The White Screen of Death on WordPress

If you have been around the web-building or maintenance side of the internet for a while, then you’ve probably already heard of “The White Screen Of Death”. If not, then just know it is exactly what it sounds like. In place of your valuable website is a completely white screen, absolutely nothing else. NOTHING. And, no. It is not fun when it happens. No fun at all!

It took me about a year and a half, and other blogging nightmares, but this past week I experienced the “white screen of death” for myself. And I had that shocking experience on my own website. Yikes! MyQuirkyFriend was “down for the count”, so to speak. Or so I thought, for a time.

On the plus side, there are remedies available. (As you can see since this site is live once again. Yay!) Therefore, there is hope if this has happened to you.

Below I’ll share information I found in my research, and my attempts to repair my site on my own. And I’ll tell you what actually worked for me.

The Internet Has Great Information Available on the White Screen Issue

As with any other issue that I am not well informed about, I will hit the the internet to see what I can find. I can admit I was a total “green-horn” when I started this website a year and a half ago. So, I am still on the learning curve to being an expert webmaster. But, I’m getting there!

In my research I found out there are multiple reasons for the “white screen of death”. And, there are multiple remedies to fix them. I found some informative articles that cover this issue, which I will share later.

Get Real

First off, you need to get real with yourself. Be real about your level of knowledge, computers, and the intricacies of the backside of websites (Image Ex. 1). The “fixes” I found online dive into WordPress plugins and themes, as well as cPanel, FTP, phpAdmin, and more. If you’re not familiar with those areas of web building but you are confident, then you may be able to fix the issue yourself.

Most of the time I feel pretty confident, and can usually find instructions online to fix almost any issue I come across. Likewise with this issue, I felt confident to try the fixes presented online (even with my mild panicking over the potential loss of my site). Therefore I dove into the remedy instructions immediately. But, know your own personal limits. If necessary, call for help from a local web professional or your web-hosting provider.

Note: Backups of your site are vital. Yes, I have backups through two sources: my web-host Bluehost and UpDraft Plus. This helped keep my white screen “panic” to a minimum. If you do not have automatic backups in place, then I highly recommend you do so once you get up and going again. The white screen is just one issue. In web-design there can be any number of issues that might permanently effect your website. When damages are irreversible, having a current backup will be vital. In that case, a simple restore from a backup could have you quickly up and running again in no time.

Cause #1 of the dreaded White Screen: Faulty Plugin, or Plugins.

This appears to be the main reason for the white screen issues. It could be that you were working within a plugin when the screen went white. Or, a plugin could have auto-updated creating an issue. Its also possible that the newly updated app is now causing compatibility issues between it and your theme or another plugin.

When my screen went white, I was in the midst of making adjustments within a plugin. Therefore, when I read this as a possible cause, I knew immediately a plugin was most likely at the root of my issues. Therefore, disabling the problem plugin, or all the plugins, would most likely resolve my issue.

Note: I am not sure if the specific plugin, or its Beta components, created my issue. It’s always possible user error was involved, or I simply hit a glitch at that moment in the interconnecting systems at large. Therefore, I will not mention the specific plugin I was working in.

Remedy Attempts

Several of the remedies to disable plugins led me back to WordPress. Others included instructions to go through paths via my web-host. I seemed to have issues with the instructions not using names or terms that were the exact as what was appearing on my screen. (This was due to some lack of terminology knowledge on my part.) This was part of my issues causing me to keep hitting some walls. But, there was something else I discovered.

As I worked another, bigger issue revealed itself. Along with my website in “white screen” mode, from the start, I also experienced a white screen when I tried to login to the WordPress Dashboard (Image Ex. 2). (This is also a normal possibility to accompany the “white screen of death”.) Throughout my attempts I finally realized that several of the DIY instructions were sending me to the WordPress Dashboard. That was moot for me because of its inaccessibility. I would have to address this from within the php or FTP via my host cpanel.

If All Else Fails ~ Call the Professionals

After a few hours of swimming around the internet, and swimming around my web-host trying different things. I reached out to a local webmaster and stopped for the night. Fresh the next day, I learned the webmaster wouldn’t be available for several hours. Therefore, in the meantime I tackled the issue on my own again.

Another couple of hours and a lot of frustration later, I was hitting my limits again. Ultimately, I realized that at this point I am simply a better writer than I am a webmaster. Lol! And… I remembered that my web-host offers free customer service help.

Therefore, I contacted Bluehost customer service. And after three times on hold in a roughly thirty minute period, Voila’! My site was fully restored. What my wonderful customer service rep achieved was a successful deactivation of all of my plugins.

All the plugins previously downloaded were still in my plugins directory. Afterward, I simply re-activated the plugins I needed. At that point all settings and information returned exactly as they were when I hit the white screen issue.

Hopefully, you have better luck in fixing your white screen on your own than I did. But, remember, it is an easy fix. And, if you find you cannot make the corrections on your own, then simply give your web-host a call.

As Promised, Here are Some Great Articles on the Causes & Remedies of the “White Screen of Death”.

The following articles contain options available to disable plugin/s yourself, as well as addressing other possible issues at the root of your white screen problem.

To Improve Your Web-Building Knowledge

On another note, through this circumstance, I realized a vital limitation I am facing. Lack of knowledge. If you’re like me, you can use some additional knowledge in coding to help in similar instances in the future. Upon searching about a bit, I came across a few books that can help. Check them out. (Prices accurate at time of posting.)

Regardless, of your knowledge, your ability to fix your white screen issue yourself, or if you find you need the help of a professional, I wish you the best of luck with your website.

May your website live a long, healthy life in full color!


As always, thanks for stopping by. Have something to add?  Let me know your thoughts! Hit the comments and share.  Talk to you soon!

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