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How to work with the white screen of death (WSOD) on WordPress

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Quite a curious title I admit. " The white screen of death Is a concept that has existed for a long time. This expression is commonly found on operating systems, but the designation changes to " Blue Screen of Death " or " Blue Screen of Death" page (in French).

This is a pretty extreme situation that usually occurs while using software, in this case WordPress. However with WordPress in particular there is a method to manage these errors that you can use, which will allow you to save money, this is precisely what I will show you in this tutorial.

Why is the white screen of death displayed

The page turns blank when there is something preventing WordPress from running normally. Several elements can be at the origin. But usually the perpetrators of this errors are plugins and themes. In programming there are several types of errors and each one with its severity. If the error is fatal, the page is completely blank, otherwise it becomes partially so. This is why when you activate certain plugins, the display may be partial if it contains errors of the type " E_WARNING " or " E_NOTICE“, Because the script will continue to run, which will display the rest of the page.

If there is an error why nothing is displayed?

Well sometimes when an error is displayed, it also presents the various vulnerabilities of your server. In the past, database connection errors provided the connection information in error, which is just not acceptable. By default WordPress therefore uses an error camouflage technique, which is also a security measure.

How to handle a WSOD (White Screen Of Death)

As a WordPress user you have to learn how to fix some issues yourself otherwise you will always find yourself spending money on these issues. So to display the errors, you must first switch to maintenance mode.

If your theme does not offer this feature, you can use the available plugins:

1. WP Maintenance Mode


WP Maintenance Mode is a free plugin with almost 300.000 active installations already, it is one of the most popular free plugins in the field. It has not been tested with the latest versions of WordPress, but it is highly likely to work fine so far.

2. Maintenance


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Here is another interesting plugin that is also free. It offers several features and has recently been updated, although it is true that it does not have as much active installation as the previous one.

These are a few plugins that you can use to activate maintenance mode on your blog.

What should be done now is to show the errors, since we have enabled maintenance mode, no chance that they will see the errors. This is particularly useful for partial errors.

All you have to do now is open the "wp-config" file at the root of your hosting.


Edit this file with a text editor and locate the constant " WP_DEBUG And change its value by " true" page (in French).

define ('WP_DEBUG', true); // "true" instead of "false"

You will now be able to see the contents of the errors.

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Now correcting the errors will depend on the error displayed, but already it is possible to locate where the error came from by reading the content of the error. In the previous image, a path is specify " /wp-content/themes/fifteenchild/functions.php", Which refers to the" function.php "file located in the theme (or rather the child theme) “Fifteenchild”. We now know that the problem is this theme. I will show you later how to change themes from URL.

The problem can also come from plugins. You will often find the following path as the path to the error file:


I will also show you how to disable a plugin using an FTP client.

How to change the theme from the URL

This is a technique I discovered while performing maintenance on a client's blog recently. Indeed I was facing a WSOD and even the dashboard was unavailable. The easiest solution was to reinstall, but this meant that it was losing all its data, and unfortunately it didn't have any backup plugins. So I had to find a way to access the dashboard to change the theme without running the error. Here is the URL I used on the browser.


This address allowed me to activate the theme " Twenty Thirteen And from there I was able to disable the theme that was causing the problem. it is necessary that you are connected, and do not forget to replace "" By your address.

How to disable a plugin via FTP

If you realize that a plugin is behind your WSOD. So connect to your FTP client, and navigate to the plugins directory.


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Locate the problem plugin folder and rename it. In the previous case, suppose that the plugin wp-conditional-captcha Is a problem, so all I have to do is rename the folder to " wp-conditional-captcha-bug". WordPress will automatically deactivate the plugin. Once it's done, you can delete the plugin since it will still exist but will be disabled.

For other more serious problems, contact us. Our experience has already allowed us to solve even more delicate problems

That's it for this tutorial. Hope he helps you. Feel free to share it with your friends on your favorite social networks.

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