WordPress Blank Page: Find and Fix the Source of White Screen of Death

If you are an avid WordPress user, chances are you have encountered WordPress blank page error at least once, which is commonly known as WordPress white screen of death in the WordPress community. 

WordPress white screen of death is one of the most common WordPress errors you’ll experience as a WordPress user. When this happens, it simply produces a WordPress blank page when you visit your website, which makes you wonder what causes the error.

WordPress blank page
 

While this error could be annoying as it locks you out of your WordPress admin, the WordPress blank page is usually easy to fix even if you’re not an experienced WordPress programmer.

 

The reasons for this error could be many, so we’ll go through them one by one. Usually, the WordPress blank page happens when a PHP error or database error occurs, or when your memory is exhausted (and the system doesn’t even have enough time to break down gracefully and show an error).

Whatever the reason could be, if you see a WordPress blank page when visiting your website, follow the below guide to find and fix the source of white screen of death.

blank page

Note: Take sufficient backups before following the guide below. In case something weird happens, you can still restore your content. 

If you’re not confident enough to make changes on your backend, you may choose to hire a WordPress developer instead.  

Finding and fixing WordPress blank page- white screen of death

When you encounter the WordPress white screen of death, one of the first things you need to figure out is to look at what you were doing just before your site stopped working.

Chances are the last thing you were doing is the reason for the most common WordPress errors.

Some of the possible reasons are listed below:

  • Hosting issues
  • Plugin issues
    • Activating a faulty plugin
    • Modifying an active plugin
    • Theme- plugin conflict
  • Theme issues
    • Modifying functions.php file
    • Outdated codes
  • Exceeding the memory limit
  • Corrupt core files 

Now that we’ve looked at some possible issues, let’s take a look at the solutions to fix those causes of the WordPress blank page.

Try using WordPress debugging (WP_DEBUG) to resolve the problem

As a bit of an advanced step, you can use WordPress debug function (WP_DEBUG) to see the entire list of errors that are happening on your website. Using WP_DEBUG, you can make your website secure from future problems or potential attacks and essentially preventing the WordPress blank page from occurring again.

Have a look at our full article about troubleshooting the WordPress blank page with WP_DEBUG here.

Hosting issues causing a website blank page

If you’re hosting multiple sites on the same hosting account, one of the first things you need to do is to visit all of your sites to determine whether all of them are affected with the white screen of death.

If all of your sites are affected, it is a strong indicator that your hosting provider has some issues. If there is a long downtime, most likely your hosting provider will notify you about it.

If you can’t find any emails notifying the issue, get in touch with your hosting provider to figure out what causes the problem.

When your site is growing, it is very likely you’ll go over most resource limits of a shared hosting server. This is a strong indicator that you need to find a reliable hosting provider for your WordPress site. If you’re considering a reliable WordPress hosting provider, you should seriously consider InMotion hosting (which we use to power our site providing content to more than 4000 users EVERY day without any problems)

Plugin problems causing a WordPress blank page

If you were working on a plugin by either modifying or activating it, it is very likely that the WordPress blank page is caused by the plugin issue. In this case, all you need to do is to navigate to plugins directory and deactivate the concerned plugin.

Once done, you should see your content restored as normal, however you might not be able to do this.

In most cases, once a WordPress blank page appears you wouldn’t be able to login to your WordPress admin panel. Then, you’ll need to access your site via FTP client to access WordPress plugin directory.

Once you logged in with an FTP client, follow the below steps to find and deactivate the faulty plugin.

1. Go to the folder where you installed WordPress

2. Navigate to ../wp-content/plugins folder

3. Locate the plugin you were modifying just before the WordPress blank page appears.

4. If the error caused when you were installing a plugin, chances are there is a theme-plugin conflict. In this case, all you need to do is to delete the plugin, and you’ll see your website is being restored.

 edit plugin directory

5. If the error caused when you were modifying one of the plugin files, simply deactivate it by renaming the plugin folder. You may later modify the file once the site is being restored. Alternatively, you may delete the plugin and re-install it, which will fix the issue. 

The above procedure should clear most common WordPress blank page plugin issues.

If you’re using any WordPress caching plugins, make sure you clear the cache before visiting your site.

Once done, now you’ll see your content is being shown normally.

Theme issues causing the WordPress Screen of Death

What if you were modifying your theme’s functions.php file or any other theme files just before causing the error?

(Before we continue - are you using a great source for WordPress themes? Free or low quality WordPress themes will create serious problems for your site. We highly recommend you go for a premium WordPress theme such as Divi for your site. Here is our Divi Theme Review

In this case, you might even find an error message that shows what causes the error.

This tells you that there is a flaw in your code, which you need to fix if you want to retrieve your website.

Again, you wouldn’t be able to log in to WordPress admin panel, but you can still access WordPress files by logging in with an FTP client.

Once you logged in, follow the below steps to find and fix the WordPress screen of death issues.

1. Go the folder where you installed WordPress

2. Navigate to ../wp-content/themes directory

ftp theme directory

3. Locate your current theme inside the directory and find the file you were working on before appearing WordPress blank page.

4. Upload a correctly working version of the concerned file. If you have a backup before causing WordPress blank page error, simply restore the files. Or manually find the code you were working on and fix it by either entirely removing the tweak you recently made or correcting the error in your code.

Once done, make sure you clear WordPress cache as well as browser cache and verify if following the above steps fix the issue.

create child folder

We strongly recommend you to use a child theme for modifying your theme rather than making tweaks on parent theme to avoid such scenarios. Alternatively, you can install WordPress in a local test environment. Test any tweaks locally before making any changes on the production site.

WordPress blank page caused by exceeding memory limits of your hosting server

Exceeding the memory limits is another very likely reason for white screen of death. This usually happens when you try to install a plugin that exceeds your default memory limit and causes the WordPress blank page.

Even if you haven’t installed a plugin recently, a temporary excessive load, or some other combination could easily cause your hosting to exceed its allocated memory.

When a WordPress site exceeds its memory limit, to conserve resources, the server starts to kill excessive processes. This will cause your website to die without terminating gracefully causing the WordPress blank page error.

For increasing PHP memory, open your wp-config.php file and copy the below code snippet on it.

You should get in touch with you hosting server to make sure you have set the right amount on your shared server.

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

wp config increase memory limit 

If you’d like to learn more tweaks like this one, refer to this guide: 101 WordPress tricks Every Serious Blogger Needs to Know

Permanent solution for WordPress blank page problem caused by memory issues

Incidentally, if your website is frequently exceeding its limit, you might want to consider InMotion VPS hosting server - during peak loads, InMotion has burstable memory, where your site gets allocated the memory it needs for a temporary period of time. This makes sure your site does not experience the white screen of death

Corrupt core files might cause the WordPress White Screen of Death

If none of the above solutions fix the issue, it’s possible that one of your WordPress core files may have corrupted. Though it’s very unlikely, it still happens especially if you suspect a hack attack on your WordPress website.

If you’re thinking about making your WordPress secure, these 10 tips give you great security for WordPress (from our friends at WP Newsify).

 corrupt core files

If that’s the case, try re-uploading the wp-admin and wp-includes folders from a fresh download of WordPress, which will possibly fix the issue. 

Conclusion: common issues typically cause a WordPress blank page

Although it is extremely frustrating, finding and fixing the WordPress blank page is not as difficult as it may look.

Memory limits, broken code in your theme and plugin, conflicts between plugins and themes and corrupt files are the most common sources of the WordPress blank page, all of which are quite easily fixed.

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