Website Stops Working After Enabling a Joomla System Plugin

Nearly every day we get the following call from one of our client:

“Hi – my Joomla website stopped working all of a sudden – I’m not even able to login to the backend! This is an emergency, can you help?”

“Of course we can help!”, we answer, and even though we know the likely cause of this problem, we ask the client if he did anything that may have caused this problem.

“Nothing that I can remember – except that I enabled (or installed) a Joomla plugin.”

“And is that a system plugin?”, we ask.

“I don’t know what a system plugin is – but maybe!”

In case you’re wondering, here’s what happened:

  • The client installed a system plugin or an extension package that contained a system plugin.
  • The installation script automatically enabled the system plugin or the client manually enabled it.

  • The system plugin was…

    • incompatible with the Joomla version OR
    • incompatible with the PHP version OR
    • has an error in the code.
  • Since the system plugin runs on all the pages (including the admin pages) by default – and since there’s “something wrong” about it – then the whole website will become dysfunctional (either it will display a blank page or there’ll be an error on every page of the website).

Now, you might wonder, how can someone know if enabling a plugin will break his website? The answer to this question is simple: There is no non-technical and straightforward way to tell whether enabling a plugin will break a Joomla website or not – the only way to tell is to either enable it and see what will happen, or try enabling it on a test website, and if everything works fine, then install the plugin and enable it on the production website.

But what if the plugin was already enabled and the whole website went down? What can be done to restore the website to its normal functionality? Well, at this point, since even the admin section no longer works, the Joomla administrator can either call some Joomla experts (such as us!) to fix the website, or disable the plugin from phpMyAdmin in the jos_extensions table (jos_ should be replace with the database prefix in the configuration file), or physically delete the plugin from the filesystem. Please note that the last 2 actions may cause even bigger (and potentially irreversible) problems if done incorrectly – so the best option is to always call some Joomla experts if the administrator is not a technical person.

If your Joomla website stopped working after you have enabled a plugin and if you’re hesitant (and rightfully so) to take the necessary actions yourself to address the problem, then we suggest you contact us! We can solve the problem in no time and we don’t charge much – we’re also very friendly and we’re really nice people to work with!

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