Fixing WordPress White Screen of Death

If you’re reading this, then you have probably faced the most common WordPress issue which is the white screen of death. It owes its preposterous name to a white screen that WordPress throws at you when you least expect it and usually blocks your access to the whole website or its selected parts, such as sub-pages or posts. At first sight, you may not feel up to solving the problem yourself. Your website is down and you have zero clue on how to approach it. You’re starting to believe that the reputation this WordPress blank page has gained as an irreversible synonym of death is genuine. In all that apprehension, try putting the panic on hold just for a bit. You can make it work again by ticking off a few workable and instant solutions.

Cache – handling the WordPress white screen of death the fast way

Cache is nothing but a way in which browsers store some of the website files on your computer. It helps load the website faster every time you visit it. If you make changes to your site often, the cache may not recognize them and use outdated files where no changes have been recorded yet.

So if your browser misses a recent update on your website, clear your cache through the browser’s settings. In addition to that, try activating W3 Total Cache plugin which will monitor browser caching and optimize the speed of your website.

Now check if the blank screen is gone. If not, nothing’s lost. Go on and look for something more sophisticated that will bring your site back.

Extensions – a trial-and-error solution for the blank screen in WordPress

Exercise moderation when installing plugins. Often, the white screen of death hits in a bad response to too many updates and too many active extensions that run on your site.

Here’s what to do:

  • Open your dashboard and enter the plugin section. Mark all of the plugins.
  • Using a bulk option from the top context menu, deactivate them.
  • Now start activating them one by one. With every action, refresh your site and check if the blank page appears again.
  • If yes, remember which plugin you had activated directly before it showed up again. This is going to be the bad plugin you need to deal with.

You can contact the authors of the plugin to ask for a fix. Or you can replace it with a new extension. There’s a high chance someone already created a substitute. If this doesn’t help, keep digging.

Memory – how too much is enough for the WordPress blank page

Your hosting server has a limited capacity. When you exhaust it, it will send you signals, such as the white screen of death. It would mean that PHP memory which is reserved for files and plugins is simply beginning to falter. To help it, you have to run the FTP manager and use it to access the files on your server. Once you’ve been successfully connected, find the public_html folder in which you should also see the wp-config.php file. You can open it using a standard text editor. The file needs an extra line to increase the memory and this line is:

define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘64M’);

Add it, save the file, and close the manager. Now see if the problem is gone.

Sometimes hosting providers prefer to control all modifications of memory. In that case, you will need to contact them and ask for an increase of limit.

What else to keep the WSOD away?

The wp-config.php file can become even more helpful when the cause of white screen of death remains unknown. This time feel free to edit it by adding the following lines:

error_reporting(E_ALL);
 ini_set('display_errors', 1);
 define( 'WP_DEBUG', true);

They will trigger a debug mode in which the list of errors turns up on your screen. Somewhere there will be a message that should inform you about the root of the problem.

Conclusion

Every handbook of WP issues would probably begin with the white screen of death. It is so common that you will come across it at some point of your website’s day to day operation. Scary as the WordPress blank screen is, the ways to fix the bug are well-proven and easy. You just have to stay fearless and be ready for this challenge which you now know how to approach.

Share:

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4+ years experience in working with global and local partners from the web development industry. He combines strong communication and project management skill-set that helps him develop new opportunities and turn them into long-lasting relationships. Outside front-end and CMS landscape, he writes about film music and performs in improv theatre.

See other articles of Tomasz Ludward