Fix WordPress white screen WSoD error – easily and quickly

Oct 21, 2016

darshan

WordPress

1

How to fix WordPress white screen WSoD error

Are you facing white screen error with your WordPress website? Better known as White Screen of Death WSoD error. It’s not as scary as its name suggests! Let me help you resolve this issue, real quick.

I know it’s very frustrating as it displays no error that guides you to take any actions. Relax you are not alone. Anyone who manages WordPress website for a long time would have faced this issue at least for a once.

Here are some common WSoD error causes:

  • Memory limit issue
  • Checking other parameters
  • Addressing the plugin issue
  • Addressing the theme issue
  • Checking error logs
  • What if nothing works?

Bonus: Download this WordPress WSoD fix free guide. The PDF version includes all the steps mentioned here.

 I will help you identify the exact cause. We will begin with the most common cause. Generally, this helps resolve the problem in many cases.

 1. Memory limit issue

You may know it that WordPress is built using PHP programming language. And when we are talking about the memory limit we are referring the WordPress  execution memory limit.

The majority of the WordPress website are hosted on shared hosting server. Shared hosting keeps the default memory usage for PHP script execution.

Increasing the memory limits would be our best and easiest bet. Let’s increase the memory limit to check whether it resolves the issue or not.01-fix-wsod-error-cpanel

Now find the wp-config.php file from the file manager. Click the file and hit the Code Editor from the top navigation bar as shown in the image below.

fix-wsod-error-file-editor

You need to add the following line:

// ** memory limit ** //
define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘64M’);

Save and close the file. Head over to new tab and try opening your website. If execution memory limit was the issue your WordPress website site must be up and running successfully.

Does this resolve your issue? Yes, congratulation you made your website up and running again! Let the other know about this by sharing a positive line in the comments below.

Do you still see the white screen? Frustrating right? We may need to perform some additional tests on your website. Please read on.

2. Checking other parameters

Do you have other WordPress website hosted with the same hosting provider? If yes then please try accessing them. Are you getting the same WSoD error for those websites as well? You probably have nothing to worry.

There seems to be a problem with your hosting provider’s server. Contacting them about this issue will lead you to a precise answer. This may not be very common problem but worth checking.

If other websites are working correctly, we may need to check your theme and plugin related issues. Maybe any or both of them are creating this issue.

3. Addressing the Plugin issue:

We all love WordPress because of the large pool of plugins. The plugin helps us extend the framework’s functionality. There would at least one or two plugins available for the functionality you think of.

Over the period of time, we all tend to install plenty of plugins to our WordPress website to add desired functionality. But how many of us actually take precise care of managing those plugins.

You may have some plugin(s) that you installed and activated but forgot to update. Or simply the plugin no longer updated. You updated the WordPress version and the plugin now causing the conflict.

In this case, that plugin may be causing the WSoD issue. How do we address that? Simple we will rename the plugin directory and check what happens.

The procedure will be the same, you need to login to CPanel and hit File Explorer under Files group. Go into the wp-content and you will have a folder named plugins. We need to rename this folder.

You know I keep following a rename standard. I keep the file/folder name and add .old as an extension. It’s not any coding standard. But it helps me unify the renaming approach and find out the files I may need to revert.

Back to the point, now rename the plugins folder to plugins.old. We renamed the folder and now WordPress would not be able to find and load the plugins for your website.

Try loading the website. If everything goes well and you see the output. There is an issue with the plugins. Which plugin exactly causing the issue?

Which plugin is causing the issue?

If disabling the plugin folder brings your website up, then it’s fixed that plugin(s) are creating a problem. We need to look deeper into each one of them to find out what plugin is causing the issue.

To do that you first need to revert the plugins folder to its original name plugins that we change in earlier step. And if you followed the naming convention you may need to remove the .old from the name.

Now you need to rename each plugin folder name with NAME.old (NAME will be the plugin folder name). And check renaming the plugin resolved the issue.

03-fix-wsod-error-plugins

Here is the list of plugins I have on my website. If I need to run the test case, I would probably need to rename each of the folder listed here. And check the website if disabling the plugin resolved the issue or not.

I understand it’s a time-consuming job if your website has a large number of plugins installed. But it’s worth the investment. Do it!

Tip:

To make things bit faster, you can prioritize the plugins you know you haven’t updated in awhile and check the latest updated plugins in last. This may help you find the problematic plugin fast.

How to prevent this happening again?

Here is the real story, we tend to install a plugin when we need X functionality on our WordPress website. The scenario changes and so does our requirements. But that plugin remains installed and active.

This keep happening and we have a large pool of plugins in our WordPress website over the period of time. And it makes hard to find the which plugins we actively use and which we are not.

The best practice would be to install only required a plugin. Remove the plugin that decides not to use immediately. Keep your plugins up to date.

4. Addressing the Theme issue:

Nothing seem to work right? We already checked memory limit, plugins, and other common issues. Now it’s time to check your theme for WSoD error.

In some cases the poorly coded theme, theme having some sort of conflicts with plugins or WordPress framework core files would cause the issue.

As we don’t have access to the WordPress admin area so switching the theme would require the similar approach we used with plugins.

Go to your CPanel and open the wp-content folder, access the themes folder underneath. You would have a list of theme folder available like shown in the image below.

04-fix-wsod-error-themes

You need to rename the theme folder. I’m using Blake theme so, if I need to follow this procedure I will rename it with Blake.old you can do something similar.

When you rename the active theme folder, WordPress will unable to find that theme and fall back to previous default theme. In my case twenty sixteen themes.

Now try to open your website in a new tab. If it works then you have the theme issue.

How to resolve the Theme issue?

Once confirmed that theme is causing the WSoD error, you may check for that theme update if provided by the author. Update the theme that would be the easiest thing to check first.

A good theme author will always update his/her theme as major WordPress version releases or when he finds technical issues with certain popular plugins and WordPress versions. Download the update and patch your theme.

After the theme update don’t you forget to rename the theme folder to original name i.e remove the .old extension we added previously? Check if it resolved the error or not.

Contact your theme’s author if the issue still persists to check if it has anything to do with the theme or not. You can ask qualified WordPress programmer to check for any issues for you.

What if it doesn’t solve your WSoD error? No worries we still have a way to identify the issue with your setup.

5. Checking error logs:

So we checked your memory limits, plugins, themes and some other settings but nothing seem to be working in your WSoD error? Let’s explore the error WordPress is logging.

How to access the error log? Well, to do that we first need to enable the error log feature which is disabled by default.

There are two ways to do this:

1.  The Basic Way:

You need to edit the wp-config.php file on your server. Open CPanel and locate the wp-config.php file and hit the code edit link on top like the show in the image below.

fix-wsod-error-wp-config-1

Add following three line of code in the file and save the file.

error_reporting(E_ALL);
ini_set(‘display_errors’, 1);
define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, true);

What this does is, it displays all the errors and warning on your screen. So when you open your website instead of the just white screen you will see a list of errors and warnings.

Why I call this a basic way because it displays the errors and warning to everyone opening your website which looks pretty ugly.

2. The Smoother Way:

The procedure remains the same. You need to edit the wp-config.php file but the code we placed will change.

You need to add following three line of code into the wp-config.php file.

define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true);
define(‘WP_DEBUG_LOG’, true);
define(‘WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY’, false);

What this code does is, it created error log file on your server. All the errors and warnings will be listed in the file. Easy to read and interpret the errors.

This one is a more mature way because instead of showing errors to everyone coming to your site this approach list errors to a log file that only you can read.

The aim of these methods is to locate the issue your WordPress website has. You will be able to locate the plugin and/or theme issue you may have with your website.

Once you resolve the problem, please remove the code you added to your wp-config.php file. Hope this resolves your problem.

What if this step was unable to resolve your problem? I still have one other way to restore your website. Please read on.

6. What if nothing works?

Well, it’s pretty rare that none of the above methods rectify your WSoD error! But let’s assume nothing is working for your website, now what? We will manually replace WordPress core files to see if solves the problem or not. Here is how:

  • Replacing WordPress core file 
  • Addressing Theme & Plugin issue

Manually updating your WordPress core files:

Before even starting this process, I strongly suggest you to backup your entire website. If you don’t know how? You better use CPanel’s compress functionality.

Login to your CPanel, open File Explorer under Files section. Select all the files and hit the Compress link on the top. Name it as “Backup-Month-Date-Year”.

06-fix-wsod-error-cpanel-compress

Replacing WordPress core files:

The process is simple, download the WordPress framework. Extract the framework compressed file any archive tools (7-zip is a good free option).

Replace all the files and folders under wp-include first. FileZilla or similar FTP tools would be an easy way to transfer these files. Please don’t accidentally replace the wp-config file residing on your root directory.

If nothing works, this step should be able to resolve the issue. Open up your website in a new tab. If you are able to see the website, there was an issue with your WordPress core framework files.

Now if your website is working fine but you can’t access the WordPress admin panel. You need to replace all the files and folder in wp-admin.

Hope this has resolve your issue. If not (pretty rare!) then you may need to consult professional WordPress developer to resolve this issue. Believe me, it’s very rare the problem to persist after this six pass of troubleshooting.

 

 

Addressing Theme & Plugin issue:

Download the theme again from author’s website. Now rename your current theme folder and upload the newly downloaded theme.

Now rename each of your plugin folders. Meaning you have a fresh theme setup and there is currently no active plugin working for your website.

We already have replaced the WordPress core framework files. Now try opening the website in private window. 

If it starts working you need to install each plugin individually. And please only install the required plugins.

 

Conclusion:

White Screen of Death WSoD error is not extremely panic about. In some cases just extending the memory limit resolves the issue. In some cases, you need to take further steps. These are the pretty much all the steps you may need to take to resolve WSoD error.

Do you find this helpful? Please help me spread the work. Share this article on social media and email your friends who may need help. If you find anything confusing, feel free to comment.

Post by Darshan Joshi

Darshan shares a great passion for helping and empowering businesses around the world. With web application, he is helping businesses get more out of their business resources and an improved workflow. And the clone scripts help startups launch quickly in the market!

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