Recovering from WordPress White Screen of Death

Last updated on October 18th, 2014 by Robert Abela. Filed under WordPress Security Tutorials

WordPress white screen of death is typically compared to Windows’ blue screen of death, i.e. it stops your WordPress blog or website from working and you cannot access the WordPress dashboard. The good thing is that WordPress white screen of death can be easily solved within minutes. In this WordPress tutorial we will explain how you can easily recover from the WordPress white screen of death and regain access to the WordPress dashboard.

Why the WordPress white screen of death?

There are several scenarios which can break down a WordPress installation resulting in the white screen of death. In most cases we’ve seen so far, the white screen of death is not a WordPress problem, but something else, such as a plugin breaking down the WordPress installation. Typically one cannot access the WordPress dashboard because of a white screen of death after:

  1. Upgrading a plugin
  2. Adding a new plugin
  3. Upgrading WordPress to the latest version
  4. Changing plugin or WordPress source code from the Editor

How to solve WordPress white screen of death

If you remember what was the last change you have done before you encountered the WordPress white screen of death, you can simply connect to your website using an FTP client and revert back the change. E.g. if you changed some of the code from a plugin, or a WordPress core file, using FTP navigate to the directory where such file is and download it to your computer. Revert back the change and upload it back to your website. This should solve the issue.

If you added and enabled a new plugin and now cannot login to the WordPress dashboard because of a WordPress white screen, connect to your website using an FTP client, navigate to the plugins directory (/wp-content/plugins) and delete the plugin directory.

WP White Security.com WordPress Tip: The name of the plugin directory is always the same, or similar to the plugin name. E.g. the plugin Akismet, is installed in the directory /wp-content/plugins/akismet/ directory. By deleting the akismet directory from the /wp-content/plugins/ directory, you are disabling such plugin from WordPress.

uninstalled WordPress plugin notification in WordPress dashboard
When you delete a plugin directory from the /wp-content/plugins/ directory and navigating back to the Plugins section in the WordPress dashboard, WordPress will alert you that a plugin has been deactivated because the files cannot be found as seen in the above screenshot. This is normal WordPress behaviour to alert you that the plugin has been removed.

Fixing WordPress white screen of death after upgrading WordPress

If you just upgraded your WordPress installation and you cannot login to your WordPress dashboard because of the white screen of death, the issue might be caused by an incompatible plugin or theme. This is a very common scenario since not all plugins are always tested against the latest version of WordPress. To regain access to the WordPress dashboard and find out which is the plugin that is causing the white screen, follow the below step by step procedure:

  1. Connect to your website using an FTP client
  2. Download a copy of all the plugins found in /wp-content/plugins/ to your computer
  3. Delete all the plugins from the plugins directory, e .g. /wp-content/plugins/[plugin]
  4. After deleting the plugins you should be able to login to the WordPress dashboard (http://www.website.com/wp-admin)
  5. Upload one of the plugins from the local copy on your computer (the ones you downloaded in step 2 of this procedure)
  6. Navigate to the Plugins node in the WordPress dashboard and enable the plugin
  7. If the plugin is enabled successfully, upload another plugin and enable it as well
  8. Once you enable a plugin and upon enabling it you encounter the infamous WordPress white screen of death, the plugin you just uploaded is causing the white screen of death
  9. Delete the directory of the plugin which is causing the problem via FTP and you will regain access to the WordPress dashboard

Once you know which is the problematic plugin, don’t upload it again. You can still upload all the other plugins and re-enable them from the WordPress dashboard. Check the online WordPress plugin directory on wordpress.org to see if there is an updated version of the plugin, or advise the plugin’s developer about the issue.

WP White Security.com Webmaster Tip: Before upgrading or doing any changes to your WordPress website or blog, always make a backup of your WordPress installation.

If you have problems with your WordPress installation and still cannot fix them, or still cannot figure out what is causing WordPress to crash, get in touch with us for assistance.

WordPress Hosting, Firewall and Backup

WP White Security is hosted on A2 Hosting, protected with BBQ:Block Bad Queries Firewall and backed up with BlogVault online WordPress backup service

8 comments

Simon Robitaille 23/01/2013

Hi, I don’t know what going on with wordpress 3.5, but I have only a white screen when running wp-admin/install.php
I have deleted plugins but still the same thing.
Need help here.
Thanks

WP White Security Administrator 23/01/2013

Hey Simon,

It is quite difficult to predict what it might be without looking into it. Drop us an email on help@wpwhitesecurity.com and we will gladly assist you.

Maria 12/02/2013

No, I have deleted all plugins and I still cannot reach wp-admin.

Robert Abela 12/02/2013

Hi Maria,

Did you try to switch the theme to the default WordPress theme?

Steven 20/12/2013

Deleted all plugins. Changed theme in phpMyAdmin. Still white screen.

Robert Abela 21/12/2013

Hi Steven,

Can you check if you have a php error log file on your website? If yes check it out. Errors in such file can lead you to the solution. Should you still not find what the issue is, just get in touch with us on support@wpwhitesecurity.com. We will gladly assist you.

I usually change the name of the folder plugins and themes contained in cpanel. From there I could detect a trigger problem.
Maybe it took a little bit, but I so know what’s going on

Robert Abela 08/05/2014

Hi,

If you rename the folders for plugins and themes you are simply disabling all the plugins and themes in 1 go. Although it will help you determine that the issue is related to the plugins, or themes like this you won’t find out which plugin is causing the issue, hence why we recommend people to rename each plugin’s folder one by one.

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