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Troubleshoot and fix a WordPress "white screen of death"

In WordPress versions older than 5.2, plugin or theme errors can cause the site to load as a blank white page. This type of error is known as the "white screen of death (WSOD)." In some cases, you may see the "The site is experiencing technical difficulties" message. Here's how to fix this.

Note: If you use a WordPress version 5.2 and newer, you'll see a notification about a critical error on your site and you can fix it using a WordPress recovery mode.

Warning: You should always back up your site before performing any troubleshooting.

Enable WordPress debugging

When investigating the WSOD, enable WordPress debugging to see if some errors show up. If you see an error related to a specific plugin or theme, you can disable the faulty plugin or change your theme to get your site back online.

Warning: If you change a theme while troubleshooting a WSOD, it affects the way your site looks and functions, but it provides a quick fix for errors caused by a faulty theme. It can help get your site back online, but it will look different.

For security reasons, you should disable WordPress debugging after you finish troubleshooting the error. To check if the WSOD is gone, visit your site in a browser with a private or incognito browsing mode enabled (Chrome / Firefox / Edge).

Try fixing the problematic plugin or theme

If you need to continue using a problematic plugin or theme, upload the latest version of the plugin or theme with FTP and then enable it. This will update the plugin/theme.

If updating doesn't work, try the following:

  • Search for the plugin or theme in the WordPress repository. On your plugin's/theme's homepage, select View support forum. Search the forum for a solution specific to your issue.
  • If you purchased your plugin or theme from somewhere else, review the documentation provided by the developer.

Disable all your plugins

If you don't see any errors which could help determine what causes the WSOD even though WordPress debugging is enabled, you should check if an issue is caused by a conflict between plugins, themes, and WordPress itself, which can lead to a WSOD. This is more likely to occur after you update WordPress, the active theme, or one of your plugins.

  1. Connect to your hosting with FTP.
  2. In the wp-content folder, rename the plugins folder to plugins.renamed.
  3. Visit your site in a private browsing mode. If it loads correctly, the issue is caused by one of your plugins. If the error persists, something else is causing it.
  4. Rename the folder with plugins back to plugins and continue investigating the issue.
    • If it's caused by plugins, start disabling individual plugins to figure out which one is causing the error.
    • If it's not caused by plugins, skip to the "Switch to a default WordPress theme" section.

To continue using the problematic plugin, follow the steps described in the "Try fixing the problematic plugin or theme" section.

Switch to a default WordPress theme

If you still see the white page, the issue may be caused by your active theme. To test, you can change to one of the default WordPress themes, like TwentyTwenty or TwentyTwentyOne, and use private browsing mode to check if the WSOD is gone.

To continue using the problematic theme, follow the steps described in the "Try fixing the problematic plugin or theme" section.

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