A Bristol Geek

No trees were harmed in the creation of this blog; however, a significant number of electrons were slightly inconvenienced.

Fixing the WordPress White Screen of Death!

Broken Computer Screen

Broken Computer Screen

Much like the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) that many Windows users dread, WordPress can suffer from the White Screen of Death (all be it not as often as Windows does!). The White Screen of Death (WSOD) can occur for several reasons, some more likely than others. Regardless of its cause it is catastrophic problem for a WP blogger, causing your site to go off line. In Windows the BSOD is rarely caused by Windows it’s self but by drivers or hardware, with WordPress it is much the same the WSOD is normally caused by bad plug ins or themes.

I have suffered from two WordPress White Screens, one on this site and one on another blog. Here is what caused them, and how I fixed them!

WSOD #1: Plug-in Death

Late one evening I was poking around the WordPress plug-in directory and came across a plug-in that interested me so I installed it. BANG suddenly my Admin Panel didn’t respond, and all my blog pages came up as blank white screens. The WSOD had struck.

In this case the cause was obvious enough, the plug-in had failed and broken my install.  I was lucky enough to know which plug-in it was, but it could have equally happened during a bulk upgrade where I would not have known which plug-in it was.

The quick solution is to rename the WordPress plug-in folder. Doing this will cause the WP engine to realise that all the plug-ins are missing and it will disable each one of them.  To rename the directory, login to your site via FTP (or use your hosts control panel, if provided) and rename the folder “WP-Content/Plugins” to “Plugins-old”. Once you have done this create an empty folder called “Plugins” in its place.

Load up your blog again, and if all has worked, you should see your precious blog again (minus all its plug-ins). Back in your admin panel you should see that all the plug-ins are disabled. You can now delete the “Plugin” folder you created and rename the “Plugins-old” folder back to “Plugins”.

If you know the plug-in at fault you can delete it and then re-enable all the other plug-ins. If you don’t know which plug-in was to blame then you should re-enable each one in turn until something goes wrong again! If need be you might need to do the renaming trick again, and then delete the faulty plug-in that you have just discovered.

WSOD #2: Theme Attack

It seams that WordPress can be a bit picky about folder names for themes, so if you have just installed a new theme named “My_Really_GreatTheme(Honest)” it’s most likely to blame! The solution as with WSOD #1 is to login via FTP and rename the folder to “MyReallyGreatThemeHonest”! Then hopefully all will be better!

Always Use Protection!!

It is always better to be safe than sorry, so you should always ensure that you have a backup of both your WordPress Database and file system.  You can read more about backup enabling plugins on the “WordPress Tips ‘n’ Tricks” page.

Thank you to Don Fulano for releasing the above picture under the Creative Commons Share Alike licence. His Flickr can be found here

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