W3 Total Cache Server CometI have a love-hate relationship with W3 Total Cache. On one hand it is invaluable in increasing my website’s speed using a whole slew of features including various caching methods, CDN integration and code minification. On the other hand, it often has bugs and one wrong configuration can send your site to the ninth circle of WordPress hell.

White Screen of Death

Nobody wants to see the feared WordPress white screen of death:

WordPress White Screen of Death

No error codes apparent or anything. Just flat white where your website should be. Now, this can be caused by a variety of issues but right now we are only concerned with W3 Total Cache.

Steps to Fix the White Screen of Death

You should be familiar with FTP to proceed. If you don’t have FTP access to your server, contact your hosting provider to gain access and to assess whether they may be able to help you resolve the issue.

  1. FTP to your Web server using Filezilla or whatever FTP program you use
  2. Navigate to your wp-content directory
  3. Find the following files in that folder: object-cache.php, db.php, and advanced-cache.php.
  4. Rename them by adding “.temp” to the end, e.g. “db.php.temp” – at this point you may see the WSOD go away but may still have a broken stylesheet and/or JS; Although, this should enable you to load your admin login page.
  5. Login into Your WordPress Admin Dashboard
  6. Once logged in, navigate to your plugins and deactivate W3 Total Cache deactivate-w3tc

You should now be able to view your website as normal with W3 Total Cache deactivated. Still not working? You may find you are able to log into your admin section in some browsers but not others. This may relate to the Cookie Domain setting in W3 Total Cache. To remedy, comment out the Cookie Domain setting, ie define('COOKIE_DOMAIN', 'www.mywebsite.com');, in your wp-config file as a temporary solution.

…Or, Try Another Solution

This measure is a bit more drastic, but desperate times call for drastic measures.

  1. Locate your .htaccess file in your WordPress install’s parent directory (your main .htaccess)
  2. Remove the W3TC lines of code
  3. Navigate to your plugin directory: /wp-content/plugins
  4. Rename the w3-total-cache directory to something else to deactivate the plugin

You should now be able to see your website is up and login to your backend. If you are continually experiencing issues with W3 Total Cache here are some other excellent cache plugins:

None provide the plugins above provide the full suite of services and integration as W3 Total Cache but they are stable and widely used. As well, they are simple to setup and have comparable speed benefits.

Still having issues? Check out this thread on WordPress.org forums and preview the first posts answer. The user has a pretty good rundown of steps he took to resolve the issue. It’s slightly different than the steps mentioned above but may work for you.


W3 Total Cache is a very popular WordPress plugin – and for good reason. It provides a suite of functionality that can improve your websites speed dramatically. On the downside, the many options and functionality can take down websites seemingly inexplicably. If you don’t monitor website, it could be days (even weeks) before this is discovered. This can kill your user experience and SEO very quickly. So if you’re sticking with W3 Total Cache, best of luck!

Fair warning: be careful whenever modifying any files named wp-config or .htaccess and always backup first.

Devin Walker is a San Diego-based WordPress Developer and enthusiast. He is the author of several popular and highly-rated WordPress themes and plugins. In his free time he enjoys playing Golf and traveling.

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9 Responses to “Fixing W3 Total Cache’s White Screen of Death”

  1. Jimsworld

    I concur with your assessment.

  2. Ian

    I am still having the same painful issue! This is a cancer!

  3. brianmcculloh1

    Freaked out for about an hour messing with w3tc every which way from Sunday. Calmed down. Read your extremely helpful post. Fixed the issue. Thanks so much for the awesome article!!

  4. Jay Ryu

    hm… solved WSOD but does that mean I can’t use W3T plugin at all? whenever I turn on page cache, I get a white screen.. any idea on how to solve this issue will be greatly appreciated..

  5. lee

    Thanks for this. the HTAccess and the db file were stopping me getting in. Much appreciated.

  6. JFV.wpuser

    I have also experiencing white screen of death & http error 500 on our website.
    I think the error happens when I changed some settings on the Cache settings.
    I tried the other solutions that you provided but I can’t edit my .htaccess file via FTP.

    It says permission denied. I also can’t rename or changed the permission.
    (Command: SITE CHMOD 755 .htaccess)
    (550 Could not change permission on .htaccess: Operation not permitted)

    I suspect that .htaccess is the cause of the error.
    Or is it possible that the permission settings on the server was changed?

    The site is running in SSH, Ubuntu Apache web server



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