Wordpress Tutorials What Is ‘The White Screen Of Death’ Error In WordPress And How...

What Is ‘The White Screen Of Death’ Error In WordPress And How To Fix It 

Having WordPress White screen of death error every once in a while can be inconvenient, especially for website developers. You may be pondering that maybe your site has been hacked or the system has crashed. No need to get anxious, because according to WordPress, one of the most common errors that occur in the Content Management System (CMS) is the white screen of death.  Also there are a few very easy steps that can be done to troubleshoot and fix the issue. 

Here we will discuss about what the white screen of death is and what causes it to happen. AND then we will tell you how to fix it in the simplest way and what can you do to avoid it in future.  Let’s start. 

What is white screen of death in WordPress?

The white screen of death is probably the most common error that developers come across on WordPress website. Here upon opening or logging in to your WordPress admin screen on your website, you come across a blank white page.

White screen of death can be very hard to deal with because there is no error code or message to indicate the cause of the problem. 

Based on the kind of browser you have, you may see a message alert of a HTTP 500 error. 

While this form gives somewhat more data, it isn’t useful past expressing “This page isn’t working”, or something comparative.  WordPress white screen of death mostly affects certain parts of your website. For instance, if you experience a white screen on the WordPress admin screen, and all the other functions are working alright. Then it may be the problem with your website.

What Is The Reasoning Behind WordPress White Screen Of Death?

So many reasons could be the cause of white screen of death, Most of the time it happens in your websites PHP or database. 

WordPress tells us the three main causes:

  • A plug-in or update to a plug-in is not suitable with another software on the website.
  • A theme clashes with some data already installed on the website (like a plug-in that calls on the same script).
  • The theme file is missing from WordPress.

But, identifying and repairing the white screen of death in WordPress is not a piece of cake.  Maybe you have exhausted your PHP memory limit. 

WordPress white screen can be triggered if the script is unresponsive or your server times out. Also your server may be the problem which will be fixed by the server host. Also if you have more than one WordPress sites hosted on the same account, take a look on them as well. If they are working fine, then the problem is with a theme, plug-in or script. In order to instantly fix the issue, follow these instructions on how can you troubleshoot error as well as stop it from happening in the future. 

How can you fix the WordPress white screen of death (10 steps)

White screen of death can be very frustrating.  Even so whenever this occurs, first look out for the reason, because there is no wizardry to fix the WordPress white screen of death. Restore the website and the admin dashboard, just a troubleshoot and the problem will be gone. 

Let us see how we can fix the WordPress white screen of death in 10 simple steps:

Now before you start with these fixes, you must backup your site data and if you don’t have the site’s back end, you can always make a manual backup.

Step 1: Empty Your Browser Cache

First of all you need to confirm check that it is the issue of your browser. Once done clear your browser cache by going to your browser settings. Now find your browsing data, when using chrome you can do this by clicking on the three dots on the top right corner, then go to more tools and clear browsing data.

The above will come on your screen by doing so, clear your browsing history, cookies and cached files. You should clear all the data including website cache, and for that you must have the site’s backup.

Now close and reopen the browser, open the website and WordPress admin. If the screen is not blank then the fix is done, also by doing so there will be an increase in site and browsing speed.  But, if the problem remains, go to the next step.

Step 2: Go Back To Back

Look back to what happened that caused the white screen of death; it may help you resolve the problem.

Ask yourself following questions one by one:

  • What were you doing on the site right before encountering the WSoD?
  • Were you coding or installing a new plug-in or theme?
  • Were you configuring settings in your database?
  • What about any other members of your team?
  • Was there anyone working within WordPress when the error first appeared and, if so, what were they doing?

On the off chance that the answers to any of these questions appear to be to the point, you should find the action that goes to that particular activity:
Nevertheless, if you were not working on the website when the white screen of death happened. like you only realized after you tried to login after a day. Then you should go to step three.

Step 3: Check Admin Dashboard And Website

Now you should confirm if the white screen of death is affecting your entire website, back and front end. It may just be happening with the WordPress admin screen and the other pages are working just perfectly without any problem.

Here the WordPress admin blank white screen couldn’t be able to tell the issue. The front end of your website may be of help. As mentioned before, the white screen may have an error message, in some version. 

If the error message indicates of a missing theme, website timeout or the memory reaching the maximum limit, follow the steps below.

You may also have received an email from WordPress notifying of some fatal error, so check for that. Plus WordPress 5.2 has introduced a fatal error protection version and in that instead of the White screen of death, you will see a message notifying of site having ‘technical difficulties’

If that’s the case then WordPress might have sent an email along with info about the theme or plug-in that is faulty, and a link will be inserted that can be used to login in to the wp- admin and activate recovery mode, whilst you sort out the issue. 

Step 4: Turn On Debugging Mode To Disclose Any PHP Errors

If you do not have any error messages showing on your website, try turning on the debugging mode. For this you will have to edit your wp-config.php file from root directory of the website.

You can also do this via file manager or by using a file transfer protocol (FTP) client, depending on the type of host provider you have.

Once you find and open the wp-config.php file. Search for the following code

define( 'WP_DEBUG', false );

Next, change the ‘false’ value to ‘true’. If this line doesn’t exist within the file, you can add it like so:

define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );

Now save the file and reload the site, debugging will show you any problems happening with the website’s PHP. Review those results, see the reasons and check the WordPress again to see if the white screen of death is still there. 

Whether it shows any problem or not, make sure to change the value in the wp-config.php snippet back to false after the check.  According to WordPress using debugger on live sites will keep it running even after the restore. 

Step 5: Check Your WordPress Theme

 If the website shows you an error message that says a theme is missing on the front end, you should see to it as soon as possible. The issue could undoubtedly go down to a developer building  a site in a local testing climate, however then neglecting to appropriately move the theme files to the live installation of WordPress.

In this case you instantly need to upload those files to your server via your host’s file manager or through an FTP client. 

Find the folder that is named as wp-content. See the picture below

Now, find and rename the themes folder to a different name. so that the WordPress can’t call on it anymore.  Doing this action will disable your theme.

If the disabled WordPress theme was the main issue, then you should be able to access your site through WordPress admin. If there is a problem in the theme, then you have more than one option for disabling it for a long time.

  • Go back to the previous version of the WordPress by downloading it through theme provider and then renew it. You should have a backup of all the WordPress data.
  • Call foe the theme developer and tell them about the issue and ask when the repair will happen, you will then be able to update and install the theme on your website. 
  • Look for a new theme that doesn’t clash with the WordPress and its data. Install it, configure it. You can also see our recommended list of fast WordPress themes for help. 

If the white screen of death is still there, then delete the entire theme because it can cause more trouble in the future.

Step 6: Check Your WordPress Plugins

Even if after doing the 5th step your computer is not working fine then there must be a problem with a plugins. This can happen if you have recently installed or added a new plug-in, or updated a plug-in.

Whether you updated or installed a plug-in or it may be an outcome of an automated WordPress update. If you do not have a notification update system. Then an automatic update have had happened without you knowing.   And you will have to resolve the issue first and to do it you have to open the wp-content using the file manager or FTP client and rename the plugins folder.

In order to do this, you will have to deactivate all your plugins instantly to make sure that the white screen of death is caused by one of the plugins. This will be solved by renaming the folders.

Once you deactivate the plugins, go to website and if you can access the site via the WP admin and the site has been restored. Then the problem has been solved. Now you have to see further what plugins caused the problem.

Login to the WordPress admin and go to the plugins screen and deactivate all of them.  And activate them one at a time to find the faulty plug-in. start with the first one because you don’t know which one was most recently updated.

Refresh your screen every time you activate a plug-in and see if the white screen happens again. When it happens then the recently updated plug in is the reason of white screen of death. 

Now it is your decision to make what to do in your situation

  • Put the plug-in in its previous position. You can get it from the website backup or download it from the WordPress repository.
  • Contact the plug in developer and take expert advice 
  • Find a new plug in and install it. 

If, after all the plugins activation and installation nothing changes, and the white screen of death is still there, then there is no fault in the plugins. But make sure that all the plugins are deactivated until the end of trouble shooting process, and go to the next step. 

Step 7: Review Your Other WordPress Integrations

Content Delivery Networks (CDN’s) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates can also be the reason of the white screen of death. Even though they are not the part of WordPress plugins, they can be the reason of the conflict.

If your CDN doesn’t go along with the SSL certificate, or there is some bad connection then this can result in your website going down.  Moreover, if you have installed or connected your site to any other site, then this could be the reason.

Also, if you have made any changes inside the WordPress ecosystem the day before, no matter if it is outside the WordPress , delete or deactivate that update or the installation and see if the web site is restored and the white screen of death is gone. Now you will need to find the alternative for that very program, third party tool or integration, or you can contact the provider for help. 

Step 8: Restore Any Recently Updated File To Its Original State

If you or anyone with the site’s access have been making changes to the codes without first testing them on a staging site and the white screen of death occurs minutes later then the reason of the white screen of death is the problem that is obvious. 

To fix this, you first need to know which file was modified or changed. If you were making changes to a core file like wp-config.php or .htaccess and you don’t have an unaltered version of the saved file, you can change it with a fresh copy from the WordPress download.

For that you should go to wordpress.org and press the download, once the updated version is downloaded you need to find the .zip folder to get the particular file or files. Now go to your file manager or the FTP client and delete the file you suspect is corrupt and upload the new copy.

Go back to WordPress, if the white screen of death is gone, and then continue whatever you were doing. But from now be sure to test any new code site, before implementing on the WordPress website. 

But, if the method doesn’t work, then there is one more file that you modified and need to restore, which is not available in the WordPress installation. See if there is a recent backup of your website, there is a chance that the version of website prior to the modification error. 

If this is really the case then you need to backup and restore to get your website running smoothly. 

Now, if the website is still not running and you are facing errors and white screen of death, then there are a few more steps you can follow. 

Step 9: Adjust Your Server’s Memory Limit Or Time Limit

In some situations, the white screen of death is not caused by the wrong coding or a clash between the software data. For example, you tried to activate a demo for your newly installed WordPress theme, and that is when the white screen of death occurred. 

Here, the problem is with none other than the server, your server is not able to process the huge number of data or files. It may be due to your PHP script’s excessive consumption over working your site’s memory. 

In order to solve this problem, you have two options; well both of them are required to apply.

Firstly, you have to adjust your WordPress memory limit, if you have not received an error message that tells you to set it to a specific limit, get started with 64MB.

The three files, on which you can make the changes, but make sure to have a copy of these files on the computer before making changes.

Then, add this to your wp-config.php file:

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '64M');

There is one more option to add these on your .htaccess file (which may be hidden, so make sure to reveal all files when you open your File Manager or FTP client)

php_value memory_limit 64M

Now, if a php.ini file exists in the website’s root directory, you can add following:

memory_limit = 64M

You do not have to apply the changes to all these files, start with the wp-config.php, save it and check the WordPress site again. If the problem is not fixed, then move on to the next one. 

Now, adjust the maximum execution time allowed. If the white screen of death did not come with a note telling of a specific increase in the execution time, start with 60 seconds.

There are two file that you can make changes to, start with the .htaccess. Add following

php_value max_execution_time 60

Or, you can instead add the following to your php.ini file (or create one if it doesn’t exist):

max_execution_time = 60

Here too, only one file needs edition, make changes and save them. Now return to the wp-admin or the homepage. 

If there is a problem with the size of the server and its ability to process the request, then this should keep your website running smoothly. And in order to prevent it from happening again in the future, you must upgrade your hosting plan. 

Step 10: Contact Your Hosting Provider

Here onwards you should not encounter the WordPress white screen of death.  If the above mentioned nine methods don’t work for you then it is time to reach out to your web hosting company for help. 

The hosting company should be able to help you with insights about the changes that occurred in the meantime on your website. If there is a problem with the host’s end or another website shared on a server and is affecting your resources. At this end only they can help you.

Also, you can open a support ticket, and get to the bottom of the problem and regain your site as soon as possible.

How can you prevent the WordPress white screen of death?

The above problems and their solutions exemplify that the WordPress can be very hard to deal with.  Even a small plug-in update can bring a lot of trouble like it could block the website and take it out of your access.

Now you have learned how to tackle the white screen of death on WordPress. Let us review again what to do to prevent it from happening in the future.  

  • Create daily backups of the website data and store them separately on a server or different platform. Backup and restore plug-in might help you with this .or you can do it via third party service.
  • Be conscious of all the updates done to the WordPress core, plugins or themes.  Despite the automated process and notifications seeming unwanted but they save you from trouble. 
  • If you are running the WordPress manually then make sure to check them in a stage environment first and confirm that there are no clashes with data on your site. 
  • Also, before making any changes to site’s code, first apply them in a testing environment to make sure that they are not causing any lag.
  • Install a system that has a strict user control and keep a record of what things are edited and when.

As well as the guideline above, make sure that you are using a reliable hosting provider, especially when you are running or trying to run a business. Try to choose a web host that offers a 24/7 support and the best performance of your website which also helps solving the problems faster.

Also, hire a WordPress maintenance provider if you want to get rid of the any random update or unmonitored change, handing the control over to WordPress expert  like ‘WP Buffs’ can help avoid many such issues. 

FAQ’s

  • Why Am I Seeing the WordPress White Screen of Death After Migration?
  • What Causes the WordPress wp-admin Blank Page?

Summary

White screen of death can have many causes and has little to no information on how to tackle it.  There are things way more frustrating than looking at a white screen. Luckily, you are able to fix it with troubleshooting. Here you can check on your WordPress themes and plugins to see the problems, also you can restore any main files you updated recently and adjust your PHP memory limit. 

If you need help in keeping your WordPress files, updates and maintenance task, and do not want any errors like white screen of death then it is better to let the WordPress experts team handle.