Fixing the White Screen of Death


The WordPress 'White Screen of Death' (WSOD) causes your site to display a blank white page without any further information. It's most often caused by a PHP error. However, troubleshooting can be difficult since no errors are displayed when this happens.

This article lists common troubleshooting steps you can take to fix your site.

WSOD warning in WordPress 5.2

WordPress 5.2 introduces a new service to help troubleshoot the WSOD. If your site crashes due to a theme or plugin issue, one of the following messages are shown:

  • 'The site is experiencing technical difficulties.'
  • 'The site is experiencing technical difficulties. Please check your site admin email inbox for instructions.'
  • 'There has been a critical error on your website.'
  • 'There has been a critical error on your website. Please check your site admin email inbox for instructions.'

If this happens, an email is sent to the site admin with a unique URL that allows you to enter your site through "Recovery Mode".

If you did not receive the email, view the troubleshooting steps below.

Once logged in, you will see a warning similar to this at the top of your dashboard:

  • 'One or more themes failed to load properly. You can find more details and make changes on the Themes screen.'

Here you can deactivate the plugin or theme causing problems. In this example, there is an issue with the Theme. Click the link to go to the Appearance > Themes page. There you will show the following:

  • 'ERROR: This theme failed to load properly and was paused within the admin backend.'

At the bottom, you can see the theme is failing to load. Click the Resume button next to the theme.

  • 'There could not be resumed because it triggered a fatal error.'

It's possible that the theme or plugin will continue to fail to function. If so, and you've exhausted all other troubleshooting steps, the final solution may be to re-install a fresh copy of the theme or plugin.

I did not receive the email

If you did not receive the email, proceed with the following troubleshooting steps.

Flush your cache

Flush any caching plugins you might be running, as well as server, browser, and Cloudflare cache:

Troubleshooting with your browser

Your browser can help you identify JavaScript issues or conflicts using its built-in tools. View the following article for further information.

Make sure you have the Visual Editor enabled

Visit your Users >Your Profile page. The first option will disable the visual editor. Make sure that option is un-checked.

Reinstall the core WordPress files

Try reinstalling the core WordPress files. Your /wp-content directory will remain untouched.

Basic troubleshooting steps

Disable your plugins 

Errors with a plugin or theme are often the cause of the WSOD error. You should try to first disable your plugins to see if that fixes the error.

Activating a different theme

You can also try activating a different theme using wp-cli. 

  1. Check which themes are available to activate.
    [server]$ wp theme list
  2. Activate a different theme. For example, this shows how to activate the default theme named 'twentynineteen'.
    [server]$ wp theme activate twentynineteen
  3. Check your site to see if that fixed the error.

Enable WordPress DEBUG

WordPress has a built in feature that allows you to view and log errors. View the following article for instructions on how to activate this.

During that process, you can choose to either view the errors on your live site, or log them in a file on your server.

Raise your PHP Memory Limit

PHP needs a certain amount of memory to function properly. How much you need depends on your website, but you can always raise this limit in your PHP settings. View the following for instructions on raising this in WordPress.

Flush your cache

You can also use wp-cli to flush your site's cache on the server. View the following article for further details on wp-cli and this command.

Did this article answer your questions?

Article last updated PST.

Still not finding what you're looking for?