Resolved: Updating the server PHP version to 5.4 broke my Genesis Simple Sidebars plugin

I had to resolve an issue recently where a client’s hosting company had updated the PHP version of the server to 5.4 and this “broke” the plugin Genesis Simple Sidebars that was being used on their site, therefore causing the whole site to be down. The PHP error message being displayed in a browser when you tried to visit a site is what told me it was the Genesis Simple Sidebars plugin that was causing the site to be down.

I found this extremely useful thread which ultimately helped me to fix the issue – http://wordpress.org/support/topic/error-after-updating-to-php-54 – but want to outline what I did here to save others from having to scroll through the entire thread.

Step 1: Log into PHPMyAdmin or whichever interface you use to edit the database.

Step 2: Navigate to the wp_options table on the database (note: this may not be the exact name of the table, your table could be named differently depending on the $table_prefix defined in your WordPress site’s wp-config.php file)

Step 3: Navigate to the “ss_settings” field in the options table and open it to edit it.

Step 4: Remove this line of code from the beginning of the “ss_settings” content:

i:0;s:20:"__return_empty_array";

Step 5: Find the number listed right after “a:” at the beginning of the “ss_settings” content and subtract 1 from that number. So, for example, if the beginning of your “ss_settings” field looked like this:

a:37:

You will want to change it to read:

a:36:

Step 6: Save your changes to the “ss_settings” field and navigate to your website in a browser. Hopefully your site will be back up and running now!