On one of my sites, Bogota Colombia Tourism, I have been having a lot of trouble with the RSS feed. For some reason, clicking the RSS feed button resulted in a page with every bit of text on the site on a single page. I have never seen this problem before and Dr. Google didn’t have a quick answer for me. This problem, along with a host of other annoyances, led me to conclude the best option was to do a complete reinstall of WordPress. Here are the steps I took to complete the re-installation:
- The first step is to make a complete backup of the site. I use FileZilla to handle FTP access to my sites. So I fired up the FTP program and copied all the site’s files to a local hard drive. This included all graphics, comments and posts. This site is pretty small at around 14 Megabytes, so the FTP process took about ten minutes.
- Being extra cautious, I also went into the site as Admin and cut and pasted the published versions of my posts to local Word documents to ensure that I had copies of my posts in a format I could easily use to repopulate the site.
- I also cut and pasted each of my site’s pages into new Word documents in my local computer. This would allow me to easily recreate the pages. During this, I noted several areas for improvement in my page arrangement and set up. Do you really need to allow comments on 301 redirects? No, not really; so the new version will have no commenting on redirects.
- The next decision was tough. I had some of my first real comments on this site. I still remember the amazing feeling that someone out in the world had read and appreciated my content. Unfortunately, I know of no easy way to preserve comments across site deletions. I will try to research this later and recreate the comments from my backup, but for now the decision was to delete the comments.
- Having a recent backup, now I was free to experiment with the site. I next logged in to the site as Admin and deactivated all of my plugins. Some Internet research pointed to plugins as a possible source of trouble with RSS feeds. No luck there, with or without plugins, the RSS feed was not working.
- Next up, change my Theme. I use the incomparable Thesis Theme on my sites and have never had any trouble, but needed to eliminate it as a possible source of trouble. I changed to the standard WordPress theme, WordPress Default 1.6, with no change in the RSS feed behavior. I also changed to yet another theme, using some old free themes I had previously loaded on my site. No change in each of these cases.
- The next step would be the toughest. The only way I know of to make a clean site and eliminate the problem is to blow away the entire site and re-install WordPress. I logged into cPanel at Bluehost and navigated to the SimpleScripts section. Simplescripts presented the option to uninstall my WordPress installation. I chose this option. The next screen allows you to choose to either remove all files with permanent deletion or merely “Remove from the List.” I chose the “PERMANTLY DELETE” option. When presented with the list of reasons why I wanted to uninstall, I chose “I changed a few options and now it’s broken.” This provides feedback to WordPress.
- Next, I checked with FileZilla to ensure that all vestiges of my former site were removed. There were still some empty directories included. I manually removed the folders; cgi-bin, wp-admin, and wp-content. I deleted all other files (I later found this to be a mistake as I had removed a necessary file), with the exception of “google4…b54.html” which is used to validate my site to allow the use of Google Analytics. But I was able to recover later, as detailed in Step 12.
- A quick check in Internet Explorer showed that my site had been deleted.
- Back to cPanel and SimpleScripts to create a new installation of WordPress. I chose the “’Install’ a brand new version” option. The next page allowed me to:
- Choose the version (3.0.3 (Stable)).
- Where I would like WordPress installed, .
- Advanced Options, no thanks.
- Legal Information, I checked the box.
- Then I pushed the “Complete” button.
- On the next page, I noted the new admin password and tried to visit my clean site. Here is where I ran into trouble. The new links gave me a “404 Page Not Found,” error. A quick check with FileZilla indicated the new WordPress files had not been installed into the /public_html/bogotacolombiatourism directory. I refreshed several times with no change in the empty directory. As a backup check, I used cPanel’s built in file manager to see if the files had been installed. They were there, indicating that FileZilla wasn’t updating. I closed FileZilla and then re-opened the program and could now see the WordPress installation in the correct directory. Still no site showing up in Internet Explorer, though.
- Having had problems in the past with sites not showing up after a new WordPress installation, I went back to cPanel and opened a chat session with a Bluehost technician. While waiting for him to check on the problem, I used FileZilla to upload Thesis 1.8 in zip format to my site and placed it in the /wp-content/themes folder.
- Bluehost quickly resolved the problem and I was able to view my site. I asked what was causing the fault and was informed that the “.htaccess” file was incorrect in that my main domain was overwriting the add-on domain’s (Bogota Colombia Tourism) site’s “.htaccess” file. I noted that next time I will have to copy the “.htaccess” file from my add-on domain and reinstall it to avoid this problem in the future.
- I logged in as admin, updated and activated the Akismet plug in (this requires an Akismet API key from the Akismet site), deleted the “Hello, Dolly” plug in and started on the site update process.
- I used cPanel’s built in File Manager to extract the Thesis Theme 1.8 files inside the site’s “Theme” folder. This is when I hit the next snag, receiving the following error message:
End-of-central-directory signature not found. Either this file is not
a zipfile, or it constitutes one disk of a multi-part archive. In the
latter case the central directory and zipfile comment will be found on
the last disk(s) of this archive.
unzip: cannot find zipfile directory in one of /public_html/bogotacolombiatourism/wp-content/themes/thesis_18.zip or
/home/public_html/bogotacolombiatourism/wp-content/themes/thesis_18.zip.zip, and cannot find /hom/public_html/bogotacolombiatourism/wp-content/themes/thesis_18.zip.ZIP, period.
This indicates a problem with the zip file I downloaded from DIYThemes. I then retrieved a fresh download from the site. This time I noted that the files sizes were different between the first and second downloads (256 kb versus 352 kb) indicating a bad download the first time. This time the package extracted normally.
One of the tricks to using the Thesis Theme is that you will need to first rename the folder “custom-sample” to “custom” then manually set permissions on several folders in your new installation to allow normal operation. This is easily done through FileZilla. Here are the instructions from DIYThemes:
The Thesis folder named
cache requires a setting of
775 in order to enable auto-generation of thumbnail images. That’s three digits, one for each of the three ‘groups’ of users:
7 for owner,
7 for group, and
5 for public. Each digit is a total of the numeric values for the permissions which each ‘group’ has for the
Both owner and group can read, write, and execute: that’s
1 which means
Public can read and execute: that’s
1 which means
Depending on your FTP program, you may need to give the permission setting by ticking boxes, typing in letters, or by typing in the numeric values.
The Thesis file
layout.css requires a setting of
666: that is,
6 for owner,
6 for group, and
6 for public.
Owner, group, and public can read and write this file, but not execute it: that’s
2 which means
6 for each group.
With FileZilla, use a right-click to open the menu, select “File permissions…” and make the changes noted. The Thesis Theme is now ready to go.
Next, I visited the site Admin page and activated the Thesis Theme. I then went through my standard site setup, which will be detailed in a later post.
Damn, still having problems with the RSS Feed link. Back to the Internet for research, which indicated the best way to handle RSS feeds was through a plugin.
Downloaded and installed the “FD Feedburner Plugin.”
Tried the RSS Subscribe button, this time from a different computer, and now it works as advertised.
Now back to work to finish updating the site.
The nuclear option should only be used as a last resort. If the site had significant traffic or was producing income, I would have done this differently.
This was a good learning opportunity coupled with the chance to document the steps for a blog post.