When a bug or problem arises, one must often seek out the corresponding error-messages or error-logs. Since Civi runs on a large stack, there can be several layers to check, e.g.

  • The browser's Javascript console
  • The Civi application log
  • The PHP error log
  • The httpd log

The answers vary a bit (depending on CMS, browser, server platform, etc), but there's also a fairly limited range -- in general usage, there are only a handful of common CMSs (Drupal/Joomla/WordPress), common browsers (Firefox/Chrome/Safari/IE), and common server platforms. For web-designers and moderately-technical site builders, it would help to have a cheatsheet with common places to look.

I found a couple pages about debugging strategies in Civi. The bug-reporting page discusses the high-level business process of using forums and issue trackers. The Debugging for developers page is very developer-centric (eg adding new log statements to the source-code; installing+configuring xdebug). However, I could not find a concrete list of places or instructions for checking logs.

  • 1
    Aha a trick question, where the only correct answer involves someone else creating some new documentation! Very clever, Tim. I'd love to see such a thing as well, i.e. a "how to find more if something is going wrong" for non-developers.
    – Alan Dixon
    Sep 1, 2015 at 17:42
  • Drats! You saw through my scheme!
    – Tim Otten
    Sep 1, 2015 at 22:21
  • See also civicrm.stackexchange.com/questions/6399/… Dec 8, 2015 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


It really depends on the type of error you are getting. If something is wrong with the display or some ajax functionality isn't working I check the JavaScript console. If there is an actual error message I check the php log and then turn on display back-trace to get a better view of where the problem is occurring.

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