The WordPress white screen of death is one of the most common WordPress errors. It is also one of the most frustrating ones because there is no error message, and you are locked out of WordPress.
The WordPress white screen of death is something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. One minute your site works, the next you’re greeted by nothing but a white screen.
This can be a scary experience, but it’s more common than you might think. Nearly every single WordPress site owner has experienced this sometime during the life of their site.
Although this isn’t the most fun situation in the world, it can be remedied, and usually, it’s a pretty quick fix. There are a few common reasons for this to occur.
Why Do You See the White Screen of Death in WordPress?
The majority of the time when you see a white screen of death, it means that a script on your website exhausted the memory limit.
The unresponsive script either gets killed by your WordPress hosting server or it simply times out. This is why no actual error message is generated, and you see a plain white screen.
This error can also happen due to a poorly coded theme or plugin installed on your site. Sometimes it can happen if there is an issue with your web hosting server.
Since the white screen error can be caused by any number of things, it requires methodical troubleshooting to fix.
Does the problem occur on your other sites?
If you have other WordPress sites installed on the same hosting account, then you want to start by checking if the problem is occurring on other sites as well.
If it is, then that’s a strong indicator that something is wrong with your WordPress hosting service. This could be a temporary issue affecting their service, and you need to reach out to their support for more help.
On the other hand, if the issue is only happening with one website or a specific part of that site, then you know that the problem is with that particular website.
Increasing the Memory Limit
Usually, this error happens because a script has exhausted the memory and quit in the middle. To fix this, you need to increase the PHP memory available to WordPress. This will allow the script to use more memory to finish the job it was supposed to do.
Disabling All Plugins
If increasing the memory limit did not help, or if you have a high memory limit like 256M or 512M, then you need to start troubleshooting.
In our experience of troubleshooting this issue, we have always found that the issue is either with a specific plugin or a theme. Let’s go ahead and disable all the plugins.
If you can still access the WordPress admin area, then you can simply go to Plugins » Installed Plugins page. Select all the installed plugins and then select ‘Deactivate’ under ‘Bulk Actions’ drop-down.
However, if you don’t have access to the WordPress admin area, then you will need to deactivate all plugins via FTP.
Replace Theme with a Default Theme
If the plugin troubleshooting doesn’t fix the issue, then you should try replacing your current theme with a default theme.
First, connect to your website using an FTP client and go to the /wp-content/themes/ folder. It contains all installed themes on your website.
However, if you don’t have a default theme installed, then you need to manually install it using FTP.
If this fixes the issue, then you should look at your theme’s functions.php file. If there are extra spaces at the bottom of the file, then you need to remove those, and sometimes that fixes the issue.
If you are using a poorly coded function in your theme’s functions.php file, then it can cause the white screen of death error as well.
Consider downloading a fresh copy of your theme from its source and then install it.
Enable Debug Mode to Catch Errors in WordPress
If nothing has helped so far, then the next step is to turn on debugging in WordPress. This will allow you to see what type of errors are being outputted.
Simply, add the following code into your wp-config.php file.
define( 'WP_DEBUG', true); define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', true );
If you don’t see any errors, you may still want to check the debug log. Simply visit the wp-content folder on your website using an FTP client. There you will find a new debug.log file containing a log of all errors, notices, and warnings.
Clear WordPress Cache
Sometimes, you may have access to the backend, but the front-end of the site has the white screen of death. This can happen because of a caching plugin. Simply empty your cache.
See our guide on how to clear cache in WordPress for detailed instructions.