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Fixing the WordPress White Screen of Death

by
Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:

The well known White Screen of Death is one of the most common, yet most frustrating things that can occur on your WordPress site. 

In this tutorial, we'll be looking at the various things that cause it, and some steps that you can take no only to fix it, but to make sure it doesn't happen again.

There are four common methods which can be used to solve the White Screen of Death, which I'll be discussing in this tutorial:

  1. Checking Your Plugins
  2. Increasing the PHP Memory Limit
  3. Replacing the Theme
  4. Enabling Debug Mode

Please note, that before making any changes to your site, you should do a full backup of your files and database.

So, without further ado, let's get going with the first method.

Checking Your Plugins

This is the most common cause for the white screen to appear, and is also the simplest the solve. Chances are, you installed a dodgy plugin that is conflicting with your other plugins or theme, and so we need to determine which the culprit is, and see if we can fix that white screen!

If You Have Access to the Dashboard

Step 1

In the navigation bar on the left of your WordPress dashboard, click the "Plugins" link.

Step 2

If you've recently installed a plugin, disable that one first. This will usually solve the white screen issue straight away and you can continue using your site as normal.

Step 3

If you're still reading this, it means that you haven't been successful in solving the issue. You should now try deactivating all of your site's plugins. You can do this by selecting the first tick-box, just above the list, and then selecting 'Deactivate' from the the drop-down menu.

Step 4

Confirm the deactivation of your plugins, and then check the front-end of your site to see if the white screen has gone. If it has, congratulations; you can stop reading. If not, re-enable your plugins and read on.

If You Don't Have Access to the Dashboard

Step 1

Without access to the dashboard, you'll need to connect to your site's server via either an FTP connection, or using your site's Control Panel and navigating to the File Manager (or the like).

Step 2

Navigate over to the wp-content directory of your WordPress site and rename the plugins folder to something different, like plugins-old or plugins-temp.

Step 3

Every plugin will now have been deactivated, so you can now try to reload your site, hopefully without the white screen. If that hasn't worked, you'll need to revert the name of the folder back to plugins and re-activate your plugins once the site is working normally again.

Increasing the PHP Memory Limit

Editing Your 'wp-config.php' File

Step 1

Connect to your FTP server or File Manager in your hosting panel, and navigate to the root directory of your WordPress site.

Step 2

Open the wp-config.php file into a text editor and add the following line of code:

This number can be changed depending on what your server can handle with. Don't be greedy though, as increasing this number too high for your server can cause other issues.

Step 3

Save the file and refresh your site. If it's working now, then you can continue working on your site. If not, bad luck, and continue reading this tutorial.

Editing Your 'php.ini' File

Step 1

Like above, connect to your FTP server or File Manager in your hosting panel, and navigate to the root directory of your WordPress site.

Step 2

If you have access to your site's 'php.ini' file, add the following line of code:

If you don't have access to this file, you can create it in the root directory of your WordPress site.

Step 3

Save the changes, and try to load your site. You should note that the maximum amount of memory a script can handle is 64MB, so don't try and increase this number above that.

Editing Your '.htaccess' File

Step 1

Every WordPress site has an .htaccess file, so to try and solve the white screen issue, connect to your FTP server or File Manager in your hosting panel, and navigate to the root directory of your WordPress site.

Step 2

Once you've loaded that file, simply add this line of code to it:

Step 3

Refresh the front-end of your site again, and see if it's working again. If so, you're awesome, and if not, continue reading this tutorial!

Replacing the Theme

If You Have Access to the Dashboarfd

Step 1

Navigate to the Themes manager, by selecting Appearance > Themes from the menu on the left-hand side of the WordPress admin area.

Step 2

Activate one of the default WordPress themes, such as Twenty Fourteen, or Twenty Thirteen.

Step 3

Refresh your site, and see if the white screen issue is still occurring.

If You Don't Have Access to the Dashboard

This is considerably harder than doing it via the WordPress admin area, but if you've not got a choice (or you're up for a challenge), then listen up!

Step 1

Connect to your site's server via FTP or your hosting's File Manager and confirm that you've got one of the default WordPress themes uploaded to your server.

Step 2

Now, open up 'phpMyAdmin' via your hosting panel and navigate to the wp_options table in the database.

Step 3

Scroll through the pages of options until you find 'template' and 'stylesheet'. These should both be replaced with the title of the directory of the theme you want to revert to. In this case, it'd be either 'twentyfourteen' or 'twentythirteen'.

Step 4

Refresh your site's front-end, and hope for the best.

Enabling Debug Mode

If Your 'wp-config.php' File Contains the Debug Code

Step 1

Connect to your site's server via FTP or your hosting's File Manager and navigate to the root directory of your WordPress site.

Step 2

Open your wp-config.php file and fine the following line of code:

Step 3

To enable debug mode, change the boolean value to true, like this:

Step 4

Refresh your site and you should now see some information about why the site may be displaying the white screen. For details on what the debug information actually means, this useful page on the WordPress Codex should help.

If Your 'wp-config.php' File Doesn't Contain the Debug Code

Step 1

Connect to your site's server via FTP or your hosting's File Manager and navigate to the root directory of your WordPress site.

Step 2

Open your wp-config.php file and fine the following line of code:

Step 4

Refresh your site and the debug information will now be presented on the front-end of your site. For details on what the debug information actually means, this useful page on the WordPress Codex should help.

Summary

So, that's it - you've now learned how to fix the WordPress White Screen of Death and your site should now be displaying correctly!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

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