The WordPress White Screen of Death (WSOD) refers to a common error that displays a blank white screen. It leaves website owners locked out of their WordPress dashboard without accompanying any error message. Thus, website owners and developers become puzzled and anxious about the state of their websites.
The issue arises when WordPress runs into a malfunction that prohibits it from displaying any content. Unlike any other error message, it does not contain any error message. But the WSOD error can occur due to various reasons, including theme or plugin conflicts, PHP errors, and database inconsistencies.
However, resolving this issue involves identifying the root cause through a systematic approach, troubleshooting, and debugging.
In this article, we aim to shed light on the causes and impact of the WSOD error in WordPress. Furthermore, we will provide a guide to fix the error, enabling you to maintain a healthy website environment for your valuable visitors.
Impact of WSOD Error on Website Performance and User Experience
Understanding the negative impacts of the WSOD error emphasizes how significant it is to address and resolve it.
Here are some impacts of WSOD errors that you must take into serious consideration:
Loss of Effectiveness
Because of the WSOD, no content can be loaded on the website, making it completely inaccessible to users. Thus, it can cause a huge loss of functionality and effectiveness of your website. Ultimately, user interaction and accessibility will be hampered, and they won’t be able to access required data or services.
Annoying User Experience
Getting a white screen of death can be really annoying for most users. It can leave them perplexed and unsure about the website’s condition. This will lower the interest of the users to visit your website and lead to site abandonment.
Reduced Website Traffic
When users get a White Screen Of Death on your WordPress site, they will definitely look for other options. Hence, you will lose potential website traffic since users will opt for functioning websites instead. So, a decrease in traffic not only affects the number of potential customers or visitors but also has an impact on your site’s overall reach and visibility.
Damage To Brand Value
A broken website with a WSOD error can seriously damage the reputation of your brand value. It can cause a loss of trust from both new and returning clients since it projects an unreliable and unprofessional image. When a broken website turns down the brand impression, it becomes really difficult to earn back that trust and loyalty.
Reduced Conversion Rates
A website with ESOD error significantly reduces its capacity to convert users into customers or subscribers because the lack of a clear call to action or inability to finish transactions can reduce the conversion rates significantly.
Besides, visitors are less likely to take any action on your site when it’s not functioning properly. As a result, you will be losing business prospects and potential revenue as well.
If your website is showing a WSOD error, it can get in trouble while being indexed or ranked by search engines. Plus, if the problem lasts for a long time, the search engine visibility of your website will suffer. Your website’s rating will get impacted negatively, which will lower its discoverability and reach.
Effort & Resource Wastage
Determining and resolving the root cause of the WSOD error requires a significant amount of time, effort, and resources. This rerouting of resources away from other profitable activities may have an effect on general productivity and impede business expansion.
Additionally, as the error continues to occur, you need to use more resources to identify and resolve it. So, it will also hamper your website improvement and maintenance tasks significantly.
Common Causes Of WordPress White Screen Of Death Error
It’s crucial to take a methodical approach to the problem-solving process, eliminating each probable reason separately until the core cause is found. Here are common causes of the WSOD error in WordPress:
Plugin & Theme Conflict
WSOD error can occur when there are incompatibilities between a plugin and a theme. It could happen when there is a code conflict between two or more plugins or themes. Also, It can happen when a plugin or theme is deprecated or badly developed.
An error in your WordPress installation’s PHP code can also create a WSOD error. It usually occurs due to syntax errors, out-of-date functions, or issues with the PHP version installed on your server.
Memory Limit Issue
The WSOD issue can occur if your WordPress website uses more memory than it has been allotted. This usually happens when memory-hungry plugins or themes overburden servers due to resource-intensive memory use.
The WSOD problem may be brought on by corrupted core files, themes, or plugin files. This can happen as a result of unsuccessful file uploads, virus infestations, or server problems while working with files.
Difficulties with the database, such as corruption or connection issues, can also cause WSOD errors. A blank white screen could result if WordPress is unable to connect to the database or runs into problems obtaining or saving data.
Faulty File Permission
Incorrect files & folder permissions are another reason behind the WSOD error in WordPress. Your website won’t be displayed properly if the relevant files are not available. Plus, if the server does not have the appropriate rights to read or execute your files, the WSOD error will occur.
Improper file permissions assigned to WordPress files and directories may lead to the appearance of the WSOD error. Inaccessibility of essential files or insufficient server permissions to read or execute them can hinder the proper rendering of your website.
Now, let’s look into how you can resolve the WSOD error in WordPress. Here are some easiest and most effective solutions that will assist you in resolving the issue right away:
Sometimes one or some of the installed plugins in your WordPress site can cause compatibility issues. Thus, it may lead to a White Screen Of Death error, which you can resolve by following these steps:
Log in to your Administrator dashboard and navigate to Plugins > Installed Plugins.
Select the checkbox next to each plugin to select them all.
Choose “Deactivate” from the Bulk Actions drop-down menu and click “Apply”.
Visit your website and check if the issue is resolved. If it is, proceed to the next step.
Start activating each plugin one by one and reload your site after activating each one. This will help you identify the problematic plugin causing the issue.
If you don’t have access to the administrator controls, you can use the Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). Also, you can log in to your CPanel and fix the issue, and both processes are almost similar:
Locate and open the “public_html” folder, then navigate to the “wp-content” folder.
Rename the “plugins” folder to something like “plugins_old”.
Visit your website and check if the white screen of death persists. If your site starts working properly, continue to the next step.
Within the “plugins_old” folder, rename each individual plugin folder one by one while checking your website after renaming each one. This will help you identify the specific plugin causing the issue.
However, you can contact the plugin developer for assistance if you are still facing the error due to compatibility issues.
Disable Active Themes
WordPress themes can also conflict with other plugins or become outdated like plugins. Besides, improper installation of themes can happen as a result of corrupted files. Therefore, it is recommended to substitute the current theme with a default WordPress theme temporarily.
Here are the steps you can follow to avoid WSOD errors if your theme is the root cause:
Navigate to the WordPress dashboard and click on Appearance > Themes.
Proceed to activate a default WordPress theme, such as Twenty Twenty-Three.
You can also access your website through Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) and gain access to your site. In such a scenario, follow these guidelines:
After accessing your site through the SFTP, locate the “public_html” folder. Then proceed to open the “wp-content” folder.
Within the “themes” folder, identify the folder associated with your currently active theme.
Add “_old” to the name of your active theme folder. This action will disable your currently activated theme.
Visit your website once again to check If the distressing “white screen of death” has vanished. If the issue is resolved, then you have successfully pinpointed the problem. Simply contact the theme developer and provide them with details of the encountered error. Plus, ask them for the latest and fixed version of the theme.
Redefine Memory Limit
Several scripts are launched on your WordPress site when you install a plugin or a theme in it. Therefore, it takes a portion of your RAM from your server each time it is utilized. But WordPress takes action to put memory restrictions on your plugins to prevent scripts from slowing down your site.
However, a WSOD error can still occur when the script requires more RAM from your server. Fortunately, you can assign more memory limit to your WordPress plugins through these steps:
Utilize the SFTP and log into your server
Now, locate and open the public_html folder and find the wp-config.php file.
Right-click over the wp-config.php file and select the View/Edit option.
Insert the following line of code after scrolling down to the bottom of the file.
define( 'WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '64M' );
This code allocates up to 64 megabytes of memory to WordPress for the scripts that it loads.
Save all your changes and upload the modified file back to your server.
Visit your website to confirm whether it is now functioning correctly.
Clean Browser and WordPress Cache
Currently, most websites let browsers keep files locally in order to boost the page loading time. This method of keeping website data on the browser is called Browser Caching. Sadly, browser caching can also cause a white screen of death error in WordPress.
Here is a common process of cleaning browser cache using Google Chrome:
Open Google Chrome and click on the three-dot icon in the top-right corner.
Then, Go to More Tools and click Clear browsing data.
Navigate through the settings and choose the Basic tab.
Choose your preferred time range or choose All time for clearing all cached data.
Check the box next to the Cached images and files.
Click Clear data to initiate the clearing process.
Wait for the process to complete, and you will receive a confirmation message.
You can also clear out your WordPress site’s cache using plugins such as WP-Optimize or WP Super Cache. We’ve used WP Super Cache, for example, and :
Login to your WordPress website
Go to Settings > WP Super Cache
Click the Delete Cache button
Turn on Debugging Mode
If you can’t get rid of the WSOD error yet, turn on the debugging mode which will reveal errors on your site. It will help you get a detailed insight into the error, so let’s go through the following process:
You can access your WordPress sites core files through SFTP
Or log in to your Website’s cPanel > File manager > public_html
Open the wp-config.php file and find this code define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false );
Change the code into: define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, true);
Reload the site and now read the error message.
Cannot redeclare get_posts() (previously declared in
/var/www/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/test-plugin/test-plugin.php on line 47
As you can see that the problem lies in line 47 of a plugin named test-plugin. Now you’ve pinpointed the reason behind the WSOD error. Thus, disable the plugin to resolve the error from your site.
Examine File Permission
File permission issues can also cause WSOD errors in your WordPress site, but you can easily resolve them. Here is how:
Log in to your cPanel and click File Manager
Click public_html folder
Select the folders, right-click, and set the permission value to 775 or 755.
For files, set the permission value to 664 or 644
Set the permission value for the wp-config.php file to 660, 600, or 644.
Also, you can access your server through SSSH and use the following commands. Keep in mind that you need to ruin it through the root WordPress directory.
Sometimes, you may face update issues like server timeouts which lead to infamous WSOD errors. Though this issue usually gets fixed automatically, sometimes human intervention is necessary. Thus, you can take the following actions:
Navigate to the root directory of your WordPress installation.
Check if there is a file named “.maintenance” (the file name may be abbreviated).
Delete the “.maintenance” file and reload your website.
If the update was successful, but WordPress failed to remove the file automatically, your website should return to normal operation.
If the update is not completed, it may restart automatically, and your website should function normally as well.
If the above steps fail to resolve the issue, resort to the recommended manual update procedure for WordPress. This comprehensive update process should rectify the problem once and for all.
Fix Syntax Errors
Erroneous codes in your WordPress site can create WSOD errors in your site. These errors usually occur when there are typographical mistakes or incorrect syntax. A single misplaced character has the potential to bring down your entire website. Therefore, you should never edit code directly on your live site.
However, you don’t need to panic. You can rectify the situation by connecting to your site using FTP and undo the code changes. But if you may be unsure about the changes you’ve made since it involves a lot of codes in a site. Thus, having WordPress backups readily available proves to be incredibly valuable in such scenarios.
Enhance PHP Text Processing Ability
When a page or post is exceptionally long, you might need to increase the text processing capability of your site. You can simply adjust the PHP text processing capability on your website. For that, you need to increase the backtrack and recursion limits by adding these codes to your wp-config.php file:
/* Increasing PHP Text Processing capability /
Contact Your Hosting Provider
If you are still seeing the WOSD error after all the troubleshooting attempts, it’s high time to contact your hosting provider. Their support staff has access to and knowledge needed to look within your website and server’s code. Thus, they can modify the codes ASAP if necessary and resolve the error.
Best practices for preventing WordPress White Screen
Implementing the aforementioned best practices is strongly advised if you want to avoid running into WSOD errors:
Regularly update WordPress core, themes, and plugins to ensure compatibility, bug fixes, and security enhancements.
Test updates in a staging environment before implementing the updates in your live WordPress site.
Use perfectly coded, reliable, and compatible themes and plugins for your website.
Get detailed error messages by enabling the debugging mode on your site.
Back up all your WordPress files and database to secure storage.
Do not edit any code directly on your live production site.
Monitor your server resources such as memory limits, CPU usage, disk space, etc.
Utilize caching plugins or a content delivery network for improved site performance.
Dealing with the WordPress White Screen of Death can be an exasperating and worrisome experience. However, it’s important to remember that the situation is often more manageable than it appears.
In most cases, performing a basic check of plugins and themes should resolve the WSOD issue. But while going through the methods we’ve mentioned, you will get some valuable insights into the issue. As a result, you will become more skilled and interested in resolving other WordPress errors as well.
Atanu Das is a professional content writer with experience writing SEO-optimized creative content in different niches. He is actively writing effective content for tech companies to expand their business to the next level. He has completed… read more