WordPress White Screen of Death

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Those of us Windows users are well-aware of one fatal system error result: the blue screen of death. I think every Dell I ever came into contact with at work or at home eventually met this fate:

blue screen of death


Until Thursday morning, I had no idea that WordPress had a similar symptom of a system crash: the WordPress White Screen of Death. If you tried popping open my site on Thursday, you likely got this:

wordpress white screen of death


I learned the hard way that certain codes associated with the theme (skin) of my website weren’t compatible with WordPress’s latest release: Version 4.5 (Coleman version).


As a sole proprietor where I am saleswoman, CFO, and IT department, what’s a non-techie to do?


First I reached out to the developer of my theme and opened a ticket with HostGator who hosts my site. The developer e-mailed me right back and said his tests showed the NYKA theme to be compatible (mmhmmmm….). As of today, I’ve still had no response from HostGator.


Next, I reached out to social media and received lots of direction from Twitter and Facebook friends. Based on their comments. some YouTube researching on my own, and my ability to follow instructions, I was able to solve my own problem in the following way:


Thursday Night

My husband and I were over at friends’ to watch Game 3 of the Raptors’ playoffs. Both husband and wife are techies and were not offended in the least that I brought over my computer.

They taught me about FTP (file transfer protocol) clients and we tried a few based on what my cPanel in HostGator recommended. I couldn’t get anything to work. I had installed three different FTP clients and downloaded four different FTP configuration files but I was working at it blindly. Most notably, I didn’t know what I was supposed to input for the password.

By the end of the game I still couldn’t connect the FTP client to the back-end of my site so I shut everything down and vowed to start fresh in the morning.


Friday Morning

In the hour I had between walking the dog and my dentist appointment I figured out that the password had to be the same as the password to my cPanel. Score! One piece of information down.

I deleted and uninstalled everything I had downloaded and installed the night before. I had four accounts and two FTP clients to work with. Right before I had to leave for the dentist, I hit success and connected.

When the receptionist told me my hygienist was running late, I popped open my computer (thank you Rogers stick), connected the FTP client again, and HALLELUJAH saw all the folders that make up my website.

FTP success

“Kate?” Gah! My teeth would have to take priority over fixing my site.


Friday Afternoon

After my appointment I zipped over to the Toronto Public Library and spent three hours renaming folders, trying to log into my WordPress dashboard, and reinstating plug-ins one by one.

In the end it was the shortcodes modified for my theme by the developer that crashed my site.

The funny thing is, with the exception of one small section, those shortcodes didn’t impact the look of my site once it was back online.


Long Story Short

I’ll play with my theme in the next few weeks to try to mitigate some of this the next time WordPress releases a big new version.


What has been your experience with self-hosted WordPress? You can join the conversation over on Twitter or Facebook.







Published by Kate Monahan

Travel happy. Outdoors professional. Writer. Photographer. Educator.

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