WordPress is an incredible system when it comes to developing websites. However, it’s not invulnerable to its own type of problems. Although it’s not a common issue, sometimes you may be faced with the white screen of death.
In this instance, WordPress will display a blank white screen. There will be no error messages, no hint as to what the issue is and no way to tell for certainty how to fix it.
In this tutorial, we’ll share some of the most common things that cause this white screen of death and how you can go about fixing the error.
Why Does This Error Happen?
A blank screen in WordPress can be caused by a myriad of things. It can show up on an admin page while the rest of the website works perfectly. You may even experience a blank screen on one post while the others are flawless.
In most instances, the blank white screen is caused by an exhausted memory limit for WordPress. Having too many plugins running simultaneously or a faulty plugin could be taking up the memory. Resources usage can cause issues, and a bad plugin can tap the components used for your site.
Themes can also be a cause of the blank screen. Improper coding is often the culprit in this instance, which is why you should always research themes you use from untrusted sources.
Unfortunately, troubleshooting this kind of a problem could take a great deal of time. There is simply too much that can be wrong for any one solution to be completely accurate.
Here are some of the most common and easy fixes to try before you start delving into some of the more deeper issues.
Fix 1: Clear Your Cache
One of the easiest ways to solve the white screen of death in WordPress is by emptying your cache. If you can access the admin panel but the front end of the site is displaying a blank screen, you may have to empty the cache used by certain tools. This problem is often caused by a caching plugin and can be quickly fixed from the admin panel.
Fix 2: Checking Other Site Issues
If you have more than one instance of WordPress running on a server, find out if the other sites are having the same issue. This can help you eliminate many possibilities. For instance, a problem on one WordPress site and not the others can lead to:
- Faulty plugins
- Bad themes
- Custom coding issues
- Compromised files from hacks or malware
If the white screen is displayed on all of your sites, then there is more than likely a problem with the server itself. In which case, you will need to contact your web host provider or network administrator.
Fix 3: Checking the Memory Limit
Exhausting the memory can cause a white screen to appear. Sometimes it may be accompanied by a message that the memory size has been exhausted. In this case, you may need to increase your limit in WordPress.
To do this:
Step 1: Using a FTP application like FileZilla, access your WordPress root folder.
Step 2: Save a backup copy of your wp-config.php file. It’s always safer to make sure you have backups of files such as these before you consider editing them.
Step 3: Inside the main php tag of the file, insert the following code:
Step 4: This increases the memory limit to 64mb for WordPress.
Step 5: Save the file to the WordPress root folder.
If the blank white screen persists, then the memory wasn’t the problem and it’s time to check the plugins.
Fix 4: Disabling Plugins
The wrong plugins can cause all kinds of issues on a website. While many developers try to make everything compatible, sometimes these additions break each other or have the slightest error in the code. As a result, the site can break down.
There are a number of ways you can deactivate plugins, and it also depends on whether you have access to the admin panel of WordPress. Here are a few methods to deactivate plugins.
The easiest method is to just log into the admin panel, go to the plugins section and deactivate them all. Then, you can turn them back on one-by-one until you come across the one causing the issue.
Delete Through FTP
If you’re unable to access the admin panel, you can delete plugins by using FTP. Go to the root folder of your website, access wp-content and open the plugins folder, you can delete those files directly. Afterward, you should be able to access your website. That is, if it was a plugin causing the issue.
Fix 5: Changing the Theme
Sometimes a bad theme can lead to a white screen of death in WordPress, especially if it’s coded incorrectly. At which point, you will need to remove the theme or change it. You can do this easily from the admin panel if you have access to it. Otherwise, it may be much easier by using FTP.
Deleting Your Theme
One of the easiest ways to eliminate the theme if you’re unable to access the WordPress admin panel is by deleting it. To do this, access the root folder of your WordPress website. Access the wp-content subdirectory and go into the themes folder. Create a copy of this folder just in case you need it later.
Find your theme and delete it. WordPress will automatically fall back on its default theme the next time someone accesses the website.
Fix 6: WordPress in Debug Mode
You can change the blank screen in WordPress to show you errors which may help you fix the problem. This is done by accessing the wp-config.php file in your root folder.
Create a backup of the wp-config.php file. Using an editor, add the following code to the file and save it to the site:
When you access the website again, this time the blank screen will list the errors in the system. By tracking down these errors, you may find even more solutions to the problem.
Fix 7: Recovery from a Backup Copy
It’s always a good practice to keep current backups of your WordPress website. This can be done through a myriad of plugins or by using FTP to copy your entire website.
If you come across a blank screen, simply recover your site from the backup by copying the files back to your web host. Although you may be missing recent changes to the site, at least you’ll be back to a running platform.
Fix 8: Reinstalling WordPress
If there is a core file that is causing the issue, it may be prudent to reinstall WordPress. This can be done through cPanel by accessing “Quick Install.” Remove the installation and then reinstall a fresh copy of WordPress.
Use this option only if you’ve exhausted every other alternative. This will get rid of any custom content and settings in one fell swoop.
For the most part, WordPress is a stable tool as a content management system, or CMS. However, there are simply too many people who contribute to the development of plugins, themes and core files that sometimes things can go awry. Not everything works as flawlessly as we would like.
What kind of errors have you come across in WordPress? If you use an FTP program, which one do you use?
Author: Josh Dargie
My name is Josh Dargie and I’m the Operations Manager at GreenGeeks. I’ve been with the company since 2009. I have over 16 years of experience working with and for various web hosting providers specifically in development, day-to-day operations and customer service.