Error 500 image

What Is Error 500? And How to Fix it on Any Website

It's very probable that you've come across an unwelcome message from a website displaying an error 500 status code.

This error indicates the website encountered an unforeseen technical issue that prevented your request from being processed successfully. Unlike client-side 404 errors which blame the user, a 500 error means trouble on the website's end.

This blog post will explain what HTTP error 500 is and how website owners can fix it. Let’s dig in!


What does HTTP error code 500 mean?

This status code is called "Internal Server Error" and indicates that the server encountered an unexpected condition that prevented it from completing your request.

Error 500 code is used as a "something went wrong" message when a more specific 5xx error cannot be identified.

The most common causes of 500 errors include server crashes, application code errors, unavailability of databases, and incorrect configurations.


How website visitors can fix HTTP error 500

Usually, HTTP error 500 occurs on the server side and has to be fixed by the website administrator, but visitors can take a few steps to resolve it.


1. Refresh and reload the website

Connectivity issues may have caused the error on your end. First thing you can do is to hard refresh and reload the website page, which clears the cache, in your browser by pressing CTRL+F5 or Ctrl+Shift+R (Windows) or Command+Shift+R (Mac). An alternative method is to hold the shift key and click on the refresh icon in your browser.


2. Visit the website in incognito/private mode

Web browsers cache files and store cookies for efficiency, but if these become corrupted or expired, they can cause errors when loading a website. The easiest way to check if the cache and cookies really caused the issue is to reload the website using Incognito or Private mode.

Click on the three-dotted icon at the top right of Google Chrome / Microsoft Edge and select New Incognito Window / New InPrivate Window. From there, try to access the website.

If you’re a Firefox user, click on the hamburger menu (3 horizontal lines) on the top right of your browser and easily select the New private window. That’s where you can try to see if the website loads without a problem.


3. Try a different network, browser or device

If the HTTP 500 error still exists, try using another Internet network, a new browser or even another device. This way you can make sure there’s nothing wrong on your end.


4. Contact website support

If nothing has changed after you tried all the above steps and still face the error, you cannot do anything unless you contact their support. Sometimes due to website maintenance or resource outage the website is temporarily unavailable, and you should wait until the problem resolves.


How to fix HTTP 500 internal server error on your website

An HTTP 500 error can damage the user experience if it lasts for a while. As a website owner, you can fix this error with the right troubleshooting tactics.

In this section, we will go over the steps you can take to solve this nasty server-side error.


1. Check the server error logs

Your first step should be to dig through your server and website logs. These record a timeline of events that can potentially expose what went wrong. Ideally, when an error 500 occurs, make sure to record the date and time as it helps track it down in the logs since the date and time appear there for each logged entry.



To check your server logs:

1. Log in to your cPanel dashboard. Ask your hosting if unsure how.
2. From the Metrics section, click on the Errors link.
3. The latest web server error log messages will appear so that you can check the date and time of errors and their description.




2. Make sure your server has sufficient resources

Whenever a 500 error occurs, you should ensure your web server has the required resources to handle traffic without strain. Granted, usually this error is related to "Error 508. Resource Limit Is Reached". This type of error can sometimes be an indicator that your server is overloaded. Look at key resource indicators like CPU usage, memory allocation, and disk utilization to determine if there are bottlenecks.




To check if you have exceeded your resource quota:

1. Log in to your cPanel dashboard.
2. Find the Statistics column on the right side of the dashboard.
3. Check the following parameters to see if you exceed your limits.

  • Disk usage
  • File usage
  • Bandwidth
  • CPU usage
  • Physical memory usage
  • I/O usage
  • Entry processes (EP)
  • IOPS


3. Check your website error logs

It is also possible to receive an error 500 code after updating or installing a new plugin or theme. To find the source of the error, you need to access the website error logs too.

If you're using WordPress, you can enable Debug mode via the wp-config.php file to see error details. To do so:

1. Log in to your host's control panel. Or, access your website FTP.
2. If control panel, click on the File Manager icon.
3. Open the public_html folder and edit the wp-config.php file.
4. Find these lines of code (if they do not exist, copy those below and add them before the "That's all, stop editing!" message):

define('WP_DEBUG', false);
define('WP_DEBUG_LOG', false);
define('WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', false);

5. Change “false” values to “true” to enable debug mode, to store the logs in your hosting account's files, and to display error logs on your website. If you don't want to display them on the front-end, don't enable WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY.
6. Save the file and close it.


Note: You should only enable debugging mode when troubleshooting your website. After fixing any issue, remember to set the values back to "false". Additionally, enabling define('WP_DEBUG_LOG', false); will take up storage space on your hosting account.

This gives you additional information if any critical error causes your website to face HTTP 500 error code.

You may be able to find out which plugin or theme is causing your website to display critical errors through these logs, and disable those plugins or themes to resolve the issue.


4. Verify your database configurations

An invalid database configuration can also cause your website to show a 500 error code. So, you need to verify the database hostname, username, and password and ensure they're accurate.

If you're using WordPress, you can open the wp-config.php file and check your database credentials. Follow the steps in point 3 above to learn how to open the wp-config.php file.

The information is found in your control panel (cPanel, etc.). Your DB_NAME is the name of your database. DB_USER is the database user that is assigned to the database. Ensure the password is correct by copying it from the wp-config.php file and changing the password of the database user to match the one that you copied.

5. Increase WordPress' memory limit

When server errors like 500s crop up, low memory limits can sometimes be a contributing factor.

1. From your hosting dashboard, click on the File Manager (FTP).
2. Navigate to your public_html folder and edit the wp-config.php file.
3. In this line of code (if it does not exist, copy the one below and add it before the "That's all, stop editing!" message):

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');

4. If its value is 128M, increase it accordingly by changing it to 256M or 512M.
5. Save the file.


6. Create a new .htaccess file

If server errors persist even after troubleshooting code and configurations, it may be time to rule out any .htaccess conflicts. This hidden file contains Apache directives that could clash unexpectedly. Let's create a new blank .htaccess and see if that makes a difference.

1. In your host's control panel, go to the File Manager (FTP) > public_html folder.
2. Find .htaccess and rename it to .htaccess.bak.
3. Now, if you're using WordPress, go to your WordPress dashboard.
4. Open Settings > Permalinks and click on Save changes. Do this step twice.
5. If that doesn't work, then in your control panel, change your PHP version back and forth, and it should generate a new .htaccess file. Or, simply create a new empty ".htaccess" file on your own. Then, try to view your website, and if using WordPress, complete step 4.

It will generate a new .htaccess file for your website.


7. Contact your host support

If you've exhausted all your troubleshooting steps without resolving the 500 error, it may be time to contact your hosting company. At Earth Girl Hosting, you have direct access to our professional support team.

Start a ticket with details of the problem, the efforts made thus far, and any relevant error messages. Our agents are standing by to analyze server configurations, make adjustments, and respond quickly. Every website issue can be resolved. It only requires patience, troubleshooting, and experience.


Wrapping up

In conclusion, solving 500 errors takes a step-by-step approach. Check the server logs, files, and settings to determine what the problem is. Use this post as your troubleshooting guide going forward. And remember, Earth Girl Hosting is here for backup support.

About Navid Nekouee

I'm Navid, a happiness ninja and the digital marketing manager at Earth Girl Hosting with years of experience in e-commerce. I am passionate about creating digital marketing strategies integrated with cutting-edge web solutions and enjoy blogging about practical problem-solving approaches in this area.

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