Troubleshooting WSOD (For Beginners) – Here’s What You Need To Know!

Let’s say you’ve sold your website development service to a client who is new to the business and have hardly any information about how websites are developed. You handed over a beautiful website with high-end features and just after a week of delivery, client comes-up to you shouting that his website is not showing up. You check it and all you can see is a white screen. This could be a nightmare for business leaders who want to develop a brand name among the online crowd. So, it becomes the responsibility of the developers to see that such errors are fixed as early as possible.

So, what is this white screen? It is commonly known as White Screen of Death or WSOD. Today, I will be sharing everything I learned about WSOD.

What is the White Screen of Death (WSOD)?

According to WordPress Codex, WSOD is one of the most common WordPress errors that occur due to PHP and/or database errors. This error appears due to three major reasons mentioned below.

  • Compatibility issue with a plugin.
  • Theme conflict with something that is already present in the website (for example, a plugin calling the same script).
  • Missing theme directory.

How To Troubleshoot & Solve the White Screen of Death?

I have shared an image (below) showing how does WSOD look like.

As you can see that there is only a white screen and no error is appearing on the website, the reason for the same is that the debugging mode is off. Therefore, to find out the issue (or error) we have to first log in to our web hosting account to switch on the debugging mode in the file.

All the web hosts provide a cPanel (control panel) to the website owner. To troubleshoot WSOD, you have to look into the file manager present in this cPanel. I have shared a dummy gif below of one of the cPanel. This will help you in locating the file manager.

Credit: Who Is Hosting This?

In the file manager, you have to look for a folder named, public_html. This is the place where you have the entire information of your website. And now, you need to know the error/issue that you can’t see due to the white screen.

To see this error, you have to open a file named, wp-config.php. This is the file that will help you in switching on the debugging mode. The screenshot of one such file is shown below. You have to look into this code: define(‘WP_DEBUG’, false); (screenshot below). This code refers to ‘don’t do debugging’

We will change this to

define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true);

Moreover, it is recommended to switch on WP_DEBUG_LOG and WP_DEBUG_Display by changing their respective codes to true. Making these changes will bring the error to the screen. Also in the same file, there is a PHP directive that says:

@ini_set( ‘display errors’; 1);

wherein 1 means ‘do it’ whereas digit 0 means ‘don’t do it’. Once these changes are made, you have to save the file and move to the wp-content folder present in your cPanel.

In most of the cases, WSOD happens due to a recent change in the theme or a plugin. Therefore, once you know the error, you must locate the plugin and/or theme directory in the wp-content folder. You can look for the plugin and/or theme that you were using just before the white screen appeared. After locating them, you can simply delete the respective folder. Once you have done all of this, your WordPress website should start loading.

Hence, this is how you can remove White Screen of Death and run a flawless WordPress site.

If you want me to cover a certain topic around WordPress and on this blog, please let me know through the comment box below. I will be happy to help you through my blog posts. 🙂

NOTE: I wrote this post while taking an amazing online course conducted by Support Driven (partnership with Automattic). I created a blog for submitting the assignments where this post was published but now after completion of the course, I’ve moved it here so that people who follow this blog learn with me. Hope you all enjoy reading this. Happy Learning!

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