Well this has been an interesting hour

Yesterday I ran a belated update of various softwares on this blog – plugins, themes, and most importantly ensuring the latest version of WordPress. Initially, everything worked fine. This morning, my remote monitoring service pinged me with the news that this site was non-responsive, so I clicked on through and found (dun-dun-dun!) The WordPress White Screen of Death (TWPWSOD).

So, I logged in to my FTP client and started shifting plugin folders around, since this is always my first step in dealing with TWPWSOD (although strictly speaking this excellent how to fix it tutorial from WP Beginner gives a more rigorous method of eliminating culprits).

Anyway:
Renaming the plugins folder didn’t fix TWPWSOD.
Moving the renamed plugins folder out of the wp-content folder didn’t fix TWPWSOD.
It took going through the wp-content folder and ruthlessly shifting absolutely everything that wasn’t in the default WordPress subfolders to an external debug folder to finally fix TWPWSOD.

It appears that the culprit ultimately was an outdated caching plugin, and the reason why it didn’t kick in immediately when I updated everything yesterday is that the current caching cycle needed to time out. Once the caching plugin tried to reset its snapshots of pages and found that the hooks it was expecting to find in WordPress were not where it was expecting them to be => ta-da! TWPWSOD.

So, for the moment I’ve doublechecked that all of my security plugins are totally up to date, and the plugins I had running here solely as examples of niftiness are disabled until I doublecheck their compatibility with the current WP version, which means that most of the posts and pages here showcasing those nifty examples do not currently make any sense. I will eventually go through and update the posts to note whether the plugin in question is still a nifty thing or has since carked it (and whether there’s a newer niftier replacement or not). But I’ve got a lot on my plate so don’t hold your breath.

Anyway, I thought it might be useful to just have a wee post on the horrors of the White Screen Of Death, pointing out that it’s not that awful really, and that keeping stuff regularly updated is a damn good way of avoiding it.