9 Proven Solutions to Fix WordPress White Screen of Death

by | Last Updated Jan 4, 2021 | WordPress | 0 comments

Nothing is more annoying than seeing the White Screen of Death on your WordPress site. Your website will be inaccessible for both visitors and administrators due to this error.

WSoDs are also incredibly frustrating since there isn’t enough information pointing to the problem or solution.

However, WSoDs is also a general error in WordPress. In most cases, while this is concerning, it’s resolvable. So, no need to worry.

In this post, we will explain what WordPress WSoD is and why it occurs. We will also walk you through nine possible solutions to get your site back up and running as soon as possible.

Let’s get going.

What Exactly Is the WordPress White Screen of Death?

When you attempt to load a WordPress page, the browser will display you a blank screen. You won’t see the actual web page you were expecting; instead, just an empty page.

This error is known as the White Screen of Death (WSoD).

You might get a separate error message depending on the browser you’re using.

The WordPress WSoD in Mozilla Firefox

The screen is entirely white, as you can see. It contains no error messages or warnings.

WordPress White Screen of Deaths is most commonly caused by PHP errors or by running out of memory.

Another possibility is a faulty theme or plugin.

If your WordPress admin area is up, but your website’s frontend is down, this is likely the theme’s issue. So, please visit your WordPress admin to see whether the dashboard on your site is working.

How do you resolve WSoD? I’m glad you asked!

9 Ways to Fix the WordPress White Screen of Death

When the White Screen of Death appears on WordPress, your priority is to fix it as fast as you can. That said, let’s explore nine viable solutions you could use to solve WSoD.

1 – Deactivate WordPress Plugins

The most common and easiest way to fix WordPress WSoD is to disable all of your plugins. Plugin updates often cause a site to go down.

If you still have access to the admin area, you can quickly do so by navigating to the Plugins page. Then select all plugins.

Deactivate All WordPress Plugins

From the Bulk Actions dropdown menu, select Deactivate.

Then hit the Apply button.

This will deactivate all of your WordPress plugins.

If that solves the problem, you need to find the culprit. You can do this by activating each plugin one by one and reloading the site after each activation.

You’ll know which plugin is misbehaving when your frontend goes down again.

You can then contact the plugin developer via their support page or submit a support ticket through the WordPress Plugin Directory.

If your dashboard is unavailable, you can access the files directory through an SFTP client. Or you can access it via DirectAdmin File Manager.

Locate the plugins folder under the wp-content folder of your root directory. Then rename it to something like plugins_old.

Rename WordPress Plugins Folder

Then, recheck the frontend of your website.

If this works for you, you will need to test each plugin individually.

Rename your plugins directory to plugins.

You can then individually rename each plugin folder inside that until you locate the malfunctioning one.

2 – Change to a Default WordPress Theme

If there is no plugin problem, your WordPress theme may make the White Screen of Death error.

You can check to see if your theme is the problem by switching to a default WordPress theme.

If you have admin access, go to Appearance > Themes from your dashboard. Find a default WordPress theme such as Twenty Twenty-One and activate it.

Activate WordPress Twenty Twenty-One Theme

Then, retest your site. If it works, then the theme is the problem.

If you can’t access your dashboard, you should follow the same process as you did with plugins.

Access the website directories through DirectAdmin File Manager or SFTP.

Then rename your wp-content/themes directory to something else.

Rename WordPress Plugins Folder

WordPress will then switch back to the latest default theme.

If you don’t have a default theme available, download one from the WordPress Theme Directory.

Then upload it to the themes directory.

After that, you can recheck your site.

If it works, your theme probably had a conflict or a bad update.

You might need to talk to the theme developer or switch themes if this is the case.

3 – Clear Your Browser Cache and WordPress Plugin Cache

If you can access your WordPress site’s backend but are still experiencing WSoD errors on the front end, it could be a cache issue.

To fix it, you should try clearing your browser’s cache as well as your WordPress caching plugin.

Suppose you have installed a caching plugin on your WordPress site, like LiteSpeed Cache.

Usually, most caching plugin settings provide an easy way to clear the cache. For example, LiteSpeed Cache gives you the option of purging the cache from the WP Admin Bar itself.

LiteSpeed Cache Purge All WordPress Admin Bar

Once you’ve cleared your cache, return to the site to see if it has fixed the issue. Otherwise, it’s time to move on to another solution.

4 – Enable Debugging Mode

Imagine you’re not able to access your admin panel, and you still see the WordPress White Screen of Death. Now, using debugging mode will allow you to dig deeper.

The debugging mode will let you know if your website has errors.

Open the wp-config.php file of your WordPress installation to enable debugging. You should find this line within it.

define( 'WP_DEBUG', false );

Replace false with true and refresh the page. If this line does not exist, you can add it at the beginning of the file.

You will now see a white screen and some error reports.

Although it is not a vast improvement, it is a start. The WSOD error message should mention the file that caused the problem.

You might need to connect with your web host if you don’t notice any errors after activating debug mode. There might be a problem with debugging on your server.

It would be best to keep in mind that enabling debugging mode will expose some information about your site to uninvited users. So always make sure to turn it off once you are done using it.

5 – Increasing the Memory Limit

After trying some of the above solutions, are you still seeing the empty page? And you get an error message stating that memory is exhausted.

If that is the case, you will need to allocate additional memory to your WordPress website.

It is easy to increase the PHP Memory limit from the DirectAdmin control panel.

Log in to your DirectAdmin account and click on the Select PHP version icon under the Extra Features category.

In the Select PHP version page, click on the Options tab.

DirectAdmin Increase Memory Limit

Scroll down and increase the memory_limit from the dropdown.

You may also increase the memory via the wp-config.php file. Add the following code to the file.

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

If you still need more memory and your application is out of memory, there may be something wrong with it.

Perhaps you are using a lot of resources because of your theme or plugin.

In this situation, you may need to hire a developer.

If you are having problems with your site, your host may show you the SQL logs and other resource stats for your website.

6 – Check File Permissions

A permissions and ownership problem may also contribute to the WSoD.

You can fix this problem.

However, you may unintentionally create vulnerabilities you can unknowingly exploit due to not knowing what you’re doing.

There are three simple rules for WordPress permissions.

  • File permission should be 664 or 644.
  • Folder permission should be 775 or 755.
  • The wp-config.php file permission should be 660, 600, or 644.

You can set file permissions through DirectAdmin or SFTP.

WordPress File Permission DirectAdmin

If you don’t know how to do this or are hesitant, ask your host for help. Helpful hosts such as Rovity will be glad to assist you.

7 – Check for Issues With Failed Auto-Updates

Sometimes, WordPress encounters problems when updating, such as when the server times out.

Usually, this problem automatically resolves itself.

It may, however, sometimes result in the WordPress White Screen of Death.

Please check your WordPress root directory for a .maintenance file.

Delete that file and try loading your site again. If WordPress fails to remove this file automatically after the update was successful, everything should return to normal.

If WordPress did not complete the update, it might have restarted automatically, in which case everything will resume as it did before.

8 – Fix Syntax Errors or Restore From a Backup

Another common cause of WordPress WSoD is when you mistype something or accidentally use the incorrect syntax while editing code on your WordPress site.

A single wrong character could cause your entire site to crash, so you should never edit code on your live production site.

But don’t worry.

SFTP or DirectAdmin access will always allow you to revert a change you made manually.

Your WordPress backups come in handy here if you do not know what change caused the error.

Suppose you enabled debug mode earlier in WordPress. In that case, you might have also gotten an error message telling you there was a parse syntax error.

If that is the case, it should pinpoint precisely where the problem code is located.

9 – Increase PHP’s Text Processing Capabilities

If you still haven’t resolved the WSoD, you will need to try one more trick.

Rarely, this problem might occur if a post or page is incredibly long.

If this is the case, you can increase the backtrack and recursion limits on your site’s PHP text processing.

You can achieve this by pasting the following code within your wp-config.php file.

ini_set('pcre.recursion_limit',20000000);
ini_set('pcre.backtrack_limit',10000000);

Save your changes once the code is added. Check if your site is working now by refreshing your browser.

Summary

The WordPress White Screen of Death can be extremely frustrating, even terrifying. Many things can go wrong, but fortunately, it’s usually not as bad as it seems.

In most cases, a simple plugin or theme check should fix the WSoD issue.

By familiarizing yourself with WordPress’s debug mode, you can gain more insight and discover what’s going on.

Please let us know if you’ve encountered another WordPress White Screen of Death situation, so we can learn from them and share the knowledge!

We engineered our cloud infrastructure with Performance, Speed, Scalability, and Security in mind.

That’s why we built Rovity with AWS, CloudLinux OS, DirectAdmin, and LiteSpeed Web Server.

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By Jafar Muhammed

Jafar Muhammed has 10+ years of experience in WordPress, web hosting, domain names, DNS, CDN, server administration, etc. He is an open web advocate. He is the CEO of Rovity, the fastest growing premium shared hosting startup in India.

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