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.

This indicates that there’s an error with the code that runs 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, 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 white screen is just the visible output of the actual underlying error. If you do not seen an 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 white screen as either the latest entry in the log or if you completed the action a little while ago, you can scroll through the log to find the time when you triggered the white screen by loading the page, and check the matching log entries.

You’ll probably see an error, such as a Parse Error, from which you can examine the file path where it’s indicating where the problem lies.

Here’s one such example: /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 is a computer, security, and network systems expert and a lover of all things web and tech. Jordan consults with project management for software companies. Jordan is a founder and managing partner at Websavers Inc.

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