The White Screen Of Death – What You Can Do

The White Screen Of Death – What You Can Do


At times, a web administrator or website visitor will browse a website and encounter a page that is blank, without content or even errors. This is commonly referred to as the ‘White Screen Of Death’ or WSOD for short.

For a website owner, this blank screen can easily induce paranoia, as it would seem that perhaps the website has been hacked into and deleted.

It is important in this situations to stay calm. Resist the urge to call your hosting provider and get them to restore your website to a previously saved state unless no important changes have been made to the website since the last available backup. The issue is often attributable to a minor change in the website’s code. This can be due to a recent plugin activation, theme change, or move to a different server.

I will outline some possible causes so that you may get a clearer picture of the types of errors that can cause the WSOD. If you feel that you cannot fix this issue on your own, no worries, CMSHelpLive is here to help.

Disabled error reporting

Often, in a production environment, error reporting will be turned off. If this is the case, there could be a fatal error that you are not seeing.

You must turn on PHP error reporting. To do this, you should change the setting in your php.ini config file. Temporarily insert the following lines in your index.php file:

ini_set(‘display_errors’, TRUE);
ini_set(‘display_startup_errors’, TRUE);

Make sure that you have inserted the code directly after the opening PHP tag. The errors should now appear directly on your screen. Alternatively, check your log files for the most recent errors.

Whitespace at the end of a PHP file

The most common cause of the WSOD is extra whitespace at the end of your PHP files. In order to circumvent this issue, it is good practice to not include the closing ‘?>’ tag at the end of your files.

PHP versions

If you have recently moved your website to a different hosting provider, you may be seeing the WSOD because your website is set to use a versions of PHP that is different from the one used by the new server. The PHP versions to use is set in your .htaccess file. Either change the PHP value in your .htaccess file, or change the PHP setting on your hosting server.

PHP4 incompatibility

If you have recently uploaded a new theme or plugin, you may get the WSOD because of PHP4’s incompatibility with certain function declarations. This is mostly due to syntax. The solution is to upgrade to PHP5.

Using the PHP short open tag

Sometimes, using the PHP short open tag (Clearing the cache tableTry clearing the cache table through through phpmyadmin. This can sometimes work, depending on the situation.

Theme or module issues

The issue may be from bad code related to a theme or module. It will normally happen right after you have activated it. It is always wise to make sure that they are supported by your server’s version of PHP. Also you must make sure that it is from a trusted source, or that it is recommended for your CMS. Go to the website from which you downloaded it in order to ascertain that it is compatible with your PHP.

Try disabling all modules, then enabling them one by one in order to identify the culprit.

How to get help

It is not always easy to fix the White Screen Of Death issue. Even for those with a little technical knowledge, it can take days to figure out what went wrong. Often, they will look up some common fixes before hiring someone for help. If you try something that you have never done before, like change some code in your modules, themes, or .htaccess file, you may set yourself back even further…

That is where we come in. At CMSHelpLive, we handle this type of CMS issue all the time. We are seasoned CMS professionals with experience in WordPress and Joomla. If you would like to contact us, simply submit a support ticket through our home page. A dedicated manager will contact you shortly to assist you.

For help specific to your type of CMS:

WordPress –
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