How to Fix White Screen of Death in WordPress

Jennifer| 2018-01-29 Tutorials, WordPress Comments( 0 )

One day, you switch on your computer as usual to check out your WordPress website as well as add new posts or perform a plugin or WordPress update. However, it is your home page greeting you, but a while screen staying in front of you, which is known as while screen of death happening in your WordPress website. 

Now, don’t panic, because it cannot help at all. Actually, experienced webmasters know it is a common error and can be easily fixed. Although people call it as white screen of death, it is a little exaggerated for death part. The error will not influence your existing content of your WordPress website, so don’t worry about they are gone and you can recover them from your WordPress database. This guide is typically to address this issue and show you how to fix it. 

Reasons of White Screen of Death

To fix the error, you should firstly figure out why the white screen of death appears on your site. According to our experience and others’ cases, we can conclude the following reasons which are all the most common ones: 

  • Your WordPress using is not compatible with one your plugins on site.
  • If you are using shared hosting to host your WordPress website, then it could be that your PHP memory limit is too low.
  • There are some poorly coded plugins or currently using template on your WordPress website triggers error after you updated your website to the latest release of WordPress.

  • Two and even more active plugins using on your site are incompatible.

How to Fix It in Your WordPress Website

Once your WordPress website shows you the white screen of death, firstly you should do is to recall what you are doing just before your site was done, instead of being panic. It will be most like to pinpoint the reasons of the error by stepping back.

For example, you can ask yourself that if you updated WordPress version, themes, or plugins, because it is possible a minor update including faulty code can cause breakdown of your whole site. So, for webmasters, it is good to build a testing environment for any updates. 

According to the reasons above, your second method is to check out your WordPress themes or plugins. If you recently installed a new one, the incompatibility between the new one and existing ones in your WordPress website could be the root of the error, but remember that this does not always happen. However, to test them before installing is always the safest way to run your website. 

Besides, your WordPress hosting company can be taken into consideration as well. It could be that your provider doesn’t report any widespread problems.

No matter which reason caused the white screen of death in your WordPress, you can attempt to test these aspects to find out the problems, but always remember to back up your whole site before carrying out these tips we recommend in below. 

Turn on WP_DEBUG

To fix the problem, you understand where the problem comes from. So, the first thing is determine the error’s source by outputting the message of the error to illustrate it. For this purpose, you need to turn on WP_DEBUG. It will tell WordPress to show and record every error taking place during your installation. You just need to go to wp-config.php file which is saved in your WordPress website’s root directory. Here you need to find the code line as following:

Then, replace the line with the code snippet in below:

Let’s explain the code snippet above for you: the first code line is to turn on debug mode, the seond code line is to tell WordPress to store the error happening to your site in a debug.log file which will be located in wp-content directory, and the third code line is to say it will not show these errors on your WordPress site, which is for your customer experience and SEO effort. 

Checking out the debug.log file can assist you narrow down the sources of the white screen of death. Based on the file, you can take one of the three options in below listed.

Too Low Memory Limit

It is common to see that cheap web hosting always tempt those users who have limited hosting budgets or always try to keep their hosting costs down. However, for those running website with fast growing speed or long-term development, these providers cannot offer redundant memory server resources to support you. 

For these providers, in order to attract more and more users coming to one single server, they always lower down their own web hosting package prices. In that condition, one server will host as many as possible users, which can lead to oversell server space, and the users on the server will have very limited space like memory to gown and use. It can make your site becomes slower and slower, and even breakdown. Then, your WordPress site will display white screen to you. 

In this case, you just need to purchase more memory to increase memory limit or directly upgrade to higher plans. You can add the code line in below to increase your PHP memory limit within wp-config.php file. Note if the code line has already been here, then you can simply increase the memory.

As the code shows, the 128MB memory limit is redundant for you to host site on shared host. Once increase your PHP memory limit by adding above code line or modifying the memory limit, you also need to reset your Apache web server. If this method cannot increase your memory limit, you have to contact your provider.

Faulty Plugins

If you have run your WordPress website for a long time, then it could be that you installed too many plugins on site, and any one of them is possible to case white screen of death. 

In order to make sense if one or more faulty plugins is or are affecting your site, you need to switch them off at first.

For this, you need to access WordPress admin area where you should disable all WordPress plugins and reactivate them one by one. It is to test which plugins is wrong. 

In the case that you do not access WordPress admin area, then you need to use FPT and then switch off all your plugins manually. For easier way, you just need to user FTP into wp-conten directory and then disable your plugins in the means of renaming your plugin folder to other names like plugins_old in below:

Next, you need to create a new empty folder named as plugins. You can now move your old plugins into the new empty folder one by one, meanwhile you need activate them one by one to test which plugin trigger the error.

Or you can switch off all plugins individually by going to wp-content/plugins directory. You need to replace the plugin folder’s name with nameofplugins_disabled folder. Note you only rename the plugins you want to disable. After finishing your test, you need to rename these plugins back to their original names so as to turn them back on. 

Through these faulty plugin testing methods, you can find the target one. Then, you need decide to delete the plugin or upgrade to the latest version. This tells users that before you add any plugin to your site, it is always good to test them on a staging website. 

Faulty Themes

If you find there is no the wrong plugin or low memory limit causing white screen of death, then the source could be faulty themes. 

If one of your WordPress theme has been modified or updated to the latest edition but its coding is defective, then it could be the faulty theme triggering the while screen of death. 

Normally, those new WordPress theme offered by reputable developers will not have any wrong syntax in coding because all high quality themes have been strictly tested against these issues. However, if you site have some wrong after applying a new theme, then you need to disable it and WordPress will revert to its default one automatically. But if you accidently have deleted the default one, then should download it again and upload the default one back into your wp-content/themes directory. 

If you haven’t install new theme on site but customize one by modifying its coding, then you can just replace this modified theme file with the previous one’s copy. But if you haven’t back it up, then you just need to upload one copy file form its original theme file. 

You can use FTP to disable your WordPress theme in the case that you can’t access your WordPress admin area. The process of disabling themes is just like the process of disabling plugins. Use FTP get into wp-content/themes directory, and then rename the theme folder to the following thememe_old which is to deactivate the theme. 

Now, you can browse your site again to check if the white screen of death has gone. If done, then the problem could be the incompatibility between the old theme and the current WordPress version. 


Have you learn some tips from this guide? Remember that when are encountering the white screen of death, don’t be panic, but think about your previous steps you just have done. You can go to check out the factors we recommend above locating the source of the error and following the tips we offered to address each type of problems. Don’t worry about the time you will consume. Follow the methods above, you can quickly and exactly find the issues and fix it properly. 

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