Disable a WordPress Plugin Without Access to Your Admin Area

Everyone knows how to disable plugin in Admin section. It is simple and straightforward.

When a plugin has an error, it makes your site broken and blocks access to the whole site, including the Admin area. In this situation, we need a way to disable that broken plugin to make the site working again and proceed with fixing it later.

Method #1: Rename the plugin folder

This approach requires your access to FTP or server’s File Manager.

Browse to the broken plugin’s folder! It is under /wp-content/plugins.

Rename the folder to any name which should be different from the original one. In this example, I renamed “askimet” to “askimet-2”

After this, the site will be working again and you can access the Admin section to delete the plugin or fix it.

Method #2: Disable via the database

This method is more complicated and requires you to have knowledge of MySQL database. You should backup the database before doing anything on it.

Open wp_options table in the database via phpMyAdmin or adminer. This table’s name might be different depends on how you choose table prefix when installing WordPress. In general, the name should be PREFIX_options.

Search for the row of which option_name is “active_plugins” then Edit that row.

You will see something like this

a:5:{i:0;s:30:"advanced-custom-fields/acf.php";i:1;s:43:"all-in-one-seo-pack/all_in_one_seo_pack.php";i:3;s:43:"custom-post-type-ui/custom-post-type-ui.php";i:4;s:37:"download-manager/download-manager.php";i:5;s:51:"mailchimp-for-woocommerce/mailchimp-woocommerce.php";}

It contains definition for all active plugins. What we need to do is to remove a part of string which define the broken plugin.

Let’s deactivate mailchimp-for-woocommerce.

Remove this text i:5;s:51:"mailchimp-for-woocommerce/mailchimp-woocommerce.php";.

And decrease the total active plugins to 4 with a:4.

The final should be like this:

a:4:{i:0;s:30:"advanced-custom-fields/acf.php";i:1;s:43:"all-in-one-seo-pack/all_in_one_seo_pack.php";i:3;s:43:"custom-post-type-ui/custom-post-type-ui.php";i:4;s:37:"download-manager/download-manager.php"}

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