I've been given an old Wordpress installation to setup on a new server. After setting wp-config.php and the values for the URLs in the db, wp_options.siteurl and wp_options.home (the usual process I do for something like this) I just get a blank screen on Safari, on Chrome I get

The website encountered an error while retrieving http://domain.name/. It may be down for maintenance or configured incorrectly.

I can access http://domain.name/wp-admin and the initial login splash page loads. But hitting sign in causes a similar error to what happens when accessing the front page.

There seems to be a lot of plugins installed for this setup. Wondering what the best steps would be to find out what the root of this problem would be.

I've tried setting debug on in the config by doing this, but it accomplishes nothing. I think something is telling the site to redirect somewhere near the beginning of everything:

if ( isset($_GET['debug']) && $_GET['debug'] == 'debug') define('WP_DEBUG', true);
  • Try to disable all plugins with phpMyAdmin or move the files to another folder outside the plugins directory. I've some problems in the past with a blank page because of the wrong encoding (Non UTF-8) of some plugin php files or the Byte Order Mark (BOM).
    – Roman
    May 1, 2012 at 9:41
  • Check your server's error logs, too. May 1, 2012 at 12:36

2 Answers 2

  1. Add the following to wp_config.php:

    define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );
  2. Reset the Plugins folder

  3. Revert to the default Theme (currently Twenty Eleven), using a similar method to the Plugin-reset step (just be sure that the only Theme available in /wp-content/themes/ is twenty-eleven)
  4. If your site is restored, great! If not, you likely have some sort of server or database configuration issue. In either case, knowing the exact debug/error message returned will be necessary in order to troubleshoot further
  5. Assuming your site is restored, begin to rebuild it
  6. Restore/activate your Theme. If you get a WSOD, your Theme is the problem. Report back any Fatal Error messages you get
  7. Assuming your Theme activates fine, and your site is still up, begin restoring/activating your Plugins, one-by-one. If you get a WSOD, you have identified the problematic code. Report back any Fatal Error messages you get

I had a "white screen of death" problem once when migrating a site.

The root cause turned out to be that one of the plugins had whitespace outside of the <?php ?> tags that was causing the web server to send a header before WP was ready to send them.

Easiest way to troubleshoot this is to FTP to your site and rename the /plugins folder to /plugins-old and create a new, empty /plugins folder. Then visit the admin screen to see if it loads. If it does, this will deactivate all your plugins.

Then, one by one move each plugin from /plugins-old back to /plugins and reactivate it. When you find an offender, delete its folder from /plugins and reinstall it from the plugin repo. (If I remember correctly, "PrettyLink" was the offender for me.)

If removing all the plugins didn't help, then it's probably in your theme. Rename your theme's folder and make sure you've got a clean TwentyTen to fall back on. See if the site will load.

If it was your theme and you're using a standard theme, reinstall it. If it is a custom theme, try removing the closing ?> from your functions.php and any other php files you include there.

If neither of those work, then one of the core files might be corrupted. Reinstall WP from the repo.

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