In this short tutorial, I will show you a few simple methods to disable WordPress plugins if you are unable to access your WordPress login page or your website in general. We will look at using the file manager as well as disabling plugins via phpMyAdmin options.
Some time ago, I ran into a little bit of a pickle when I decided to delete my web browser history.
So what, how has this got anything to do with disabling WordPress plugins, you might ask?
Well, all was going well until I tried to access my WordPress website’s login page in order to log into my admin dashboard.
I couldn’t log in because I couldn’t remember the login URL itself.
It was no longer in my history either.
I know what you’re thinking, the WordPress login URL is an easy one to remember, right?
Nope, because I was using the WPS Hide Login plugin, which by the way, is an amazing security plugin used by over a million websites, just in case you’re interested.
With this plugin enabled, you can hide the login URL page by changing the URL string/permalink itself. I was using quite a long and complex URL string so I just couldn’t remember it.
Anyhow, the only way I could log into my site was if I disabled the WPS Hide Login plugin entirely. Except for one small problem:
How could I do this if I couldn’t log into my WordPress admin?
I actually ended up disabling plugins via phpMyAdmin, and I’ll show you how to do this shortly. But there are a few other methods that I want to share with you first. Let’s dive right in.
Option 1: Disabling plugins by changing folder name (File Manager)
Please note: This method disables all the plugins.
You can disable or deactivate plugins by changing the name of the plugin folder inside your wp-content folder, in your public_html folder.
You can do this via your website’s hosting file manager. See the image below.
Once you have access to the file manager, simply change this plugin’s folder name to something like ‘plugins2’. Don’t forget to save the changes.
Next, you should be able to navigate to your WordPress site’s login page, which will look something like this –
Note: If you are copying this URL above to paste into your web browser, please don’t forget to replace the first part of the URL with your own.
Once you are able to log in and regain access to your WordPress site, if you go to view your plugins page, you will see that either the folder does not exist or all of the plugins have been disabled.
So next you will need to go back to your file manager, inside of your website’s hosting account, and rename the ‘plugins2’ folder back to just ‘plugins’.
Refresh your WordPress plugins page, and you should be able to activate each of the plugins again, one by one.
So that’s the first and probably the easiest way to disable plugins. However, as I mentioned, this disables all of the plugins.
Option 2: Deleting a single plugin (File Manager)
If you want to delete just a single plugin, you can look through the list of plugins that you have in your plugins folder, and delete the folder containing the files for the single plugin. For example, I can see the Piotnet Forms plugin folder here in my list so I can just delete this folder. See the image below.
If you still wish to disable plugins via phpMyAdmin, continue reading.
Option 3: Disabling plugins via phpMyAdmin
Let’s next look at how we can disable plugins via phpMyAdmin. But first of all, why would you want to disable plugins in phpMyAdmin?
Sometimes with WordPress, things can happen that are beyond our normal control.
So this method is ideal if for some reason you can’t access your WordPress website at all, let alone just the WordPress login page.
Maybe a rogue plugin has brought down your site, if so, this section of the tutorial should help you out.
Step One: Log into your web hosting cPanel
The first thing you’ll need to do is log into your website’s web hosting cPanel once again.
I currently host my site with SiteGround, but as far as I am aware, most web hosting will offer a way in which to access the cPanel.
If you are using SiteGround as your host provider by any chance, then great. Here’s what you need to do –
Log into your SiteGround account and navigate to websites located in the main nav menu. Then click on Site Tools for the website domain you want to access.
Next, in the left-hand side menu, navigate to Site > MySQL, and click on the phpMyAdmin tab. You should also see a button that says Access phpMyAdmin. Click on this. See the image below.
Step Two: Access the database name for your website
Now identify and access the name of the database for the website you want to regain access to.
You can usually tell which website your database belongs to by clicking on xxx_options, and under the option_name (Siteurl) you will see your domain name located under option_value. See the image below.
OK, so next if you select page 2 (See orange square below) from the wp_options page, you should find the option_name ‘active_plugins’ somewhere. See the images below.
Step Three: Disable all plugins (or a single plugin)
Now double-click on the option_value for active_plugins to open up the editor box. See the image below.
Disabling a single plugin in phpMyAdmin
If you want to disable just one culprit plugin via phpMyAdmin, however, you’ll need to take a closer look at the values to identify the plugin name. This can be quite difficult to do if you have many plugins.
The line for each plugin usually starts with a value like this: s:02 and ends with something like this: i:18;
So for example:
It is much easier to disable all of the plugins using this method, you can always reactivate them when you are able to log back into your WP dashboard the conventional way. Otherwise, go back and take a look at option 2 of this post.
OK, so once you’re done simply click anywhere outside of the editor box and your database should automatically update itself with the new changes.
That’s it, how simple was that?
Now don’t forget to log back into your WordPress website via the regular login page to reactivate the plugins again if you need to.
I hope this little tutorial was useful for you. You have a few options to consider. Now, this little tutorial was for a case of a plugin misbehaving or causing your website to crash. If you are still having issues with your WordPress site, it’s best to consult with a WordPress specialist for help and advice.