When you get the 500 Internal Server Error on your website, it usually indicates a server-side problem, not your PC or Internet connection. Internet users who have come across the error may not know what really caused it.
Generally though, 5xx type errors are HTTP status codes that mean something’s wrong on the website server, and the server itself didn’t specify its exact status.
Causes of a 500 Internal Server error
This generic error code usually indicates a problem with your website or server’s misconfiguration, though the exact cause may not be pinpointed. When this happens, the website will serve up an error webpage to your site’s visitors as shown in the photo below.
However, the error may be seen in different ways, as each website can customize its own message, so you may get varied messages like:
- 500 Internal Server error
- HTTP 500 Internal error
- Internal Server error
- HTTP 500 – Internal Server error
- Temporary error (500)
- HTTP Error 500
- 500 Error
- That’s an error
It will also run on every page of your website whenever a problem arises with the file system or server powering the website.
Most of the causes of the 500 Internal Server error include:
- Page or website programming errors
- Scripting issues like form failures
- Server faults like failed disk or nonfunctional software module
- The file system where your website files are stored
- A problem with the host server
- Triggers from computers connecting to the server
Troubleshooting and fixing 500 Internal Server error
The 500 Internal Server error is common, especially on high-traffic sites where many users are on the site loading different pages all at once. A good example of this is YouTube.
Millions of YouTube users trying to access and play videos at the same time may experience the 500 server error. This isn’t because of their Internet connection, YouTube could be experiencing issues like hacking attempts, hosting server issues, etc.
While it may be difficult to troubleshoot the 500 error as it has many possible issues that may lead to it, there are some things you can try to possibly resolve it.
- Reload the web page by clicking tje reload or refresh button. You can also press Ctrl + R or F5, or try the URL again. The issue may be temporary, even if the error is on the server.
- Clear your browser cache. A cached version of a web page may cause the 500 Internal Server error if it has a problem. While this may be a rare occurrence, the error may go away once you clear the cache.
- Delete browser cookies. Some server error issues can be handled by deleting cookies associated with the site where the error occurs. Once you do this, restart your browser and try accessing the site again.
- Wait it out. Sometimes you may just need to give it a few seconds or minutes before trying again to have the website work properly.
Take it as a 504 error
Sometimes the web server may serve up the 500 Internal Server error, yet it should have brought up the 504 gateway timeout error. The 504 error comes up when the server doesn’t get a timely response from another server it was accessing while loading the web page or filling a request by the browser. In this case the other server may not be working properly, or it may be down.
For webmasters, fixing the 500 Internal Server error on your website requires different approaches and methods. Most of these errors are server-side, as mentioned, and could be due to:
- Incorrect permissions on one or more files or folders. This can be resolved by resetting the correct permission on the directory or file.
- PHP timeout caused by external resource timeouts. Fix this by setting timeout options or increasing timeout values. This way the remote server won’t return timeout errors but will wait for requests to be processed.
- Misconfiguration in the .htaccess file. Coding errors in the .htaccess file, or errors in URL rewriting, can be resolved by locating and correcting the code or misconfiguration in the file.
If you run common content management or CMS systems like Joomla, WordPress and others, check their support centers for detailed troubleshooting of the error. You can also check with your hosting provider for more help specific to your situation.
Another way to debug your server issue is to check the error log. To do this (if you are using cPanel for your site):
- Log into cPanel using the Shared Hosting tab.
Click the Error icon. A list of error messages will be displayed for your website with details like date and time, client receiving the error, description, and which file/folder generated the error.
Based on the information on the error you get, you can get specific troubleshooting help from your CMS or hosting provider.
Check recently installed themes or plugins
Some 500 errors may be caused by incompatibility with plugins or themes. If the error occurred right after you installed or upgraded a plugin or theme, you can disable it or revert to a previous one to fix it.
If you are unsure which plugin is causing the error, disable all plugins and activate one at a time while checking for the error to pop up again.