If you work intensively with WordPress, sooner or later you will probably encounter a phenomenon called the White Screen of Death: Instead of your website, you suddenly see only a white site . Many website owners are worried when they face this problem for the first time. However, the situation is not quite as hopeless as the name suggests. In this article we show what is behind the error and what solutions there are for a WordPress White Screen of Death .
What is the White Screen of Death?
The WordPress "White Screen of Death" (WSOD) is when instead of a WordPress website in the frontend and/or backend (wp-admin area) simply a blank, white screen is displayed - without any further information or error messages.
This error is one of the most common with WordPress and, depending on the cause, can affect the entire website or just individual parts.
What causes a WordPress white screen?
There can be several reasons behind a WordPress White Screen of Death, including:
- Faulty or incompatible plugins or themes
- Database error
- Problems with the PHP code
- Exhausted memory limit
- Corrupted files
- Fancy server
The difficult thing about WSOD is that at first glance, it doesn't provide any clues as to the actual cause. So you'll have to get a little creative to get your WordPress website up and running again. What exactly you can do to get to the root of the problem, we'll show you in a moment. This much we can tell you in advance: Often only a plugin or theme is to blame, which does not work properly. As soon as you have deactivated the culprit, you will see your site again.
Do not forget backup
Before you start to get to the bottom of the cause of the WordPress white screen, you should create a complete backup of your website. It's best to do this on an ongoing basis anyway and always save intermediate statuses. At Raidboxes you can also create backups automatically and restore them with just one click.
How to fix the WordPress White Screen of Death?
Ready to troubleshoot? Even if it sounds trivial, you should first understand what you last changed on your website before the WSOD occurred. Often, the cause can then be narrowed down and fixed more quickly. So ask yourself:
- What did I change or add to the website before the white screen appeared?
- Did anyone else work on the website? If so, what did the person do?
If this helps you determine how the white screen came about, you'll know where to start and can jump straight to the appropriate solution. However, if the problem is not so easy to trace, you can go through the following seven solutions for the WordPress White Screen of Death one by one.
#1 Clear cache
If you only see a white site in the frontend, but you can still access your WordPress Dashboard in the backend, it could be that caching is causing the problem.
plugin Therefore, try to clear your cache first. If you have installed a caching plugin like WP Rocket or WP Super Cache, this can be done quickly and with a few clicks in the plugin's settings. Additionally you should clear the cache of your browser.
If you have activated our server-side caching instead of a plugin, you can also easily empty your cache via the WordPress Dashboard - this can be done via the menu item Raidboxes in the header.
Alternatively, you can delete the cache via your Raidboxes Dashboard : To do this, navigate to the Overview item in your Box or go to the settings of your Box and click on Empty Cache (in the overview, you can do this via the corresponding icon in the Cache box).
#2 Disable plugins
If it's not the caching and you can access your Dashboard via yourdomain.com/wp-admin login as usual, chances are good that you just need to disable aplugin to get everything displayed correctly again.
If you know directly which plugin you last activated or edited, you should deactivate it via your Dashboard . This often solves the problem. If you cannot directly identify the faulty plugin , you can do the following:
- Disable all plugins by going from Dashboard to the Plugins navigate, select all of them and as a mass action Disable select.
- Check if this fixes the problem in the frontend.
- If yes, reactivate the individual plugins one by one. Reload your website after each activation. This way you can see at which plugin the website breaks down again and selectively remove it from the game.
If you can't get into your Dashboard , you can disable all your plugins via FTP (short for File Transfer Protocol):
- Connect to the server using an FTP client. You can get the login information from your hosting provider.
- Then search in the directory the folder wp-content and in it the subfolder plugins.
- Now to disable all plugins, just rename this to something like plugins_old.
- Then check your website again in the frontend.
- If that works, change the folder name back to plugins and then rename each subfolder in the plugin folder individually as described until you find the incorrect plugin .
#3 Disable theme
If none of your plugins caused the WordPress White Screen of Death, it could also be due to the active theme . You check this similar to the plugins in two ways - depending on whether you can access your Dashboard or not.
If your backend is working, you shouldtemporarily activate a default WordPress theme like Twenty Twenty from Dashboard via Appearance → Themes . Then test your website again. If it works again with the default theme , you know that your theme is the problem.
If you can't get into your backend anymore, you can connect to the server via FTP, just like you did with the plugins. There you rename the subfolder wp-content/themes to something else. WordPress will then automatically use the last default theme.
#4 Enable debugging mode
You can also extend your problem analysis by taking a look at the error.log of your server or the debug log of WordPress. Both contain all errors that occur on your website and are disabled by default. You can read how to enable them via the wp-config.php file in our detailed article on WordPress Debug Mode. In our magazine you can also find more tips and tricks to solve the four most common WordPress errors.
If you have activated the debug log and you call the problematic site again, you will also see the reasons for the errors (or at least hints about them) on the white screen. Mostly error messages starting with Fatal Error or Parse Error cause the White Screen of Death.
WordPress Debug at Raidboxes
If you host your WordPress website at Raidboxes, you can easily enable the debug log with one click in your Box settings. You can get the debug log output from the link in your settings.
Important: Don't forget to turn off the debug log when you don't use it anymore. If it remains active, WordPress writes every error message to the debug.log file. If errors occur regularly, it can quickly become too large and load your disk space.
#5 Check for problems with automatic updates
Sometimes automatic updates in WordPress also cause problems - especially if the server is down. Often this solves itself, but sometimes it comes to the White Screen of Death. In these cases you should check in your WordPress directory (via FTP client) if you have a .maintenance file there. Usually WordPress uploads these files during updates and deletes them afterwards.
If you find the file, you can try to delete it. After that, reload your website. If the action was successful, your WordPress website should now work again.
#6 Customize PHP memory limit
You have tried some of the above solutions and still sitting in front of the WordPress White Screen of Death? And your debug log complains about too little memory? Then you should increase your PHP memory limit. This usually works via the wp-config.php file . There you add the following line:
The specification '256M' stands for the size of the required working memory in megabytes (MB). For example, '512M' for 512 MB would also be conceivable. However, keep in mind: You should only adjust your limit upwards if your hosting plan includes a correspondingly large amount of RAM.
Alternatively, at Raidboxes you can simply adjust the PHP memory limit from a starter Box via your Box settings. There you navigate to PHP → PHP Memory Limit, select the desired limit in the dropdown and confirm it with a click on Change.
#7 Restore backup
If all else fails and the WordPress WSOD persists despite numerous attempts to solve it, you can also backup your WordPress website completely via a WordPress backup or reset WordPress.
The following applies: Always create a manual backup of the current status before restoring an older version - even if it seems counterintuitive at first. If something goes wrong during the restore, you still have all the data and can continue the error diagnosis.
If you host your website at Raidboxes, an automatic backup is provided by default every night. Additionally, you can manually trigger the backup up to three times with one click - via Dashboard in your Box:
Also, you can restore a previous version of your website at any time with just one click via your Box.
Conclusion: Keep calm and take precautions
The bottom line is that it can be quite frustrating as a website owner:in to suddenly sit in front of a white screen. Especially because at first glance it is not obvious what causes the WordPress White Screen of Death concretely. However, it is still far from being a reason to panic.
Instead, you should systematically troubleshoot with a cool head and try one solution after the other. Most of the time, the underlying error is less serious than it seems and a simple check of the plugins and/or themes will ensure that everything works again.
Additionally, you can take some measures for the future to avoid a WordPress WSOD if possible:
- Secure your website with daily backups. This way you can restore it quickly if the worst happens.
- Install only plugins and themes from trusted sources that are well rated and frequently updated.
- Work with a staging site and test plugins, themes and other changes before making them to your live website.
- Scan regularly if there are any problematic files on your WordPress website.
- Make sure you don't have too many people working on your website. The more people have access to it, the harder it will be to track changes.
WordPress White Screen Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my WordPress site not displayed?
The fact that a WordPress site is not displayed can have various reasons. The most common causes include plugins or themes not working correctly, errors in the site's code, caching, corrupted files or a server failure.
How do I get back to my WordPress website?
If access to WordPress Dashboard is not possible due to a white screen, you can connect to your server via FTP to access your data. This way you can troubleshoot and restore access to the website.
How can I reset WordPress?
If it is necessary to reset your WordPress website, you basically have three options: manually, using plugin or with WP-CLI. Before doing so, you should always create a complete backup. If you host your website at Raidboxes, you can often even save the actual resetting by working with backups and/or a clone of your website. You can read more about this topic here.