Locked out your WordPress website? Here’s how to disable Plugins using a File Manager

In this guide I will explain you step by step how to disable WordPress plugins from the database.

This is the only prosecutable procedure when You no longer have access to your WordPress site’s dashboard. A situation where the  Classic “white screen” or website itself cannot be reached.

This type of problem is sometimes caused by unsuccessful installation or plugin updates. But it can also be due to changes you have made to the website code that have accidentally made it unusable.

What to do then to disable WordPress plugins if the dashboard is not reachable? The good news is that you won’t need to uninstall WordPress and install all over again!

Let’s go and see immediately how to disable plugins when you don’t have access to the Dashboard.

How to deactivate WordPress plugins from cPanel

To disable plugins there are two other ways besides throuethe traditional WordPress dashboard:

  1. from the database from phpMyAdmin,
  2. from the folder that contains the plugin files,
    • by entering the File Manager within the cPanel or via FTP .

If you have access to the File Manager and the database, I still recommend, as a precaution, to make a backup . This will save the plugin configurations in case you lose any data.

How to deactivate plugins via phpMyAdmin

Let’s get to the heart of the guide. Now follow these steps:

  1. Enter the Cpanel of your hosting space e
  2. then navigate to phpMyAdmin .
  3. Here, locate your site’s database e
  4. in the list of tables click wp-options .
  1. Now, you will need to do a search in the option_name column until you find the active_plugins entry .
    • To find it first, type active_plugins in the search field called Filter rows . As you can guess, this contains information on the plugins active on the site.
  1. On this line, click Edit . A new screen will open with a white text field, containing some codes referring to the active plugins on your site.

In this space, we’ll tell WordPress to disable all plugins by replacing these codes with the string:

to: 0: {}

as you see in the image below.

If the problem was one of the active plugins on the site, you should now be able to access the Dashboard. Then try reactivating the plugins one by one, until the problem arises again.

You will then have found the culprit of the as to why your website is not working properly.

Go back to phpMyAdmin and repeat the procedure to deactivate all plugins. Then, go back to the Dashboard and uninstall the plugin responsible for the problems. Finally, reactivate all the others.

Works? Is the site back up? Good!

If that doesn’t work, try disable plugins via File Manager. If you are familiar with using an FTP client, such as FileZilla , the steps are the same.

How to disable plugins via File Manager or FTP

To disable plugins via File Manager or FTP follow these steps:

  1. Log into cPanel and click File Manager .
  2. Navigate to the public_html directory and then to the folder containing your site. Most likely, your site could be located directly inside public_html .
  3. Then enter wp-content .
  4. Find the folder called plugins and rename it “ plugins_old “, as you see in the image below. This will disable all plugins installed on your site.
  1. Then try to access the Notice Board.

First of all, if you can see your site and access the administration area, you will be sure that the problem was caused by a plugin.

Browsing within the plugin section, you will happen to see some error messages containing the text “ The plugin NOMEPLUGIN has been disabled due to an error: The plugin file does not exist. “.

This is normal, because renaming the folder broke the paths.

Now, go back inside wp-content and work in reverse:

  1. locate the plugins_old folder e
  2. rename it plugins , thus restoring the situation before your modification.

This way, the plugins will all be installed, but disabled. So you can go to the Dashboard and proceed to locate the plugin that is causing you problems.

Try activating them one by one until you identify the one that makes your site go down.

Once you have found the plugin causing the error, repeat the procedure:

  1. go back to the File Manager,
  2. rename the plugins folder e
  3. then go back to the Notice Board.

This way, you will be able to uninstall the culprit plugin and reactivate all others. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps. The process is simple, even if you have to do a bit of “back and forth”!


By reading this guide you have learned how to disable WordPress plugins when you don’t have access to the Dashboard. I hope these instructions are helpful in solving any problems you are having on your site.

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