Error : PCLZIP_ERR_BAD_FORMAT (-10) when a file is loaded

You want to install a plugin or a theme by uploading a ZIP file via your WordPress admin portal and an error like this occurs :

PCLZIP_ERR_BAD_FORMAT (-10): Unable to find End of Central Dir Record signature
The package could not be installed. PCLZIP_ERR_BAD_FORMAT (-10) : Invalid archive structure

Where does this error come from?

Different possibilities can explain this problem. The two most common reasons are :

  • There’s a problem with the ZIP file.
  • Your server doesn’t have enough free disk space left

The solution to this problem may seem simple, but it is important to ask the right questions.

What to do to solve this problem?

In the first case, it would be the file you want to drop to install your theme or your plugin that would cause the problem. The solution is obvious : re-download it and try again the installation.

Nevertheless, some advice :

    • Check your ZIP file: scan it with a virus scanner. If it turns out to be virus-free, some programs can check the integrity of your ZIP file.
    • Control the source of your ZIP: many sites offer files for download, especially illegal ones. It is important to use only files from reliable sources, so as not to risk corrupting your website. It is sometimes better to pay a little for a plugin or a theme on a reliable site than to have to pay for a much more expensive intervention afterwards… and risk losing a lot compared to your website (in terms of brand image, business continuity, economic losses)… depending on the criticality of your website, you should therefore be very careful.
    • Check the compatibility of your ZIP file with your WordPress installation: favour themes and plugins that are up-to-date, and above all, that are updated regularly, in order to ensure the compatibility and security of your website. A theme or plugin, obtained for free or for a fee, but legally, will often offer you a system of updates and/or support to keep your extensions up to date and provide you with all the help you need.
    • Check your WordPress installation: we just said that your ZIP file must be compatible with your WordPress installation. The priority in this process, is that your WordPress is up to date! It is better to have an up-to-date WordPress and look for another plugin or theme that is up to date, if necessary, than to take risks by not updating your WordPress just to make sure your plugin / theme is compatible. If needed, experts can develop updated, secure, up-to-date features or plugins for your website under updated WordPress.

In the second case, you will need to free up some hard disk space on your server. Some advice also for this situation:

Check, if you have a cache solution, that it is well set up: a badly set cache can cause the growing accumulation of folders and files that can saturate your disk space.

Check the health of your website: a healthy WordPress installation should be monitored regularly to identify plugin slippage for example, or to highlight a hack as quickly as possible. Indeed, both of these causes can lead to a disk space problem. It will therefore be necessary to identify and eliminate this problem and not simply free up space, otherwise we may encounter this problem again in the future and perhaps cause other difficulties later (destruction / theft of data, inoperative features …).

If you think you have validated these two points, contact your host to analyze with him the use of your disk space and consider the best solution to overcome your problem (increase in disk space, switch to a higher offer …)

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