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How to Tackle the WordPress White Screen of Death (WSOD)

The WP Umbrella Team

Facing the WordPress white screen of death (WSOD) and don’t know where to start?

The WordPress white screen is a common issue that leaves users in a perplexing situation due to its absence of error messages.

In this ultimate troubleshooting guide, we’ll explain you why the WSOD happens, how to fix the WordPress white screen of death, and strategies to prevent its recurrence.

Let’s get started!


  • Frustrated with the WordPress white screen of death? This guide helps you understand its causes and provides a step-by-step guide to resolving it. Always remember, prevention is better than cure!

What Is The WordPress White Screen of Death Error?

The White Screen of Death occurs when your WordPress website shows a blank white screen, rendering it inaccessible. If you’re lucky, your web browser may show an error message.

Basically, you’re left staring at a WordPress blank white screen with zero clues like on the screenshot below.

White screen of death WordPress

The likely culprits behind the WSOD are often errors in PHP code or PHP memory limitations. And like always, poorly coded themes and plugins can also be contributors.

Sometimes the issue may only appear on a specific part of your website, like when you’re trying to edit a WordPress post, making it a WordPress white screen edit post problem.

Causes of WordPress White Screen of Death

Understanding the root causes can make it easier to fix WordPress white screen errors. Your WordPress site might appear blank for a variety of reasons.

The most common reasons include:

  1. Plugin incompatibility
  2. Theme conflicts
  3. Missing theme files
  4. PHP Memory Exhaustion
  5. Server Timeouts

Following are some guidelines on troubleshooting this error and how to prevent it from recurring in the future.

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How to Fix The WordPress White Screen of Death

Step 1: Disable Your WordPress Plugins

If WordPress is accessible

Disabling plugins is often the quickest fix to troubleshoot the WordPress WSOD error. Access Plugins from the dashboard, and deactivate all to pinpoint the problematic plugin.

bulk deactivate plugins

If that solves the problem, you need to isolate the guilty plugin. To accomplish this, activate the plugins one by one, and reload the website after each activation until you get the white screen of death again.

When you have identify the plugin responsible for the white screen of death, contact the plugin’s developer or open a ticket in the WordPress plugin directory in order to receive help. If you are in a hurry you can also look for an alternative.

If WordPress is not available

If you’re unable to log in to WordPress admin, you need to access your site’s files through your FTP client.

Look for the plugins folder in your root directory’s wp-content folder. Rename it to “plugins_old”.

Next, check your site’s front again.

If the white screen of death has disappeared, you will need to test each plugin separately.

Rename your plugin folder back to “plugins”, and then individually rename each plugin folder inside that folder until you track down the faulty one.

Step 2: Switch to a Default Theme

If disabling plugins doesn’t work, your next option is to revert to a default theme. This might resolve your WordPress blank screen issue.

You will need to connect to your site via an FTP client and then navigate to /wp-content/themes/. You can find all the installed themes on your website here.

Select the current theme and download it as a backup.

After that, you should delete your current theme. Choose ‘Delete’ from the menu when you right-click on your theme folder. The theme will now be removed from your website through your FTP client.

WordPress default theme

As such, if you have the default WordPress theme installed on your website (Twenty Twenty-One), WordPress will automatically use that theme.

If this fixes your issue, you should explore your theme’s functions.php file. Sometimes removing extra spaces from the bottom of the file will resolve the issue.

This error can also be caused by poorly coded functions in your theme’s functions.php file.

It might be a good idea to download a fresh copy of your theme from its original source and then install it again.

Step 3: Review Other WordPress Integrations

WordPress plugins and themes are not the only sources of conflict, as CDNs and SSL certificate issues can also contribute to the white screen of death WordPress fix challenge.

Make sure to review and disable any recently added integrations.

You should rollaback, uninstall, or deactivate any recent updates made to the WordPress platform if you have altered anything within the last 24 hours, even if it is outside of WordPress.

Step 4: Increase the Memory Limit

This error usually occurs when a script has run out of memory and quits in the middle. This can be fixed by increasing the PHP memory limit of WordPress.

As a result, the script will be able to use more memory to perform the task it was assigned.

You can change the memory limit in the wp-config.php file by adding the following code:

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '64M');

Step 5: Enable WordPress Debugging

The next step is to enable debugging in WordPress if nothing else has worked. Using this, you will be able to see what type of errors are being generated by your website.

error logs

Open the wp-config.php file of your WordPress install to enable debugging and look for this piece of code:

define( 'WP_DEBUG', false );

Replace “false” with “true”, and then reload your site.

It can also be added to the top of the file if it does not already exist.

If you are uncomfortable with this, you can also install WP Umbrella to automatically monitor PHP errors and prevent this from happening in the first place.

The white screen will be replaced by a white screen and error messages. While it’s not a huge improvement, it’s still a start. If you get a WSOD error message, it should state the file where the error began, for example:

Cannot redeclare get_posts() (previously declared in 
/var/www/wp-includes/post.php:187) in 
/var/www/wp-content/plugins/W3Cache/library.php on line 142

Here, you can see that the error is related to line 142 of a plugin named W3Cache.

The issue can therefore be troubleshot easily by disabling that plugin.

Preventing the WordPress White Screen of Death

Keeping your WordPress site WSOD-free is an ongoing effort because WordPress has a sensitive nature and is easily upset when there is a bad change. The steps discussed above illustrate this fact.

That’s why you should always:

  • Back up your site regularly with a tool like WP Umbrella.
  • Test updates in a staging environment.
  • Monitor code changes and edits.

By being proactive, you can mitigate the risks of encountering a WordPress white screen.