How to Fix 500 Internal Server Error?

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500 Internal Server Error

As an internet user, you might have crossed paths with 500 internal server errors time and time again. Have you ever thought about what made websites show 500 internal server errors? You must probably have. Well, if you think it must be an issue from your side, then we are here to clear you out from self-doubt.

No, the 500 internal server error is not a user-side error. It is due to something that makes the website page not show up on your browser. It has nothing to do with the compatibility of your browser, your internet speed, or something else on your end.

Other than the 500 internal server errors, there are many error codes, such as 404, 403, and 503. These codes actually give us information about what’s the problem with the website and what needs to be done by the webmaster or the owner to get their website back online.

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The 500 internal server error is also one of the HTTP status codes, which we are going to discuss here in this article. Along with this, we are going to provide some valuable tips for web admins on how to get their website back online when it’s been affected by 500 internal server errors. But before moving onto that, let’s first discuss a server and its operation.

What is a Server?

Most of the businesses have their own server (dedicated hosting) or use a shared memory of a server (shared hosting or VPS hosting), but what is the use of a server in the first place? Well, to find out what the 500 internal server error is, we first need to find out the primary usage of a server and how it hosts a website.

The server is like your typical computer, but instead of serving the information to one individual, this computer serves other computers that are connected to the internet. A server is one of the crucial parts of any IT infrastructure.

Governments use websites to inform their citizens about different types of information, and every small and big business has its own website. Every website is hosted on a server. This simply means that all the data pertaining to a website resides on its server(s).

In terms of hardware, all the hardware that you have for your computer is present for the server too. The only difference is that there is no working behind the monitor. In any typical business environment, you are going to find a high-end computer being converted as a server for self-hosting purposes.

How does a Server Work?

Now speaking of hosting a website, how does a server allow a website to be stored in its memory and give the required information from the website to its viewer sitting on the other side of the world?

A server communicates with the user’s computer via the internet. When a user enters a URL, for example, xyz.com, the server gets the information and pulls the data onto the request sender’s machine. Here is the complete process, step-by-step:

  • First, you enter the URL on your computer’s browser, and once you press the enter button, your browser requests the web page which belongs to the URL.
  • The web browser requests the full URL of the website, compiles it into a request, and sends it to the server.
  • The web server receives the request from your browser over the internet.
  • After that, the server finds and builds all the data needed to display the site. This is one of the reasons that a website that is using a dedicated server loads up quicker than the one using shared hosting.
  • Once the server has collected all the information about the website from its memory, it will start sending it to your web browser, and at last, the browser will display the same.

Why are You Seeing a 500 Internal Server Error?

There could be many reasons for you to receive a 500 internal server error, as mainly it’s a catch-all error message. It is sent to the user who is trying to open a website when the sending of no particular message is suitable.

It could be a misconfiguration error or the request received by the server is not clear, and so on. In the next section, we will provide information on how a user can clear out any issues from their side to resolve the 500 internal server errors.

How to Fix 500 Internal Server Error?

As we have already said, a 500 internal server error is an error associated with the client-side, and it has very little to do with your system. It is very unlikely that you are receiving this error status due to issues from your end.

Nonetheless, to ensure you’re not getting the error from your end, you can follow these simple steps. Before you seek any further advice, make sure you perform all these steps:

1. Reload the Webpage

Well, the first sensible thing to do is to reload the page. You can do this by simply pressing enter on the URL bar, or you can press Ctrl+R or F5. Even if you see a 500 internal error on your screen, it could be a temporary error, and after some time, the webmaster of the particular website will get it resolved. Thus, refreshing the webpage might help you out.

Note:- Beware of this error when you are checking out from a merchant website, and this could be a duplicate page that is deployed in an attempt to allow you to make multiple payments for a single product.

Most of the merchants who are selling online take care of this to keep their website’s transactions secured and customers protected. But it is something you need to keep in mind, so you don’t mistakenly make payment to the hackers.

2. Clear Your Browser’s Cache

We all had done this when we were young, and the internet was a new thing. A cached version that has been removed or updated by the website can cause this error to occur on your web browser. The cached information of the website does not cause most internal server errors, but on some occasions, we have actually seen clearing the cache helps in the situation.

3. Delete the Cookies

Your browser receives the information about a website in the form of text files with a small piece of data. It could be the username and the password that is used to identify your computer on the internet. On the other hand, specific cookies are used to find the particular user on the computer to enhance the web browsing experience by making it more personalized.

Data that is stored in the form of cookies are created by the website’s server. As a result, sometimes, the 500 internal server error could be due to cookies not being able to load the pre-stored settings onto the website.

You can quickly delete the cookies from your device as many browsers come with inbuilt settings to delete them. Make sure you click on every option before pressing the delete button on your computer to remove all cookies from the computer. Once you are done deleting the cookies, refresh the page and see if the error still persists.

4. Getting In Touch With the Website Owner

If the website is of a local business and you see the error, contact them and let them know there are some issues with their website that need to be resolved. It is an excellent thing to tell the owner of the website as it could affect their business, and it might take some time for them to realize that their website has gone offline.

If the number of websites is completely down and you have tried every other method to get it access. But if you are still unable to understand the problem, try to check social media like Twitter as you can easily find what’s being the problem as hashtags like #websitesdown will start trending.

When major websites have stopped working, one of the examples of this scenario occurred in 2020 when Google’s server crashed, leading to the Google Search engine to stop working along with Gmail, YouTube, and Google Docs.

5. Treat It As a 504 Error

Most of the 500 internal server errors are 504 errors that are faced by both website viewers and website owners. A 504 gateway error occurs when the web browser from the user end receives a time out as it waits for the response from the second server, which has the desired information.

In other words, it means that your web browser has received an invalid response from the website’s server. You can try to open the same website on some other web browser or some other machine to see if the website is working fine or not. If that’s the case, you might need to update your web browser to its latest version.

6. Wait For the Webmaster to Clear It

This is the last thing you can do. If you did everything that you could do from your side and it’s still not working, then it’s time for you to wait and let the webmaster of the website sort the problem from their end.

Try opening some other websites and check if they are working just fine. It’s not your computer that needs to be blamed or your internet connectivity. The website can be brought online once again but this task can be done in a few minutes. Or it could take a whole hour to even a day if the problem has not been found by the web developer.

Tips to Remove the 500 Internal Server Error From the Webmaster-end

Now that we have given a solution to the user-end, let’s talk about how a webmaster or the owner of the website can deal with the 500 internal server errors:

1. Reload The WebPage

Well, the first noticeable thing even for a website owner is to reload the page. If the error is still there, you need to refresh the website to remove any temporary errors that are causing the issue.

The 500 internal server error happens mostly when you update your theme or install a new plugin to your website. Or maybe, the server on which your website is being hosted gets overwhelmed by the recent update leading to a time-out, which could be fixed by reloading the page.

On the other hand, if this is a problem which you are facing quite often, then you need to take immediate action and look for better hosting for your website.

You can check out the best WordPress hosting sites that provide impeccable server speeds with excellent website protection that allows your website to have lower load times and a secure transaction window for payments.

2. Error Establishing a Database Connection

A 500 internal server error could occur due to a database connection. Depending on what kind of browser you are using, you might get a different error, but both the database connection and server error will have the same HTTP status code in some browsers.

In a few browsers, you will see a clear message which says, “Error establishing a database connection.” This text is hard to miss as it is the only text present on the whole white page. In order to find if your database is working fine, you need to check the cPanel and click on the phpMyAdmin icon.

Now, choose the database you are working with by clicking on it on the left side of the menu. On the right side of the page, you are going to find all the different sets of tables that store the necessary information of your subscribers, customers, and other login details.

Click on check all, and then check the table from top to bottom. If there is an error, you will see it right now. Otherwise, your database is working fine and needs no repair.

If there is some error in the database table, you need to fix it, but in most cases, the website owners have inserted the incorrect login credentials of the database. As a result, the connection between the website and the database will not be achieved.

In shared hosting, website owners have to face database errors due to overload in traffic not being appropriately managed. Also, when a number of connections are facing unresponsiveness due to low site speed, the information user is trying to store on the website gets corrupted, leading to errors in the database.

3. Check Your Plugins

Third-party plugins could be the reason your website is not working correctly and running into 500 internal server errors. Even a small slider plugin or a rotary plugin could corrupt your theme and lead it to stop working. Thus, it is safe to create a backup of your website before you apply any plugins. No matter the size, they can still hurt your website’s availability on the internet.

One thing you can do is roll back to the previous working version of your website, and within a few minutes, the website will be back online. Other than that, you can deactivate all the plugins and check if the website is back online or not.

Don’t worry about losing any data. If you deactivate the plugins, your data collected by them are still stored in your database. If deactivating the plugins made your website come back online, then now it’s your task to find the culprit and uninstall it.

The easy way to deactivate your plugin is by naming their folder on the server something different for testing. Once the test is done and the error is due to plugins, you need to change each plugins folder name to find out the one causing the error. It’s a simple process, and even a person from a non-technical background can do it.

4. Debugging Your Website

If there is no problem with the plugins and with the database of a website, you might need to take the help of a debugger to find what’s causing the issue. On WordPress, you have a built-in debugging interface.

Pasting the debugging code on your website’s wp-config.php file will enable you to debug the whole website. If there are any errors present, they will show up in the recorded file present in your directory. If you are an average website owner and don’t know how debugging works, then you should sit down and ask for professional help to get it done.

We are asking you to take the assistance of a professional because a non-technical individual who doesn’t know the core of a website will not be able to understand how bad the situation is. Yes, you can Google errors to find their severity, but a lot of technical jargon might be challenging to understand.

5. Increasing PHP Memory Limit

Lastly, you can check if your PHP memory is exhausted. This could happen when a plugin that you have installed is a poorly coded plugin. The same goes for themes and even for your scripts. If that’s the problem, you need to increase the PHP memory limit, which can be done by contacting your hosting service provider, or you can even do it by yourself.

To increase the PHP memory limit, you need to open the wp-config.php file. Now once the file is opened, enter the following line of code inside the main PHP tag:

define(‘WP_Memory_Limit’, ‘64M’);

Now save the file and close it. If the error has been removed, you need to contact your hosting provider and ask them to search for the culprit that is causing memory exhaustion.

Conclusion

So this is what a 500 internal server error is. It’s an amalgamation of different errors. So you need to perform various diagnostics to see which type of error it is and from where it has originated. It is best advisable to get the assistance of a professional, but if you are confident enough, you can perform the client-side debugging by yourself.

Lastly, a 500 internal server error is very unlikely to be permanent and related to the user’s end. So if you see a 500 internal server error, it’s not your machine that is in question. It’s the website.

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