Troubleshooting White Screen of Death Errors in WordPress

Sometimes WordPress just stops working. When you visit your site you’re met with is a stark white page and nothing else. It’s aptly referred to as the “white screen of death.”

It can be extremely frustrating and problematic ,to say the least, especially when you don’t see and PHP errors listed to tip you off as to the cause of the error.

You could guess what the problem is, but that could take too long. Luckily, there are steps you can take to quickly troubleshoot the problem.

In this Weekend WordPress Project, we’ll take a look at the troubleshooting process for white screen errors, which includes a bit of coding or using plugins. With these tips, your site will be back up in no time at all.

Troubleshooting with Coding

Your wp-config.php file in the root of your WordPress install is the key to figuring out what the problem is with your site. All you need to do is add a few lines of code to turn on debugging mode for your site.

If you would like the full details on debugging your site, take a look at our post Debugging WordPress: How to Use WP_DEBUG. For now, I’ll give you the abridged version.

Turning on debug mode will effectively display the list of current errors. If your site is on a local installation, all you need to do is add one line of code to your wp-config.php file:

Place it above the line in the example below:

If you already see the WP_DEBUG code in your wp-config.php file, then simply set it to true, without quotation marks.

If you are on a live site, you shouldn’t use this code since all the errors will appear on the front page of your site including your root server file path and other possible sensitive information. Though, there is a way to enable debugging on live sites and limit the error messages to a private log file only.

To enable the error log and debugging for a live site, enter the following code into your wp-config.php file above the Happy blogging line:

If you made changes to any JavaScript or CSS files before your site showed the white screen of death, then include line 12 in the above example. If you didn’t make these kinds of changes, then you can leave that line out.

Don’t forget that if you already see this code in place, simply switch the boolean (true/false) values to match the ones in the above example.

Once that’s done, you can check the error messages on the front end of your site for local installs and in your error log on live installs. The log is located in /wp-content/debug.log among your WordPress files.

Once you have checked and identified the error, you can begin to fix it.

Troubleshooting with a Plugin

There are many plugins out there that will help you with troubleshooting errors on your site. If you are still able to access your admin dashboard, you can install a plugin to help identify the errors.

To turn on the debug mode only, check out the Debug plugin. If you would like more options for troubleshooting there is also the Debug Bar plugin.

For Multisite installs, there is a plugin that was specifically designed for networks and super admins for troubleshooting called Debug This. It has the most detailed information of most other debugging plugins.

These three plugins are reliable and are updated frequently to ensure quality and stability. Once you pick your favorite, you can install the plugin and start finding the errors that need fixing.

Checking the Error Log in Your Control Panel

If you are using cPanel, you can check the error log by clicking the Error Log button under the Logs section.

The "Logs" section in cPanel's home page. The "Error Log" button is highlighted.
This can be a sufficient alternative to changing your “wp-config.php” file or using a plugin.

If you’re using Plesk, click the Files tab toward the top of the page, select logs in the menu on the left of the page, then select error_log from the list.

The file manager page in Plesk. The "logs" menu item has been selected and the error log is highlighted.
Your Plesk error log can be found in the file manager.

If you are using a different type of control panel and aren’t sure where to access your error log, check with your hosting company or do a quick Google search to find its location.

Other Helpful Tips

There are a few other things you can do to help remedy the situation and figure out what the problem may be.

  • Revert back to the default Twenty Fifteen theme – If the white screen is gone and your site appears then that means the theme you are using has bugs or is conflicting with one of the plugins you’re using.
  • Disable all your activated plugins – If your site comes back up, enable your plugins one by one until the white screen comes back. When it does, you’ll know the last plugin you activated has bugs.
  • Are you using a caching plugin? – You can clear your site’s cache manually through the settings. WordPress doesn’t come with caching by default.
  • Check your bandwidth limit – Has it been exceeded? This may cause a white screen error. If it has, you will need to consult your hosting provider.


The white screen error in WordPress is certainly a frustrating one to fix when you aren’t faced with clear error messages right away. Fortunately, these troubleshooting tips should help put you in the know.

If your site is working, but you would like ways to test your site for possible problems and conflicts that could arise in the future, check out our posts 4 Free Plugins to Test Your WordPress Site for Compatibility Issues and Powerful Must-Have Tools for Every WordPress Developer.

Have you ever encountered the white screen of death? Feel free to share your experience and learn from other people’s experiences in the comments below.

10 Responses

    Philipp Stracker

    White Screen Errors can be very difficult and frustrating to debug, since often you don’t even know where to start looking… I have created a small and simple plugin that can be used to force WordPress to display the error reason instead of a white screen.

    In case you encounter a white screen then feel free to give it a try – it will possibly lead you to the error reason in a few minutes instead of hours ;-)

      Jenni McKinnon

      Hey Philipp,

      Thanks so much for posting that! I’m sorry I didn’t include your plugin in the post.


      Jenni McKinnon

    Viktoria Michaelis

    I have experienced the White Screen of Death only once, when the option crashed in MySQL. I sorted this out with the Repair command.

    Today, however, I changed over the config command from false to true to see what happens, and immediately got many, many lines of fault reports on my Stats page, and on the front page of my blog itself, some of which refer to a depreciation back since WP 2.0. None of these have caused a problem with my site whatsoever, but having the false set to true in config messes up the entire appearance of my blog. So I set it back again….

      Jenni McKinnon

      Hey Viktoria,

      That makes a lot of sense. There are different levels of errors and not all of them are fatal. Some errors can be present even though your site seems to be functional otherwise.

      Sometimes WordPress detects code that looks like errors, but aren’t actually errors in the plugin or theme where the code resides so these are great steps to take if your site is actually coming up with errors, but not-so-helpful if your site appears to be running just fine.

      Hope that helps clarify things a bit more. :)


      Jenni McKinnon


    Jenni – you just rescued me from 3 days of tearing my hair out, trying to figure out why my WordPress admin login was the dreaded white screen. I implemented debug mode per instructions and discovered three missing files! THANK YOU.

      Jenni McKinnon

      Hey Emily,

      Awesome! Glad you found this article helpful. :)


      Jenni McKinnon

      Jenni McKinnon

      Hey endual,

      Excellent point! Thanks for sharing your experience and important troubleshooting steps. You’re awesome! I’m glad you were able to resolve the issue.


      Jenni McKinnon


    I have some idea about the error in wordpress that could help you while u get into the fresher and help u when u got trouble .I have list out common error occur in wordpress with solutions:
    1. How to Fix the WordPress White Screen of Death?
    This error usually results into a plain white screen with no error message which makes it the most puzzling because you have no clue where to look and what to fix. Most of the time it is caused when a script exhausts PHP memory limit.
    2. How to solve the Internal Server Error in WordPress ?
    Another common error that WordPress users may come across is “Internal Server Error”, or sometimes “500 Internal Server Error”. This error usually happens when there is something wrong, “but the server is unable to identify” where the problem is.

    Since the error message does not indicate where you should look for the error, it pretty much up to you to figure this out. We have compiled a list of solutions that you can try and one of them will help you resolve it.
    3. How to Fix the Syntax Error in WordPress?
    This error usually occurs when you are trying to add code snippets into WordPress and have accidentally missed something or the code has incorrect syntax.

    Example of parse error:

    Parse error – syntax error, unexpected $end in /public_html/site1/wp-content/themes/my-theme/functions.php on line 278

    The error message would indicate the unexpected thing found in the code and the location of the script where the error occurred with line number. To fix this issue you will have to correct the syntax.

    see more @ :

    Saru Tole

    The most frustrating of them all are the white screens caused by a silent call to on of these:
    exit, die(), wp_die().

    If your logs show nothing and none of the above advice helps, be sure to deep search your failing plugins for these regular suspects!

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