What is the White Screen of Death in WordPress?

The White Screen of Death (also known as White Death or WSoD) is an error that causes WordPress to stop working and display a white or blank screen with no information. Both PHP errors and database errors can result in the WordPress White Screen of Death.

How to Fix the White Screen of Death in WordPress

WordPress White Screen of Death

Your first step is to check for a plugin/theme compatibility issue. Deactivating all plugins and switching to a default WordPress theme (e.g. Twenty Twenty-One) should fix the WordPress white screen of death. You can then reactivate one by one to see which one was causing it.

If you are unable to access wp-admin you can try this tweaks,

  1. Connect to your website via FTP or sFTP (If you do not have this information please contact your web host).
  2. Browse to the “/wp-content/plugins/” directory. For themes it’s “/wp-content/themes/”.
  3. Rename the “plugins” folder to something like “pluginsold” or “themes” to “themesold”.

This will automatically deactivate all of your plugins or themes. If the white screen of death was caused by a faulty plugin or theme, you should now be able to access wp-admin. You can then rename the folder back to “plugins” or “themes” and reactivate one by one to find the conflicting plugin/theme.

If this error occurs after reactivating a particular plugin/theme you do not need to rename the whole “plugins” or “themes” folder. You can simply rename the faulty plugin/theme.

Increasing the PHP Memory Limit

Running out of PHP Memory can cause the white screen of death in WordPress. You can contact your web host to increase the PHP Memory available on the server. This allows your site to run more memory-intensive scripts and reduces the likelihood of hitting the memory limit.

If you already have a good memory limit of 128M or 256M, you can ask your host to identify the script that is using up too much resources. You can then choose contact the plugin/theme author to fix it or find an alternative.

Enabling Debugging in WordPress

There is a “WP_DEBUG” PHP constant that can be used to enable debugging in WordPress. You can find it in the “wp-config.php” file in the root directory of WordPress. By default WP_DEBUG is set to false.

define( 'WP_DEBUG', false );

Setting WP_DEBUG to true will cause all PHP errors, notices and warnings to be displayed.

define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );

This will help you troubleshoot the issue as PHP by default only displays fatal errors or a white screen of death when an error occurs. Make sure to keep a backup of the “wp-config.php” file before making any changes to it.

Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links. If you follow one of those affiliate links and purchase something it will provide me with a little bit of a commission. This costs you nothing extra but helps maintain my site, free plugins, and themes. So I thank you for your support.

Leave a Comment