Error establishing a database connection - But nothing seems wrong? (following DigitalOcean tutorial)

Posted October 21, 2020 1.1k views


For the past days I’ve been getting the “Error establishing a database connection” message again on my Website ( and trying to fix based on the answers here, google search and mainly this related DigitalOcean tutorial:

But I haven’t succedded in any of them.

I’ll explain the outputs I had following this tutorial and I think it will be helpful to understand what is going on. Also, I don’t know if that helps, but here is also a console output when I try to connect to the website:

Step 1 — Check the Server Memory Resources

sudo netstat -plt

Mysql Server is running:

zgrep -a "allocate memory" /var/log/mysql/error.log*

Outputs nothing. Here is an extra htop screenshot of my server:
RAM Usage is 410M/986M.

Step 2 — Check Database Login Credentials

Checked and they’re correct: user, db name and password. Here is a screenshot:

Step 3 — Repairing the WordPress Database

I added the following code to wp-config.php:

define('WP_ALLOW_REPAIR', true);

Saved, uploaded and closed, then opened the .../wp-admin/maint/repair.php URL and got the exact same error:

Extra Steps I tried:

  • Disable all the plugins by renaming the /var/www/html/wp-content/plugins/ folder.
  • Reinstall mysql using apt-get
  • Restart mysql using: sudo service mysql stop; sudo service mysql start; and also using: systemctl restart mysql

So I’m basically out of ideas because every topic points to the same thing that I’ve already tried and failed.


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2 answers


This crash is most likely due to your system running out of memory. I’d suggest that you add a swap file to give yourself a bit more of a buffer. Check out this tutorial:

How To Add Swap on Ubuntu 18.04

What you can also do is to use the MySQLTuner script.

The MySQLTuner is a script written in Perl and allows you to quickly test your MySQL configuration and it gives you suggestions for adjustments to increase performance and stability.

According to the official GitHub page, it supports 300 indicators for MySQL/MariaDB/Percona Server in this last version.

To run the script you could do the following:

  • SSH to your Droplet
  • Download the script:
wget -O
  • Then execute it:

The script would run multiple checks against your MySQL instance, all checks done by MySQLTuner are documented here.

Also as stated in the official documentation, it is still extremely important for you to fully understand each change you make to a MySQL database server. If you don’t understand portions of the script’s output, or if you don’t understand the recommendations, you should consult a knowledgeable DBA or system administrator that you trust.

As a good practice make sure to always test your changes on staging environments before implementing them on your production database.

On the same note, if you want to have worry-free MySQL hosting and focus on your application, I would recommend trying out the DigitalOcean Managed Databases:


Hope that this helps!

  • I have same issue as op. I was trying to activate a wordpress plugin called LearnPress and the issue happened, after rebooting the droplet I came back to the website and asked me to configure the plugin.

    The other time it happened was when trying to activate WooCommerce, you said to op “This crash is most likely due to your system running out of memory” and since I’m on the most basic plan I was wondering, would switching to a plan with more resources prevent that kind of thing from happening?

To Fix “Error Establishing a Database Connection”
Step 1: Get In Touch With Your Web Host Provider.
Step 2: Check If Your Plugin or Theme Files Haven’t Been Corrupted.
Step 3: Check If Your Database Hasn’t Been Corrupted.
Step 4: Check Your Database Connection Credentials.
Step 5: Restore The Default WordPress Files.