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Finding the Real Cause of Your Joomla Problems

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You may have already guessed, but the most common cause of your Joomla related problems is YOU! This is closely followed by hacking which will be discussed in a future post. However, even if the problem does stem from being hacked, it's probably still your fault because you haven't kept your site and extensions safe and secure. Updating your software and practicing good security measures is crucial.

So ask yourself, "What did I do?" And give yourself an honest answer. Did you recently install or enable a new extension? Have you updated any extensions or the Joomla core itself? Did you change any SEF settings or alter your .htaccess file? Imagine that you've lost your car keys and you're asking, "Where did I see them last?"

Also ask yourself this question - Will it be a faster fix by restoring a backup or solving the problem with the current install? Backup restorations take time and you will lose any data since your last backup, but in a serious situation it may be the best or only way to go. However, fixing problems on a current install may not be as hard as you think, especially when you can successfully reverse your actions and think like a detective.

The good thing is that you don't have to rely on your memory alone. For instance, Joomla provides an error reporting tool which can help to point you in the right direction. We will be publishing more information on Joomla's error reporting in future posts. There are also Extensions and other external tools that can be very helpful for troubleshooting Joomla problems.

We have a story of one developer who, while working hard at getting his new site build up and running smoothly, ran into a problem. While working away, and checking the front end to see how his fantastic changes were coming along, he noticed that most of the home page was broken. What happened? First panic of course. But then some detective work started. Since no new extensions could be identified, the developer began the arduous process of disabling EVERY Extension possible and then re-enabling them one by one.

Although this did take a bit of time, it worked! The offending Extension was found and left disabled, and the developer was able to move on and finish the site. This is probably one of the most common methods of troubleshooting issues such as broken image slide show Extensions, and anything that has to do with JavaScript.

We also heard about a developer that had very similar issues as the previous story, but didn't even REALIZE it until a day later...and the site was already live. Why wasn't it caught right away? It turned out that the site was being served through CloudFlare, a service we've written about previously and actually like a lot, and this was preventing the issue from being displayed right away. And when it came to troubleshooting, the first step turned out to be putting CloudFlare into developer mode to bypass its caching.

The point is that there are many problems that can be experienced when working with Joomla, or ANY web technology for that matter. Many issues look the same at the outset, but may have completely different causes and resolutions. Knowing how and where to start looking can save your sanity.

As we develop this series, we want to hear what problems plague you most and how you've solved them. Tell us your horror stories about Joomla problems below and what you've learned from the experience that would have saved you time had you known what to do from the beginning.

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Build A Joomla Website writer and moderator, lover of CSS...waiting for hockey season to start again.

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  • Stella Lindblom
    Stella Lindblom Tuesday, 30 July 2013

    1) Don't do anything in a panic!
    When you are panicked it's as if you have a sieve in front of our eyes. You just don't perceive reality as usual. You miss stuff, important stuff.

    2) If you don't know what is wrong but it looks fatal - lock the site down!
    Better to be safe than sorry. In lock down mode you have time to start breathing and do some planning instead of trashing your own site because you're stressed out and don't see clearly.

    3) Even if it doesn't look fatal - lock the site down!
    If you're stressed by the problems, you will probably do stupid things. At least, don't do them online. Don't be afraid to lock your site down - at least nothing will happen during that time. If you need to go back to an earlier backup, your users and co-workers will not have entered stuff that will be lost.

    4) Don't think your site is the most important thing in the world - it's not!
    Most of us want to do good and look good. We don't want to look like asses. The stress will make you do things that make you look like one. So take a deep breath and ask yourself "What is the worst thing that can happen right now?". It's probably not that a member might be offended because your site is temporarily down for security reasons...

    5) Don't set your stakes for 'perfect' - enough is enough!
    No site is perfect. No site 'has it all'. That is impossible. Don't reach for the impossible; you'll only be disappointed in yourself. Set an 'enough standard' and stick to it. That will give you time and space to take care of the invisible stuff, like security, reading up on new things, evaluate and evolve the site etc. Let your sites grow in accord with your learning.

    6) Stay in your 'comfy zone'
    Anything might happen at any time. That's life. Don't grow a site that is bigger than you can comfortably tend to. Trying to cater for all user's whims will make you flitting about all over leaving a messy trail in your site. Stay cool, clean up and keep it tidy so you don't trip and fall over left-overs when you are in a hurry. Know your site, even if it gets a little boring after a while.

    (All things you tell others is what you yourself need to hear the most... This time I needed to remind myself about #6.)

  • Robert Wilson
    Robert Wilson Wednesday, 31 July 2013

    Awesome response Stella! Thanks!

    How about a new mantra...."Keep Calm and Stay in Your Comfy Zone"??

    I think it's great advice to point out that if things get a little "boring" that's actually a good thing. It usually means you have things quite under control. The only thing I would add to that is make sure not to get complacent. When we're SURE we have things so under control that we're bored, we might start to miss things.

    Thanks again Stella.

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