A WordPress website can suddenly begin displaying nothing but a white screen for a number of reasons. Before you contact support, answer the questions below to try and isolate the issue yourself to get your site back up and running as quickly as possible.
If you are unable to fix the issue after walking through these questions and you are still seeing a white screen, please contact your developer or hosting provider for assistance.
Question 1: Did you recently install, update, or otherwise alter a plugin?
White screen issues are often plugin-related. If you were installing, updating, or working with a plugin immediately before the white screen issue, that plugin might have caused the problem.
Troubleshooting step: Deactivate the plugin you were working with before the white screen issue.
If the plugin is what caused the white screen, then your site should go back to normal when you deactivate it. Use the following suggestions to try and fix the issue with the plugin so you can continue using it with your site:
- If you were editing the plugin files, revert to the original code.
- If you updated the plugin and it caused an issue, contact the plugin developer.
- If you were installing the plugin for the first time, check to see if it is compatible with your version of WordPress (which should be the latest version).
Question 2: Were you recently working with your active theme’s functions.php file?
If you were recently editing your active theme’s functions.php file, you might have saved some improper code which can cause a white screen.
Troubleshooting step: Revert your functions.php file to its state before you edited it. If the file does not contain any previous customizations that you want to retain, you can restore the original version of the file by downloading a fresh copy of your theme and overwriting your website’s functions.php with the one in the download via FTP.
Important: When editing any of your WordPress files, use a text editor, NOT the theme editor in your dashboard. If you make a mistake with the theme editor in your dashboard, there is no way to undo your changes. Using a text editor and FTP is the safest method of altering any of your website files.
Question 3: Did you answer “no” to questions 1 and 2?
If the above questions didn’t help you isolate the issue, you can use the following suggestions to try and determine whether the problem could be plugin- or theme-related.
Note: While you shouldn’t lose any plugins, themes, or plugin/theme data, there is always a small risk associated with altering your website’s folder and file names. However, it might be a worthwhile risk versus the alternative of users not being able to access your website at all because of the white screen.
Is it a plugin issue?
Troubleshooting step: Deactivate all plugins and then check your site.
First, check to see whether you are able to access the admin screen of your site (<yoursite.com>/wp-admin). If you are able to access and log into the admin, go to Plugins > Installed Plugins and deactivate all of your plugins. If you are NOT able to access the admin, use the following steps to deactivate plugins via FTP:
- Connect to your website with FTP.
- Inside the wp-content folder of your website, find the folder called plugins and rename it to _plugins. This automatically deactivates all active plugins.
- Reload your site.
If you are still seeing the white screen, then issue is not plugin-related. Change the folder name back to plugins and move on to check whether the issue could be theme-related below. After changing the folder name back, you’ll have to re-activate any plugins that were previously active.
If deactivating your plugins fixes the white screen, then you know the issue is plugin-related. Now you just need to isolate which plugin it is.
- Change the name of your plugins folder back to plugins (if you changed it via FTP).
- Go to Plugins > Installed Plugins in your WordPress dashboard.
- Begin reactivating your plugins one by one. After you activate each plugin, reload your website in a separate browser window. When your website displays the white screen again, you know that the last plugin you reactivated is causing the issue.
Deactivate the offending plugin and then follow the suggestions from Question 1 above to try and determine why the plugin is causing the error.
Is it a theme issue?
Troubleshooting step: Change your active theme and then check your site.
First, check to see whether you are able to access the admin screen of your site (<yoursite.com>/wp-admin). If you are able to access and log into the admin, go to Appearance > Themes and change your currently active theme (you can use one of the WordPress default themes such as Twentyseventeen). If you are NOT able to access the admin, use the following steps to deactivate your current theme via FTP:
- Connect to your website with FTP.
- Go to wp-content > themes and make sure that you have at least one of the default WordPress themes installed (e.g. twentyseventeen, twentysixteen, twentyfifteen, etc.). If you do NOT have a default theme installed, download the latest WordPress default theme, unzip the file, and upload the theme folder to your themes directory.
- Add an underscore “_” to the beginning of your active theme folder’s name. For example, if you are currently using genesis-sample, then rename the folder to _genesis-sample. This automatically deactivates your current theme and activates the WordPress default theme in its place.
- Reload your site.
If you are still seeing the white screen, then issue is not theme-related. Change your active theme’s folder name back (if you changed it via FTP). If you’ve determined that the issue is neither plugin- nor theme-related, you should contact your hosting provider. If your hosting is provided by StudioPress Sites, report that your site is down and we’ll look into the issue.
If changing your active theme folder’s name fixes the white screen (you’ll see your content with the WP default theme), then you know the issue is theme-related (likely your previously active theme). Make sure your theme framework (like Genesis) is updated to the latest version and check any customizations you’ve made to your theme files, such as with question 2 above. If you are unable to identify the offending issue, contact your theme’s developer for assistance.
In the meantime, you can activate a different theme while working on the issues with your previously active theme. Unless the new theme has an issue as well, your site should not display a white screen. Note that any widgets, widget areas, menus, and site layout might not display correctly with your temporary theme.
If these steps did not fix the white screen:
If after asking all the questions above you have not been able to isolate or identify the issue causing the white screen, you should contact your hosting provider for assistance. Explain the troubleshooting steps you’ve already taken and provide any other pertinent information so they can help you get back up and running as quickly as possible.
If your hosting is provided by StudioPress Sites, report that your site is down and we’ll look into the issue.