Site Unavailable After Switching Themes

If you encounter the infamous white screen of death after switching to another theme then one way to revert back is to make a few changes to your database options table. The option names to search for are the following

  • template
  • stylesheet
  • current_theme

Search for each one using the Search feature that’s part of the primary top navigation options in phpmyadmin. To log into phpmyadmin use your browser and enter something like this:

https://www.mydomain.com/phpmyadmin

The ‘s’ at the end of http is required and of course replace www.mydomain.com with your website’s address. You will see some SSL warnings about the issuer not being trusted and the certificate not matching the website’s addresss. These are easyPress certificates so you can safely proceed. After the warnings go away you should now be presented with the phpmyadmin login screen. Enter your username and password for your database which you can find in your wp-config.php file. If you haven’t already done so you can transfer the wp-config.php file to your local desktop / laptop by using your favourite SFTP client to connect to the web server and then download that file. Once you have it on our local machine you can view it with any text editor to find out the database user and password. They will be on lines that look like:

define(‘DB_USER’, ‘your_last_name_and_some_random_characters’);
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘a_really_super_long_password’);

The username may not be your last name but sometimes it will be and either way it’s the characters to the right of DB_USER not including the single quote. Your database password is the characters to the right of DB_PASSWORD not including the single quotes. So using the lines above as an example the username is:

your_last_name_and_some_random_characters

and the password is:

a_really_super_long_password

Now you have the credentials required to log into phpmyadmin so go back to the login screen and enter the username and password. You are now logged into phpmyadmin.

Click on the xxxxxx_options table on the left side where all the database tables are listed. The xxxxx_ will be a random string of characters but you should look for _options. That’s the table to click on. Once you’re viewing the options table you can click on the Search link at the top of the page. In the options_name row enter ‘template’ in the text field provided and click the Go button. On the search results screen you’ll see a row with the option_name template. Click the Edit link and then change the text in the option_value field to something like twentytwelve. That’s the default theme that comes with WordPress so it’s the best way bring your site back online. Repeat these steps but instead now search for style_sheet and then after making the same edit to the option_value field you should search for current_theme. Once all three options have been changed to twentytwelve you will be able to access your site again.

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