Tips & Tricks

7 Reasons Why Your WordPress Plugins or Themes Won’t Install

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WordPress is undoubtedly one of the best content management systems out there, but by far, is not a problem-free platform. You may encounter issues right off the bat, starting with the very basic theme installation, continuing with plugins to only find out that the server is not up to the requirements.

One of those common issues include themes and plugins installation failures and in this article, we will be covering the reason why these issues happen.


There can be many reasons behind a plugin or theme not successfully being installed. To solve them, you need to identify the problem at hand and know the exact reason behind it. So let’s get started!


1. Unsupported file format uploaded

The first reason that we need to check is whether you have uploaded the right file format or not. WordPress supports only the zip format when uploading a plugin or theme. If you use other formats, it will throw a “bad format” error. This means that you have not uploaded the right files provided by the theme or plugin developer.

To solve the issue, we recommend getting in touch with the developer or the online digital shop you got your plugin/theme from, and download the right files. If you are still confused, then you should talk with their support and get it resolved.

Also, don’t try to unzip the zip file and then upload it. WordPress only supports the zip format, and you should stick to it. Dealing with issues when building a website from scratch can be frustrating, so try to limit these situations.


2. Memory Limit Issues

Another common cause of plugins or themes not getting installed is the memory limit issue. The issue occurs due to the PHP memory limit set too low for the task. It is a limit that is set by the web hosting provider which define the memory a PHP script can use.

If the memory used while uploading a plugin or theme is larger than what you have set, it will not let you upload or install your plugin. This is a webhosting issue.

Usually, web hosts on which the error appears aren’t quite the most reliable on the long run. So make sure you’ve done your homework before picking up a host. Feel free to ask on forums and why not, read reviews from qualified reviewers before finalizing your web hosting plane to find the right webhost, with a good balance of price and features.

Here’s how this type of error could look like:

Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 33554432 bytes exhausted

The fix is also easy. All you need to do is increase the memory limit by adding the following line of code to the wp-config.php file.

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');

If the changes are not implemented, and you still get the same error, this means that the hosting provider has put a hard limit on the server and you need to contact them to unlock it for you.


3. Missing files in the zip file

Awesome, you have the right zip file, but guess what, the installation still fails. This can happen because of a missing file or a corrupt zip file.

A theme or plugin is successfully installed if WordPress finds all the necessary files for installation. To avoid the issue, you might want to unzip the file and review what it has inside. If the zip file is not corrupt, it will unzip without any issue. You may also want to know what’s the content of the file is. By checking it, you can be sure of what you are going to install.

Furthermore, you can cross-check the zip contents against the WordPress file recommendation. If they match, then you are good to go. If you see some file missing, then don’t forget to contact the developer and get it fixed before trying to install it again.

You can check the WordPress plugin package structure here and WordPress theme package here.


4. File size limits exceeded

Just like memory limit, the file size that you upload on WordPress is also limited. This is done to ensure that moderators or other users don’t upload huge files that can clog the server space.

However, this may conflict with some plugins or themes that are large in size compared to other plugins or themes out there. This issue is also seen when working even with the best website builders out there.

To solve the issue, you need to update a simple directive in the php.ini file.

To do so, you need to access WordPress files through FTP manager or control panel. Once you are there, you need to find the wp-admin folder. There you will find the php.ini file and then put or modify the code accordingly.

upload_max_filesize = 800M
post_max_size = 1500M
memory_limit = 2800M
file_uploads = On
max_execution_time = 120

You can change any of the above values according to your requirements. For bigger file sizes, you need to change the upload_max_filesize directive. Also, if you don’t see the php.ini file in the wp-admin folder, you can create one manually yourself and add the above code to increase the file size limit.

But be cautious because this could break your server, thus, your website. It’s best to get in touch with your web hosting provider though.


5. User Role Restrictions

User role restrictions can also dither your attempt to install WordPress themes and plugins. Generally, it all depends on what role you have.

If you have an administrator role, you will be able to install themes and plugins without any issues. However, if you have restricted access, you might want to ask the administrator to allow you to install without the need for a higher role.

This problem occurs mainly when a client wants to update the site not knowing that they don’t have the administrative account with all the full privileges. Also, even when you have the permission to install, you may be locked out because some plugins or themes requires administrative privileges for that.


6. Installing from a Multi-site network

A multi-site network functions differently, and hence you need to be aware of that. Most of the time, multi-sites are set up by an administrator who closely controls how a website within a network behaves and functions.

The network admins can also disable the theme and plugin installation to ensure that other users do not bloat websites without permission. That’s why you need to install it without the network admins permission. Also, some plugins or themes doesn’t support multi-site which can lead to issues.


7. You don’t know what the error is all about

The last reason behind having issues installing WordPress themes and plugins can be because you have no clue what’s happening.

WordPress is aimed towards new users and most of the time, they’re not quite tech-savvy to understand the errors that show up on the screen. If you bought a new theme or plugin and trying to install, only to get an error that you never saw, then you may want to ask a web dev for help.

Some plugins and themes are dependent on other plugins or components. During installation, you may be asked to install a couple dependencies as well, to have things working smoothly. If you skip the steps the installation might not work as expected.


Wrapping Up

Having troubles during the installation process of a WordPress theme or plugin can be frustrating. I hope this article will shed some light on a series of issues you might’ve been facing during your experience with WordPress. If you did, then don’t forget to share your stories with us in the comment section below.

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