As someone who’s been working with WordPress for years, I’ve seen my fair share of issues. One of the most frustrating and common problems that users encounter is the WordPress White Screen of Death (WSOD).

In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about this issue, including understanding what it is, identifying its causes, and most importantly, how to solve it.

Understanding the WordPress White Screen of Death

What is the WordPress White Screen of Death?

The WordPress White Screen of Death is an issue where your website becomes unresponsive and only displays a blank white screen.

This can happen on your entire site, specific pages, or even in the admin dashboard. It’s called the “White Screen of Death” because it can feel like your website has died, with no apparent way to revive it.

How Does the WSOD Impact Your Site?

When the WordPress White Screen of Death strikes, it not only affects your website’s appearance but also its functionality.

Your site becomes virtually unusable, impacting the user experience and potentially causing a loss of traffic and revenue. It’s crucial to identify the cause and find a solution as quickly as possible.

Common Causes of the WordPress White Screen of Death

There are several reasons why the WSOD might occur, including:

  • Theme-related issues
  • Plugin conflicts
  • Memory limit exhaustion
  • PHP compatibility problems
  • .htaccess file corruption
  • Syntax errors in code
  • Database connection issues
  • File permission problems
  • Server and hosting issues

Preparing for Troubleshooting

Before diving into the troubleshooting process, it’s essential to take a few preparatory steps to ensure a smooth experience.

Importance of Backups

First and foremost, always have a backup of your site. If something goes wrong during troubleshooting, you’ll have a way to restore your site to a working state.

Enabling WordPress Debugging

Enabling WordPress debugging will help you identify specific errors causing the WSOD. To do this, add the following line to your wp-config.php file:

define('WP_DEBUG', true);

Accessing Site Files and Database

To resolve the WordPress White Screen of Death, you’ll need access to your site’s files and database. This can be done through your hosting account, FTP, or a file manager.

Identifying and Resolving Theme-related Issues

Switching to a Default Theme

If you suspect that the issue is related to your theme, switch to a default WordPress theme (like Twenty Twenty-One) temporarily. If the WSOD disappears, it’s likely a theme-related issue.

Checking for Theme Updates

Outdated themes can cause compatibility issues that lead to the WSOD. Make sure you have the latest version of your theme installed.

Reviewing Theme Functions.php File

Sometimes, errors in the functions.php file of your theme can cause the WSOD. Review the file for any incorrect or deprecated code, and fix it if necessary.

Investigating and Fixing Plugin Conflicts

Deactivating All Plugins

To determine if the WSOD is caused by a plugin conflict, deactivate all of your plugins. If the issue resolves, it’s a plugin conflict.

Identifying Problematic Plugins

Reactivate your plugins one by one, checking for the WSOD after each activation. Once the issue reappears, you’ll know which plugin is causing the problem.

Updating or Replacing Conflicting Plugins

Update the problematic plugin to the latest version, or consider replacing it with a different plugin that serves a similar function without causing the WSOD.

Resolving Memory Limit Exhaustion

Diagnosing Memory Limit Issues

If your site is consuming more memory than allowed by your server, you may experience the WSOD. Review your site’s error logs and check for memory limit-related messages.

Increasing the WordPress Memory Limit

To increase your site’s memory limit, add the following line to your wp-config.php file:

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');

This will increase the memory limit to 256MB. Adjust the value according to your server’s capabilities and your site’s needs.

Optimizing Site Resources to Reduce Memory Usage

Reducing the memory usage of your site can help prevent memory limit exhaustion. Some methods to achieve this include optimizing images, minimizing plugins, and using caching solutions.

Solving PHP Compatibility Issues

Identifying PHP Version Conflicts

Outdated PHP versions can cause compatibility issues that result in the WSOD. Check your hosting account to see which PHP version you are currently using.

Updating PHP Version

If you’re using an outdated PHP version, update it to a more recent, stable release. Before doing so, ensure that your themes and plugins are compatible with the new PHP version.

Resolving Deprecated PHP Functions and Errors

Review your site’s error logs for any deprecated PHP functions or errors. Update your theme and plugins to remove or replace any outdated PHP code causing issues.

Addressing .htaccess File Corruption

Identifying a Corrupted .htaccess File

A corrupted .htaccess file can cause the WSOD. To check if this is the issue, rename your .htaccess file to something like .htaccess_old.

Creating a New .htaccess File

If renaming the file resolves the issue, create a new .htaccess file by navigating to your WordPress dashboard > Settings > Permalinks and clicking “Save Changes.”

Implementing .htaccess Best Practices

To prevent future corruption, follow best practices like keeping backups, limiting manual edits, and avoiding unnecessary custom rules.

Fixing Syntax Errors in Code

Common Syntax Errors in WordPress

Syntax errors in your theme or plugin files can cause the WSOD. Common syntax errors include missing semicolons, unbalanced parentheses, and incorrect variable names.

Using Debugging Tools to Identify Errors

Enable WordPress debugging and review your error logs to identify any syntax errors.

Correcting Syntax Errors in Theme and Plugin Files

Once you’ve identified syntax errors, correct them in the appropriate theme or plugin files using a code editor.

Troubleshooting Database Connection Issues

Recognizing a Database Connection Error

If your site is unable to connect to its database, you may experience the WSOD. Check your error logs for database connection errors.

Verifying Database Credentials

Ensure that the database credentials in your wp-config.php file are accurate and up to date.

Repairing the WordPress Database

If your database is corrupted, use the WordPress database repair feature by adding the following line to your wp-config.php file:

define('WP_ALLOW_REPAIR', true);

Then, navigate to and follow the on-screen instructions.

Resolving File Permission Problems

Understanding WordPress File Permissions

Incorrect file permissions can cause the WSOD. WordPress files should typically have 644 permissions, and folders should have 755 permissions.

Identifying Incorrect File Permissions

Review your site’s files and folders to ensure they have the correct permissions.

Adjusting File Permissions for Security and Functionality

Use an FTP client or file manager to adjust file permissions as needed to maintain both security and functionality.

Dealing with Server and Hosting Issues

Identifying Server-related Problems

Sometimes, server issues or hosting limitations can cause the WSOD. Check your hosting account for any server-related problems or resource limitations.

Communicating with Your Hosting Provider

Contact your hosting provider’s support team if you suspect server or hosting issues. They can help diagnose and resolve the problem.

Considerations for Moving to a New Hosting Provider

If your current hosting provider cannot resolve the issue or if you continually face problems, consider moving to a new hosting provider with better resources and support.

Using Third-Party Tools for Troubleshooting

Popular WordPress Troubleshooting Plugins

Some WordPress plugins can help with troubleshooting, such as Health Check & Troubleshooting or Query Monitor. These plugins can provide insights into issues causing the WSOD.

Utilizing Browser Developer Tools

Browser developer tools can also be helpful in identifying issues with JavaScript, CSS, or other front-end components that could be contributing to the WSOD.

Employing Online Resources and Communities

WordPress has a large community of users and developers. Online resources, forums, and community groups can provide valuable insights and assistance in solving the WordPress White Screen of Death.

Preventing the WordPress White Screen of Death

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some best practices to prevent the WSOD:

Regular Site Maintenance and Updates

Keep your WordPress installation, themes, and plugins up to date to ensure compatibility and minimize potential issues.

Monitoring Site Performance and Resource Usage

Regularly monitor your site’s performance and resource usage to identify potential problems before they become critical.

Implementing Security Best Practices

Follow WordPress security best practices, such as using strong passwords, keeping regular backups, and using security plugins to protect your site.

FAQ on WordPress white screen of death

What causes the WordPress white screen of death?

Dude, this thing can be super annoying, right? It’s usually caused by a PHP error, a database issue, or an exhausted memory limit. It could be a plugin or theme conflict, too. Sometimes, it even happens when there’s a problem with your hosting service.

So, yeah, a whole bunch of reasons, but don’t worry, we’ll get it sorted out.

How can I fix the white screen of death?

Alright, so the first thing you want to do is stay calm. It’s not the end of the world. There are a few steps you can try to fix the issue:

  1. Deactivate all plugins: It might be a plugin conflict, so just deactivate them all and see if that helps.
  2. Switch to a default theme: Maybe it’s a theme issue? Switch to a default WordPress theme like Twenty Twenty-One.
  3. Increase your memory limit: You could be running out of memory, so increasing it might do the trick.
  4. Check for PHP errors: Look for any PHP errors in your error log or by enabling WP_DEBUG.
  5. Contact your hosting provider: If nothing else works, get in touch with your hosting provider. They might be able to help you out.

What is a PHP error?

PHP errors are, like, issues that happen in the PHP code running your WordPress site. They can be caused by syntax issues, missing files, or other coding problems. When a PHP error occurs, it can totally mess up your site and cause the white screen of death.

It’s important to fix these errors to keep your site running smoothly.

How do I check my error log?

To check your error log, you’ll need to access your site’s files. You can do this through your hosting account, or by using an FTP client. Look for a file called error_log in your site’s root directory. Open it up, and you should see any recent PHP errors that have occurred. This can help you pinpoint the problem and fix it.

How do I enable WP_DEBUG?

Enabling WP_DEBUG is super useful for identifying PHP errors. To do this, you’ll need to edit your wp-config.php file. Just add the following line of code:

define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );

Now, any PHP errors will be displayed on your site. Remember to disable WP_DEBUG when you’re done troubleshooting!

Can a theme conflict cause the white screen of death?

Oh, absolutely! Theme conflicts are a common cause of the white screen of death. Maybe there’s a coding issue, or it’s not compatible with your version of WordPress.

To check if it’s a theme issue, switch to a default WordPress theme, like Twenty Twenty-One. If your site works after that, you’ve found the culprit.

How do I increase my site’s memory limit?

Increasing your site’s memory limit is pretty straightforward. Just add this line of code to your wp-config.php file:

define( 'WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M' );

This will bump up your memory limit to 256MB. If you still have issues, you can try increasing it further or contacting your hosting provider for assistance.

How do I deactivate all plugins if I can’t access my WordPress dashboard?

No worries, you can still deactivate your plugins even if you can’t get to your dashboard. You’ll need to access your site’s files using an FTP client or through your hosting account. Navigate to the /wp-content/ folder and find the plugins folder.

Rename it to something like plugins_old. This will deactivate all of your plugins. If this fixes the issue, you’ll know a plugin conflict was the problem.

To figure out which one, rename the folder back to plugins and then deactivate each plugin one by one, checking your site after each deactivation. When you find the troublemaker, you can either remove it or look for an update or alternative.

How can I prevent the white screen of death from happening again?

Preventing the white screen of death from happening again is all about keeping your site in tip-top shape. Here are some things you can do:

  1. Keep your WordPress, plugins, and themes updated: Outdated software can cause conflicts and issues.
  2. Only use reliable and well-maintained plugins and themes: Do a bit of research before installing any new plugin or theme.
  3. Monitor your site’s performance and memory usage: Keep an eye on things to catch potential issues early.
  4. Regularly backup your site: Just in case something goes wrong, you’ll have a backup to restore from.
  5. Stay informed about WordPress best practices: Knowledge is power, my friend.

By following these steps, you’ll reduce the chances of running into the white screen of death in the future.

What if I can’t fix the white screen of death on my own?

Don’t stress, buddy! If you’ve tried everything and still can’t fix the white screen of death, it’s time to call in some reinforcements. Reach out to your hosting provider for help, as they might be able to spot something you missed.

If that doesn’t work, consider hiring a WordPress professional to diagnose and fix the issue. Remember, you don’t have to go it alone. There are experts out there who can help you get your site back up and running.

Ending thoughts on “WordPress white screen of death”

The WordPress White Screen of Death can be a frustrating issue, but with the right approach and perseverance, it can be resolved.

By understanding the potential causes and following the troubleshooting steps outlined in this article, you can restore your website to its full functionality and prevent future WSOD occurrences.

Remember, a well-maintained, secure, and updated WordPress site is the key to a smooth user experience and the best defense against the dreaded White Screen of Death.

If you liked this article about WordPress’s white screen of death, you should check out this article about dns_probe_finished_nxdomain error.

There are also similar articles discussing how to fix this site can’t be reached, WordPress error log, failed to load resource, and what is a parse error.

And let’s not forget about articles on timeout error, nonce error, jQuery is not defined, and this page can’t load Google Maps correctly.

Categorized in: