OMG, my website isn’t loading! All I can see is a white screen!
Has my site died and gone to silicon heaven?
The white screen of death is a WordPress user’s worst nightmare.
People tend to get a little dramatic about it, probably because you’re being told that you have a PHP fatal error, which sounds hella intimidating.
But, if you’re seeing the dreaded white screen of death, there’s really no need to panic.
Your website hasn’t imploded, you just have an issue with either your theme or a plugin.
What causes the WSOD?
But in most cases, the cause is as simple as a theme being outdated or having 2 plugins installed that aren’t compatible.
Sometimes, plugins and themes will get along for a while, but then one of them gets an update and all hell breaks loose.
Your job is to find the theme or plugin that’s causing the issue and check for updates.
How to fix the WSOD.
The most common cause of WSOD is a rogue plugin.
So, the first thing you’re going to want to do is to disable all your plugins.
Check whether your admin is still accessible. 9 times out of 10, only the front end of your WordPress site goes down, so chances are that you can still get into the main dashboard.
If you can, go ahead and follow the steps below.
If you can’t, scroll down to the section on what to do if you can’t get admin access below.
1. Head on over to Plugins from the main WordPress dashboard and select the “deactivate” option from the bulk actions dropdown as shown below:
All your plugins should now be fully deactivated.
If this solves the problem, then your next task is to identify which plugin is causing you problems.
Here’s the best way to do that.
1. Activate each plugin one by one, reloading your site each time. Eventually, you will find the one that crashes the front end of your site.
2. Once you have identified the culprit. You can either delete the plugin, look for updates or reach out to the developer for support.
What to do if you can’t get admin access.
If you can’t access the WordPress Dashboard, then you need to FTP (File Transfer Protocol) into your server and change the name of your plugins folder.
1. Change the name of your plugins folder, then try loading your site again, and if it works, you should then be able to move on to step 2.
2. Go through each of the plugins methodically until you find whichever one is causing the issue.
You’ll have to rename each individual folder in your plugins folder to do this, as in the image below:
I checked my plugins and they’re all ok. Now what?
If a plugin isn’t the culprit, the next thing you’ll want to do is to check your theme.
The best way to do this is to revert back to a default WordPress theme like the Twenty Nineteen theme shown above.
1. From your WordPress Dashboard, go to Appearance then, themes.
2. Search for any default WordPress theme you like, Install and Activate.
If the theme was causing the problem, you should see that your site immediately springs back to life.
You can then find a new theme or see if there’s an update for your current one that might solve the problem.
If not, you’ll need to follow the FTP process outlined above for theme folders instead of plugins (rename the core folder and each theme folder).
I’m still staring at a white screen – what else can I try?
If you have checked your theme and plugins with no joy, then here are some other things that you can try.
- Check for syntax errors in your website’s code.
Have you tinkered with any of the website’s code recently? If so, then this could be what’s causing the WSOD.
Try reverting to an earlier backup and see if that fixes it.
- Enable debugging.
You can check for errors by opening the wp-config.PHP file. Here’s the section of the code you are looking for:
Once you have found it, change the word “false” to “true” and reboot. You should then be able to see any significant errors.
- My final piece of advice is to check and increase your memory limit.
If a memory error comes up during debugging, opening the wp-config.PHP file and adding this small piece of code should solve the issue:
Hopefully, you have found this tutorial helpful in solving your problem.
Thanks for reading.