Wondering how to fix the WordPress white screen of death, and fast? We tried to cover as many possibilities. To clarify, the white screen of death happens when you try to open your website, and the page is blank. This is becoming rarer nowadays. WordPress, after the 5.2 version, “converted” the error to display an error such as “The site is experiencing technical difficulties.” or “There has been a critical error on your website.” on the frontend. This means the solutions are quite similar, regardless of which error you encounter. Let’s get into it.
To fix white screen of death in the WordPress Admin Section
In our opinion, the first step you should take is checking the e-mail address tied to the account for the Admin Section of your website. WordPress will automatically send you an e-mail if this fatal error occurs.
- Check for an e-mail that will most likely be titled Your Site is Experiencing a Technical Issue.
Check your Spam folder if nothing appears in Inbox.
- Read the text, because WordPress will report the name of the theme or plugin that caused the fatal error.
- If there’s no such information, or if you cannot get to the Dashboard in your Admin section, click on the “recovery mode” link in the e-mail. It lasts an entire day, and a new one will be sent if a new error occurs.
How to use WordPress Recovery Mode to fix the white screen of death
- Follow the link in the e-mail.
- Log in to the Admin Panel with your username or e-mail address and password as normal.Important information. Be aware that while the website might work for you because of Recovery Mode. Other admins, users, or visitors will still see the white screen of death.
- On the homepage, you will see a notification One or more plugins failed to load properly.If a theme caused the error, it will say themes instead of plugins.
- Click on Go to the Plugins screen.If a theme was the cause, it will mention Themes instead of Plugins.
- A plugin (or theme) will be highlighted, and a detailed error will be mentioned under Description.
- You can choose to look into the error, and fix the syntax if it was simple.
- We recommend clicking on Deactivate immediately and looking into it afterward.
- If there are no other errors, click on Exit Recovery Mode in the top right corner.
- The website should be restored to the working state.
Steps to fix the white screen of death in WordPress via FTP
The steps above seem easy enough. But what if not even Recovery Mode manages to help you gain access to the back-end? That’s when you must gain access to the root folder yourself. For this, you have two choices:
- Use an FTP client. After downloading and installation, launch it and log in to the FTP with username, password, and hostname. Unless specified otherwise, leave protocol and port at default values.
- Log in to your hosting account/cPanel. Open a web app named File Manager, FTP, or Files.
Fixing an issue with plugins
We will assume WordPress e-mailed you the name of the plugin that caused the problem. Use any of the two methods above.
- Find the root folder of your WordPress website. It should be named public_html.
- Find a folder named wp-content.
- Go to the folder named plugins.
- Find the folder with the name of the plugin.
- Download the folder and either rename to something random or delete it.
- Check whether the website started working.
Resetting WordPress to default theme via FTP
- Follow steps #1 and #2 above.
- Open the folder named themes.
- Find the folder with the name of your active theme.
- Download it for backup purposes, then delete the folder or rename it to something else.
- If you haven’t deleted a default theme such as Twenty Eighteen or Twenty Nineteen, one of them will now be used by default.If you don’t have any of the default themes, you must install a WordPress theme via FTP.
- Check if your website is now working.
How to place WordPress in Debug Mode
If you didn’t get an error code in the e-mail, and you cannot enter the Recovery Mode, you have to get it manually. Again, using either an FTP client or cPanel, do this:
- Open the public_html (root) folder again.
- Find a file named wp-config.php, and open it.
- Add the following anywhere above the /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */ line.
define( 'WP_DEBUG', true);
define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', true );
- Refresh your website.
- Go to the public_html/wp-content/ folder.
- Open a file called debug.log.
- Find a line that says PHP Fatal Error:
- Read the error, and see whether it was a theme or plugin that was the problem.
- Make sure to go back delete the two lines for debugging after you fix the problem.
Updating your website’s PHP version
If it wasn’t a plugin or theme that caused the issue, it’s most likely an outdated version of PHP on your website or a failing PHP function. In the case of the latter, the error will appear in the WordPress Debug Mode. If it’s the former, do this.
- Log in to your hosting’s cPanel. Find an option called Select PHP version, or something similar. You will be able to see the current version and choose a newer one.
- Contact your hosting’s customer service for help. This is within their area of expertise and job description.
You will be able to solve the white screen of death on your WordPress installation following any of the methods given above. If not, if you are on a managed WordPress hosting, feel free to reach out to their support. They should be able to help you.