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The dreaded Internal Server Error 500. It always seems to come at the most inopportune time and you suddenly have to find a way to get your WordPress site back online. Trust us, we’ve all been there. Other errors of similar behavior that you may have seen include the dreaded database connection error and the dreaded white screen of death. But from the moment your site goes down, you lose visitors and customers. Not to mention it just looks bad for your brand.
How To Fix 500 Internal Server Error
Today we’re going to cover 500 internal server errors and show you some ways to get your site back online quickly. Read below to learn more about the causes of this error and what you can do to avoid it in the future.
Internal Server Error
500 Internal Server Error in WordPress can be caused by many things. If you’re experiencing one, there’s a good chance that one (or more) of the following is causing the problem.
Status code 500 (Internal Server Error) indicates that the server encountered an unexpected condition that prevented the request from completing.
When you visit a website, your browser sends a request to the server that hosts the page. The server takes this request, processes it, and sends back the requested resources (PHP, HTML, CSS, etc.) along with the HTTP header. HTTP also includes what they call an HTTP status code. A status code is a way to inform you about the status of a request. It can be a 200 status code, which means everything is fine, or a 500 status code, which means something went wrong.
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There are many different types of 500 status error codes (500, 501, 502, 503, 504, etc.) and they all mean something different. In this case, a 500 internal server error indicates that the server encountered an unexpected condition that prevented it from fulfilling the request (RFC 7231, Section 6.6.1).
Due to different web servers, operating systems and browsers, Server Internal Error 500 can appear in different ways. However, they all communicate the same thing. Below are just a few of the many different variations you can see online.
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and could not complete your request. Contact the server administrator, [email protected], and let them know when the error occurred and what you did to cause the error. See the server error log for more information about this error.
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Other times you may just see a blank white screen. Solving internal server error 500 is actually quite common in browsers like Firefox and Safari.
Bigger brands may even have their own internal 500 server error messages, like this one from Airbnb.
If the server is IIS 7.0 (Windows) or later, they have additional HTTP status codes that more specifically show the cause of the 500 error:
How To Fix The 500 Internal Server Error On Your WordPress Website
Unlike 503 errors, which are used in WordPress maintenance mode and tell Google to check again later, 500 errors can have a negative impact on SEO if not removed immediately. If your page is down for say 10 minutes and is constantly re-crawled, the crawler will simply display the page from the cache. Or Google may not even be able to reindex it until it’s backed up. You are fine in this scenario.
However, if the page is down for an extended period of time (eg 6+ hours), Google may see the 500 error as a site-level issue that needs to be resolved. This may affect your rating. If you are worried about 500 errors, you should first find out why they are happening. Some of the solutions below may help.
Where should you start troubleshooting when you see a 500 internal server error on your WordPress site? Sometimes you may not even know where to start. Usually the 500 errors are on the server itself, but in our experience these errors are caused by two things: the first is user error (a client-side problem) and the second is a server problem. So let’s dive a little into both.
Check out these common causes and ways to fix a 500 internal server error and recover quickly.
This may seem a little obvious to some, but one of the easiest and first things you should try when you encounter a 500 internal server error is to simply wait a minute and reload the page (F5 or Ctrl + F5). It may happen that the host or server is simply overloaded and the page returns immediately. While you’re waiting, you can quickly try a different browser to rule out this problem.
Another thing you can do is paste the website at downforeveryoneorjustme.com. This website will let you know if the site is down or if the problem is on your end. Such a tool checks the HTTP status code returned from the server. If it’s anything other than 200 “Everything is OK”, it returns a notification.
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We have also noticed that sometimes this can happen right after updating a plugin or theme on your WordPress site. This is usually on hosts that are not properly configured. What happens is they experience a temporary timeout right after. But usually things get resolved in a few seconds, so all you have to do is refresh.
Clearing your browser cache is always a good next troubleshooting step before diving deeper into tuning your site. Below are instructions for clearing the cache in different browsers.
You should also make use of your error logs. If you are a customer, you will only see errors in the dashboard log viewer. This can help you quickly narrow down the problem, especially if it comes from a plugin on your site.
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If your host doesn’t have a logging tool, you can also enable WordPress debug mode by adding the following code to your wp-config.php file to enable logging:
Logs are usually located in the /wp-content directory. Others, like here, may have a special folder called “logs”.
If you’re a customer, you can also use our analytics tool to get an overview of a total of 500 errors and see how often and when they occur. This can help you troubleshoot if it’s a persistent problem or perhaps something that has resolved itself.
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If the 500 error is caused by a fatal PHP error, you can also try enabling PHP error reporting. Just add the following code to the file that caused the error. You can usually narrow down the file in the Google Chrome DevTools console tab.
Internal server error 500 can also occur due to a database connection error. Depending on your browser, you may see different errors. However, both will generate an HTTP 500 status code in the server logs.
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Below is an example of what your browser might look like with a “Failed to connect to database” message. The whole page is blank because it is not possible to get the data to render the page because the connection is not working properly. Not only does this break the front end of your site, but it also prevents access to the WordPress dashboard.
Third-party plugins and themes can easily cause a 500 internal server error. We’ve seen all types cause them here at , from scrolling plugins to ad rotation plugins. In many cases, you should see the error immediately after installing something new or running an update. This is one of the reasons why we always recommend using the desktop for updates, or at least running updates one at a time. Otherwise, when you get a 500 internal server error, you suddenly know what error caused it.
Some ways to fix this is to disable all plugins. Keep in mind that simply disabling the add-on will not cause data loss. If you still have access to your admin, a quick way to do this is to go to “Plugins” and select “Deactivate” from the bulk actions menu. This will disable all your plugins.
Http Status 500 Internal Server Error
If this solves the problem, you need to find the culprit. Start activating them one by one and reload the page after each activation. If you get a 500 internal server error, you’ve found a broken plugin. You can then contact the plugin developer for help or post a support ticket in the WordPress repository.
If you can’t login to WordPress admin, you can FTP to your server and rename the plugins folder to something like plugins_old. Then check your website again. If it works, you need to test each plugin one by one. Rename the plugins folder to “plugins” and then rename everything