How do I get PHP errors to display

How do we get PHP errors to display? – Understanding and Troubleshooting PHP Errors

If you are a website developer or administrator, you must have encountered PHP errors at some point. These errors are crucial as they provide valuable insights into what might be going wrong with your PHP code. However, sometimes these errors may not be displayed by default, leaving you in the dark about potential issues. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various methods to get PHP errors to display, along with troubleshooting tips to tackle them effectively. So, let’s dive in and shed light on the world of PHP errors!

How do we get PHP errors to display? – Enabling PHP Error Reporting

PHP error reporting is essential for identifying and resolving issues with your website’s code. By enabling error reporting, you allow PHP to display any errors, warnings, or notices it encounters during script execution. This helps you identify the root cause of problems quickly. To enable PHP error reporting, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the php.ini file: The php.ini file contains configuration settings for PHP. Find the file on your server; its location varies depending on your hosting environment.
  2. Open php.ini in a text editor: Use a text editor to modify the php.ini file. Look for the display_errors directive and set it to “On.” Additionally, ensure that error_reporting is set to an appropriate value based on your debugging needs.
  3. Save and restart your web server: After making the changes, save the php.ini file and restart your web server for the modifications to take effect.

Now, PHP errors should be displayed on your website, providing valuable information to assist you in resolving any issues.

How do we get PHP errors to display? – Using .htaccess to Show Errors

If you don’t have access to the php.ini file or want to enable error reporting for a specific directory, you can use the .htaccess file. This method allows you to override PHP settings for individual directories. Follow these steps to enable PHP error display using .htaccess:

  1. Create or locate the .htaccess file: If you don’t have an existing .htaccess file in the directory you want to enable error reporting for, create a new one.
  2. Edit the .htaccess file: Add the following lines to the .htaccess file to enable error reporting:
php_flag display_errors on
php_value error_reporting <error_reporting_level>

Replace <error_reporting_level> with the desired error reporting level. For example, using “E_ALL” will display all types of errors.

  1. Save the .htaccess file: After adding the code, save the .htaccess file.
  2. Check for errors: Load your website to see if PHP errors are now being displayed. If you encounter any issues, you may need to double-check the .htaccess code or consult your hosting provider.

How do we get PHP errors to display? – Checking PHP Error Logs

PHP error logs store information about errors that occur during script execution. Accessing these logs can provide valuable insights into the nature and frequency of errors on your website. Here’s how to check PHP error logs:

  1. Locate the error log file: The location of the error log file varies depending on your server configuration. Common locations include /var/log/php_error.log, /var/log/apache2/error.log, or /var/log/httpd/error_log.
  2. Access the log file: Use SSH or FTP to access the error log file. Download it to your local machine for easier analysis.
  3. Analyze the error log: Open the log file using a text editor and look for error messages, warnings, and notices. Note the date, time, and specific error messages to aid in troubleshooting.

How do we get PHP errors to display? – Displaying Errors on Development Environments

During the development phase, displaying PHP errors is crucial for identifying and fixing issues promptly. However, on production environments, showing errors to users can be a security risk. To ensure PHP errors are displayed only on development environments, follow these steps:

  1. Check the environment: PHP provides a predefined constant called ENVIRONMENT to determine the application’s current environment. Use this constant to identify whether the website is running on a development or production server.
  2. Modify the error reporting settings: Based on the environment, adjust the display_errors and error_reporting settings in your code. For instance, in a development environment, enable error reporting to display all errors, while in a production environment, disable error reporting or log errors to a file instead.

How do we get PHP errors to display? – Understanding PHP Error Types

PHP errors can be classified into several types, each indicating a different issue within the code. Understanding these error types is crucial for efficient debugging. Let’s explore some common PHP error types:

Notice: Undefined Variable

This error occurs when you try to use a variable that has not been defined or initialized. To fix this, ensure all variables are declared before use.

Warning: Division by Zero

This warning occurs when attempting to divide a number by zero. Always check for zero denominators before performing divisions.

Fatal Error: Call to Undefined Function/Method

This error indicates that PHP cannot find the specified function or method. Make sure the function/method is defined and correctly referenced.

Parse Error: Syntax Error

A parse error occurs when PHP encounters invalid syntax in your code. Review the affected line and correct any syntax mistakes.

Fatal Error: Maximum Execution Time Exceeded

If a script takes too long to execute, this error is triggered. You can increase the max_execution_time setting in php.ini to allow longer script execution.

Fatal Error: Allowed Memory Size Exhausted

When a script exceeds the allowed memory limit, this error occurs. Adjust the memory_limit setting in php.ini to allocate more memory.

How do we get PHP errors to display? – Handling Common PHP Errors

While enabling error reporting helps identify PHP errors, understanding how to handle them effectively is equally important. Here are some common PHP errors and their solutions:

Fatal Error: Cannot redeclare function

This error occurs when you attempt to declare a function that already exists. To resolve this, use the function_exists() function to check if the function is already defined before declaring it.

Warning: Cannot modify header information

This warning arises when you try to modify HTTP headers after content has been sent to the browser. To avoid this, ensure that header modifications occur before any output is sent.

Warning: mysqli_connect(): (HY000/1045): Access denied for user

This warning indicates that the connection to the MySQL database has failed due to incorrect credentials. Verify the database credentials and update them accordingly.

Parse Error: Undefined constant

This error occurs when referencing an undefined constant. Ensure that all constants are defined before use.

How do we get PHP errors to display? – Utilizing Error Handling Functions

PHP provides error handling functions that allow you to customize how errors are handled within your code. These functions can be invaluable for catching and handling errors gracefully. Here are some essential error handling functions:


The set_error_handler() function allows you to define a custom error handler. This means that when PHP encounters an error, it will call the custom function you define to handle the error. This enables you to log, display, or process errors in a way that suits your application.


The error_reporting() function allows you to set the level of error reporting for your script at runtime. You can use predefined constants like E_ALL, E_ERROR, E_WARNING, etc., or bitwise operators to specify multiple error types.


The trigger_error() function allows you to generate a user-defined error manually. This can be helpful for testing error handling functionality or raising specific errors in your code under certain conditions.


In addition to handling errors, PHP also allows you to handle exceptions using the set_exception_handler() function. Exceptions are used for more severe errors that disrupt the normal flow of the program. With this function, you can set a custom exception handler to log or display exception messages.

How do we get PHP errors to display? – Common Mistakes and Best Practices

While dealing with PHP errors, it’s essential to be aware of common mistakes and adopt best practices to ensure a smooth debugging process. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Debugging on Production

Avoid enabling error reporting on production servers, as it can expose sensitive information to users. Instead, log errors to files or a database for later analysis.

2. Regularly Check Error Logs

Make it a habit to check error logs regularly to identify and fix recurring issues. Addressing errors promptly can prevent potential problems from escalating.

3. Use Meaningful Error Messages

When displaying errors to users, use user-friendly and informative messages. Avoid revealing sensitive information and instead provide instructions on how to proceed.

4. Handle Errors Gracefully

Implement graceful error handling by displaying custom error pages or messages to users when unexpected issues occur. This can improve the user experience and maintain the professionalism of your website.

5. Utilize Debugging Tools

Take advantage of PHP’s built-in debugging tools like var_dump(), print_r(), or use a debugging extension like Xdebug. These tools can help you inspect variables, trace execution flow, and identify bugs efficiently.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: How do I find the PHP error log on a shared hosting server?

A: The location of the PHP error log on a shared hosting server may vary. Check with your hosting provider’s documentation or support team for specific instructions.

Q: Can I enable error reporting for specific PHP files only?

A: Yes, you can use the `ini_set()` function within a PHP file to enable error reporting locally for that file only. This setting will not affect other PHP files.

Q: What is the recommended error reporting level for production environments?

A: For production environments, it is advisable to set the error reporting level to E_ERROR. This will display only critical errors and prevent sensitive information from being revealed.

Q: How can I handle fatal errors that stop script execution?

A: To handle fatal errors gracefully, use the register_shutdown_function() function. It allows you to register a callback that runs when script execution ends, giving you a chance to log or display the error.

Q: Is it safe to display PHP errors to website visitors?

A: No, displaying PHP errors to website visitors can expose sensitive information and pose security risks. Instead, log errors to a file or a database and display a generic error message to users.

Q: Can I use third-party libraries for error handling?

A: Yes, there are several third-party libraries and frameworks available for error handling in PHP, such as Monolog and Whoops. These libraries offer advanced error logging and debugging capabilities.


Handling PHP errors effectively is an essential skill for every web developer. By enabling error reporting, using error handling functions, and understanding different error types, you can diagnose and resolve issues more efficiently. Remember to prioritize security on production servers by avoiding the display of errors to users. Embrace best practices, regularly check error logs, and employ debugging tools to streamline the development process and ensure a smooth user experience on your website.

Next time you encounter PHP errors, approach them with confidence and the knowledge gained from this guide. Happy coding!

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