Last updated - December 11, 2020
WordPress white screen of death is one of the most frustrating errors that you could experience with your site. The problem with this error is that you won’t be able to access your site both from front-end as well as backend. Sometimes it can affect only one part of the site when everything else works fine. Whichever scenario, this could be an unpleasant experience for a site owner, particularly so if you are new to WordPress. In this article, we will discuss some of the expert tips that you can employ to fix the dreaded WordPress white screen of death.
What is WordPress White Screen of Death?
According to experts, WordPress white screen of death is tan error caused by problems in the PHP code or inadequate memory limits. It is important to understand the nature of the error so that you can use the most appropriate strategy to fix it. If the front-end of your site is working and you are not able to access the WordPress admin, it is mostly due to some faulty PHP code.
How to fix WordPress white screen of death?
As with any other problems that you face, there are always different approaches to reach at a solution. Here, we will discuss some of the common strategies recommended by experts to fix WordPress white screen of death.
Fix a plugin-related issue
In a lot of cases, this error is due to a faulty plugin. If you are able to identify the plugin that is causing it, you can simply disable that plugin and fix the issue. If you are able to still access your WordPress admin, this will be easy. You can simply disable all your plugins, and see if the error persists. If the problem is resolved, you can enable plugins one by one until you identify the one that is causing the problem.
However, if you can’t access the WordPress admin, you will have to access the plugins folder using FTP, and rename it to disable all plugins. If the problem seems to be coming from a plugin, you can rename individual plugin folders to identify it.
Check your theme
This could also be due to a faulty set of code in your theme file. You can switch to a default theme of WordPress to identify if it is a theme issue. Similar to the process with plugins, you can do it through WordPress admin if it is accessible. If not, you will have to use FTP to switch your theme. You will be able to confirm if your theme is causing the problem. In case it is due to the theme, you can contact the support team of the theme company and request for a fix.
Error in code
Sometimes, a syntax error in the WordPress code could be the reason for this error. When you try to make a customization through a code snippet, this can easily happen. If you know where you made the change, you can easily revert it manually. However, in certain scenarios, you won’t be able to spot the faulty code. Restoring your site to a previously stored backup will be a great solution in this case.
Check out some of best WordPress backup solutions that will help you restore your site in case of errors like WordPress white screen of death.
Also read our article to understand how to manage backups of your WordPress files and database.
WordPress recovery mode
In the latest versions of WordPress, there is an option to detect plugin and theme errors. With the option to detect fatal errors, WordPress will catch and display the error instead of displaying the blank white screen. There will be a message saying “The site is experiencing technical difficulties” when you try to access the site. And WordPress will send an email to your admin email id detailing the error. In the email, it will identify the plugin that is causing the error, and also will provide a link to help you deactivate the plugin. The link will help you access the site in recovery mode and deactivate the plugin.
You can deactivate the faulty plugin and save your site from going completely down using the recovery mode. However, there will be still cases where you will face the WordPress white screen of death. In such cases, you will have to try out the different manual options to resolve the issue.
If you are not able to locate the exact reason for WordPress white screen of death, sometimes enabling debugging can help. When this error occurs, the script stops execution and as a result, there won’t be any content displayed to give you a clue on the error. Woith debugging, you will be able to understand the error and possibly know what is causing it.
You can enable debugging on the wp-config file of your WordPress install. There will be a line in the file that says define ( ‘WP_DEBUG’ , false ). You can simply change the false to true to enable debugging.
With debugging on, you will be able to see an error message that will give you a clear idea on the type of the error. If you see that the error is coming from a specific plugin, you can easily manage it by directly disabling it. You can also contact the plugin developer to get it fixed before activating it again on your site.
Memory limits enhancement
In a lot of cases, inadequate memory allocation is a reason for WordPress errors. When a script is executing, the memory limits will force it to stop midway and cause an error. You need to allocate more memory to be able to bypass this error. You can do this in different ways. In the wp-config file, you can find the code for memory limit
define( 'WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '32M' );
You can change the value to ’64M’ allocate more memory for the script to execute.
Experts also suggest an option to change the memory limit in the .htaccess file by modifying the following line.
php_value memory_limit 64M
Another option is to modify the memory limit in the php.ini file. For that, you can specify as follows:
memory_limit = 64M
If an application is still requiring more memory to execute, there might be a problem with it, and it is better to get expert help to solve it. Sometimes requesting help from your hosting service provider will be the way to deal with inadequate memory allocation.
When you are using a caching plugin, you might be able to access the WordPress admin. The WordPress white screen of death will affect only the front-end of the site in that case. You can clear the cache and the problem will go away. First you can clear the cache from your browser. Then, depending on the plugin you are using, you may have to follow a different process to clear the cache from the plugin.
Read our article on some of the best WordPress caching plugins that you can use.
Check for conflicts with CDNs and SSL
The WordPress white screen of death can occur also due to conflicts with thrid party integrations such as CDNs and SSL certificates. Sometimes two third party integrations can conflict with each other just like between two plugins. You can identify potential conflicts by disabling any integrations configured within 24 hours.
Contact your hosting service provider
If you are not able to find a fix for WordPress white screen of death, a good idea will be to contact your hosting service provider. They will be able to provide you with useful insights to identify issues with your site. This is more relevant if you are on a shared hosting plan as a problem with another site can also cause troubles.
Steps to prevent WordPress white screen of death
Since this error does not give you a clear clue on the cause, it can be quite frustrating. As a WordPress site owner, you can consider the below precautions suggested by experts.
Use reliable web hosting services
Make sure that you are using a quality hosting service provider who will offer support services promptly when you face issues. You should be able to get in touch with them easily when needed.
Test thoroughly before making any changes
Most of the times, sites encounter this error as a result of a recent change that you have made to your site. One important step you need to make before any changes is to execute them in a testing environment. This will give you a clear idea if there are any potential conflicts or issues. You should use testing environment before updates of plugins, themes and core WordPress files to ensure there aren’t any problems. Also test any code changes beforehand or get the help of experts.
Investing in a good backup solution
Regardless of the precautions you take, there are chances of trouble when managing a website. Eventually a recent backup will save you from bigger troubles. So, make sure you have a reliable backup plan in place.
Hope this article has provided you some solutions to the annoying WordPress white screen of death. Leave us a comment to share your thoughts.
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