You just updated your plugins or theme in WordPress and now you can’t visit wp-admin or visit your website. Everything is broken, what you’re looking at is the White Screen of Death.

It’s easy to recover from the 2 most common errors that kill your WordPress website. Fix the issue in 3 simple steps.

When something goes wrong WordPress the most common cause is a plugin conflict or a problem with your theme. There’s nothing worse then feeling you’ve been locked out from your own website and can’t get to the wp-admin section to login.

WordPress makes it easy to recover from both of these, just rename your older folders and create new empty ones.

One plugin causing you a problem

If you can’t get to login or wp-admin then you know its time to look at the cause.  Typically, WordPress will show error details in your web browser what plugin failed to load or where there was a conflict.

From this error, you know you only have open your FTP program and rename or delete the plugin. WordPress does the rest and removes the plugin allowing you to then login

Can’t login & Can’t access wp-admin pages

If you go to your web pages and are not getting any errors and just a blank screen - WordPress’s white screen of death (WSOD) … its time to fix this.

Root Cause Analysis - Plugins or Themes

What you were recently changing will tell you the next step.

You were just loading or changing themes then you know that you just need to rename / delete the themes folder or if it was a plugin - then dig around and delete that one plugin.

Simple 3 step plan to recover your WordPress website

If you want to be a bit more graceful - you would enable Maintenance mode first - at least your visitors or search bots will know that your temporarily out of action.

  1. Open your FTP program & Navigate to wp-content/
  2. Rename your plugins folder to plugins.old
  3. Create a new folder called plugins

If you know it was a theme conflict then rename follow the same process, but rename themes to themes.old and create a new folder called themes.

Intuitively - WordPress will install its default theme for you and you can login again.

Keep a backup of your WordPress database with DBC Backup 2

Have some confidence and install DBC Backup 2 to automatically backup and save your WordPress database.

This is a WordPress plugin that I manage and maintain.

Tags: FAQ, theme, WSOD

Read more from my blog for an introduction and quick tips on developing in Hugo or UCTD.

Meet the author

Photo for Damien Saunders
Damien Saunders
An experienced management consultant and business leader interested in digital transformation, product centred design and scaled agile. If I'm not writing about living with UCTD (an autoimmune disease), I'm probably listening to music, reading a book or learning more about wine.
Find our more about me.