How to Fix a WordPress Site Showing a White Blank Page or a 500 Error

If your WordPress site is showing a completely white blank page or a 500 error, it’s often caused by a theme or plugin that’s preventing your site from functioning properly.

The actual error message usually isn’t shown on the WordPress site because this might reveal sensitive information such as your files’ locations, which could compromise your website’s security.

Finding the error message

The first thing to do is to find out what that error message is. To do this:

  1. Connect to your website via your FTP app or cPanel’s File Manager.

  2. Navigate to the folder containing the WordPress site in question.

    For example, if your WordPress site runs on the domain example.com, the its folder would normally be the example.com folder located inside your public_html folder.

  3. Inside that folder, you’ll find a file named error_log.

  4. Open that file, and scroll all the way to the very bottom. You’ll find the most recent error messages listed there.

    These error messages should give you a clue as to what WordPress is complaining about.

    For example, if, within the long file location (path) mentioned in the latest error message, you see something like this:

    public_html/example.com/wp-content/plugins/abc/

    That means the error may have something to do with the mentioned plugin named abc. In this case, see our Troubleshooting WordPress plugins guide below.

    On the other hand, you might see a reference to the themes folder rather than the plugins folder. Should this be the case, see our Troubleshooting WordPress themes guide below.

    If the error message doesn’t mention either plugins or themes in the file path, see our Replacing WordPress core files guide below.

Troubleshooting WordPress plugins

Before you disable that plugin, let’s check to see if it’s even a plugin-related issue to begin with (it might not be!):

  1. If you have any page caching plugins (such as the LiteSpeed Cache plugin) installed, first clear/flush its cache, then deactivate it for now.

  2. Rename the plugins folder inside the wp-content folder to plugins.backup.

    If the white page or 500 error no longer shows up when you visit the website, that means it’s a plugin-related issue. Otherwise, it’s not, and you may skip the next step.

    Either way, remember to rename the plugins.backup folder back toplugins before you continue.

  3. If it’s a plugin-related issue, try moving the abc folder (as mentioned in the error message in our example) out of the plugins folder to disable it.

  4. Check to see if you’re still getting a white screen when visiting your WordPress site.

    If the issue remains, check the latest entry in the error_log file again to see if perhaps a different plugin is also causing the issue. Repeat the above steps as necessary until the issue is resolved.

  5. If the issue persists at this stage, there might be an issue with your WordPress theme (see Troubleshooting WordPress themes below), or with WordPress itself.

Troubleshooting WordPress themes

Before you disable the theme, let’s check to see if it’s even a theme-related issue to begin with (it might not be!):

  1. If you have any page caching plugins (such as the LiteSpeed Cache plugin) installed, first clear/flush its cache, then deactivate it for now.

  2. Navigate into the themes folder inside the wp-content folder.

  3. Rename the currently active theme folder from abc (as in the case of our example) to abc.backup.

  4. Rename one of the default theme folders to abc.

    If the white page no longer shows up when you visit the website, that means it’s a theme-related issue.

  5. If it’s a theme-related issue, try obtaining the latest version of the theme directly from the theme developers.

    If your theme’s developers aren’t providing you with the necessary support, it may be time to use a different theme.

Replacing WordPress core files

If the issue is not caused by a plugin or a theme, try replacing the WordPress core files, as they may be corrupted.

Following these steps correctly should not cause you to lose any WordPress posts, since they’re stored separately in a MariaDB/MySQL database.

Nevertheless, always make a full backup of your files before making such changes, just in case.

Once you’ve made a backup, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate into the wp-includes folder inside your domain’s folder.

  2. Open the version.php file and find the line that begins with $wp_version = and make a note of the exact version number listed.

  3. Visit the official WordPress website at wordpress.org and download the same version of WordPress matching the version you found in the previous step.

  4. Extract the downloaded archive on your computer.

  5. In the newly-extracted folder on your computer, look for a file named wp-config.php and remove it if it exists. Similarly, look for a folder named wp-content and remove it if it exists.

  6. Upload all of the remaining files to your domain’s folder in your hosting account, replacing existing files and folders with the same names.

  7. Once the upload is complete, check to see if your WordPress site is still showing a white screen.

    Chances are your WordPress site is working again, albeit possibly with some layout issues or missing features due to disabled plugins and such.

  8. You should now be able to access your WordPress admin dashboard.

    Once signed in, upgrade WordPress if it’s outdated, then reinstall and update your theme and plugins where necessary.

Reactivating your cache plugin

If you’ve temporarily deactivated your cache plugin, remember to reactivate it after resolving the issue.


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