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Even with great web hosting, an HTTP error message is bound to crop up from time to time. We know that error messages can send you right into panic mode if you don’t know what they mean or how to fix them. That’s why we’ve created an ongoing series of articles designed to get you familiar with error messages and HTTP status codes, so you can troubleshoot errors without breaking a sweat.
Here’s our guide to troubleshooting the 500 internal server error.
If you try to visit a webpage and see a 500 internal server error message, that means something’s gone wrong with the website’s server, but the server can’t tell you what specifically went wrong.
It’s basically just a catch-all server error message that means there’s a general problem with the server at that moment.
Usually, the best way to deal with this type of error message is to contact the website owners directly or just wait for them to fix it and come back another time. But if the server issue happens to be on your side, or if the 500 internal server error message is showing up on a website you own, there are some things you can do to troubleshoot it.
Even if you have a web host with fast, secure servers, you may still see error messages from time to time. But if you choose a good web hosting company that practises proper server maintenance, you’ll see fewer server-related error messages than if you choose a web host that doesn’t particularly care what happens to your website once you’ve given them your money.
Also, when you choose a web host that offers cPanel, you can manage your website like a pro, even if this is your first time being a webmaster. cPanel makes website management intuitive and simple, because its easy-to-use graphical interface was designed with first-time webmasters in mind. That’s why all our web hosting packages come equipped with cPanel.
How you troubleshoot the 500 internal server error will depend on whether it appears on your own website or on a website you’re visiting.
Usually, the 500 internal server error message means there’s a problem on the side of the website you’re visiting, so you’ll usually have to leave it up to the people running the website to fix it. But there are some ways to temporarily get around the error message:
To reload the web page, select the refresh/reload button in your browser. You can also reload the web page by using your keyboard to press F5 or Ctrl+R, or you can retype the URL into the address bar on your browser.
NOTE: Be careful if the 500 internal server error message appears while you’re in the checkout process at an online store. Sometimes, entering your information more than once can create multiple orders (which means multiple charges).
Sometimes, you can correct the 500 internal server error problem by simply deleting the cookies from the website that’s showing you the error message. Once you’ve deleted the cookies, restart your browser and try again.
Sometimes, the cached version of the web page can create a 500 internal server error message. This is rare, but it does happen. To fix this, clear your cache.
If the website’s administrators are staying on top of their website, they probably already know about the error, but if you think they might not know it’s happening, it can’t hurt to contact them, just to make sure.
If you’ve tried everything on this list, and you’re still seeing the error message, sometimes the best thing to do is to wait for the website’s administrators to fix the problem and just go back to the website another time.
The 500 internal server error message indicates a server-side problem, which means that if it’s on your website, it’s probably your responsibility to fix it.
Most of the time, a 500 internal server error is due to an incorrect permission on at least one file or folder. If that’s the case, you can usually fix this by adjusting a PHP or CGI script. (These should usually be set at 0755 (-rwxr-xr-x).
If your script is linked to external resources, and these resources timeout, this can cause a 500 internal server error. If this happens on your website, adjust your timeout rules or update your error-handling system in your script.
Sometimes, the 500 internal server error message is displayed because you haven’t installed a software package that your website depends on. If that’s the cause of the error message, installing the software is an easy fix.
If there’s something wrong with your web host’s servers, your hosting company will help you fix things. Try letting your web host know about the error message, just in case the problem is on their end.
This rarely happens, but sometimes, a 500 internal server error message is displayed because there’s a coding error in .htaccess. If you’ve tried everything else on this list and you’re still seeing the message, check your .htaccess file.
A 500 internal server error message means there’s something wrong with your server. This error message is usually best handled by giving it time. However, if you really want to visit the website, or if your website has an error message, try one of the troubleshooting methods on our list. For more info on how to troubleshoot error messages, check out our post on how to fix the ‘This Webpage is Not Available’ error.