Tips to Fix the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress

Are you familiar with the feeling of having to deal with, let’s say, error 521 or critical error in WordPress? If you think those are challenging, we’re sorry to disappoint. There’s nothing quite as disheartening as encountering the dreaded 500 Internal Server Error on your WordPress website. Your palms start to sweat, your heart races, and you’re left wondering how to fix the problem quickly and effectively. But fear not, dear reader! We’ve got your back with these helpful tips and tricks to fix the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress head-on. Stick around, and you’ll have your website up and running smoothly again in no time.

How to Troubleshoot And Fix the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress?

Before diving into the solutions, let’s take a moment to understand the 500 Internal Server Error. This error is a generic message indicating something went wrong on the server side but not a specific issue. Various problems, including plugin conflicts, theme issues, server configuration errors, or insufficient memory allocation can cause the 500 Internal Server Error. Also, it’s essential to remember that this error is not exclusive to WordPress but can occur on any website, regardless of the platform used.

Woman sitting at a desk in front of a laptop while holding her hands on her head while looking stressed
Trying to fix the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress can be frustrating if you don’t know how to troubleshoot it properly.

Given its elusive nature, trying to fix the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress may require some trial and error, which is why we’ve consulted WordPress experts and compiled a comprehensive list of tips to help you navigate this challenge. Now that we’ve set the stage and demystified this ominous error, let’s get down to business and explore the tips to banish the pesky 500 Internal Server Error from your WordPress site for good.

#1 Check Your .htaccess File

One of the most common culprits behind the 500 Internal Server Error is a corrupted .htaccess file. To identify and resolve the issue, follow these steps:

  1. Access your website’s root directory via FTP or File Manager in your hosting control panel. For instance, FileZilla is a good option.
  2. Locate the .htaccess file and rename it to something like .htaccess_old.
  3. Refresh your website to see if the error persists.

If the error is gone, congratulations! You’ve found the problem. However, you need to make sure you avoid losing any custom rules you’ve added to the .htaccess file. To do this, create a new one and gradually copy the old rules. After adding each rule, test your website to ensure it doesn’t trigger the error again.

#2 Increase PHP Memory Limit

Sometimes, the 500 Internal Server Error occurs because your website runs out of memory. You can increase the PHP memory in four simple steps:

  1. Access your website’s root directory (as mentioned in tip #1).
  2. Locate the wp-config.php file and open it for editing.
  3. Add the following line of code just before the line that says, “That’s all, stop editing! Happy publishing”:define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’);
  4. Save the changes and refresh your website.
Computer screen with coding page on it
Website running out of PHP memory is a common cause of the 500 Internal Server Error.

If the error is resolved, you’ve found the cause of the error and successfully increased the PHP memory limit. But do keep in mind that this is a temporary solution, and you should investigate further to determine which plugins or themes are causing the memory issue.

#3 Deactivate Plugins and Themes

Plugin and theme conflicts are another common cause of the 500 Internal Server Error, and here’s how to find out if that’s the case:

  1. Access your website’s root directory.
  2. Navigate to the wp-content folder.
  3. Rename the plugins folder to something like plugins_old. This will deactivate all your plugins at once.
  4. Refresh your website to see if the error persists.

If the error is gone, you’ve narrowed the problem to a plugin conflict. Now, rename the plugins_old folder back to plugins and start reactivating the plugins one by one, refreshing your website after each activation. When the error reappears, you’ve identified the problematic plugin.

If the error remains after deactivating plugins, repeat the process for your themes by renaming the themes folder and activating the default WordPress theme. It’s quite simple, but it might take some time, depending on how many plugins you have installed on your website.

#4 Debugging Mode

Enabling the WordPress debugging mode can help you identify any underlying issues causing the 500 Internal Server Error. To activate debugging mode, follow these steps:

  1. Access your website’s root directory and locate the wp-config.php file.
  2. Open the file for editing and search for the line that says “define(‘WP_DEBUG’, false);”
  3. Change “false” to “true” and save the changes: define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true);
  4. Refresh your website.

With debugging mode enabled, you’ll see specific error messages instead of the generic 500 Internal Server Error. Use these messages to pinpoint the problem and resolve it accordingly.

#5 Check File Permissions

Incorrect file permissions can also lead to the 500 Internal Server Error. To check and correct file permissions, here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Access your website’s root directory via FTP or File Manager.
  2. Ensure that folders have a permission value of 755 and files have a value of 644. You can change these values by right-clicking on the item and selecting “File Permissions” or “Change Permissions.”
  3. Apply the changes and refresh your website.

If the error is resolved, you’ve successfully fixed the file permissions issue.

#6 Consult Your Host

Lastly, if you’ve tried all the above tips and still can’t resolve the 500 Internal Server Error, it’s time to use your ultimate lifeline and reach out to your hosting provider. They may be experiencing server issues or can provide insights into the problem that you may have missed.

Woman sitting at a desk and talking to hosting provider while trying to fix the 500 internal server error in WordPress.
If nothing you try on your end works, it’s time to contact your hosting provider.

Conclusion: Victory Over the 500 Internal Server Error

Even though the 500 Internal Server Error may seem like an intimidating obstacle, it’s not an impossible one. By tackling it methodically, with a keen eye for detail and a little patience, you can restore your WordPress website to its former glory. The key lies in understanding that this error is a symptom, not a diagnosis. It’s a call to action, urging you to dig deeper, examine your website’s inner workings, and uncover the hidden issues that may be causing trouble.

While our tips to fix the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress serve as an invaluable guide for resolving this issue, they also remind us of the importance of maintaining a healthy, up-to-date, and well-optimized website. So, as you triumph over the 500 Internal Server Error, let this experience be a catalyst for future vigilance and proactive maintenance, ensuring that your WordPress site remains robust and error-free for years to come. Or, better yet, contact WordPress pros and let them take care of your website for you. This way, you can be certain your WordPress website is always running smoothly and error-free.

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