Yet Another Reason for a Blank Page on a Joomla Website

Blank pages on Joomla sites: we thought we have seen them all. But today, we discovered that there might still be a few reasons that we don’t know of that cause blank pages on Joomla sites. Here’s what happened…

A new client called us this morning and told us that he was seeing a blank page on the frontend of his Joomla website. When this happens, we usually set the $error_reporting value in the configuration.php (which is located under the root directory of the Joomla website) to Maximum (usually it’s set to Default or None). When we did that, we saw the following error:

Notice: unserialize() [function.unserialize]: Error at offset 254340 of 254505 bytes in /home/[username]/public_html/libraries/joomla/cache/controller/page.php on line 89

Hmmm… This is a notice, yet it seems to have the effect of a fatal error (we wonder who had the idea of calling such an error as fatal – we’re pretty sure that it’s not fatal, because we’ve seen this error many, many times and it hasn’t killed anyone so far!) because of the blank page. In any case, the word cache in the notice gave us an idea of clearing the cache of the Joomla website. And so we did that by logging in to the backend, and then clicking on System -> Clear Cache, and then selecting all the cached items by clicking on the checkbox next to Cache Group, and then finally clicking on the Delete button on the upper left corner.

Guess what? Clearing the cache fixed the problem!

But what was the problem?

Well, the problem was that the server had some stability issues – and those stability issues caused a cache file not be serialized properly, which meant that Joomla was unable to unserialize the cached file, which meant that Joomla was unable to display the cached information, which resulted in a blank page.

But isn’t that a major stability issue?

In our opinion, Joomla must re-cache the file if the cached file is corrupt (Joomla is able to know that because PHP throws a notice when the cached file is corrupt). Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that this is a major stability issue. In fact, we have been working on Joomla for nearly a decade and this is (perhaps) the first time that we see this error, since this error happens when Joomla is trying to write the cached file to the filesystem but the operation gets interrupted because of a major stability issue on the server (very rare).

If you see this problem on your Joomla website, then try clearing your Joomla cache and see if it fixes the problem. If it doesn’t, then it might be that there is more to the issue and we recommend that you contact us to resolve the problem. Keep in mind that our super affordable fees apply!

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