Fix a blank WordPress website

There was a friend of mine who got in touch with me about his WordPress website installation. He got a white screen when opening his website, on all of his pages, even the login page. There was no way to access the dashboard.

To fix this issue, I first checked the root of the installation on the FTP server. There was a .maintenance file, which I removed. This file is created if a new plugin is installed, or the WordPress installation is being upgraded. Sometimes, when installing a new plugin, an issue occurs and the installation fails. In some cases, the .maintenance file is not deleted and thus the blog becomes unreachable. So I deleted that file.

Wordpress codingThen, I check for rewrite issues. WordPress needs rewriting with the use of the .htaccess file, which can also be found in the root of the WordPress installation. That file was empty, so I put the WordPress .htaccess file contents in that file. However, this also did not fix the issue and the blank screen remained.

A third thing I tried was clearing the cache and cookies. Sometimes, the browser caches the website and when refreshing the page, that same white page is loaded from local storage while actually the website’s contents changed. But this as well failed.

Since I had no more information from my friend (he was offline when I read his question for help), I had to troubleshoot on my own. Ultimately, I rename the /wp-content/plugins folder to /wp-content/plugins.old. The reason I did this, is because this is the folder where all the WordPress plugins are stored. These plugins add functionality to the WordPress system, but since they are from third-party developers, they sometimes can cause issues. And yup, that was the issue. Once I renamed that directory, the WordPress installation worked again flawlessly and my buddy was able to login again. Success!

In case you have a similar issue and the above methods did not work for you, I will give some more options:

  • Enable error reporting. By enabling the output of errors, there is a chance that a useful error message guides you to a fix. To do so, open up your wp-config.php file and add this to the bottom of it: define( 'WP_DEBUG', true);
  • Your WordPress database may be corrupt or broken. Fixing a WordPress database can help you out.
  • Check if there is an index.php file in the root, if not, the page won’t load.
  • Take a look at the permissions of your folders. See the WordPress Codex on changing file permissions.
  • Change your theme to the default theme. To do so, go to /wp-content/themes/your-theme and rename your theme folder to something else.

If you need any assistance, feel free to leave a comment.


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Thank you for your interest in my blog! On this miniblog, I write mostly short (technical) blog posts that might interest other people. Read more about me or feel free to contact me.


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