Website maintenance

How to Fix the WordPress White Screen of Death

White Screen of Death in WordPress

Welcome to this comprehensive guide aimed at helping you tackle one of the most vexing issues in the WordPress world: the White Screen of Death (WSOD). This dreaded issue manifests as a blank, white screen when you try to load your WordPress website, offering no error messages to guide you towards a solution. This can be particularly terrifying if you’re a beginner, as you’re left in the dark about what went wrong.

This guide aims to break down the problem into manageable pieces and walk you through each step to diagnose and fix this issue. Whether you’re a complete novice or have some experience with WordPress, this guide is designed for you.

What is the White Screen of Death?

Before we dive into the solutions, it’s important to understand what the WSOD is. In simplest terms, a PHP or database error crashes your site, but it doesn’t give you any information on what went wrong. This is mainly to prevent sensitive information from being displayed publicly, but it’s frustrating because you have no idea where to start fixing it.

Common Causes of the WSOD

Here are some common reasons why you might be facing the WSOD:

  • Plugin Conflicts
  • Theme Issues
  • Exhausted PHP Memory Limit
  • Syntax Error in a File
  • Server Issues

Let’s tackle each cause step-by-step.

Step 1: Preliminary Checks

Before diving into more technical solutions, perform some initial checks.

Clear Browser Cache

Sometimes, your browser cache can display your website’s older, cached version. Make sure to clear it before proceeding.

Check for Server Issues

If your hosting provider is experiencing downtime or technical issues, this might be causing the WSOD. Verify the server status on your hosting provider’s status page or contact their customer support for information.

Step 2: Enable Debugging

Enabling debugging in WordPress will allow error messages to be displayed, which can help pinpoint the issue. To do this:

  1. Access your website’s root directory via FTP.
  2. Locate the wp-config.php file.
  3. Find the line define('WP_DEBUG', false); and change it to define('WP_DEBUG', true);.

Now, reload your site. If a specific error message appears, note it for further troubleshooting.

Step 3: Deactivate All Plugins

More often than not, plugin conflicts are the culprit behind the WSOD.

  1. Access your WordPress directory via FTP.
  2. Navigate to wp-content and then to the plugins folder.
  3. Rename the plugins folder to something like plugins_old. This will deactivate all plugins.

Check if your site is back up. If it is, the issue was with a plugin.

Step 4: Identify the Problematic Plugin

  1. Rename your plugins_old folder back to plugins.
  2. Activate each plugin one by one, refreshing your site each time to identify which plugin is causing the WSOD.

Once identified, you can update the plugin, replace it, or contact the developer for assistance.

Step 5: Check the Active Theme

If disabling plugins didn’t solve the issue, your theme might be the cause.

  1. Navigate to wp-content and then to the themes folder.
  2. Rename your active theme’s folder. This will automatically activate the default WordPress theme.

Reload your site to check if it’s functioning normally.

Step 6: Increase PHP Memory Limit

If you’ve ruled out plugins and themes, the next step is to increase the PHP memory limit.

  1. Access your wp-config.php file.
  2. Add this line: define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');

Refresh your site and see if the issue is resolved.

Step 7: Fix Syntax Errors

If you’ve received a specific error related to a file while debugging, access that file via FTP and correct the syntax error. Syntax errors usually arise from missing or misplaced characters like brackets or semicolons.

Step 8: Consult Your Hosting Provider

If none of the above steps work, it might be an issue beyond your control. In this case, contact your hosting provider for assistance.

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