A common error message that you might see when creating your website is a 500 Internal Server error. The error is particularly frustrating because it gives you no information about what specifically caused the server error. The steps in this article should help you to diagnose and find what is causing your 500 Internal Server error.
How the 500 Internal Server error appears
The internal server error message can be customized by each website that you visit, which means that the error might appear in various different forms when you experience it. A few of the common examples of how this error appears are:
"500 Internal Server Error" "HTTP 500 - Internal Server Error" "Internal Server Error" "HTTP 500 Internal Error" "500 Error" "HTTP Error 500"
If you're using Internet Explorer and get the dreaded The website cannot display the page message, this might be a 500 Internal Server Error as well. You can check this by looking for the 500 in your IE toolbar.
What causes a 500 Internal Server error
A server error can be caused by any number of things from uploading the incorrect file to as bug in a piece of code. The web server is telling you that something went wrong, but it's not sure exactly what that is.
It's a server-side error which means it might be something to do with the websites programming or configuration settings.
If the server is using Microsoft IIS software rather than Apache, there may be additional clues in the error to help you pinpoint the issue. For example, a 500.19 means the server configuration data is invalid. You can see the list of Microsoft server specific error codes here.
Fixing the 500 Internal Server error
The problem here is with the server, not your computer or browser, but it may be that there are a few issues with your connection to the server that are causing the problem. Here are few solutions that might help to fix the error:
- Reload the web page with a “hard refresh”. Sometimes the 500 error happens when multiple people visit the site at once and a simply refresh will resolve it. If you do a hard refresh you'll force the browser to connect to the server and download the latest version of the site. The keyboard shortcut for this is:
- Windows: Ctrl + F5
- Mac: Apple + R or Cmd + R
- Linux: F5
- Changing your file/folder permissions. You can login to your server using FTP and find the files or folders that are returning the error and change the file permissions to see if that fixes the problem. In general the file permissions should be set to 644 for files and 755 for folders but this may depend on any software you are using. You can make these changes in FileZilla by right-clicking the file or folder and choosing the File permissions… option.
- Check your .htaccess file. If you are running an Apache server and are using the URL rewrite engine, check to make sure it's set up correctly. Often this means the mod_rewrite needs to be enabled in your
- Increase the timeouts for the server and scripts. Sometimes the 500 Internal Server error is because the server timed out, or a script you're running timed out. You can increase the Apache server timeout in
If you're running a script, like PHP for example, you can increase the time out of this as well. For PHP this would mean changing the
max_execution_timefrom the default of 30 (seconds) to something longer:
- Clear your browser cookies and cache. This is the one of the first things and tech support will advise, and while the server errors are not caused by either cookies or the cache, it might be that the error has been fixed and you are viewing the wrong version of the site because of them. It's worth doing as it only takes a few minutes in your browser's settings.
If you still can't fix the internal server error
If you've tried to troubleshoot your 500 server error and still can't fix it, then you may need to speak to your web host and see if they are able to find what process or script is causing the error.
If you are using a commercial web hosting company their customer support should be able to provide information on how to fix the error and in many cases they will apply the fix for you at no cost.