7 Reasons Why WordPress Recovery Mode Not Initialized in 2024

WordPress has a useful built-in feature called recovery mode; which was designed to protect your website from severe errors or problems that might render it inaccessible.

However, sometimes the recovery mode may fail to work as expected for several possible causes that I’ll explore in this article.

If you encounter the “WordPress recovery mode not initialized” error message it may be due to a corrupt plugin or theme, outdated WordPress installation, or incompatible PHP version.

We will explore these causes in detail and some solutions and workarounds to help you with the ‘recovery mode not initialized WordPress’ problem.

What is WordPress Recovery Mode?

WordPress Recovery Mode is a fundamental feature that gives users safe and secure access to their website even when it is broken.

It enables users to identify and correct problems on their website by granting them special access to the WordPress admin dashboard. 

WordPress Recovery Mode was launched and released in May 2019 as part of WordPress 5.2.

WordPress recovery mode

How Does WordPress Recovery Mode Work?

When there’s a problem with your WordPress website that might cause a fatal error, WordPress tries to identify and isolate the problem.

It then automatically triggers recovery mode and gives you the option to log into the backend of your website with a special link and fix whatever problem has caused your site to malfunction.

However, sometimes you may have to manually initialize the recovery mode.

To do this you will need to add the following line of code to the wp-config.php file:

define( 'WP_RECOVERY_MODE', true );

Tip: The wp-config.php file is located in the root directory of your WordPress installation

After adding this line, you should be able to access the recovery mode by visiting your website and adding “/recovery” at the end of your website’s URL.

When your website is in WordPress recovery mode, this is the message you’ll see on the front end when you try to access your site:

There has been a critical error on this website. Please check your site admin email inbox for instructions.

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Note: This WordPress error message will be visible to anyone who tries to access your site until you fix it, so it’s essential to fix the problem as soon as possible.

The admin email being referred to here is the one you set on your WordPress Dashboard under Settings General Administration Email Address.

Without recovery mode, your entire website, both the front and back end would stop working in most fatal error situations, which would mean you’d have to connect to your server via FTP to fix the issues.

Tip: Recovery mode does not fix your website, it only allows you access to the backend of the site so that you can identify and fix the problem. 

Reasons for Fatal Errors that Require Recovery Mode

Whenever WordPress detects any code that will break your site or potentially cause a fatal error, it will automatically trigger recovery mode. 

A fatal code could result from any one of the following:

  • A broken custom code you might have implemented
  • A faulty plugin you have installed or a plugin update went wrong
  • A problem with your website’s theme, maybe it’s broken or outdated
  • Theme and plugin conflicts
  • A hack on your website.

Whatever the reason for the breakage or fatal error, WordPress does a rather fine job of identifying when there is an issue, notifying you, and enabling you to fix it.

However, a problem arises when your website has a fatal error that needs urgent fixing, but the recovery mode fails to initialize.

In this case, you get the ‘recovery mode not initialized‘ error. This can be frustrating and it may leave you wondering what to do next. 

In this next section, we will explore the possible causes of the recovery mode not being initialized and provide steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue. 

Why WordPress Recovery Mode Fails to Initialize

There are several reasons why WordPress recovery mode may fail to initialize.

Some common reasons include:

1. Missing recovery mode file (Incorrect wp-config.php file)

If WordPress recovery mode is not initialized, it is possible that the recovery mode file; wp-config.php is missing or not properly configured.

The wp-config.php file is used to establish a connection to the database.

If this file is incorrect or has been modified, recovery mode may not be initialized.

2. Theme or Plugin Conflict

Another problem that may affect the initialization of WordPress recovery mode is a theme or plugin conflict. 

In this case, try deactivating all of the plugins and switch them back on one by one to identify the problematic one.

You can also try switching to your default theme, then try again to see if recovery mode will initialize.

3. Incorrect file permissions 

WordPress recovery mode requires certain files to be writable.

If these files have incorrect file permissions, recovery mode may not be initialized. 

Make sure you check file permissions and that the required files are writable.

Additionally, if WordPress files have been corrupted, recovery mode may not be initialized so check for any corrupted files and replace them with fresh copies.

4. Database connection issues

Recovery mode will not be able to initialize if there are any issues connecting to your database.

This could be caused by incorrect database login credentials or a problem with your database server.

5. PHP configuration issues

If your PHP configuration is not set up correctly, recovery mode may not be able to initialize.

Make sure your PHP version is up to date and that you have the necessary extensions installed.

6. Hosting environment issues

If your hosting environment does not meet the requirements for running recovery mode, it may not be able to initialize.

Ensure that your hosting provider supports the necessary PHP version and extensions.

7. Server issues

If there are any issues with the server such as lags or any malfunctions, recovery mode may fail to initialize.

If this is what’s causing your problem, you may have to contact your hosting provider for them to help fix any server problems.

Additionally, you may also try clearing your website’s cache and cookies.

Also read: 8 Top Free AI Image Generators You Should Know

How to Fix WordPress Recovery Mode Not Initialized

To fix the “WordPress recovery mode not initialized” error, you can try the following steps:

Tip: Create a full site backup in your server/cPanel before you begin.

  1. Ensure that your website is running the latest version of WordPress, if not, update it.
  1. Clear your browser’s cache and cookies, then try accessing the recovery mode again.
  1. Check your website’s .htaccess file for any errors and make sure it is properly configured.
  1. Check for any conflicting plugins or themes that may be causing the issue.

    Delete the plugin or theme that may be causing the issue, or deactivate it and reactivate it again.
  1. Check your website’s error logs for any issues that may be causing the recovery mode to fail.

If none of the above steps works, you can try restoring a previous backup of your website.

If the issue persists, you may need to seek help from a WordPress developer, support forum or your website host.


Why is the WordPress recovery mode link not working?

If the WordPress recovery mode link is not working, try updating to the latest version of WordPress and clearing the browser cache and cookies. 

Check for any blocks from security plugins or the hosting provider’s firewall, ensure that the .htaccess file is properly configured, set permalinks to default, and check for conflicting plugins or themes. 

If none of these steps works, try disabling and re-enabling plugins and themes, or restoring a backup. 

If the issue persists, seek help from a WordPress developer or support forum.

How can I disable WordPress debug mode?

To disable WordPress debug mode follow these steps:

Edit the wp-config.php file and change the line that says “define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, true );” to “define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false );“. 

If you don’t have access to your website’s files, you can disable debug mode by adding the code “define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false );” to your wp-config.php file, or by adding the code “php_flag display_errors off” to your .htaccess file. 

You can also disable debug mode by using a plugin like Debug Bar or Query Monitor

Keep in mind that Debug mode should only be activated while troubleshooting problems and should be turned off once the problem has been fixed.

Disabling debug mode can also help to enhance the functionality of your website.

How do I turn off recovery mode in WordPress?

You should have the option to Exit Recovery Mode in the top right corner of the recovery mode window.

How do I access WordPress recovery mode without email?

WordPress recovery mode can be started without an email address, however, the precise procedure will vary depending on the circumstances. 

Here are a few options:
#1. If you’re locked out of your WordPress admin area, you can use the “Emergency Password Reset” feature to reset your password and regain access. 

This can be done by adding a specific code to the end of your website’s URL (e.g. “wp-login. php?action=rp&key={key}&login={username}”).

#2. If your website is experiencing a fatal error, you can use the “WordPress Recovery Mode” feature to troubleshoot and resolve the issue. 

This can be accessed by adding a specific code to the end of your website’s URL (e.g. “wp-admin/maint/repair.php“).

#3. If you have access to your hosting account, FTP or cPanel credentials, you can also use these to access your website’s files and make changes to them.

#4. If you have access to the email account that’s associated with your WordPress account, you can check your email’s spam or trash folder for a password reset email.

It’s important to note that the WordPress recovery mode is a powerful tool and it should be used with caution.

It’s always recommended to have a backup of your website before making any changes.

How to initialize recovery mode in WordPress?

There are several ways to initialize recovery mode in WordPress, depending on the specific situation. Some methods include:

*Using the Emergency Password Reset feature to reset your password 
*Using the WordPress Recovery Mode feature to troubleshoot errors
*Asking your hosting provider or domain registrar to initialize recovery mode for you. 

You may also need to have access to your hosting account, FTP, or cPanel credentials. 

Recovery mode is a useful tool to regain access to your website and troubleshoot and resolve issues, so it’s important to know how to initialize it.

How do I fix the WordPress theme’s fatal error?

A WordPress theme fatal error can be caused by several things such as compatibility issues, errors in the theme’s code, or plugin conflicts. 

To fix this issue;
*Switching to a default theme
*Make sure the theme is updated and compatible with the current version of WordPress 
*Check for errors in the theme’s functions.php file
*Deactivate and reactivate plugins
*Check the error logs and reinstall the theme. 

If the issue persists, seek help from the theme developer or a WordPress developer or support forum.

It’s important to keep a backup of your website before making any changes.


If you’re WordPress recovery mode is not initialized error or WordPress recovery mode not working for one or more of the above reasons, you can try the recommendations, and hopefully, you will be able to get back on track.

However, if the issue persists after applying the above, I recommend that you contact your hosting provider for further assistance.

Before making changes in recovery mode, it’s a good idea to make a backup of your WordPress site so that you can restore it in case anything goes wrong.

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Grace is an Editor at GoTechUG and she has written many articles about website design and social media. She has experience in IT and loves to tinker with anything to do with computers. In her spare time, she loves music, movies, reading books, and learning Spanish.

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