WordPress White Screen of Death – What It Is And How to Fix It (In 10 Steps)
White Screen of death WordPress is perhaps one of the most common errors that occur on this platform. Even though there are quite some proven ways to troubleshoot this error, but for many website owners, it is quite distressing at first as it feels like your WordPress site has been taken down or hacked.
But don’t worry. In this article, we’ll take you through a ten-step guide on how to fix WordPress white screen errors and avoid this error in the future. But before we talk about it, let’s briefly discuss what WordPress white screen of death is and its causes.
- What Is WordPress White Screen Of Death?
- What Are The Causes Of WordPress White Screen?
- How To Fix WordPress White Screen Of Death – (Step-By-Step Guide)
- How To Prevent WordPress White Screen?
What Is WordPress White Screen Of Death?
As we have mentioned above, the WordPress White Screen of Death (WSoD) is one of the most common errors encountered by WordPress site owners. As the name suggests, you’ll see a WordPress white page instead of your website once you attempt to sign into your wp_admin dashboard.
Even though this white screen error is quite common with WordPress sites, it becomes quite frustrating because there is no error code or message to help you realize the problem behind it. However, some browsers showcase HTTP 500 Error,but all it shows is a message “This page isn’t working,” which isn’t helpful.
One thing to remember here is that white screen error doesn’t always affect your whole website. Instead, there are certain pages of your website where you’ll see this WordPress white page.
As an example, you might see this white screen error on your admin panel only while your WordPress site’s other pages would seem to work perfectly fine.
Note that you can’t eliminate the possibility of this error affecting your entire website.
Now you know what WordPress White Screen of Death (WSoD) is, which brings us down to its causes.
Let’s talk about them.
What Are The Causes Of WordPress White Screen?
There are a couple of minor and major issues that cause white screen errors on your WordPress website. However, some of the most communal causes include issues with your website’s database or PHP.
Here are the three most common reasons stated by WordPress that cause white screen error.
- A plugin update that is not compatible with other pieces of software on your WordPress site.
- For example, the conflict between a theme and existing elements on your site is a plugin on the script.
- A missing theme file from WordPress.
WordPress’s three causes are typically behind the white screen error. Still, you can’t rule out the possibility of many other factors involved in this issue like exceeded PHP memory, unresponsive script and timed out servers, etc.
In many cases, there are even issues with the server which can be resolved from the hosts’ end. Therefore, it is a decent idea to check if your other websites on the same hosting account are functioning as they should. If these websites are running fine with no white page error, then the root cause of this error is your website’s theme, script, or plugins.
Now that you know what might be triggering the white screen error on your WordPress site, refer to this step-by-step guide to troubleshoot this error.
How To Fix WordPress White Screen Of Death – (Step-By-Step Guide)
While it may sound quite simple while looking at the causes, the WordPress white screen of death fix is no easy task. Instead, it is quite a daunting task requiring a great deal of patience to execute and restore your website perfectly.
Follow this ten steps guide to fix the WordPress white screen error.
- Clear Your Browser Cache
- Retrace Recent Actions
- Checkout Your Website And Admin Panel For Possible Clues
- Locate Possible PHP Errors Through Debugging
- Test Your Website’s Theme
- Test Your WordPress Plugins
- Review Third-Party Integrations For Possible Conflicts
- Restore Recently Updated Files To Their Original State
- Adjust Server’s Memory Limit And Execution Time
- Contact Your Hosting Provider
Note that it is important to create a backup of your site when executing a white screen error fix on WordPress. You can also form a manual backup of your site if you do not have access to the backend.
Step 1: Clear Your Browser’s Cache
One of the most common possibilities of getting white screen errors on your WordPress site could be your browser’s cache. If that’s the reason for the error in your case, then it’ll be resolved without needing to follow all the other steps mentioned below in this guide. To clear your browser cache (Google Chrome, for example), here’s what you can do.
- Click on the drop-down menu in the topmost right corner.
- Click on More Tools and Clear Browsing Data.
- A pop-up menu will appear where you can clear your Browsing History, Cached Files, and Cookies.
- Now click on Clear Data and wait for the process to be completed.
- Restart your browser and try to sign-in to your wp-admin.
By removing cached data in your browser, there are chances that you won’t see a white screen error anymore. However, if that’s not the case, move on to the next step, which retraces your recent activities.
Step 2: Retrace RecentActions
There’s a high chance that a white screen error results from your recent actions executed on the website, like installing new or updated plugins and themes, etc. While this may sound quite basic, looking back at the activities you conducted on your website before the error would help you find the root cause much easier.
When retracing your recent activities conducted on a website, you can ask yourself these questions.
- What did you do on your website before you encountered the white screen error?
- Did you install or update any plugin or theme?
- Did you change any line of code?
- Did you change any configuration of your site’s database?
- Did any member of your team make any changes to your site? If yes, then what were those changes?
If you find something fishy in any of these answers, look into the following facts relevant to the suspicious entity.
- Installation of new or updated plugins
- Installation of new or updated theme
- Changes made in your website database
- Exceeded memory or execution time
- Third-party integrations such as SSL certificate or CDN.
In contrast, if you do not find any of your actions responsible for the white screen error, consider the other steps mentioned below.
Step 3: Checkout Your Website And Admin Panel For Possible Clues
The entire idea around executing this step is to figure out whether your entire site is affected by the white screen or just the wp-admin screen.
There are typically two simple ways to figure this out.
- Depending upon your browser, the white screen might show you an error message. If the error message includes the causes like exceeded memory, missing theme, or a website timing out, you can follow the steps below relevant to these causes.
- The second way is quite easy as well.WordPress 5.2 has released a fatal error protection feature through which it notifies you about the “Technical difficulties” in your website. Check for this email as you might find out which theme or plugin has caused the error. Moreover, you’ll find a link for signing in to your wp-admin where you can put your site into Recovery Mode.
Step 4: Locate Possible PHP Errors Through Debugging
If you cannot find any error messages on your site, then turning the Debugging Mode is also a great idea for locating the cause of the error. To turn on the debugging mode
- Locate the wp-config.php file via the host provider’s FTP (File Transfer Protocol).
- In this file, find this line of code;define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false )
- Now change the value “False” with “True.” Note that if you can’t see this line of code in the file, you can create one.
Once you’ve turned Debugging mode on, any problems in your site’s PHP would be revealed. Now you can fix these issues and reload your site to check if the white screen error has been resolved.
It is worth noting that you should change back the value in wp-config.php to “False” regardless of whether any errors are revealed or not because WordPress recommends you to do so.
Step 5: Test Your Website’s Theme
If the front end of your website, if you see an error message of “Theme is missing,” then it is most likely that someone hasn’t properly deployed theme files in the live installation of your WordPress site.
To solve this problem, you’ll have to deploy these files into the server through the FTP client or host’s file manager. Here’s how to do that.
Find the Themes folder in the wp-content and Rename it to whatever you want. This is to ensure that WordPress can’t call on this theme anymore. In simpler words, it would technically disable your theme. Now try to reload your site. If the white screen error is gone, then the error’s root cause is your site’s theme.
Here’s what you need to do around it.
- Run your website on an older and safer version of your theme.
- Reach out to the theme designer and request a patch so that you can install and run a safer version of the theme.
- Download and install an utterly new theme and configure it based on your website.
However, if the white screen error still appears, then there’s a possibility of the plugin being a culprit.
Step 6: Test Your WordPress Plugins
Plugins are among the most common reasons your WordPress could be affected by white screen error. Even if you haven’t installed or updated a plugin, you can’t rule out this possibility because of the automated WordPress updates.
Here’s what you need to do.
- Go to the wp-content folder and retitle the Plugins folder to whatever you like, as it will deactivate all of your plugins.
- Now reload your site and log in to wp-admin to see if the error is resolved.
If your site has been restored, then the error is coming due to one of your site’s plugins. Now you’ll have to determine which one among your plugins is the culprit.
Here’s what you need to do
Navigate your Plugin screen and activate each plugin one at a time, and refresh your site. Ensure you start from the first plugin and keep doing this unless you find the plugin that is causing the error.
Once you find the infected plugin, here’s what you can do.
- Use an older or safer version of the plugin.
- Reach out to the plugin designer and request for a patch to run.
- Replace the affected plugin with an alternative.
There are chances that none of your plugins is responsible for error. If that’s the case, then move on to the next step, reviewing third-party integrations.
Step 7: Review Third-Party Integrations For Possible Conflicts
Even though this doesn’t happen much often, any third-party integration with your sites, such as SSL certificates and CDNs, could also cause a white screen error. The main reason behind this is the conflict between two different elements, for example, a CDN conflicting with an SSL certificate.
If you’ve integrated anything from a third party to your website before the white screen error, deactivate or uninstall it. If the error is resolved, then consider looking for an alternative for that third-party tool.
Step 8: Restore Recently Updated Files To Their Original State
One of the most communal reasons why the WordPress white screen of death occurs is the alteration in code without testing.
To fix this error, swap an altered version of the wp-config.php or .htacessfile with the fresh copy and see if your website is restored.
If this doesn’t work, then move down to this next step.
Step 9: Adjust Server’s Memory Limit And Execution Time
If you find no problem with the potential causes of the white screen error above, then there’s a high chance that you’ve exceeded your server’s memory limit. To fix this problem, you’ll have to adjust your server’s memory limit. Here’s how
Unless you receive a message recommending you to set specific storage, the ideal storage is 64 MB. Typically, there are three files through which you can adjust your memory. However, it is important to save a copy of the file that you choose to alter beforehand.
The first file that you can alter to adjust your server’s memory is the wp-config.PHP file. To adjust the memory, add this line of code.
Another great way of adjusting your memory is to add this line of code in your .htacessfile.
Note that the .htaccess file is often hidden; therefore, it is important to reveal all files once you plan to alter them.
The third file that you can alter is the php.ini file in your site’s root directory. Add this line of code into this file.
memory_limit = 64M
Note that it is not important to alter all the files. Start with the first file and check if the error has been resolved. If not, then move on to the next file.
Once you’ve successfully adjusted the memory, the next thing is to adjust the maximum execution time allowed. If you haven’t received an error message recommending a specific execution time, then the ideal time to start is 60 seconds.
Unlike the memory, here, you can adjust your maximum execution time in two files only. Here’s what you need to do.
Add this code in your .htaccessfile.
Another file that you can alter is the php.ini. Add this line of code to this file.
max_execution_time = 60
Note that you have to adjust the max execution time in only of these files. If the root cause of the white screen error is your server, then it should be resolved. However, it is essential to consider upgrading your hosting plan.
Step 10: Contact Your Hosting Provider
When you’ve gone through all the steps mentioned above in this guide, you should’ve been able to resolve this issue. However, if nothing still seems to work, you might need to consider contacting your hosting provider.
Their team would provide all the details related to your website’s recent activities that might have caused the error.In simple words, they’re the only people that can help you at this point.
However, having a support ticket can quickly help you get to the root of this issue and recover your website as soon as possible.
Now that you know how to fix the WordPress white screen of death, here’s how you can avoid it in the future.
How To Prevent WordPress White Screen?
If you’ve been faced with the white screen error, then you must know how troublesome WordPress becomes at times. Even a mere plugin can cause massive problems and distress. To prevent the white screen of death from happening in the future, here’s what you need to do.
- Create systematic backups of your website on a location other than your server so that you can use them in times of emergency.
- It is important to be alert of any installations or updates made to your plugins and themes so that you can discover the root cause of the error.
- Always test your updates in a staging environment to verify there are no conflicts.
- Test the changes that you implement on a code in a staging environment beforehand.
- Have a record of every user who makes any changes to your site.
The last and most significant point is to choose a reliable hosting provider who is available 24/7 to ensure your site’s smooth performance. In case of an emergency, these hosting providers help you quickly resolve the errors.
Moreover, you can always hire a reliable WordPress maintenance service providing agencies like WP-Pals to handle your site’s maintenance.
By reading this conclusive guide, you can effectively solve the WordPress White Screen of Death. Before we conclude, it is important to know that testing plugins and themes before integrating them into your website is crucial. Also, before you implement any changes to it, it is important to put your WordPress site in maintenance mode because it won’t impact your audience negatively.
Writing in Days, watching Barca play at nights. Made out of Sarcasm, Vine, and Everything Nice. Sufian is a Content and Inbound Marketing Specialist currently working for WP-Pals. He specializes in search engine marketing and online reputation management, having managed online marketing campaigns for clients from large enterprises to small businesses.