ears – that took about a week <grin>.

The second holiday happened due more to coincidence than intentional timing. Our daughter, is a professional singer and frequently accepts contracts to entertain on cruise ships. The current ship was the Westerdam on Holland America.

We always try to attend one of her cruises whenever she performs. It’s practically the only chance we get to see her entertain and getting away to exotic places is a real bonus. This time it was the Caribbean (which is great when you are up to your hairline in snow this time of year) and unfortunately the only real opening that they had was just after our last holiday (a little early – but we decided then or never!) So, we took it!

So those two holidays (which were awesome and really worth taking) set me up for this nightmare that I have just experienced. As you may have noticed, my last posting was just before February, and I was starting to have a few issues with WordPress (the engine that my blog runs on) and an upgrade (a newer version/minor fix) was necessary.

So, I took the advice from WordPress and followed their upgrade procedures and BOOM, DISASTER!

Wrong username/password. Access denied.

Error establishing a database connection

This either means that the username and password information in your wp-config.php file is incorrect or we can’t contact the database server at localhost. This could mean your host’s database server is down.

So I worked on this issue a little before my first holiday, but not having shell access and having to use some PHP based tools (provided by the hosting service) that did not work/respond very well and my lack of knowledge of MySQL (I’m a Unix SysAdmin/Flat files kinda guy) did not help at all.

So I submitted a trouble ticket listed as CRITICAL (the highest level of emergency) with my hosting service – the date was January 30th (my time, January 31st theirs) and left on holidays hoping for the best…

I returned after my first holiday, hoping that the problem had been resolved. But much to my dismay, nothing was done and so on February 4th I posted a reminder “Hey, remember me with the critical ticket? Hello?” And left shortly of on Holidays again!

On return from my second Holiday (around February 10th), I found my ticket market CLOSED with a cheerful note saying…

Thank you for the enquiry. WordPress keeps its passwords in the MySQL database, so provided you have access to your Cpanel, you should be able to reset it:


Let me know if you have any problems with that.

Well the link does indeed show me how to reset my password and indeed I mentioned that it was possible that this might have been the issue. But that was it (save for an offer to give me shell, or SSH or Secure SHell access) and it was automatically closed! For those who are interested the “Cpanel” is a Control panel access given to monitoring your website (for when you don’t have shell access.)

So I tried several password changes and restoring of some of the WordPress files that I had, but nothing seemed to work at all. So on the 13th of February I figured I would send another call for help and ask for that shell access. Hoping it would make this task, and anything in future easier to handle.

On the 14th (their time) I received a response telling me that I now had shell access and advising me that they will let me do “my thing” but near the end of the message was added a wonderful line…

Please let me know if you’d like me to still look into it from this end.

So on the 16th (by the way this trouble ticket is still marked CRITICAL) I quickly replied that if they had any time or inclination it would be greatly appreciated as I probably would not be able to look at the problem for a day or two.

February 18th – today – I finally get a chance to dedicated some time to the issue. I check the trouble ticket log and no comments, I check the web page and no change… sigh…

It would seem that I really am left to my own ends. So now using the shell access that I have been given I dig deeper and deeper and discover that it does not “appear” to be a password issue at all, but rather it is a) a database problem or b) WordPress is “confused”.

After doing a lot of research on WordPress.org, I find that a lot of other people have run into this problem before and the “fix” is always the same. Delete the old WordPress and install the new one…sigh…

So after making backups of my databases, and hoping they aren’t the issue, I delete my older version of WordPress and install the newer one… and things start to work. I can at least log into my Blog administration site (even that I couldn’t do before!)

When I logged in as administrator, I was prompted to upgrade my database to meet the new database format requirements of WordPress… The upgrade detects over 50 errors (could this be the original issue?)

I tentatively then try to load the blog itself – and wonder of wonders… it works!

I haven’t had a chance to check too closely, but it would appear most of my old articles ar still there, however I am not sure if the older Trackbacks that link to other websites that I talked about will still work or not. Nor do I know if older pages that someone may have bookmarked will work or not… All this I am sure I will find out in time.

So there you have my nightmare and the history of a trouble ticket which was flagged as CRITICAL, but still took 19 Days to resolve, and in the end, the user himself had to fix it himself!

For all my readers who were inconvenienced, or otherwise affected, I offer my sincerest apologies and for those who may be interested about my hosting provider, just check out www.planetdomain.com…

Till next time…

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