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White Screen of Death: How to Fix it

 

When attempting to access any given page on your website, you get a blank white screen, when you were expecting the page to load as normal. Occasionally the screen will contain a line or two of text describing an error, but not always. If you’re using WordPress, as of WordPress 5.2 you will likely instead receive an error like “The site is experiencing technical difficulties.

This indicates that there’s an error with the code that runs your site or (more likely) parts of your site. It could be due to any number of things, but the most common are:

  • The result of an update for either your web app (like WordPress), a plugin, or theme that contains an error in the code
  • Having your site set within Plesk to run a version of PHP (either newer or older) that the code that runs your site isn’t compatible with.

The next step is to find the real error and determine the cause from that error message.

Finding the Error

The blank white screen or vague error is just the visible output of the actual underlying error. If you do not seen a specific error on the screen, this is because your web app’s config is set to not show errors; this can be a good thing for security, but it does make troubleshooting just a touch more difficult as you’ll need to access your site’s logs to find the error message.

Use our guide to learn how to view the logs for your site within Plesk. As described in the guide you will find the real reason for the problem in the logs. It will be the latest entry in the log (at the bottom) unless it has been some time since you reproduced the error. If you completed the action a little while ago, you should either scroll through the log to find the time when you triggered the issue, OR press the button to turn on live updating in the Plesk logs viewer, then trigger the issue again on your site (refresh the page where you experienced the problem). Any entries you see newly appended to the logs will be your corresponding errors.

Look closely at the error, and you can examine the file path where it’s indicating where the problem lies.

Here’s one such example of a file path to look for: /var/www/vhosts/<your_domain>/httpdocs/wp-content/plugins/wpseo/<some_random_file_within_the_plugin.php>

This means that the file referenced is what is causing the error. In the example above, this would be the wpseo plugin in a WordPress install.

Solving the Problem

 

Jordan has been working with computers, security, and network systems since the 90s and is a managing partner at Websavers Inc. As a founder of the company, he's been in the web tech space for over 15 years.

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