Fixed Knowledge Base

Get all the help you need here.

White screen of death

Posted 04th October, 2018

A white screen of death is when your Wordpress site, or an individual page, just returns a blank page. This is symptomatic of both PHP coding errors and database errors, and the cause is usually either a plugin or the theme.

The simplest quick fix, is to change your theme and disable plugins. However, some debugging can establish the underlying cause.

PHP Memory or Existing Issue

PHP is a server side coding language which processes scripts on the web server. These may take time, or server memory, to run. A white screen can show if a script is not allowed sufficient memory, or times out. PHP errors can be logged.

Fixing the issue involves increasing the php memory limit and/or execution time, which is usually done through a php.ini file but can be handled in a number of ways.

Missing or Broken Theme Directory

A Wordpress site has an active theme, which is defined both in wp-admin and also in the database under the wp_options table.

This looks up the corresponding folder in your wp-content/themes folder within your Wordpress home directory.

A white screen can show if:

  • Your theme folder has been deleted
  • The name of the theme has been changed
  • There is a spelling mismatch between the theme name in the database and in the folder
  • The folder permissions on the theme folder, or a higher level directory, are incorrect. These should usually be 644 for files and 755 for directories.

Identifying the Plugin

To locate if a plugin is causing this issue you can enable Debug Mode. This will log any errors to your log file.

To disable a plugin, log into your Wordpress admin area, navigate to plugins, and disable the offending plugin.

Useful links

Official Wordpress Codex