Where would we be without technology? No one wants to think about that. We rely so heavily on an array of different technological advances in everyday life. This blog article is a prime example; but what happens when that technology fails. We see widespread panic when the big social media platforms experience some sort of server failure, and we all know the frustration when your computer just won’t work properly. Well what happens when those fails happen to your website? Would you know how to resolve the issue? Well you have come to the right place, the WPEZI team have seen a few White Screens of Death in their time, and so we have put together this handy guide for dealing with the WordPress White Screen of Death should it ever happen to your site. Of course, if you would like the WPEZI team to look after your site and help prevent any White Screens, have a chat with us using the Live Chat function in the bottom right corner.
What is a White Screen of Death?
The White Screen of Death is similar to the Blue Screen of Death in that a vital component has failed. Typically the White Screen of Death is caused by an error or terminal issue with the Operating System (OS) which causes all functions to cease and a simple white screen to appear. We have all at one point see a version of a White Screen; when using the Google Chrome browser, if your internet drops out or the site is otherwise unavailable, you see the white page with a sad piece of paper. So if your site ever experiences a White Screen of Death, your visitors will see a white screen depending on which device and browser they are using. Generally, the errors cause no information or error messages to display at all, which is how it earned the nickname White Screen of Death.
What Causes a WordPress White Screen?
There are a few different reasons your site will suddenly throw up a white screen, most commonly this could be a result of coding errors in the PHP code, otherwise you could have exhausted your memory allocation, in which case, it’s time to talk to your host provider. The White Screen could also be due to any recent changes you’ve made to your site. Your site hosting provider could also be having server issues, in which case anytime a browser tries to access the site, the server returns an unavailable or unable to establish a connection error message.
Other reasons for the error can include things like incompatible plugins, or your theme is wreaking havoc with your site.
What if you have multiple sites?
This is actually a good thing. If you have multiple WordPress sites and all of them are displaying the White Screen of Death, then you can say with almost certainty that the problem lies with your Web Hosting provider and you might be able to breathe a slight sigh of relief.
If the White Screen of Death is only displaying on one of your sites, then it is an issue with that site and could be the new theme you just installed. In our experience, a faulty plugin or PHP coding error are to common causes of the White Screen of Death and is fairly easy to work out.
How do we fix the White Screen of Death?
Due to the number of different things that could have caused the White Screen of Death in the first place, there are a number of troubleshooting options available to try before calling in the professionals, like the team at WPEZI, we can take care of that White Screen and take the worry and stress away. Here are our top five troubleshooting methods for the White Screen of Death.
Check your Plugins and Theme
First thing to check is if you were doing anything to modify or add in a new plugin or theme, go back to the plugins or themes pages in your WordPress dashboard and deactivate it. This should immediately fix your White Screen issue.
If you cannot access the dashboard because this White Screen is everywhere, including the back end of your site, you will need to log into your FTP to access the WordPress files. We discuss how to do this a little further down.
Increasing the memory on your site, can immediately resolve your White Screen error. You can do this from your FTP file manager. You’ll need to locate the wp-config.php file and change the line that has ‘WP_Memory_Limit define to 256M. It should look something like this: define ( ‘wp_memory_limit’, ‘256m’ );. Now save your changes and re-upload the file to your server. If this doesn’t work for you, your memory may be locked by your Hosting Provider and so you will need to contact them.
WordPress Debug Mode
The WordPress Debug mode tool is a tool that shows error messages on the white screen so that you can see why the site is down. Usually you can trouble shoot from there depending on the error messaged. The WordPress Debug mode tool however can be an advanced tool to use and you will need to be comfortable using the FTP client to log into your website’s server.
From here you will want to navigate to your WordPress file directory and open the wp-content folder to locate the plugins folder and rename it to plugins_inactive or something similar. This will show you whether it’s the plugins that are causing the issue or not, when you log back into your Dashboard. If your White Screen is still there, repeat this process but with the theme folder instead. Now if your white screen still appears, there could be a larger issue at play and it’s time to talk to the experts. Otherwise, now you can start to reactivate each theme individually, to determine which was the problem theme; or the problem plugin depending on at which point your White Screen disappeared.
Contact your Host
If you are seeing multiple white screens across your sites, your Hosting Provider is probably the one with the issue, and they can let you know how long they anticipate the issue to be present for. Sometimes they may not even be aware, so letting them know can be helpful.
If you have read any of our other WordPress blogs, you will know we passionately advocate for frequent backups of your site, and you should always perform a backup before making any major changes, like a change in theme or addition of a plugin. As a last resort, check your back ups and when the most recent one was taken. Depending on the plugins and set up you have for your site with your Web Host Provider, restore your website back up and check that the site is live again. If it is, you are free to make changes to the site again, just maybe not that theme or plugin again.
Other things to try
You can try a few other ways to determine what is causing your White Screen of Death. Clear your site’s cache, especially if you have a caching plugin, and if you cannot clear your WordPress cache, clear your browser cache to see if this clears up the White Screen issue.
If you run into any trouble, please let us know, the WPEZI team are happy to provide WordPress support, whether you are a regular customer or it’s a one off issue. Contact us via live chat today, it’s just in the bottom corner.