How to Fix WordPress White Screen of Death: 5 Simple Steps for Beginners

How to Fix WordPress White Screen of Death: 5 Simple Steps for Beginners

Confronting white screen of death (WSOD) is a very common incident if you own a WordPress site. It is one of the extreme exasperating problems, which you have to face with courage. Why? Because staring at a blank page without any clue is infuriating. The worst thing about WSOD is having “zero ideas” about what is wrong with the coding or database.

There are numerous factors leading to the white screen death. Detecting the right one can only help you to resolve the issue. In this article, we will illuminate you with the possible reasons behind WSOD and the easiest way to unravel them.


What is the WordPress white screen of death?

When the WordPress screen of death is mentioned, it means looking at a blank white page instead of website content. The occurrence of WSOD is extremely negative for the UX (user experience), which is now considered as a ranking factor by Google. So, whenever you confront WordPress white screen of death, your priority should be mitigating the situation.

wordpress-white-screen-of-death

But, “mitigating the situation” is not a one step process. If you are not tech savvy, we highly recommend for WordPress service providers. Otherwise, with minimum coding language and our little help, you can recover from WSOD.


Reasons leading to White Screen of death

The first step of fixing WordPress white screen of death is to identify the felon behind the situation. The solution can be deduced based on the problem. So far, we have detected four types of problems resulting in the white screen of death, such as plugin issue, theme issue, auto-update failure, and memory exhaustion.

Many influencers argued that the use of plugins from unauthorized sources could cause WordPress errors. The same goes for WordPress themes. On the other hand, an abrupt interruption in update process of plugins, themes or WordPress can also result in a similar worried situation. Memory exhaustion is another situation that you cannot deny. However, the good thing is, there is a solution for every situation and we will introduce you to the best solutions through this blog.


Five steps to fix White Screen of Death

1. Disable troubleshooting Plugins and Themes

One of the most common culprits of WSOD is bad plugins. The easiest solution to this issue is to remove the plugin. But, if you are not sure about which one is messing with the system, deactivate all of the plugins at once.

Open your WordPress admin panel and search for the plugin option. First, click on plugin option and the select ‘deactivate’ from the bulk actions menu. When all of the plugins are deactivated, check the website. If the site is working well, then bingo! You have just confirmed that one of your plugins is malfunctioning.

deactivate-plugins-wordpress-white-screen

Active your plugins again one by one and refresh the page every time you activate one plugin. This step will help you to identify the misbehaving plugin. You can either remove it from WordPress or reach out to the WordPress support services.

Same goes for Themes. If your plugins are all good then temporarily replace your theme with the default WordPress theme. Open the WordPress admin panel and select Themes under Appearance menu to change your theme. Test again and if this time your website revive back, then the issue is in your theme.

appearance-menu-dashboard-wordpress-themes

However, sometimes disabling themes and plugins is not as easy as it sounds to be. Sometimes you may confront both frontend and backend show the white screen preventing you to access the WordPress Dashboard. If you are stuck in this situation, you have to use an FTP or file transfer protocol client. With an FTP client, you can access the WordPress files deactivate or delete anything including plugins and images. If you have never tried FTP clients before, it’s ok; several FTP clients are available for “zero” bucks!


2. Check failed/interrupted auto-update session

Sometimes we let the auto-update option on as manual update process is time-consuming and may need coding skills. Sometimes the auto-update process may be interrupted or failed due to issues like the server timing out.

The first thing you need to do is open the WordPress root directory and try to find .maintenance file. Feel free to delete this file and load the site again. If the update process was completed but WordPress failed to remove the file automatically, this step will help to go back normal. If, you could not find the .maintenance file or failed to delete it, then take help from professional WordPress developers or service providers.


3. Increase memory limits

If your plugins and themes are all-good and have no update issues, then one of the possible reasons could be memory limit exhaustion. Exhaustion of memory limit is frequent when you are using shared hosting system. However, if you are intended to increase the memory limit, you have to open the wp-config.php file and add the following code.

define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’64M’);

If this doesn’t work, you may need to access the .htaccess file in the WordPress root directory and add the following code to increase memory limit:

php_value memory_limit 64M

If the memory limit is still running low and needs more memory to be assigned then maybe there are some serious issues within the application. Ask help from the developers and host to find the solution.


4. Switch on Debugging

If you are still unable to identify the reason behind the error, switch to the debugging process. Switching on the debugging process can expose errors. The debugging process helps to appear error messages on the white screen.

In order to start the debugging process, open the wp-config.php file. Within this file, you will find the following code:

define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false )

If you can’t find the code, write it towards the top. Your job is to replace the “false” with “true.” After changing the option, reload your site and instead of the white screen, you will see messages encrypted on it. It may not be a huge improvement, but you will be able to detect the error origin.


5. File permission issues

File permission issue is a problem that you can rarely blame for the white screen of death. Only in rare cases, you can confront “file permission issue” is the reason behind a white screen of death. You can manually fix this problem, but if you have doubt, it is better to consult with a WP service provider. There are three simple rules for WordPress, such as:

  • The wp-config.php file should be 660
  • Folders should be 775
  • Files should be 664

With SSH access to the server you can apply all of these three rules using the following commands:

sudo chmod 660 wp-config.php

sudo find . -type d -exec chmod 775 {} +

sudo find . -type f -exec chmod 664 {} +

Other Possible Causes

  • Coding Error: Sometimes unwanted coding errors due to manual coding changes may result in the white screen of death. If the reason behind WSOD is oding error, you might see the following messages on the white screen:

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected $end in

/home/name/public_html/wordpress/wp

content/themes/your_theme/functions.php on line 231

WordPress cannot work while it has broken codes. So, all you have to do is find the “coding error” or copy paste the possibly changed codes from the backup files.

  • Corrupted Files: Yes, corrupted files could be a possible reason for WSOD. Sometimes the files could be corrupted because of malware or any other reasons. If you are intended to cure this problem, we can only advise you to contact the web host. Your host can diagnose the problem and delete the corrupted file.
  • Caching: Cache could be one of the reasonable factors leading towards White Screen of Death. Sometimes we use a caching plugin in order to boost the WordPress loading time. If so – and you are unable to detect the possible reason through the previous steps, then it must be the cache issue. First, clear your browser cache and then the site’s cache. If the site comes back, then you don’t have to look for other issues.
  • Server down: Unlike other issues, the server issue is an easy to catch the problem. First, check your email inbox. Most of the hosting service providers notify the customers through emails if the server is down. If it is a planned downtime, there is a higher chance of getting an email notification. If not, then try all of the above-mentioned processes and become sure it is none of them. Then give a call to the hosting provider and confirm whether it is a “server down issue.” If it is not a server issue, it could be server related issues and may need to bring in attention.

Wrapping it up

White screen of death issue is not as ominous as it seems. There could be a number of reasons behind the occurrence of the white screen of death. You just need to find the reason and treat it carefully. In most of the cases, a simple theme/plugin check can fix the problem.

So far, we have identified five critical situations regarding WSOD and solved it for you. Let us know if you have found any other reason except the five reasons enlisted in this blog so that find a solution for you.


Author Bio

David Statham is attached to Website Design and Development since past six years. With in-depth knowledge in this field, he is pursuing his career as a WordPress expert at WpWebhelp.com. David believes in sharing knowledge and enlighten those who are novice in Website Design and Development field. 

(This is a guest post. View guest posting guidelines.) 

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