Did it happen to you to open your WordPress website and to stare at a white screen, not being able to understand what is going on? WordPress blank pages appear out of the blue, even when everything seems to be functioning properly. Additionally, it doesn’t always mean it is the WordPress page that is not loading, but the dashboard. The WordPress community adopted an infamous name for this unsettling problem – they call them the White Screens of Death.
This problem frustrates users over and over since it locks them out of their WordPress Admin panel. Most of the time, there is no error output, meaning that users have no idea what is wrong or how to fix it, compared to other fixable issues. The worst thing about white screens of death is that you have no clue which part of your website is affected: it may be all of it, or just the admin page, while everything else is in a perfect condition. There are even cases in which a single post is irresponsive, and you don’t even notice it at first sight. Whatever the reason may be, WordPress users have struggled to find a solution for a long time, and this article is dealing with some of the most popular alternatives:
Prior to troubleshooting, let’s take some time and examine the most frequent causes of WordPress white pages.
Why does it happen?
In most of the cases, white pages of death appear due to memory exhaustion. Another popular reason is a dysfunctional plugin, as well as improperly coded themes and hosting issues. To be completely honest, the list of reasons is a non-exhaustive one, and it depends right on it how much troubleshooting you would have to do.
Make sure that your memory limit is not exhausted
When talking about memory in the WordPress context, we usually refer to PHP memory, which allows all types of plugins to execute scripts and to perform their functions. The usual problem, therefore, is using more plugins than your hosting server allows.
Check your memory limit by opening the wp-cofig.php file for every install, and adding the following code to it:
This strategy is not always successful, but there are a few other options as well. For the regular environment, you can open the root directory, and access the .htaccess file to extend the memory limit. All you have to do is to add this line:
Depending on your server’s capacity, the number can be edited, but try not to exaggerate with it because the change can have side effects on other server issues.
Stay in control of your plugins
Locate the plugins folder; rename it to ‘_plugins’, and recheck the website.
Using FTP is the best and most secure way to achieve this.
Once the plugin folder is renamed, all plugins on the website are deactivated. In the ideal case, you won’t lose any setting or basic functionality when reactivating the plugins, but this is simply a risk you have to take if you want users to be able to access your content.
Locate the public_html folder, and open the wp-content folder you’ll find inside. Once there, you should find the plugins folder, and choose a name you like and you won’t forget.
Once the change is done, reload the website, and you will immediately know whether the procedure was successful. If white pages go on appearing, the problem has nothing to do with plugins.
Still, if your website is restored back to normal, you can keep calm, and do nothing but isolating the plugin in question. In order to do it, access your dashboard (more specifically the plugin page), and you will see which plugins are deactivated. Activate one by one, and reload the site following each activation to check whether the white pages are still there. Eventually, the page will be restored, and you’ll be able to spot the exact plugin as the culprit of your problems.
Once the problematic plugin is removed, there is no reason not to reactivate the rest of them, and to lift the website up even while the issue is being solved.
Use the default theme instead of the improperly coded one
Once you’ve confirmed that plugins have nothing to do with your white screens, and that troubleshooting them won’t help, consider replacing the current theme with a default one (twenty ten). You can do this easily, by simply backing up the theme folder, and deleting the problematic theme. WordPress will understand this as an automatic request for going back to the default one, meaning that white screens will disappear irreversibly.
There is also another alternative to do it; go to the phpMyAdmin page, and change your database tables into wp_options one. These are the table names that you should update.
Stylesheet, template, and current_theme. The value should be changed to twenty eleven.
After you’ve changed them, reload the website and check whether white screens of death are still there. Had they disappeared, it would mean you were facing a noncompliance issue between the current and the former version of your WordPress themes, and plugins will obviously have nothing to do with it.
To be frank, changing themes won’t be that easy, but that’s just because of the scope of your problem: dealing with compatibility errors indicates that there were irreconcilable coding differences and that you should seriously consider choosing a premium reputable option instead.
In case the issue is still on, go to the folder and restore its previous name (wp-content/themes).
Other ways to fix white screens
If you tried all of the above-mentioned options, and nothing worked, you can try installing a new WordPress copy. Doesn’t happen too often, but core file corruption is still possible.
WordPress also offers a debug function which captures outputted errors. Open the wp-config.php file, and add the following code:
define( 'WP_DEBUG', true);
By doing this, you will enable notices and error warnings which explain what is happening on your white screen. Therefore, you might even be able to understand the root cause from the very first moment.
The ideal scenario is that you get to move in the right direction by just looking at the error log, and to save the time you’d otherwise spend trying to determine the reason why WSoDs actually appeared. Besides, error logs are generally easy to interpret, and they don’t require coding knowledge or experience. They reveal errors together with their sources and indicate the exact location somewhere in your WordPress directory. Some of them include even timestamps, which make tracking sources even easier.
In cases where white screens stop you from accessing the front end, rather than the back one, the cause can be prescribed to caching plugins. Consequently, emptying the cache will be enough to eliminate the problem.
Likewise, cleaning the cache can help when white screens start appearing on long post pages. The same problem can be dealt with by increasing your backtrack limit or the recursion in general. All you need to do is to paste this code into the wp-config.php file:
Some servers, however, will demand also a change of your PHP.INI files.
White screens still there?
If none of these strategies work, the problem is probably much rarer and serious, and you should try premium support or access forums in order to solve it.
If nothing else, hire a professional to bring your website to its initial state, and share the error message with the WordPress community.