Recently I was working on a website when I had my first WordPress “White Screen of Death” experience. I’m surprised it’s taken this long for it to happen, but at least now I know how to get myself out of the ensuing mess! It happened when I was adding some custom PHP to
custom_functions.php ( I am using Thesis). I modified the file then uploaded it. When I refreshed the page, both the website and the dashboard were just blank pages, hence the “White Screen of Death.” I immediately grabbed
custom_functions.php and removed the code I had just inserted, and re-uploaded back to the server. I thought this would fix the problem, but for some still unknown reason, it didn’t. It was almost like the code I put in hosed the theme.
The next step was to deactivate all of the current WordPress plugins to see if they were causing the problem. Via FTP, I re-named my “Plugins” folder to “Plugins.hold” and navigated to the WordPress Administration page. Still, I had a white screen. My last ditch effort was to re-name my current theme via FTP, as this causes WordPress to switch to the default theme. Thankfully, this option worked. I was able to access all my screens again, but of course, most of the work I did (customizing Thesis settings, custom hooks, etc) was gone – well, not exactly gone, but residing in my corrupted theme’s directory.
I carefully re-assembled the site and still managed to crash it a few more times with bad code (oops) but was able to recover fairly quickly due to my initial experience. I’m sure this won’t be my last run-in with the WordPress “White Screen of Death” – hopefully this helps anyone else who runs into similar issues.