Ever visited your WordPress site and found it has disappeared? Ever had customers tell you they can’t reach your website?
Well, you’ve been hit by the cursed WordPress ‘white screen of death’. There are a number of reasons why this can occur, the following is a breakdown of the most common causes and how to fix them.
So, how do you know you have been affected? Well quite simply, you’ll be looking at a blank screen where you
would ordinarily be viewing your site, though the exact image will vary from browser to browser, effectively you will be looking at something similar to this image.
Unfortunately, as with many WordPress issues, there is no telling exactly why this may have happened but there are a number of things you can do to troubleshoot and get the issue fixed.
The first port of call should always be plugins, in my experience the issue is almost always caused by a plugin update gone bad. If you have a busy site and fear you are losing sales by your site being offline, then the easiest route to fix this is simply to revert to your latest backup and solve the problem at a quieter time ( If you don’t have regular backups in place then a maintenance plan can help with that).
If you don’t have a backup in place and you can still access your dashboard/admin area then, hopefully, you have an easy fix;
- Go to ‘plugins’ in your dashboard area
- Select all using the checkbox on the left, then select deactivate from the dropdown menu, then click apply (see pic).
- Go to the front end of your site and if plugins are at fault, you should see that you can now access your site.
- To find the offending plugin activate each one by one, this will be made easier by working from the top down, so you can keep track of what has been activated and what hasn’t.
If you cannot access your dashboard area things get a little trickier, but you can still follow the same troubleshooting steps, just via a different route, your hosting;
- Navigate to where ever you would normally access your hosted files, most likely, this is the WordPress file manager, but the steps can be followed equally by using FTP
- Open your wp-content folder and rename the plugins folder, ‘plugins1’ should suffice
- Take a look at your site, if you can access, great, follow the next steps to isolate the troublesome plugin! If not, it’s not a plugin issue so follow the alternatives below
- Now your site is working once again, rename the plugins folder back to ‘plugins’ (this will break your site again) open this folder, then rename all of the plugin folders one by one, checking your site each time until you find the offending plugin, then once you have found the offender, delete the plugin file.
Still looking at a white screen
If you have followed the above steps yet are still confronted with the deathly blank screen, then the second most likely cause would be your theme, which should be a much easier fix;
- Navigate to Appearance—themes in your dashboard area, and switch to a ‘default’ WordPress theme i.e. Twenty Seventeen
- Click on the Twenty Seventeen theme, then click activate and if the theme is the issue, you should then be able to access your site once again. Although depending on the theme you have been using, it may not look as it should.
- If it’s not looking great, contact the theme author.
Still looking at a white screen or cannot access the dashboard area?
Sorry for your troubles. This is where things get a little more convoluted as there are a multitude of possible causes each of which are very particular to your install & what you were doing on site immediately before things went wrong. If you are still keen to fix the issue independently, there is a good guide here.
Alternatively, for the sake of your sanity, click the button in the box below.