The “WordPress white screen of death” is a term used to describe a situation where a WordPress website displays a blank white screen instead of the expected content. It is called the “white screen of death” because it can be alarming for website owners and visitors who expect to see their website but instead see nothing but a blank page.
The white screen of death can occur due to various reasons, including:
- Plugin or theme conflicts: Incompatible or poorly coded plugins or themes can conflict with each other or with the WordPress core, leading to a white screen of Death.
- PHP errors: If there is a syntax error or a fatal error in the PHP code of a plugin, theme, or the WordPress core files, it can cause a white screen.
- Exhausted memory limit: If your WordPress site exceeds the allocated memory limit, it may result in a white screen. This can happen if you have a large number of plugins or if a specific plugin or theme is consuming excessive memory.
- Corrupted files: Sometimes, files within the WordPress installation may become corrupted due to various reasons, resulting in a white screen.
- Server-related issues: Problems with the server configuration or hosting environment can also lead to a white screen.
To troubleshoot and fix the white screen of death, you can try the following steps:
- Enable debugging: Edit your WordPress configuration file (wp-config.php) and set the WP_DEBUG constant to true. This will display any error messages instead of a blank screen, helping you identify the underlying issue.
- Deactivate plugins and switch to a default theme: If you can access the WordPress admin area, deactivate all plugins and switch to a default theme like Twenty Twenty-One. If the white screen disappears, you can then reactivate each plugin/theme one by one to identify the problematic one.
- Increase memory limit: If the white screen is due to memory exhaustion, you can try increasing the PHP memory limit. Add the following line to your wp-config.php file: define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’);
- Reupload core files: If you suspect that core files are corrupted, you can download a fresh copy of WordPress from wordpress.org and replace the existing files on your server, excluding the wp-content folder.
- Check server logs: If you have access to the server logs, review them for any error messages that could indicate the cause of the white screen. Contacting your hosting provider’s support can also be helpful in diagnosing server-related issues.
- Clear cache: If you’re using a caching plugin or a content delivery network (CDN), clearing the cache can sometimes resolve the white screen issue. Caches may store outdated or corrupted files, causing conflicts.
- Disable custom code snippets: If you have added custom code snippets to your WordPress site, such as in the theme’s functions.php file or through a plugin, try temporarily removing or disabling them. Sometimes, these code snippets can contain errors that cause the white screen.
- Check file permissions: Incorrect file permissions can prevent WordPress from accessing necessary files, resulting in a white screen. Make sure that the file permissions are correctly set, typically to 644 for files and 755 for folders.
- Test with a different browser: Sometimes, the white screen issue can be browser-specific. Try accessing your WordPress site with a different browser or on a different device to see if the issue persists. If it works fine on other browsers, clearing the cache and cookies of the problematic browser might help.
- Roll back recent changes: If the white screen started occurring after making changes to your site, such as installing a new plugin or updating a theme, try reverting those changes. Use a backup of your site or try to recall the exact modifications you made.
- Disable/enforce PHP error reporting: In the wp-config.php file, you can try adding or modifying the lines below to enable or disable PHP error reporting respectively: error_reporting(E_ALL); ini_set(‘display_errors’, 1)
- Enabling error reporting might display error messages that can help identify the cause of the white screen.
- Test with a default .htaccess file: Temporarily rename or remove the .htaccess file in the root folder of your WordPress installation. This will help determine if the white screen is caused by a misconfiguration in the .htaccess file. If the issue is resolved, you can regenerate the .htaccess file by going to Settings -> Permalinks in the WordPress admin area.
Remember to always take a backup of your WordPress site before making any significant changes or modifications. Troubleshooting the white screen of death can sometimes be complex, and it’s important to have a backup to restore your site if something goes wrong.
What if nothing fixes ?
If none of the troubleshooting methods mentioned earlier resolve the WordPress white screen of death issue, it can be quite frustrating. In such cases, here are a few additional steps you can take:
- Contact your hosting provider: Reach out to your hosting provider’s support team and describe the issue in detail. They may be able to identify any server-related problems or provide specific advice based on their hosting environment.
- Check PHP and server requirements: Ensure that your server meets the minimum PHP and server requirements for the version of WordPress you are using. Upgrading or downgrading PHP versions may sometimes help resolve compatibility issues.
- Consult a WordPress developer: If you’re unable to resolve the issue on your own, it might be beneficial to consult a professional WordPress developer. They can conduct a thorough investigation, debug the problem using more advanced techniques, and provide tailored solutions.
- Restore from a backup: If you have a recent backup of your WordPress site, you can try restoring it. This will revert your site to a working state prior to the white screen issue. However, keep in mind that this will also undo any changes made to your site since the backup was created.
- Reinstall WordPress: As a last resort, you can consider reinstalling WordPress from scratch. This involves deleting all the WordPress files and the associated database tables. However, be cautious as this will result in the loss of all your site content and settings. Make sure to have a complete backup before attempting this step.
Remember to exercise caution when making any significant changes to your WordPress site, especially when it comes to reinstalling or deleting files. It’s always a good practice to have a backup and seek professional assistance when necessary.
Prevention is key to avoiding the white screen of death in the future. Keep your WordPress core, themes, and plugins updated to the latest versions, use reputable and compatible plugins, regularly back up your site, and follow best practices for coding and security.