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.
Another problem with the white screen of death error is that sometimes it only affects a certain part of your website.
For example, you may only see the white screen of death inside the WordPress admin area, while everything else works fine. In other cases, you may only see it on a specific post whereas everything else works fine.
In this article, we will show you how to fix the WordPress white screen of death by looking at different solutions.
Note: Before you make any changes to your site, make sure you have a backup of your WordPress site. If you don’t have access to the admin area, then see our guide on how to manually create WordPress database backup.
Why Do You See the White Screen of Death in WordPress?
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.
Sometimes you might see a critical error message instead of a plain white screen.
Whether you’re seeing a blank screen, or the message “There has been a critical error on your website,” it’s the same error.
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.
Fixing White Screen Error with WordPress Recovery Mode
If the white screen of death error is caused by a WordPress plugin or theme, then WordPress may be able to catch it.
The new fatal error protection feature introduced in WordPress 5.2 can sometimes catch the error, so you may not even see a white screen. Instead, you will see a message that the site is having technical difficulties.
You would also receive an email message on your admin email address with the subject ‘Your Site is Having a Technical Issue’.
This email message will point out the plugin causing the error, and it will also contain a special link. This link will allow you to login to the WordPress recovery mode and deactivate the faulty plugin.
However, if you are seeing the plain white screen of death with no email or recovery mode option, then you need to manually fix the error.
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 PHP memory available to WordPress. This will allow the script to use more memory to finish the job it was supposed to do.
You can follow the instructions in our tutorial on how to increase PHP memory in WordPress.
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.
First, connect to your WordPress site using an FTP client. Once connected, go to the wp-content folder where you will see the ‘plugins’ folder.
Now, you need to right-click on the plugins folder and then select rename. You can rename the plugins folder to plugins-deactivated.
Your FTP client will now rename the plugins folder.
WordPress looks for a folder named plugins to load all plugins. When it cannot find the folder, it simply deactivates all plugins.
If this fixes the issue, then enable one plugin at a time to get to the bottom of the issue. Once you find the plugin causing the issue, you can replace it with an alternative or report the issue to plugin authors.
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.
Right-click to select your current WordPress theme and download it to your computer as a backup.
Next, you need to delete your current theme from your website. Right-click on your theme folder and select ‘Delete’. Your FTP client will now delete the theme from your website.
Now if you have a default WordPress theme like (Twenty Eighteen or Twenty Nineteen) installed on your website, then WordPress will automatically start using it as the default theme.
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.
Once you add this, the blank screen will now have errors, warnings, and notices. These may be able to help you determine the root cause.
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.
Fixing Longer Articles
If you have a white screen of death only on a very long post or page, then this little trick might work.
This trick basically increases PHP’s text processing capability by increasing the recursion and backtrack limit. You can paste the following code in your wp-config.php file.
We understand that this is a very frustrating error, and we hope that one of the tricks above fixed the issue for you. You may also want to see our WordPress troubleshooting guide which teaches the steps you should take to catch and fix WordPress problems by yourself.