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A WordPress site we have been working on for a client suddenly started throwing a 500 error in wp-admin after we moved the site. We can access /wp-login.php and login, but as soon as we do, it throws the 500 error. The admin bar DOES show up across the front end of the site (which I have no problem viewing), but as expected, any of the links that go into wp-admin go to the 500 error.

Strangely, when I try to navigate to some of the css files inside /wp-admin/ like /wp-admin/css/common.css, it gives a 404. I have tried a few files and they all give 404 errors.

I have tried disabling all plugins and deleting the plugins folder to no avail. I have turned on error logging and the following is in it from today's visits:

[05-Aug-2016 17:54:08 UTC] PHP Warning:  session_start(): open(/tmp/sess_8401a984d7d274c65ba969e6f67e30a2, O_RDWR) failed: Permission denied (13) in /home/garagedoor/public_html/wp-content/plugins/booked/booked.php on line 207
[05-Aug-2016 17:54:09 UTC] PHP Warning:  Unknown: open(/tmp/sess_8401a984d7d274c65ba969e6f67e30a2, O_RDWR) failed: Permission denied (13) in Unknown on line 0
[05-Aug-2016 17:54:09 UTC] PHP Warning:  Unknown: Failed to write session data (files). Please verify that the current setting of session.save_path is correct (/tmp) in Unknown on line 0
[05-Aug-2016 17:54:09 UTC] PHP Warning:  session_start(): open(/tmp/sess_8401a984d7d274c65ba969e6f67e30a2, O_RDWR) failed: Permission denied (13) in /home/garagedoor/public_html/wp-content/plugins/booked/booked.php on line 207
[05-Aug-2016 17:54:10 UTC] PHP Warning:  Unknown: open(/tmp/sess_8401a984d7d274c65ba969e6f67e30a2, O_RDWR) failed: Permission denied (13) in Unknown on line 0
[05-Aug-2016 17:54:10 UTC] PHP Warning:  Unknown: Failed to write session data (files). Please verify that the current setting of session.save_path is correct (/tmp) in Unknown on line 0
[05-Aug-2016 17:56:07 UTC] PHP Warning:  session_start(): open(/tmp/sess_8401a984d7d274c65ba969e6f67e30a2, O_RDWR) failed: Permission denied (13) in /home/garagedoor/public_html/wp-content/plugins/booked/booked.php on line 207
[05-Aug-2016 17:56:07 UTC] PHP Warning:  Unknown: open(/tmp/sess_8401a984d7d274c65ba969e6f67e30a2, O_RDWR) failed: Permission denied (13) in Unknown on line 0
[05-Aug-2016 17:56:07 UTC] PHP Warning:  Unknown: Failed to write session data (files). Please verify that the current setting of session.save_path is correct (/tmp) in Unknown on line 0

After reading through the log I tried turning off all plugins again and the errors here stop, although the wp-admin is still unavailable.

I tried changing the permissions for the tmp folder in wp-config and in the server root to 777 temporarily and still no dice.

Lastly, I have tried moving the site to a local WAMP server environment on my computer and it works PERFECTLY after importing the database and changing the values in wp-config.php.

Does anyone have any advice on where to go from here? I am assuming it is a server issue but I wouldn't know where to look. Any advice is appreciated.

EDIT: I enabled error reporting through wordpress as well and got the following to output on the site:

Warning: session_start(): open(/tmp/sess_8401a984d7d274c65ba969e6f67e30a2, O_RDWR) failed: Permission denied (13) in /home/garagedoor/public_html/wp-content/plugins/booked/booked.php on line 207

Warning: session_start(): Cannot send session cache limiter - headers already sent (output started at /home/garagedoor/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php:3718) in /home/garagedoor/public_html/wp-content/plugins/booked/booked.php on line 207

Again, the booked plugin can be turned on and off (actually, all the plugins can be turned off) and I am still unable to access wp-admin. I am thinking it's a session error or maybe permissions error? How would I go about checking which it is?

I've tried setting the tmp directory to 777 but it's still not working.

  • I faced this issue when I had installed WP-Cache plugin. Since you have mentioned that you disabled all the plugins and tried and didn't work. Look's like it is a server issue. Or some plugin's update which you might have done lately. Why don't you run a test WP site on the same server to figure out the issue? – user100485 Aug 5 '16 at 19:01
  • This is the thing that is confusing me, because we have several WP sites on the same server and they run fine (so did this one until the move). This one breaks specifically on this server (3 test installs in new cPanel accounts) but no other WP sites on the server do. But at the same time this specific WP site does fine on my WAMP server. – DavyH Aug 5 '16 at 21:01
  • check the ownership/group for /tmp/ matches the WP install, not just the directory permissions. – majick Aug 8 '16 at 1:45
  • /tmp/, which is outside of public_html (the WP root), is set to be 1777 (previously it was 0775; changing it doesn't seem to help). The owner/group for tmp is the same as for the WP installation. – DavyH Aug 8 '16 at 14:10
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I never figured out why my /wp-admin/ was giving me a 500 on my web server but not my local WAMP server. After several hours of going over logs and trying nearly every piece of advice I could find relating to my issue, I opted to export all the posts, pages, menus, etc. from my WAMP site and install a fresh copy of WP on my server. It took an extra 2 hours or so to move over the plugins and templates and get everything working correctly, but this is the only method that worked for me.

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