The WordPress White Screen of Death (WSoD) is one of the common yet alarming WordPress errors. As the name suggests, the White Screen of Death (WSoD) occurs when a blank white screen replaces your website. In some cases, you may see an HTTP 500 error with a warning, “This page isn’t working and is unable to handle the request”. Sometimes, it can also occur when you are already logged in or attempting to log into your wp-admin. In short, this error makes your site inaccessible to you and visitors.

In this guide, we’ll discuss some potential causes of this error and how to fix it by looking at different solutions. Below is an example of this error in the Mozilla Firefox Browser.

Causes of WordPress White Screen of Death (WSoD)

Here are the possible causes of encountering the WordPress White Screen of Death (WSoD) error:

  • PHP code level errors

  • Memory limit exhaustion

  • Plugin and theme incompatibility

  • Corrupted plugin or theme

  • Server-level issues

How to Fix WordPress White Screen of Death (WSoD)

Here, we will look at different possible solutions you can use to resolve the WordPress White Screen of Death (WSoD) error. Start from Fix #1 and move to others if the issue persists.

Important

Before attempting any of the following solutions, we highly recommend backing up your application first. It will ensure you have a good restore point if you need to restore your application’s last working version.

Fix #1 — Clear Your Browser and WordPress Plugin Cache

Websites use browser caching for improved user experience, but as time passes, the cache starts getting cluttered with unnecessary data and cookies. If you see a blank white screen on the frontend and backend (admin panel) is accessible, it might be due to an issue related to caching. Therefore, try clearing your browser cache and cookies by visiting your browser’s settings. In the Google Chrome browser, you can clear cache and cookies by clicking on the three vertical dots in the top right corner and then navigating to More tools > Clear browsing data.

If the error persists, you can try clearing your website cache using your cache plugin settings if the backend (admin panel) is accessible. Most of the caching plugins like Breeze offer a quick way to purge the cache. If the backend is not accessible, you need to manually clear your application’s cache by remotely connecting to your server using SSH or SFTP.

Revisit your website to verify if the error is gone. If not, move to the next solution.

Fix #2 — Enable Debugging Mode

If clearing browser and website cache did not help, it is time to check the WordPress error logs by turning on WordPress debugging mode. Enabling the debug mode will create an error log of everything that happens when your site tries to load and output any specific errors occurring on the site.

To enable debugging mode in WordPress, connect to your server remotely using SSH and access the wp-config.php file located in the application’s webroot (public_html directory). In this file, you need to find the following line:

define( 'WP_DEBUG', false );

Here, change the value from false to true. If it does not exist, add it on the top and make sure you set it to true.

Now you should see a white screen with some error messages highlighting the problematic file and problematic code. Once identified, you can turn off the debugging mode by setting the same directive to false.

Tip

Analyzing logs can also be beneficial when it comes to debugging, troubleshooting application-level issues. You can review your application logs using the Cloudways Platform to identify the cause of the white screen of death.

Fix #3 — Disable Your Application Plugins

WordPress Plugins can also create a conflict, and it is very likely to happen if you have recently updated an existing plugin or installed a new one. If you have diagnosed your site and identified the faulty plugin, you should disable it using your admin panel. If the admin panel is not accessible, you can deactivate it using WP-CLI.

First, connect to your server remotely using SSH and run the following command in your application’s webroot (public_html directory).

wp plugin deactivate <plugin_name>

Be sure to replace <plugin_name> with the actual plugin name, e.g., wp plugin deactivate hello.

If you are not sure which plugin is problematic, you can disable all the plugins using your admin panel. If the admin panel is not accessible, you can deactivate it using WP-CLI. First, connect to your server remotely using SSH and run the following command in your application’s webroot (public_html directory).

wp plugin deactivate --all

If your website is up, you need to identify the faulty plugin. To do that, you can start reactivating all the plugins one by one and reloading your site after each plugin activation. You can activate the plugin(s) using the admin panel or WP-CLI. If you again encounter a white screen, you have found the malfunctioning plugin. Try a different plugin or reinstall the corrupted plugin.

wp plugin activate <plugin_name>

Be sure to replace <plugin_name> with the actual plugin name, e.g., wp plugin activate hello.

Fix #4 — Change Your Theme

If the above fixes did not solve the issue, the WordPress white screen issue might be due to a broken or incompatible theme; therefore, you can try switching to the WordPress default theme. Navigate to Appearance > Themes and activate Twenty Twenty or Twenty Twenty-One theme.

If the white screen disappears, then the problem is your theme. Use a different one, or try to re-install the corrupted theme.

If the admin panel is unavailable, you can connect to your server using SSH and rename your wp-content/themes folder to something else (e.g., themes_old) located in the application’s webroot (public_html directory). Run the following command in the wp-content folder to rename the themes folder.

mv themes themes_old

Now your application will revert to a default version. Next, visit your site and confirm if a blank white screen is gone. If yes, then the problem was your theme. Use a different one, or try to re-install the corrupted theme. If the issue persists, move to the next fix.

Fix #5 — Adjust Your Memory Limit

WordPress White Screen of Death (WSoD) might occur due to your PHP scripts’ excessive consumption exhausting your website’s available memory. You can increase the memory limit using the PHP-FPM settings of your application. Assign memory limit as per your need.

php_admin_value[memory_limit] = 64M

Please remove any semicolon placed before this directive in your PHP-FPM settings.

Fix #6 — Reset File and Folder Permissions

File and folder permission issues can also cause the white screen of death. You can reset file and folder permissions on Cloudways. Select application user while resetting permissions.

Fix #7 — Failed Auto-Update Issues

It is also observed that sometimes the WordPress White Screen of Death (WSoD) occurs when WordPress encounters problems with updates. In that case, you need to delete the .maintenance file of your application. First, connect to your server remotely using SSH and run the following command in your application’s webroot (public_html directory).

rm .maintenance

It is also observed that sometimes the WordPress White Screen of Death (WSoD) occurs when WordPress encounters problems with updates. In that case, you need to delete the .maintenance file of your application. First, connect to your server remotely using SSH and run the following command in your application’s webroot (public_html directory).

Now, reload your site to verify if it is up. If the updates were completed and WordPress failed to remove this file, the blank screen should disappear. Else, the updates might restart automatically, and the blank screen should disappear after the successful completion of updates.

Fix #8 — Fix Code-level Errors or Restore a Backup

Cloudways Platform offers you automated server backup and on-demand backup features out-of-the-box. If the above solutions did not work for you, then you can try restoring your application’s last working version.

If you made changes in your website code recently, which resulted in this error, you can manually revert the change or restore your application to an earlier point in time to revert the code changes. The code error can be a logical error or a syntax error.

That’s it! We hope this article was helpful. If you need any help, then feel free to search your query on Cloudways Support Center or contact us via chat (Need a Hand > Send us a Message). Alternatively, you can also create a support ticket.

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