Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Feb 07

How to Fix the WordPress “White Screen of Death”

I was experiencing some issues with both blogs when I tried to install Jetpack after moving to my new host. Essentially, I would install and activate the plugins, and my dashboard would go white. The blog would work fine, but I couldn’t do anything.

A quick Google search showed that this seems to be pretty common for other users, and I pinpointed my host as an issue because another blog on another host doesn’t have this issue. However, none of the information was all in one place, so it still took me a little while to figure out what the issue was.

Per the Codex and several forum threads, I tried to rename the plugins folder (“plugins.hold”) to reset all plugins. I refreshed the plugins page and my dashboard was back, but white screen would return when I tried to activate Jetpack. The first helpful tip I found was to edit config.php to turn on PHP debugging. To do this, follow these steps

  1. Log in to your website via PHP or browser-based control panel.
  2. Open “config.php” in your root or WordPress folder in your code editor.
  3. Locate the following line
    define('WP_DEBUG', false);
  4. Change “false” to “true.”
  5. Save the file and reupload.

When you return to your white screen, you will now see an error.  The error that I found and had suspected all along was one of “allowed memory size exhausted.” Essentially. Jetpack was causing WordPress to use more memory than my host generally allows for scripts. However, you can fix this.

  1. Log in to your website via PHP or browser-based control panel.
  2. Open “config.php” in your root or WordPress folder in your code editor.
  3. Add the following line
define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '64M');

When you save and upload, you can now use Jetpack and see your dashboard. This line instructs your server to allow the script to use more memory for PHP.

Remember to edit config.php to turn off PHP debugging. Otherwise, you’ll see some annoying errors in your dashboard.

It can also fix issues with other memory-intensive plugins. I frequently find that related post plugins use a lot of memory, and that can lead to errors. Other plugins known to cause issues include UpdraftPlus, and I’m pretty sure this is the reason that my backup plugin stopped working. However, the WordPress support forum is full of users who have experienced the issue with pretty bare installations, and the perpetrator seems to be the instal itself.

If this method doesn’t work, there are a few other to try. For example, add this to your .htaccess file:

php_value memory_limit 64M

Or, change the memory limit in your PHP.ini file to

memory_limit = 64M ;

2 comments on “How to Fix the WordPress “White Screen of Death””

  1. That’s actually a pretty common error and with some plugins, you would need to change it from 64M to 256M, it’s a lot and I’m not really sure why they require so much, but I guess just the sheer amount of info from the database and whatnot.

  2. Yep, I’m not surprised. I don’t run too many plugins that seem to require a lot of memory, thankfully. I’ve only had this issue with Jetpack and only since moving hosts so I’d guess that my current host assigns less PHP memory by default. As long as I can fix it, I am certainly okay with it. I didn’t increase it more than 64m because I figured conservative is better, but many people wouldn’t think to do that.

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