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How to Fix WordPress White Screen of Death (WSoD)

Nothing is more frightening than after working on your site from the backend, you visit your site and got a blank white screen instead of your contents.

Instead of your contents, you receive a blank dead webpage (White Screen of Death)

It happened to me and I had wanted to download my website files and just delete the website, it was so horrible and the thought of starting afresh nearly suffocated me.

In most cases, this error will make your website inaccessible to both visitors or you the administrator, sometimes you can’t even access your Admin Backend but don’t worry you can apply these suggestions even without accessing your Admin Backend.

For some of us who haven’t faced it before this can be very frustrating but don’t worry, we have lists of possible solutions to this matter.

In this post, we’ll explain what the WordPress WSoD is and what its common causes are. Most importantly, we’ll walk you through nine potential solutions for getting your site back up and running as fast as possible.

First, we will look at

  • What’s the WordPress White Screen of Death?
  • The causes of WSoD (and)
  • How to Fix WordPress White Screen of Death

What is the meaning of WordPress White Screen of Death?

The WordPress White Screen of Death is a blank white screen that is shown to a user either a Visitor or Administrator when trying to access a webpage instead of the real content.

Now to expanciate further, the WSoD is not really blank, but depending on the browser you are using, you could get different error messages.

For example, Google chrome browser will show you an HTTP 500 error warning stating that “The page isn’t working and is unable to handle request”. just like in the image below:wordpress wsod chrome

Well, the Mozilla Firefox will come out with literately as the name implies a completely white screen of dead webpages with dead contents (It’s kind of creepy) It doesn’t contain any useful errors or warning messages.

This is the White Screen of Death in Mozilla Firefox:wordpress wsod firefox

A Quick Touch: If your plugins are the caused of this WSoD then even chrome might give you a pure white screen background just like Mozilla Firefox’s.

What’s the causes of WordPress White Screen of Death?

This common WordPress error is mostly caused by memory limit exhaustion or PHP code errors

Another possible cause is a faulty theme or plugin if it is a plugin then your admin backend will be up but your frontend will be down (which was the cause of mine).

How to Fix WordPress White Screen of Death (9 Methods)

When you experience the WordPress White Screen of Death, your priority will be to fix it as quickly as possible. With that in mind, let’s take a look at nine possible solutions you can use to resolve it.

  1. Disable Your WordPress Plugins
  2. Switch to a Default WordPress Theme
  3. Clear Browser and WordPress Plugin Cache
  4. Switch on Debugging Mode
  5. Increase Your Memory Limit
  6. Check File Permission Issues
  7. Check for Failed Auto-Update Issues
  8. Resolve Syntax Errors or Restore a Backup
  9. Increase the PHP Text Processing Capability

1. Disable Your WordPress Plugins

One of the easiest and most common ways to fix the WordPress WSoD is to simply disable all of your plugins. Often, a site goes down due to a bad plugin update.

If you can still access your admin area, a quick way to do this is to navigate to Plugins from the dashboard, select all plugins, and then click on Deactivate from the Bulk Actions dropdown menu:WSOD: Deactivate all WordPress Plugins setting

This will disable all of your plugins.

If that fixes the issue, you’ll need to find the culprit. To do this, you can start activating the plugins one by one, reloading the site after each activation. When your frontend goes down, you’ve found the faulty plugin.

You can then reach out to the plugin’s developer for help or post a support ticket in the WordPress Plugin Directory.

If you can’t access your dashboard, you can use a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client to access your site’s files directory.

Under the wp-content folder of your root directory, locate the plugins folder. Rename it to something along the lines of “plugins_old”:WSoD: Rename your plugins folder

Then, check your site again on the frontend. If this works, you will need to test each plugin one by one. Rename your plugin folder back to “plugins”, and then individually rename each plugin folder inside of it until you locate the faulty one.

2. Switch to a Default WordPress Theme

If the problem isn’t a plugin, your WordPress theme may be the cause of the White Screen of Death. To see if this is the issue, you can replace your theme by switching to a default one.

If you can access your admin area, go to Appearance > Themes in your dashboard. Locate and activate a default WordPress theme such as Twenty Twenty:

Then, test your site again. If it works, you’ll know the problem lies with your theme.

If you can’t access your dashboard, the process is the same as it is with plugins.

Use FTP to access your site’s files, and rename your wp-content/themes folder to something else:WSoD: theme folder

Rename your themes folder

WordPress will then revert to the latest default theme, which is most likely Twenty Twenty. If you don’t have any other themes, you can download one from the WordPress Theme Directory and then upload it to your themes folder.

After that, go ahead and check your site again. If it works, perhaps your theme has had a conflict or a bad update. If this is the case, you might need to reach out to the developer for help or consider switching themes.

3. Clear Browser and WordPress Plugin Cache

If you have access to the backend of your WordPress site but are still seeing the WSoD on the frontend, it might be due to an issue with your cache.

To fix it, try clearing your web browser’s cache and your WordPress caching plugin (assuming you have one installed).

If you have a caching plugin installed on your WordPress sites, such as WP Rocket or WP Super Cache, most offer a quick way to clear the cache via the plugin’s Settings page.

Using WP Super Cache as an example, in your WordPress dashboard you would navigate to Settings > WP Super Cache > Delete Cache:delete plugin cache

4. Switch on Debugging Mode

If you are still seeing the WordPress White Screen of Death, the admin area isn’t working, or you think you’ve found the problem but want to dig deeper, you can enable debugging mode. This will show any errors that are occurring on your website.

To enable debugging, you’ll need to open the wp-config.php file of your WordPress install. Within it you should find the following line:

define( 'WP_DEBUG', false );

Change “false” to “true”, and then reload your site. If this line doesn’t exist, you can add it to the top of the file.

Instead of the white screen, you’ll get a white screen and some error messages. This isn’t a huge improvement, but it’s only a start. The WSoD error message should state which file the problem originated in, like this:

Cannot redeclare get_posts() (previously declared in 
/var/www/html/wordpress/wp-includes/post.php:1874) in 
/var/www/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/my-test-plugin/my-test-plugin.php on line 38

You can see at the end of this example message that the problem is in line 38 of a plugin called my-test-plugin. Therefore, disabling that plugin should resolve the issue.

If you don’t see any errors at all after enabling debug mode, you might need to reach out to your web host. It’s possible debugging isn’t correctly configured on your server.

5. Increase Your Memory Limit

If you still see the dreaded WSoD empty page after trying some of the above solutions, or you get an error complaining about memory limits or exhausted memory, you’ll need to assign more memory to the application.

This can be done through the wp-config.php file on many WordPress installs. Open the file and add the following code:

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

If this doesn’t seem to work, you have a few options. In a regular environment, you can use your .htaccess file to increase the memory limit. Simply add the following line:

php_value memory_limit 64M

If you can’t access your .htaccess file, you can use your php.ini file to increase the memory limit instead.

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To do that, connect to your server via FTP. In the root directory of your site, look for the php.ini file. Once you locate it, add the following line anywhere inside the file:

memory_limit = 64M

If you’re still out of memory and need to assign more, there may be an issue within your application. Perhaps your theme or one of your plugins is using an inordinate amount of resources.

At this point, you may want to hire a developer to take a look (Contact Cloudnetvox for the best solutions via our live chat 24/7). If you are already a Cloudnetvox customer just submit a ticket let’s take care of the rest

Even your host may be able to help (If you are not hosting with Cloudnetvox), by showing you the SQL logs and other resource stats for your site.

6. Check File Permission Issues

Another potential cause of the WSoD is permission and ownership issues. It is possible to fix this problem. However, unless you really know what you’re doing, we would advise against it as you can inadvertently create vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit.

When it comes to WordPress permissions, there are three simple rules to follow:

  • Files should be set to 664 or 644.
  • Folders should be set to 775 or 755.
  • The wp-config.php file should be set to 660, 600, or 644.

If you have SSH access to your server, you can apply the appropriate rules with the following command, running it from the root WordPress directory:

sudo find . -type f -exec chmod 664 {} +
sudo find . -type d -exec chmod 775 {} +
sudo chmod 660 wp-config.php

If you are unsure how to do this or are a bit intimidated, go ahead and ask your web host for help.

7. Check for Failed Auto-Update Issues

Sometimes WordPress runs into an issue with updates, such as when the server times out. More often than not, this problem resolves itself automatically. However, in some rare cases, it may lead to the WordPress White Screen of Death.

The first thing you should do is go into your WordPress root directory and see if there’s a .maintenance file there (the file’s name may be abbreviated as well).

What you’d want to do is try deleting that file and loading up your site again.

If the update was successful, but WordPress failed to remove this file automatically, everything should go back to normal.

If the update was not completed, it may be restarted automatically, in which case things should go back to normal just the same.

Also, If all else fails, follow the recommended manual update procedure for WordPress, which should resolve the issue once and for all.

8. Resolve Syntax Errors or Restore a Backup

Another common cause for the WordPress WSoD is when you’re editing the code on your WordPress site and accidentally mistype something or use the wrong syntax.

One character in the wrong place could take down your entire site, which is why you should never edit code on your live production site.

Not to worry, though. You can always connect to your site via FTP and revert the change you made manually. If you don’t know what change caused the problem, this is where having WordPress backups in place comes in handy.

Keep in mind that if you enabled debug mode in WordPress earlier, there might also be an error message indicating a parse syntax error. If this is the case, it should tell you exactly where to find the problem code.

9. Increase the PHP Text Processing Capability

At this point, if the WSoD has not yet been resolved, there’s one additional trick you can try. On rare occasions, this problem might occur because of a page or post is particularly long.

If this is the case, you can try adjusting the PHP text processing capability on your site, by increasing the backtrack and recursion limits. To do so, paste the following code within your wp-config.php file:

/* Trick for long posts /
ini_set('pcre.recursion_limit',20000000);
ini_set('pcre.backtrack_limit',10000000);

Once you add this code, save your changes. Then refresh your site to see if it’s now working.

Summary

The WordPress White Screen of Death can be incredibly frustrating, even frightening. There are a number of things that can go wrong, but thankfully the situation is usually not as bad as it seems.

Let’s hope you didn’t try out all these steps, that the first one works for you but it couldn’t be that bad because CloudNetvox is always here to help.

A simple plugin and/or theme check should fix the WSoD issue in most cases. Getting more familiar with WordPress debug mode will definitely shed more light on the problem and guide you.

If you’ve encountered any other WordPress White Screen of Death situations, let us know so we can learn from it and share the experience!

Leave a comment if you want to add or you are having a hard time fixing these issues.


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