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Troubleshooting a Joomla Update problem

Troubleshooting Joomla Update Errors Troubleshooting Joomla Update Errors

Troubleshooting a Joomla Update problem

A few things can go wrong when updating Joomla though later releases tend to have fewer and fewer issues. We describe some common issues and provide solutions here as well as examining tools to diagnose the root causes.

1. One-click didn't work. The one-click update basically grabs the update files from the Joomla code repository and installs them similar to the way extensions get installed. If you're behind a firewall or on a weak connection this can fail. In this case, you have the option of downloading the upgrade package ZIP file manually and installing it via the Joomla update extension. If that fails there is a third option where you extract the contents of the upgrade package and overwrite the files on your Joomla installation. If you use that method you'll also need to follow our next troubleshooting tip to apply the database update.

2. Database check. Oftentimes part of a Joomla update includes database changes. The one-click update, or package upload methods should look after these. If a database error shows up after an update, navigate to Extensions > Manage > Database to see if the database matches the new version. There is a 'Fix' button which will correct the issue if it does not match.

3. Whitescreen (of death) Despite the fright you may get if you see nothing appear after an update, this simply means that something is stopping any output from being generated, or there is nothing to output. To help you diagnose the problem, it's useful to turn on, or increase the level of the built-in error reporting. To turn on error reporting navigate to System > Global Configuration and click on the Server tab. the setting for Error Reporting is probably st 'System Default'. Switch that to Maximum or Development and refresh the website frontend to see what information it generates. In the System tab there is also a setting for Debug System which will add debug information to the bottom of all pages. It can be helpful especially for database query issues. Remember to switch these back after you're done.

4. Third party Component, Module or Plugin errors. Sometimes you miss an extension when doing your pre-checks and find out afterwards that an extension is breaking the site. If the administrator area is still running you can deactivate the extension to check if it causes the problem. Then you can update it in the normal way. To disable an extension, navigate to Extensions > Manage > Manage and unpublish it on this list. Remember to reactivate it once you've updated the extension.

5. Inaccessible administrator area. If you can't access the administrator area, you can turn on error reporting or deactivate extensions in other ways. To turn on error reporting you need to edit a line in the configuration.php file which is located in the root directory of your web hosting. On or around line #23 change

public $error_reporting = 'default'; to public $error_reporting = 'development';.

To unpublish an extension that you suspect is causing the error, you need to access the database, navigate to the #__extensions table and change the 'Enabled' field from 1 to 0 for the extension you want to deactivate. If these are a little advanced for you, ask your web developer or get in touch with us to help.

6. Check the logs. You may have access to logs via a file in the root directory called error_log which is a simple text file you can open with notepad or other text editors. It shows the exact date and time of all errors and is really helpful for finding problems. If you don't see that file, you can ask your hosting company to check for any recent issues record in their log files.

6. Check Google and the Joomla forum. Search Google an Joomla websites with the error messages you see or with keywords about the problem you're experiencing. You can also ask for help on the forums, and to get the best replies make sure you include the specific versions you're using and what exact steps you took before the error occurred.


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Last modified onTuesday, 13 December 2016 08:30
Joomla Expert

JoomlaExpert offers a full range of specialist Joomla website packages coupled with professional Joomla advice & long term support. With clients based in the UK, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the United States, Canada and and Australia we work with a diverse range of businesses providing world-class Joomla solutions. With specialist partners in Marketing, Graphic Design, Video Production, Hosting & Development, we manage your Joomla projects from end-to-end. 

Dr. Ultan Sharkey (BBLS, MBS, Ph.D.) is an ecommerce consultant specializing in online shopping businesses. He holds a Masters degree in Ecommerce and a PhD in Online Shopping Experience from National University of Ireland Galway where he is also an Adjunct Lecturer in the business school. He also owns, a Joomla based online shop for top-brand fitness equipment. He is also a founding member of the eCommerce Association of Ireland (

Ultan and his team have over 10 years experience with Joomla having worked with it since it forked from the Mambo CMS back in 2005. 

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