Welcome to “webmaster wannabe 101” or how to fix your wordpress website although you have no idea what you’re doing.
Last week I logged in and I was greeted with this big message saying “Upgrade your WordPress already!” or something like that… So, in a “I’m gonna push that button” frenzy I upgraded to to WP 4.5.1. Three days later I couldn’t upload pictures anymore and I kept getting an “HTTP Error” message every time I tried. Uh-oh!
First reaction, of course, was to do some good old google searching. The most I could find about this error were some vague descriptions on stackoverflow and plenty of recommendations to call my provider. As someone who sometimes takes advice, I decided to call godaddy to figure out what is going on.
20 minutes of being on-hold later, I’m greeted by this guy who immediately tells me I have to “update the php.ini file to higher upload limit and upload it to the server via ftp”. This was followed by a long “ummmmmm” from me as I had no idea what language he spoke. He proceeded to send me a couple of links (1 and 2) with godaddy instructions on how to do it. I was still “ummming”… Seeing I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it, he offered to do it for the special price of $30 USD ($1 million CAD due to the exchange rate) but it would take a few hours. At this point I stopped ummming because 1. I want things fixed yesterday not in a few hours 2. I don’t want to pay $30 for something that myself, as a wannabe admin can probably do. So, impulsively I decided I shall follow the instructions and find my way. How hard can it be, right? Wrong. An hour and a half later I was wondering why I didn’t just pay the $$$. But, because I’m stubborn I did figure it out and now I know what needs to be done!
My biggest frustration points during this time were that the instructions from godaddy on how to update php.ini are not really instructions but a description of what should be in that file and that no one explains what “updating the php.ini file” actually means in non-technical terms. Researching felt like going down a rabbit hole and instead of ending in Wonderland I would end up in Phpland.
Regardless, stubbornness sometimes pays, meaning I did figure out what “update the php.ini file with higher upload limit and upload it to the server via ftp” really means and I actually did it. And as I finished and went to check my results, surprise! still not working. At this point I call godaddy again. Another hour later my support guy (great guy by the way) figures out that there was something else I needed to update in this php.ini file that wasn’t in the instructions or anywhere else in my research.
Having gone through the pain of figuring this out, I’ve decided to make the steps public. We are 7 billion people in the world and almost half of us have internet. I’m guessing that at some point, somewhere out there, someone will be me. Dear other me, if you have WordPress, your hosting provider is godaddy and you keep getting an HTTP error when uploading pictures, then here are the step-by-step instructions:
1. Call godaddy and confirm that you need to “update the php.ini file with higher upload limit and upload it to the server via ftp”. Since you’re here see if they still want to charge $30. If no, let them do it. If yes, ask them if you’re on php 5. Then go to step 2
2. Install FileZilla
3. If you don’t know your FTP credentials log in to your godaddy account to get your FTP username and password. Go to My Products > Click on Manage next to Web Hosting. Under Settings sections you will see FTP users. In the pop up click on actions and change username or change password or whatever you need.
4. Open Filezilla and in host fill in your domain without http:// part. Add your username and password as per step 3. For port put 21. Click quickconnect
5. Once you’re connected you should see a tree on the right side where it says remote sites. Click on “/”. Under Filename section you should find either php.ini or php5.ini
6. If you found php.ini then rename it to php5.ini because probably the server is on php5. You should already know this from 2 minutes ago when you called go daddy (step 1)
7. In the right panel of filezilla select a folder. I usually select desktop because I’m lazy
8. Copy from the right panel to the left panel (remote to local) your php5.ini file
9. If you’re doing this on a Mac, turn it off and buy a PC. I gave up trying to figure out how to open php5.ini file in a Mac. Once you buy a PC go back to step 1
10. Go to where your local php5.ini file is located and open it with either notepad or wordpad
11. Search for the following variables:
12. Once you find them change them as per number 13
13. If you can’t find them copy/paste at the beginning of the file:
file_uploads = On
post_max_size = 50M
upload_max_filesize = 50M
memory_limit = 256
max_execution_time = 600
14. Save the file and go back to Filezilla
15. Copy from left side to right side the php5.ini file aka from local to remote. It will ask you if you want to replace. Click yes
16. Go to your godaddy account as per step 3. Instead of Settings go to Stats & Monitoring sections and click on system processes.
17. Click on end all
18. Wait a few minutes
19. Go to your website and try uploading pictures.
20. If it doesn’t work then call godaddy again.
I’m pretty certain that all these steps seem quite trivial for people who actually know what php.ini and ftp are or what they do. Put for wannabes like me, they sound a bit like an alien language. Hence the lost 2.5 hours that I could have probably used catching up on sleep. Hopefully one day, these steps will let someone sleep more one day..