Using FERM To Fix White Screen of Death

Using FERM To Fix White Screen Of Death in 2024


If you operate a WordPress website, you’re likely aware of the substantial effort required to maintain it. It involves more than just updating content; you must also ensure the WordPress core, Plugins, themes, and PHP version remain up to date. Unfortunately, these updates sometimes lead to issues, potentially denying access to your WordPress admin area. However, there’s a solution for such distressing situations: the Fatal Error Recovery Mode feature in WordPress.

This article doesn’t assume any coding expertise from its readers. It avoids technical jargon, aiming to explain the Fatal Error Recovery Mode feature in straightforward terms accessible to any WordPress site owner. It covers what the feature is, its functionality, and the advantages it offers to site administrators.

Furthermore, it highlights how this feature can be a lifeline when facing the notorious White Screen of Death. Lastly, it provides guidance on how to integrate and make use of this new feature.

What Is Fatal Error Recovery Mode

The Fatal Error Recovery Mode represents a pivotal addition to WordPress 5.2, designed to enable site administrators to access the admin area even during instances of critical errors rendering the site inaccessible.

This innovation aimed to provide a lifeline to administrators encountering fatal errors within WordPress. Fatal errors, such as the notorious White Screen of Death (WSOD), had the capability to completely block access to the site, leaving administrators perplexed about the underlying issue. These errors posed a significant hurdle, impeding the site’s functionality and preventing administrators from troubleshooting effectively. This predicament particularly affected novice WordPress site owners, amplifying their sense of anxiety and helplessness.

The implementation of the Fatal Error Recovery Mode emerged as a remedy to address these pressing concerns. By incorporating this feature, site administrators gained the ability to log into their websites during critical errors, offering a window of opportunity to initiate corrective actions. Further details on the operational aspects of this mode will elucidate the steps available to mitigate such critical situations. Understanding the background and context of this feature’s development will shed light on the problems it resolves, assuring users of relief from unwarranted anxieties.


The initial efforts to implement Fatal Error Protection date back to WordCamp Europe 2018. In this event, Gary Pendergast presented the concept of ‘sandboxing’ plugins and themes to isolate them in the event of a PHP update or malfunctioning plugin. 

The primary objective was to monitor critical errors and grant administrative access for the purpose of deactivating, substituting, or updating the problematic plugins. 

From June 2018 onwards, this concept has been extensively debated on the official WordPress forums, with valuable contributions from developers, contributors, and users participating in the discussions.


Throughout its development, the initial concept of completely ‘isolating’ plugins and themes encountered technical limitations, prompting a shift towards pausing these extensions selectively for specific users rather than a blanket approach for all. Simultaneously, the notion of offering a recovery link to administrators faced security apprehensions. Inputs from various third-party security researchers led to a compromise: implementing a recovery cookie within the recovery mode.

The Fatal Error Recovery Mode, incorporated in WordPress 5.2, owes its existence to numerous contributors who suggested ideas, shared code, and proposed features. Continuously evolving with each WordPress update, this feature remains under the community’s ongoing scrutiny and enhancement.

Present Status

At present, Fatal Error Recovery Mode is an integral component included in WordPress 5.2 and later versions. Its operational workflow has been standardized, providing users with defined steps. Discussions about any encountered glitches or issues are actively taking place on the WordPress official discussion forums.

How It Can Help

This mode proves invaluable for site administrators grappling with a fatal error rendering their site inaccessible. It empowers them to swiftly intervene by accessing the admin area and selectively deactivating problematic themes or plugins, potentially averting significant losses. Moreover, it enables administrators to address errors even in the absence of direct WordPress developer access.

Tackling The Fear Of White Screen Of Death

The introduction of Fatal Error Recovery Mode alleviates the fear associated with the White Screen of Death. This intimidating scenario can devastate WordPress beginners, who initially rely on the platform’s reliability. When faced with a catastrophic error like the White Screen of Death, trust in WordPress’s dependability erodes.

Traditionally, when encountering such an error, individuals resort to a trial-and-error approach, navigating through various solutions like accessing the site via an FTP client, renaming the plugins folder, testing themes, and troubleshooting databases or potential hacks. 

However, these attempts often resemble shooting in the dark, hoping for a resolution.The advent of Fatal Error Recovery Mode eliminates this frustrating process, providing a streamlined solution amidst such turmoil.

How Fatal Error Recovery Mode Works

Let’s explore the functionality of the Fatal Error Recovery Mode and how it operates:

Initially, the Fatal Error Recovery Mode (FERM) introduces a distinct screen that appears on your browser whenever your website encounters a critical error. This screen replaces the previously known ‘White Screen of Death’ and now displays a message indicating technical issues with the site. It prompts users, especially site owners, to log into the admin area for further action, advising them to refer to their admin email for guidance.

Upon the occurrence of a Fatal Error, an email is automatically dispatched to the admin email address. This email contains specific details regarding the encountered error along with a link that enables the initiation of “Recovery Mode.”

Clicking on this provided link redirects users to the admin login page.

Once logged in, users gain access to the Recovery Mode dashboard designed for WordPress. This dashboard furnishes information about the paused plugins and themes, along with detailed error descriptions associated with these elements. To address these issues, users have multiple options:

  1. Deactivate the problematic plugin or theme, resolving the situation immediately. However, this action temporarily forfeits the functionality of the affected plugin or theme.
  1. Rectify the errors within the extension before reactivating it, allowing the site to resume normal operations.
  1. Seek assistance from a developer by providing them with error details if understanding the errors seems challenging.

Exiting Recovery Mode is simple; users can log off or use the ‘Exit Recovery Mode’ button available on the Recovery Mode dashboard.

It’s crucial to note that unresolved Fatal Errors persist if not addressed during Recovery Mode.

How This Solves The Workflow Problems

The introduction of the Fatal Error Recovery Mode is a groundbreaking solution that addresses several workflow challenges for WordPress site owners in 2023. This implementation assures users a standardized approach when encountering these specific errors, thereby instilling confidence in managing such situations. Noteworthy enhancements in workflow efficiency include:

  1. Clear Error Statement: A clear notification stating ‘this site is experiencing technical difficulties’ eradicates ambiguity surrounding the issue. Unlike the prior White Screen of Death, this clarity prepares users for the subsequent steps, eliminating guesswork.
  2. Email-Based Solutions: Users will promptly receive error resolution steps via email, saving time and effort previously spent searching for assistance elsewhere.
  3. Direct Admin Area Access: Recovery Mode grants users direct access to their WordPress admin area through a provided link, accessible via a web browser. This negates the necessity for installing an FTP client, streamlining the process.
  4. Error Specification: Upon entering Recovery Mode, users are presented with detailed error descriptions. This enables self-fixing or easy forwarding to a developer, thereby saving valuable time that would have otherwise been spent on debugging plugins and extensions individually.
  5. Defined Action Plan: The clarity in the prescribed course of action eliminates uncertainty, ensuring a confident response from users facing such errors for the first time on their site.

An accompanying flowchart illustrates the procedural workflow facilitated by the Fatal Error Recovery Mode, depicting a streamlined and improved approach to managing fatal errors. The diagram is accompanied by the caption: “Enhanced Workflow Enabled by Fatal Error Recovery Mode.”

Also read: Most Common Errors Encountered in WordPress

Benefits Of FERM

Fatal Error Recovery Mode (FERM) represents a significant leap in the approach to resolving errors within the WordPress community. Its standout advantages include:

  1. Eliminating the White Screen of Death: Users are spared the anxiety of encountering a blank screen during a fatal error. Instead, a message indicating technical difficulties reassures them about the error situation.
  1. Email Notifications: Site administrators now receive detailed notification emails regarding the specific fatal error encountered, accompanied by a direct link to access Recovery Mode.
  1. Cookie-Based Recovery Mode: Security concerns are mitigated by using cookies on the administrator’s browser to access Recovery Mode without tying it to a specific user, ensuring a safer process.
  1.  Into Recovery Mode: The ability for administrators to log into their WordPress site despite a fatal error stands out as the most crucial benefit of FERM.
  1. Pausing Extensions: The ability to pause extensions without the need for deactivation or removal of plugins before entering Recovery Mode simplifies decision-making during error situations, granting access to the admin area even amidst a fatal error.
  1. Precise Plugin Identification: FERM’s capability to pinpoint error-causing plugins eradicates guesswork by providing detailed error information facilitating efficient resolution in collaboration with developers and plugin authors.
  2. Resolution within Recovery Mode: Complete resolution of errors becomes feasible while in Recovery Mode itself, streamlining the troubleshooting process.
  1. Potential Customizations: Developers have the opportunity to customize error screen templates, offering site owners the ability to create custom error screens in the future.

Numerous WordPress users have already reaped the benefits of FERM, experiencing a more secure and efficient error resolution process.

An individual’s perspective on the advantages of Fatal Error Recovery Mode would likely emphasize its empowerment of administrators to swiftly and securely manage critical errors within their WordPress sites, ensuring minimal disruption and facilitating more seamless troubleshooting and resolution processes.

Also read : The trilogy to safely and effectively debugging WordPress 

How To Adapt To This New Feature

Understanding new technological advancements often requires time, as people tend to be hesitant to utilize unfamiliar features. This reluctance, however, does not diminish the usefulness of such features; rather, it reflects the initial discomfort users may have with them.

I trust this piece has provided insights into the Fatal Error Recovery Mode (FERM), a pivotal milestone in WordPress development. This advancement presents opportunities for users to enhance their experience. To commence:

  1. Update WordPress and PHP: Ensure WordPress version 5.2 or higher and maintain an updated PHP version, ideally 5.6.20 or newer, for FERM compatibility.
  1. Admin Email Update: For FERM, the Recovery Mode link is dispatched to your admin email. Confirm your admin email address is current in WordPress settings.
  1. Acquaint yourself with FERM: Familiarize yourself with FERM’s functionalities to navigate its usage when needed confidently. This article offers fundamental insights.

By following these uncomplicated steps, you’ll be well-prepared to leverage the Fatal Error Recovery Mode within WordPress.


We’ve gained a comprehensive grasp of the Fatal Error Recovery Mode, delving into its advantages and proposed actions. This feature provides a clear pathway, alleviating unnecessary stress and ambiguity in decision-making. Highlighting its potential for enhancing workflows in managing Fatal Errors, I’ve outlined three crucial steps for its effective utilization. I trust this article will serve as a helpful guide for comprehending and implementing the Fatal Error Recovery Mode.


What is the White Screen of Death, and how does FERM address it in 2024?
The White Screen of Death (WSOD) refers to a common issue on websites or apps where only a blank white screen appears. FERM is an evolving technique in 2024 that aims to resolve WSOD by systematically identifying and reconciling front-end discrepancies, ensuring smoother website functionality.

How does FERM differ from conventional methods in fixing the White Screen of Death?
Unlike traditional troubleshooting, FERM in 2024 employs advanced algorithms to pinpoint discrepancies in code, frameworks, or dependencies causing WSOD. It offers a proactive approach by reconciling front-end conflicts preemptively, reducing the likelihood of encountering the White Screen of Death.

Can FERM be implemented by developers with varying levels of expertise?
Yes, FERM’s user-friendly interfaces and automated processes in 2024 make it accessible to developers of different skill levels. It provides intuitive tools and comprehensive documentation, aiding both seasoned professionals and beginners in resolving the White Screen of Death effectively.

Is FERM compatible with diverse web development frameworks and technologies in 2024?

FERM has been updated to ensure compatibility with a wide array of frameworks and technologies commonly used in 2024. It adapts to various coding languages, libraries, and platforms, enabling seamless integration into different development environments.

How frequently is FERM updated to tackle emerging challenges associated with the White Screen of Death?
FERM’s development team consistently updates the methodology to address evolving issues related to WSOD. In 2024, regular updates and improvements will be implemented to adapt to new coding standards, security protocols, and emerging front-end challenges, ensuring reliable solutions for the White Screen of Death.

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