6 Tips to Remedy Loading a Blank WordPress Website

Back to life and back to… wait for it… a blank WordPress website. 😱

That’s not how this song is suppose to go, per Soul II Soul. It’s suppose to be back to life, back to reality.

Nevertheless, this unfortunate, stark reality of a potential customer stating their website loaded a blank white screen came by way of a frantic call a few days ago.

What in the world could and would cause a WordPress website to load with HTTP 200 response, yet load a white screen?

Although there are many things that could cause a WordPress website white or blank screen to be loaded, I’m sharing with you the top 6 items to check.

Remaining cooler than the other side of a pillow, I began questioning the customer about they’re Bluehost WordPress website to narrow down the field of gremlins at play.

Seeing I had helped and assisted a friend of theirs a few weeks prior with another website issue, this potential customer extended me login credentials to access their Bluehost account to perform the 6 steps (listed below) to remedy their website displaying a blank screen.

  1. Remove plugins no longer used
  2. Deactivate plugins one-by-one
  3. Deactivate ALL plugins
  4. Update all plugins and WordPress to latest versions
  5. Removing and replacing .htaccess or web.config file(s)
  6. Modify file permissions

Be sure to check the following FIRST…

One of the first things to check is whether or not you have access to the wp-admin folder or admin area in general (sometimes websites rename their admin areas for boosted security and anonymity).

The typical URL to login to the WordPress admin area is http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin (replace “yourdomain.com” with your website’s domain name).

In addition, you may have to use “https:” instead of “http:” when logging into the WordPress admin area.

Nevertheless, if you do have access to the WordPress admin area, then attempt to login. If allowed to login to admin area, then head over to the plugins.

6 Tips to Remedy a Blank WordPress Website Click To Tweet

1. Remove inactive plugins and plugins no longer used

One of the first things to attempt is to remove inactive plugins. You’d be surprised how many websites have 5 or more common plugins installed and not activated.

Plugins that are installed yet not used (deactivate or inactive) are often the culprit to site and security breaches. If you’re not using them, remove them! Plain and simple!

2. Why deactivating plugins helps to isolate issue

Deactivate plugins one-by-one using WordPress interface

One of the next things to attempt is deactivate plugins one by one. Deactivate one plugin and the try refreshing it loading the website in a different browser.

If the website loads successfully, then you likely found the plugin that caused the issue. In most cases, you’ll likely need to contact the plugin creator to inform them, or you’ll need to do a bit of digging to find a comparable plugin.

Deactivate ALL plugins simultaneously using WordPress interface

And if the one-by-one deactivation of plugins doesn’t do the trick, then perform a bulk deactivation of ALL plugins.

I hesitate sharing this option because you won’t necessarily know which plugin is the root cause. This method would instantly allow you to know whether or not a plugin is causing the blank white screen to load.

Deactivate all logins at once and then reload the website in a different web browser. If the website loads and no more white screen, then you know plugin(s) are the issue.

If not, we’ll re-activate plugins and move to next section.

Deactivate ALL plugins using SSH/FTP interface

If you don’t have access to the WordPress admin area to deactivate and remove plugins, the you’ll have to access your website’s server via SSH or FTP (recommended).

From the root directory of your Website’s WordPress install, find the following directory: wp-content/plugins.

To deactivate all plugins at once, simply rename the plugins directory to plugins.decactivate.

Now, try loading the website to see if it loads or still gives you the white screen of death.

If it loads the website without white or blank screen, then you know it’s one of the plugins. But like the previous fix, it’s best to deactivate plugins one by one.

Deactivate plugins one-by-one using SSH/FTP interface

To do so, let’s say you have a plugin called kickstart in the plugins folder. The path would look something like: /wp-content/plugins/kickstart.

Just as you did with plugins to describe it, now rename kickstart to kickstart.deactivate to deactivate this plugin.

Then open the website in a new web browser to see it loads the website without white or blank screen.

Do this for each folder until you find and deactivate the plugin that caused white screen.

And for plugins you’re not using, simply delete or remove the folder.

But that’s not all with plugins because there’s one more thing to check.

Update all plugins and WordPress to latest versions

Often times I fix WordPress website’s loading a blank or white screen by simply updating ALL plugins to their latest version.

Most customers are so busy “doing business” that updating a website falls off the radar until visiting their website and met with the very thing we’re attempting to fix right now. 😉

In short, keep your plugins and THEMES consistently updated!

And speaking of updates, don’t forget to stay up to date with the latest version of WordPress.

I’ve had a number of customers with this same issue watch their website return because I updated core WordPress website files from old and outdated to the latest version. Stay up to date, period!

Removing and replacing .htaccess or web.config file(s)

Another trick of the trade is sometimes having to replace or edit a corrupted .htaccess (for Linux/Unix environments) or web.config (for Windows environments) file.

In any case, simply create a back up of the file and then create a new one using the following code for .htaccess file:

If the website successful loads with new file, then you know the old file was corrupt.

If not, then it’s time to get nervous. 😱 Just kidding, we have one final step and then you can get nervous should it not work. 😎

Try modifying file permissions

Unfortunately, the potential customer referenced earlier exhausted all of the options above with no success.

They even had me stumped until I perused their WordPress website directory and saw something that caught my eye: file permissions.

Yes, the wrong file permissions had been set on the wp-config.php, .htaccess and index.php.

Once I reset the respective file permissions for each file, we were back in business viewing a beautifully created WordPress website.

Who knew that Bluehost was so touchy about 777 and 755 file permissions that it would not allow a website to be viewed.

6 Reasons WordPress Websites Display a White Christmas in Error! Click To Tweet

Closing Thoughts

In closing, I hope shed light about the various areas of WordPress capable of triggering a website white Christmas any day of the year, and without a moments notice.

Nevertheless, taking simple precautions of keeping plugins, themes and core WordPress updated should remedy most of the issues.

And for the small chance it doesn’t, then my hope is these six (6) different actions collectively help you to troubleshoot and remedy your WordPress website’s white or blank screen of death.

Let me know if you have questions, comments, or you’ve found other methods to remedy a WordPress website encountering a white or blank screen of death.

That’s all for now!

Written by Alvin Brown
He's an experienced and passionate serial entrepreneur, founder and publisher of Kickstart Commerce. Alvin possesses a great love for startups dominating their market using profitable digital strategies for greater commerce.