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What is the White Screen of Death?

WordPress White Screen Of Death

Oh No…My website has disappeared!

Don’t worry your website and all your content is probably still there, you might just be experiencing the white screen of death.

WordPress White Screen Of Death Marvin The MartianThe white screen of death is something many WordPress users have stumbled upon at least once. It is very frustrating as it locks you out of your site as well as the admin area of your website.

There is also no error message explaining what the problem is or giving a hint on how to fix it, so it looks like your website has just been vaporized by Marvin the Martian.

How will I know I am a victim of the screen of death?

You might see the white screen of death on specific posts and pages only or on the WordPress admin panel only whilst the rest of the functions are working perfectly. In this article we will show you some of the reasons why the white screen of death occurs and how you might be able to fix it.

Because there are several reasons why this error might occur there is a lot of trouble shooting involved in order to correct this.

One of the biggest issues with the white screen of death is that because you cannot access your admin panel to fix the problem it is difficult to solve unless you are comfortable working from the server side of your website and have access to it, through your website host.

Why it happens?

There are mainly 3 reasons why you get this error:

  1. You have exhausted your memory limit
  2. There is a problem in the code of your theme or one of your plugins
  3. A technical issue on the web hosting server

Finding the reason for the problem

For you to find the root of the problem you need to examine where the white screen of death is showing first, it might show in either one of these 3 ways.

  1. Multiple sites– if you see the error occurring in multiple sites, then your hosting provider is having some problems. If so contact your host and they might be able to tell you what the issue is.
  2. One of your sites– if the problem is occurring in one of your sites it may be a problem with the activated theme, or from the installed plugin.
  3. Specific pages or posts– if the error is showing on specific pages or posts then there is a problem with your specific site.

Rectifying the problem

Step 1. Increasing the memory limit– There are 2 ways in Increasing the memory limit

  • Do it yourself- it is important to note that this process requires advanced knowledge of coding. You could try increasing your PHP memory limit by modifying the wp-config.php file. Simply add the following line:

          define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’64M’);

  • Contact your host–  This is the option we recommend, this kind of support is something your hosting company should be comfortable with. Just call them or send them an email and ask them to increase your memory limit. The problem with this option is that it may take a few hours to be put in place, and if it was not the issue then you are back to square one.

Because you cannot access the backend of your WordPress site you are probably going to need to access your server in order to carry out the following troubleshooting issues. To do this you will need:

FTP Server details:

  • FTP Address or Ip Address
  • FTP Username
  • FTP Password
  • FTP Client to access your server

Once you have accessed your server you will need to drill down into the wp-content/ folder of your website.

Another way to access this is to log into the cPanel provided to you by your host and find the file manager. This is an inbuilt server client where you can see the files and folders stored on your server. Your website files will usually be kept in a folder named public_html or www.

NB – Be very careful when navigating through your server. Any files you delete could permanently damage your website, so move forward with care, and if you are not sure of yourself seek professional help.

Step 2. Disabling all the plugins– Find your main plugin folder that should be at the file path wp-content/plugins. Do not delete it, simply remake it so it can no longer be found by the WordPress system. I like to call it fluginsold.

Once you have done that go back to the hoe page of your website and refresh the screen using CNTRL – R. Does your website appear now?

If so one of your plugins are faulty. If you are still looking at a white screen, then your problem lies somewhere else.

Now go back into your server and rename your plugins folder back to “plugins”. You should still be able to log into the admin area of your WordPress site. If you go to the plugins section all of your plugins will now be deactivated.

This step becomes a bit tedious. You need to one by one reactivate each plugin and then check that your website is still working correctly and you do not have a white screen of death again.

If you get hit by another white screen of death you know that the plugin you previously activate is one of your problems.

Restart this process, by renaming the plugin folder again, and then undoing your name change. This time do not activate the plugin with the issue, but skip it and check the rest of your plugins. Sometimes you may have more than one plugin causing the problem.

If you really need the plugin that is causing the problem, try to delete it and then re download it. One of the causes of the white screen of death is if your plugin did not download completely.

If after renaming your plugin folder your website is still just showing the white screen of death then you need to try a similar process with your theme folder.

Step 3. Replace current theme with a default theme– if the plugin troubleshooting didn’t work then you should try replacing the activated theme with a default wordpress theme. Before replacing the theme it is advised to back up your                                                                                                     current theme file, the best way to do this without access to your WordPress backend is probably through your hosts services.

This time rename your themes folder which you can find at wp-content/themes in your server folders.

Now check the front end of your site. Does your site appear now? If so then the theme you were using was causing the issue or was clashing with one of your plugins.

When you rename your themes folder back to themes, your default theme will have been activated. This is why it is always a good idea to have a default theme as a backup theme on your site but not activated on your site. We like to use the latest WordPress theme like twenty-seventeen.

Now you should be able to log back into the admin section of your website. Again maybe try to re download your theme to see if that is what caused the problem. Another possibility is that your theme is clashing with your plugins. In this case you need to choose which is more important to you.

Step 4. Other fixes

  • If you did not find any problem through trouble shooting you should try to reinstall a fresh copy of WordPress, as the core file of WordPress might be corrupted.
  • You can also use the w/p debug function to see the root of the problem by adding the following code in your wp-config-php file. Once you add this the blank screen will have errors, warnings and notices, this way you will be able to see the root of the problem.

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

  • Another successful trick is pasting the following code in your wp-config.php file. Or in some servers, you will be required to modify your PHP.INI file.

          1./** Trick for long posts */
          2.ini_set(‘pcre.recursion_limit’,20000000);
          3.ini_set(‘pcre.backtrack_limit’,10000000);

We hope these solutions will be of value to you, if you have found other solutions feel free to let us know, we will be more than happy to hear other ideas and add them to this post. If you have any questions or would like us to help you with your #whitescreenofdeath let us know on info@storytellerdesign.co.za

To follow along with us watch the video below:

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