Troubleshooting a HTTP 500 Internal Server Error is like solving a mystery. You don’t know what exactly happened or why it happened -- all you know is that something’s wrong and you need to fix it.
To guide you through the hassle of troubleshooting the dreaded HTTP 500 Internal Server Error, let’s go over what it exactly means and its most common causes and solutions.
What does a HTTP 500 Internal Server Error mean?
A HTTP 500 Internal Server Error means your web server is experiencing problems, but it can’t pinpoint the specific error or its root causes. When this happens, your website will serve up a general internal server error web page to your site’s visitors, like the photo below.
Fortunately, there are three common and effective solutions for fixing most HTTP 500 Internal Server Errors: troubleshooting popular software problems, debugging server-side scripts, and asking a server administrator for help.
Troubleshooting Popular Software Problems
If your server runs popular software like WordPress, bad installations, incompatible versions, and incorrect server permissions can all cause a HTTP 500 Internal Server Error. Here’s how you can fix this issue:
Check to see if your recently installed or upgraded software actually failed to install or upgrade. To refresh your software, check the vendor’s website for instructions.
Newly activated plugin or themes might conflict with your current plugins or themes. Deactivate them one at a time to identify the exact plugins or themes causing the internal server error.
If you just upgraded your software, your current plugins or themes might not be compatible with the new upgrade. Deactivating plugins or themes one at a time until the error disappears is the best way to find the root cause of your problem.
Debugging Server-Side Scripts
Custom scripts that are currently getting developed and tested can cause an HTTP 500 Internal Server Error. Here’s how you can fix this issue:
Wrong permissions on a file or folder that has a script, like a PHP or CGI script, won’t allow the script to run. Check your permissions and make sure you set them correctly on your server.
Programming errors or unavailable resources can cause one of your scripts to run in an endless loop and make it time out.
Coding errors of an .htcaccess file and custom scripts can also cause an HTTP 500 Internal Server Error.
Asking a Server Administrator for Help
If troubleshooting popular software problems or debugging server-side scripts doesn’t fix your HTTP 500 Internal Server Error, you should read about the most common causes for this type of issue in your server’s documentation -- an HTTP 500 Internal Server Error can occur in different operating systems for a multitude of reasons. You can also ask your server provider to access your error logs and find evidence for the root cause of your problem.
Originally published Oct 4, 2018 6:00:00 AM, updated December 10 2019