Some Quick Drupal Troubleshooting Tips

You don’t have to use Drupal (or any other user configurable software package for that matter) for very long before you do something that causes it to do something unpleasant. While answering one of those “why is it doing that ” type of questions this afternoon it occurred to me that there are a number of rules/tips I follow when working with Drupal.

Following these little tips makes life easier will help you maintain some sanity while getting some work done.

  •  Always use the admin or user 1 account (the first one you created when you installed the site) when turning modules on and off. Sometimes modules have odd permissions settings that require the super user to do the install but they don’t bother to tell you that or give any useful error when it goes wrong.
  • Always clear the cache when you install modules, change/add content types, create/edit views or panels, make any theme changes or do any sort of updates. Drupal caches lots of stuff and it’s easier to clear to the cache manually then it is to try and guess if what you just did is cached or not. I usually don’t worry about the warnings about clearing the cache affecting performance because most sites are small and lightly used enough for it to not make that much of a difference.
  • Install and test modules one at a time. Don’t install a bunch of stuff and then go back and start testing because if things go wrong troubleshooting is easier if you’ve only just changed one thing. Of course some modules require others, so you’ll have to install groups of modules at some point, but remember to turn them all off if something goes amiss.
  • Don’t monkey with the Drupal database unless you REALLY know what you’re doing. Something as simple as saving a blog post in Drupal can touch a lot of tables. Even if you are seeing database errors, it’s usually a better idea to try everything you can to clear them up from the Drupal admin pages first.
  • Keep a second  (or third) browser handy so that you can have an anonymous view of your Drupal site while you’re developing. This is really handy when those pesky caching problems pop up. Also helps avoid those “I can see it, why can’t you” problems that crop up when someone actually tries to visit your site.

I’m sure there are more so feel free to add them in the comments.