WordPress White Screen of Death: How To Fix [Solution]

Fix The White Screen Of Death
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While most of the world is familiar with the famous Windows’ Blue Screen of Death, WordPress users get to (occasionally) experience their own screen of death – the WordPress White Screen of Death.

This nasty error makes your entire site disappear and replaces it with either with a completely blank white screen (in Firefox) or a screen like below (in Chrome):

Fix The White Screen Of Death In WordPress
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It is one really stressful error because it seems like your entire site has disappeared in a puff of smoke. But don’t worry! It is usually nothing serious and with some basic diagnostic steps, you should be able to get your site working again in no time.

To help you do that, I’m going to show you how to fix the White Screen of Death in WordPress.

What Causes The White Screen Of Death In WordPress?

As is often the case with general errors like this, there isn’t one single cause for the WordPress White Screen of Death.

With that being said, there are some common causes. According to the official WordPress Codex, the most popular causes are:

  • Plugin compatibility issues
  • Theme compatibility issues

Apart from those mentioned above, it is quite possible that your site is hitting its PHP memory limit.

To diagnose and, hopefully fix the issue, you’ll need to:

  • Determine whether your theme or plugins are causing these issues
  • Increase your WordPress site’s memory limit

I’ll show you how to do both, as well as a diagnostic step you can take if neither approach fixes the issue for you.

Also check out: How To Fix “Error Establishing A Database Connection” In WordPress

How To Fix WordPress White Screen Of Death

Because the WordPress Codex lists plugin and theme compatibility issues as the two most common causes, we’re going to start with that before moving on to ways to increase your site’s memory limit.

Diagnostic #1: Check For Plugin Compatibility Issues

To check if a plugin (or plugins) is causing the issue, the process is fairly simple:

  • Deactivate all of your plugins
  • Reactivate plugins one by one till you find the actual cause

If you can still access your WordPress dashboard, great! You can use the normal Plugins interface to do this.

However, as is the case usually, with the WordPress White Screen of Death staring in your face, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to access your WordPress dashboard.

Here’s the foolproof way to deactivate and reactivate plugins if you can’t access your dashboard

Step 1: Connect to your site via FTP

To get started, you’ll need to connect to your WordPress site using an FTP program and your FTP account credentials (you can get this information from your host if you don’t already know it).

I’ll use FileZilla for my screenshots – but you can use any FTP program.

Once you’re connected, browse to the …/wp-content/ folder:

wp-content-folder
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Step 2: Rename plugins folder to plugins_old

Next, right-click on the plugins folder (this should be inside the wp-content folder) and Rename the folder to plugins_old:

Rename plugins folder to plugins_old
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Here’s what it should look like after you rename the folder:

Rename plugins folder to plugins_old
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At this point, you’ve deactivated all of your plugins. Now, you just need to reactivate them one by one.

Step 3: Create a new plugins folder

Now, you’ll need to create a new folder called plugins by right-clicking and choosing Create directory:

Create a new plugins folder
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By now, you should have two folders named:

  • plugins
  • plugins_old

WordPress Plugins Folder
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Step 4: Move individual plugin folders from plugins_old to plugins

Now, to reactivate your plugins:

  • Navigate into the plugins_old folder
  • Move all the files from plugins_old to plugins

Move all the files from plugins_old to plugins
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Step 5: Activate plugins one by one in WordPress dashboard

By this point, you should hopefully be able to access your WordPress dashboard.

Inside your dashboard, go to the Plugins tab. You should see a list of all your plugins. Each plugin should be deactivated:

Plugins
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Now, simply Activate each plugin one by one until you find the plugin that’s causing the issue.

Diagnostic #2: Check For Theme Compatibility Issues

To check for theme compatibility issues, you can use an almost identical process to the plugin method above.

If you can still access your WordPress dashboard, try switching back to the default Twenty Seventeen theme to see if that fixes the issue.

If you can’t access your WordPress dashboard, you’ll need to dig into your site via FTP again.

Step 1: Connect to your site via FTP

As described earlier, connect to your website via FTP and browse to the …/wp-content/ folder:

Connect to your site via FTP
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Step 2: Rename active theme’s folder

Because you can only have one theme active at a time, you don’t need to rename the entire themes folder.

Instead, browse into the themes folder and rename the folder that contains your active theme by appending _old to the end of the folder name:

Rename
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When you’re finished, it should look something like this (below):

Rename
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As soon as you rename the folder, WordPress will try to revert back to the default theme, which should be Twenty Seventeen (assuming you still have Twenty Seventeen installed):

Twenty Seventeen
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If you don’t have any other themes installed, you can always download a fresh copy of Twenty Seventeen and upload it via FTP.

If your site starts working as soon as you revert to the default theme, that’s a pretty good indicator that your theme choice is causing the White Screen of Death.

Diagnostic #3: Increase PHP Memory Limit

If your site isn’t functional even after ruling out any plugin or theme compatibility issues, the next thing that you can try to do is increase your site’s memory limit.

If you’re on cheap shared hosting, you may not be able to do this without your host’s help. So for the most foolproof way to increase WordPress’ memory limit, I recommend just talking to your host support.

With that being said, there are some things that you can try yourself to increase the memory limit (assuming you have a host that allows it).

Option 1: Edit wp-config.php file to increase memory limit.

Connect to your site via FTP and edit the wp-config.php file in your site’s root folder. To increase WordPress’ memory limit, add this short code snippet to your wp-config.php file and save your changes:

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

Option 2: Edit .htaccess file to increase memory limit.

Another thing you can try doing is adding a short code snippet to your .htaccess file. You can find this file in your site’s root folder (the same folder as wp-config.php):

php_value memory_limit 64M

Diagnostic #4: Enable WordPress Debug Mode

If none of the solutions above have fixed your problem, you can try to diagnose smaller issues by enabling WordPress debug mode.

When you enable debug mode, WordPress will display every single PHP error, warning, and notice.

While you will need some technical knowledge to interpret these errors, they can usually point you in the right direction. And if you’re not sure what a specific error means, you can always hire a WordPress developer to help you understand what the debug mode is showing.

To enable WordPress debug mode, add the following code snippet to your wp-config.php file:

define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );

Once enabled, WordPress will automatically start displaying any code errors (if you don’t see any messages, that means WordPress isn’t encountering any issues).

Final Thoughts

Most of the time, the WordPress White Screen of Death is caused by a simple theme or plugin issue. While it can be frustrating, using the process of elimination can usually help you zero in on the offending theme or plugin. From there, you’ll need to either reach out to the developer for support or find a different solution.

Have you ever experienced this issue? If so, it would be awesome if you leave a comment with the method you used to fix it!

Here are a few hand-picked articles for you to read next:

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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

16 thoughts on “WordPress White Screen of Death: How To Fix [Solution]”

  1. When I started blogging I wasn’t even knowing all this issues. but yes, I faced this error only once till now but today only I knew its called white screen of death πŸ™‚
    At that time I had changed my WordPress theme temporarily to some other theme and then after half an hour I reverted back to old theme. The issue was fixed. Don’t know how but it worked. ☺️

    Thanks for sharing multiple solutions, it will surely be quite helpful for this issue.

    1. I also didn’t know more about this fact. I used to change the plugin directory name. And, the issue was fixed for me. Then, i activated plugins one by one :p

  2. Freddy G. Cabrera

    Hey Harsh!

    I have experienced the WordPress white screen of death before. It really sucks for your blog when it happens.

    Usually, the problem is with the plugins compatibility. I’ve never experienced this with a wp theme, but it could happen.

    When this happens, I would check my plugins first. I would do what you suggested here and deactivate all the plugins and then activate them one by one until I see the white screen of death again.

    Thanks for sharing these helpful tips!

    Cheers! πŸ˜€

  3. Hello Harsh,
    I want to share my experience, that 90% of the time the White Screen of Death is caused by Plugins. So deactivating them one by one will solve the problem.

    But it it still does not solves this problem, then you should check php memory, theme issues, etc.

    Your post is excellent and gives complete knowledge on this topic.

    Thank You.

  4. Howdy Harsh Sir,
    I am regular reader of your blog and due to some official work I was out of station. Now, as I am back …just open #shoutmeloud and found that you have changed the appearance of your website.

    I really like the changes you have made… but still as a visitor… I really liked that earlier Font style and Size! I find the size of this theme little bit less.. I need to focus to read content! That was not the case earlier…

    Hope to see more cool stuff by You sir…

    -Rajinder Verma

  5. few days Ago I face the same error of White screen of death in WordPress. I tried many methods but at the end I use these lines in my wordpress and get away from this.

    define(‘CONCATENATE_SCRIPTS’, false );
    define(‘CONCATENATE_SCRIPTS’, false );

  6. HI, Harsh, I am the biggest fan of yours and learning blogging from your blog this posy White Screen Of Death In WordPress will help me keep to doing this and updating us thanks for sharing

  7. Hi Harsh,

    I have been fortunate enough to not have to deal with the white screen of death. However, I have heard of people who have had to deal with it.

    This is a great tutorial to help people deal with it. I still work on different sites in my freelancing business, so if I ever have to fix something like this, I’ll know what to do.

    Whenever something happens with my blogs, one of the first things I always do is check my plugins. Although I have been using the same plugins pretty much since I started my blog, most of the time it’s something as simple as a plugin issue.

    Thanks for taking the time to share these tips with us.

    Have a great day πŸ™‚

    Susan

  8. Hey Harsh,

    The white screen of death can freak anyone because people don’t really have an access to their website.

    I always recommend them to check the plugins. As you have shown, just change the name of the plugins’ folder and all the plugins will get deactivated.

    Though this isn’t the optimum solution still people can try. Increasing the default memory is another option.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

    ~Ravi

  9. phew…. Thanks a lot for this article man πŸ˜€
    I am really new to this blogging industry and faced this problem while shifting from blogger to WordPress. I was about to give up on WordPress and was going back to blogger. But this article saved me πŸ˜‰

    Thanks a lot again.

  10. I have experience this before but thankfully i got a backup plugin called updraftplus and i just restored it quickly. It is easy if you just have a backup

  11. I’m planning to move my site to WordPress. But I was afraid that this might happen. Previously when I was using 000webhost to learn it, I faced problems like this and I had no idea what to do (call me a complete noob). I was not even able to log into the site. But after reading this, I now know what to do.
    I’m planning to buy the basic package from Bluehost, hope the limit increasing technique works for the basic plan as well.

    Thanks for the post!
    Regards,
    Sophie

  12. Hi
    Very good article!!
    By uninstalling plugins and enabling page cahes I could solve the problem of death screen in wordpress.
    Thanks for sharing…

  13. I have face this issue twice while moving my domain from one hosting to another. I have follow the some of similar steps which are mention above. For first time I was able to do everything correctly. But in second time it has wasted my 4 hours, just because of one plugin which was misbehaving with new wordpress new version.

    Now I have documented the above steps to follow for next time
    Thanks for sharing.

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