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How to troubleshoot WordPress “White Screen” of Death.

Wordpress Logo This post will help you figure out how to resolve the WordPress “White Screen” of death and countless hours of frustration. The two main reasons I have found that is happens is when the default theme has a “-“ in it. I have also found that the “Wordpress White Screen of death” can also happen when there is a bad plug-in installed. This post covers how to resolve the “Wordpress White Screen” issues.


Very much like the “Blue Screen of Death” that everyone dreads, WordPress can display the “White Screen of Death” or “White Page of Death”. Both “screens” are similar in that they typically are NOT a WordPress nor a Windows issue. They tend to be caused by drivers (for Windows) and Plugins/Themes for WordPress.

My First WordPress “White Screen” of Death

This was caused by me making a copy of a them. Let’s just say the theme’s name was “Nova”. I copied all the contents of the them into another directory called “Nova-Wide”. For some reason WordPress 2.8 does NOT like “-“ in the folder name of the them folder. As soon as I renamed the folder to “Nova_Wide” the “Wordpress White Screen” of Death, Bingo. WordPress started working again.

Step I took to resolve the WordPress White Screen:

  1. Opened a FTP Client like Filezilla.
  2. Connected to my Website FTP
  3. Go to: <root>WP-Content\Themes\
  4. Renamed Theme Directory so there was no “-“ in it.

My Second WordPress “White Page” of Death

This was cause by my favorite “Contact Us” WordPress plug-in. This plug-in for what ever reason has never given me any problems before. I upgraded as there were some security holes that were fixed. After I upgraded the plug-in the “Wordpress White Page” happened again. This time it was caused by the plug-in. I found a trick on how to get around a plug-in that crashes WordPress. You have to rename the “plugins” directory to something else like “Plugins_old”. Create a new plugin Directory. The next time you go the WordPress login screen it will no longer be White. It will say all the plugins have been disabled. Log out of WordPress. Then delete the new folder you created. Rename the old Folder back to “plugins”. Once you have done that log back in and enable the plug-ins one at a time to see which one is the one causing all the grief.

Steps I took to resolve the WordPress White Page of Death.

  1. Opened a FTP client
  2. Connect to Website FTP.
  3. Go to: <root>WP-Content
  4. Rename “Plugins” Folder to “Plugins_Old”.
  5. Create new empty folder called “plugins”
  6. This will disable all the WordPress plugins.
  7. Log into WordPress and verify that you no longer have the White Screen
  8. Make sure all plugins are disabled.
  9. Delete “plugins” folder you just created.
  10. Rename “plugins_old” to “plugins”.
  11. Log back into WordPress
  12. Enable plug-ins one at a time to see which one was causing the issues.

34 Responses

  1. Thank you very much for this posting. It really helped me. I was running WordPress 2.9.1 and I was getting the “White Screen of Death” every time I tried to pull up the Edit Posts page. I did the folder thing you described above and then slowly added back in all my plugins one at a time. I found that the culprit was that I had the Edit Post page set to display the maximum amount of posts (999). I set it back down to display 50 posts and it worked like a charm.

    Thanks again.
    ~Jimmy Grippo~

  2. Jimmy Grippo on February 4th, 2010 at 7:30 pm
  3. Jared, thank you so much for this very clear and easy to follow advice. I got the “white screen of death” after installing a new plugin. I had no idea what to do. At least I had backed up my database.

    Your instructions saved me! Thank you so much. I am going to make a pdf out of it and keep it handy for emergencies.

    Thanks again!

  4. Blog Angel a.k.a. Joella on May 4th, 2010 at 7:24 am
  5. This is not the first time your valuable advice has saved my day. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Robin Van Auken on June 10th, 2010 at 7:05 am
  7. Thanks dude, I was playing with themes and spent last hour trying to figure out how my theme screwed things up. Wasn’t the -x problem (although that might have contributed) — it was one of my plugins (and I only had two!). Rename, voila, hey look a website that isn’t all white!



  8. Polywogg on June 13th, 2010 at 11:28 pm
  9. I performed a WP 3.0 upgrade on a domain I’m managing for a friend and got the white screen of death. It was simply the default “twentyten” theme that caused it for me. I installed the lightword theme and activated it and once I did that, it showed the page as it should. You could also make sure the .htaccess file is configured correctly.

  10. marlin on June 21st, 2010 at 7:46 am
  11. Just upgraded to WP3.0 after a really long time. The default theme was broken which is why I got the White screen of death. Just clicking on the themes in appearances in the admin area told me that the default theme was broken, and that WP had now reset the theme. Viola! Things started to work! The comment from marlin above helped!

  12. Nikhil on July 12th, 2010 at 11:21 pm
  13. Sounds great. Probably works for a lot of plug-ins, but this did not work for the plug in W3 Total Cache. I guess the plug-in must have affected other parts of my blog.

  14. Shaun Snapp on July 30th, 2010 at 10:05 am
  15. I was sooooo hopeful but this didn’t work :( Any other ideas? I have the post-plugin-install variety of sudden death. Have removed offending plugin from the server and still… nothing.

  16. amanda on August 4th, 2010 at 10:06 pm
  17. i have the same problem, and have gone through all the fixes, and nothing works. i can’t get into the site at all, not even the back end.

    restored the database, deleted the plugin, deleted the theme….

    i’ve been working on this for the last 12 hours and have gotten exactly nowhere. i’m out of ideas about what to try next, and any suggestions at all would be gratefully appreciated!

  18. jackie sheeler on August 10th, 2010 at 11:03 am
  19. That’s really great!
    w3 total cache freezes the wp 3.0.1 server, against running up to 3mb cache… o.O

  20. Tcharlye Guedes on August 16th, 2010 at 3:33 am
  21. I’ve been working with 2 installs of WordPress 3.0.1, and had some issues with trying to access my admin panel. I upgraded from 2.8 on a windows box at yahoo for one of my clients. I read many sites talking about plugins and whatnot. I then found a site that mentioned blank lines at the end of my config file, deleted the blank lines at the bottom, and I’m in again..

  22. Jacob Hodgson on September 11th, 2010 at 11:34 pm
  23. Just wanted to say thank you for this! What a great tip to change the name of the Plugins folder to plugins_old. You’ve saved me loads to time!

  24. Siobhan on October 20th, 2010 at 10:43 am
  25. No problem :) I post lots of new content all the time. I’d love if you subscribed to my RSS or send a link my way from your blog :)

  26. Jared Heinrichs on October 20th, 2010 at 10:52 am
  27. […] I isolated the cause of my WSOD using the advice from this post: […]

  28. Turn on WP_DEBUG to have WordPress kick out error messages | Eli Thompson's Blog on November 22nd, 2010 at 1:00 pm
  29. Thank you so much, for what has to be the MOST straightforward walkthrough of the process to remove “White Screen of Death”.

    Just launched my own web comic and suddenly the proverbial “White Screen of Death” wheels fell off, as I started to populate my WordPress blog with wizzy new plugins.

    Thankfully, you saved the day.


  30. ROLFE on March 9th, 2011 at 5:28 am
  31. I just spent 7 agonizing hours dealing with the blank screen. I couldn’t even log in because the admin screen was blank.

    It happened when I tried to upgrade my wordpress version 3.1.

    After hours of red-faced cursing and threats to headbutt my monitor, I stumbled upon this site and your answer was perfect.


  32. Mike's SEO Services on March 25th, 2011 at 4:23 am
  33. These are some good tips. Thanks for posting.

    I had to dig a little deeper on my site. Here’s some more things to try:

    put this code at the very top of your themes header.php file to see if you can catch any PHP errors:

    ini_set('display_errors', TRUE);
    ini_set('display_startup_errors', TRUE);

    Check out the permissions and ownership settings of all of your files. The issue I ran into was that my wp-config.php file was not owned by the server group. The solution was to run chown user:group wp-config.php from the command line, where user is my FTP/linux username and group is the server group name… try “apache” or “psaserv” for the group name.

    Changing the permissions for wp-config from 640 to 644 also solved the problem, but this is a BAD solution for security. Don’t allow the world to read your config file: your database password is in there and you’ll likely get hacked. Use the chown solution above instead.

  34. squarecandy on April 28th, 2011 at 1:55 pm
  35. gracias por la informacion!! realmente ha sido muy util y me has salvado!

  36. martin on May 12th, 2011 at 8:38 am
  37. Thank you, Thank you, Thank You! I had tried dis-abling all my plugins, and still got the Blank Screen… I was pulling my hair out. But by following your article and actually renaming the plugin folder I was able to get my theme to show up and solve the issue.

    Brilliant. :-)

  38. Victoria Whitehead on May 23rd, 2011 at 12:54 pm
  39. Thanks so much for this! I was looking for a solution for hours!

  40. Sean on July 10th, 2011 at 12:30 pm
  41. Thank you thank you a hundred times thank you! It was rge dash on a WP 2.8 install that killed it, and now it;s working again! Have shared a link to your post on Twitter, it’s hugely helpful, I’d never have figured that out!

  42. Rachel on August 2nd, 2011 at 10:02 pm
  43. Thanks! Worked like a charm!

  44. Jason Reynolds on August 16th, 2011 at 3:10 pm
  45. thank you so much for these instructions…I got the white screen of death on one of my blogs today and I was totally clueless about how to fix it. Your instructions about renaming the plugin folder worked like a charm.=)

  46. joel on August 22nd, 2011 at 12:50 pm
  47. I renamed the plugins folder as you instructed and you saved me big time. Than you sir,

  48. Dess on September 10th, 2011 at 3:41 pm
  49. You save my life brother. Worked perfect. Thanks a ton!

  50. Seo Orange Ounty on October 13th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
  51. Thank you thank you thank you

  52. Branden on October 28th, 2011 at 9:06 am
  53. OMG I feel like you just saved my life i almost **** myself when i saw that blank screen and no amount of re-freshing was bringing it back lol…

    Thank u so much

  54. Jouvan Johnson on December 30th, 2011 at 4:43 pm
  55. I must say you are my saving grace. Thanks a ton…

  56. Jason on January 16th, 2012 at 8:53 pm
  57. I never commen, but feel i have to.You saved my life with this post. been going mad trying to fix my white screen of death

  58. Richy on March 6th, 2012 at 6:18 am
  59. Thanks for the useful tips! I was able to restore my admin panel following your advise :)

  60. alfredo on February 17th, 2013 at 2:16 am
  61. The plugin “contact-form-7-phone-mask-module” caused the problem, Thanks for the solution it worked, I renamed plugin folder and after verification that I can see the dashboard, I took the backup of the plugin folder and I know which plugin was created lastly and deleted that plugin files/folders.

    It was helpful and save lot of time

  62. Ranganath Dubbaka on February 22nd, 2013 at 3:57 pm
  63. Thanks so so much. Pretty straight forward and just solved my problem. You are super. I have replicated on my site.

  64. Gideon Brefo on December 22nd, 2015 at 10:07 pm
  65. I was pretty sure which plugin caused the white screen. But I could not log into the dashbord to remove it.
    deleting the plugoin directory didn’t changed a bit on the white side….
    Thanks for the rename folder trick. It worked perfect, even on WP 4.4 😉

  66. Andreas Gayde on December 30th, 2015 at 6:18 am
  67. Thanks a lot !!

    Grettings from Mexico. :)

  68. Alejandro Lopez on January 7th, 2016 at 9:32 pm

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