Earlier this month I went through the process of installing theme and plugin updates for all the WordPress sites I host. I actively try to keep the sites updated as a I learned the hard way the damage and out-of-date plugin can cause. On the old gallery site I was using ZenPhoto which unlike WordPress, is not an easy application to install updates. So I had neglected to update the site for a while. One morning a couple years ago, I get online to find dozens of emails from my Firefox Blog followers (and a couple from my hosting company) alerting me that Google had blacklisted my site (the red ‘Known Attack Site’ screen of death). After a lot of troubleshooting and reviewing the reports from Google Webmaster Tools I was able to fix the damage thus allowing me to have the site re-evaluated and removed from Google’s blacklist.
Looking on the server I had saw that my php5.ini file in the root folder had been modified and injected with several lines of malicious code. This malicious code would redirect any error page (404 Not Found, 500 Internal Server Error, etc) the sever might throw to a site in Russia instead of displaying the default error document page. It was that site in Russia that was causing the Google warning. Still it was several days before I finally figured out that an out-dated plugin for the gallery site had caused the problem. That was pretty much the final straw with me and ZenGallery. So, I switched over to using NextGen Gallery for WordPress which has been working great and updates were easy and trouble free.
That was until earlier this month when I did the plugin updates and suddenly the site wouldn’t even load. Eventually after 2-minutes the server would finally throw a 500 Internal Server Error. After getting error logging enabled I reviewed the logs which basically told me what I already knew, the site was timing out before the PHP headers could be processed. Since the only plugins I had update on this site were related to the gallery I knew those had to be the culprits. I quickly confirmed this by going on to the server and manually disabling the plugins and trying to reload the load. While the site had loaded, none of the gallery functionality was there since these plugins were what made it run.
Since I’ve been busy with other things I have not had time to really look into this until this weekend. I was going to try and manually re-install the plugins as may be something got corrupted in the update process (very rare for this to happen). If that failed I was going to check the developer’s site for more information, including the possibility of a beta version. If all else failed, I was going to review the change log and make a decision to wait for an update or revert back to an older version. Earlier this weekend I had a chance to look into this and saw there was a new update for the plugins.
I installed and activated the updated plugins and was relived to see the site was coming up again….except the album pages were now broken. The galleries within the albums still worked but the album pages themselves were all broken. After searching through dozens of support posts on WordPress and the plugin developer’s sites, I have gotten the album issues fixed. So the site is functional again. However, while I was reading through all these posts I learned the way the plugin integrates with the site (mainly the galleries) has been dramatically changed. It is a much simpler process now and the way I currently have things setup does work, but I am not sure for how long. I don’t want to do another update and suddenly find that the galleries no longer work. So, I am now in the process of re-configuring the gallery pages which is going to take a bit of time. Once, I have the gallery fully restored I will post an update.