How to Fix the 500 Internal Server Error: An Advanced Troubleshooting Guide


People who develop web apps or websites often encounter the HTTP Error 500, also known as the Internal Server Error. The problem is that resolving this issue can be quite challenging because the error does not have a specific cause.

However, there are numerous reasons why you may be experiencing the Internal Server Error. So, the question is, how can you fix the HTTP Error 500? In this article, I will discuss this topic to help you easily resolve this internal server error.

Now, let’s dive into the topic without further delay.

What is HTTP Error 500 or Internal Server Error?

The HTTP Error 500 can occur due to various reasons, but they all indicate the same issue. When accessing a web app or website, you may encounter errors such as “500 Internal Server Error,” “500 Error,” “HTTP Error 500,” “500. That’s an error,” “Temporary Error (500),” or simply the error code “500.” All of these errors are identical.

When you see such a message on your computer, it means that something unexpected has occurred on the web server, and the server cannot provide you with specific information. Instead of displaying a normal web page, it returns an error.

Furthermore, it is important to note that the server-side of an application generates this error. This means that the 500 internal server error is not caused by your HTML, client-side JavaScript, or anything else that runs in a browser.

How does the 500 Internal Server error appear?

Now, the question is: how does the 500 Internal Server error appear? Well, the error message for the internal server error can be customized by each website that you visit.

This means that the error might appear in different forms when you experience it. However, to help you understand it better, here are the common messages that you may see:

  • Internal Server Error
  • HTTP 500 Internal Error
  • 500 Internal Server Error
  • HTTP Error 500
  • HTTP 500 – Internal Server Error
  • 500 Error

If you are using Internet Explorer and receiving the “The website cannot display the page” message, it indicates that you are encountering the HTTP Error 500 error. The most effective method to identify the error is by examining the “500” displayed in your IE toolbar.

What causes a 500 Internal Server error?

Now the question is, what causes a 500 Internal Server error? Well, the error simply indicates that there is a problem on the server side.

A server error can be caused by a number of things. Maybe there is an incorrect upload on the server, or there is a bug in the code structure. Since the web browser cannot solve or get rid of the bug, it simply tells you that there is something wrong, but your website is not sure what exactly went wrong.

If you have root access, you can review your web server’s error logs to get more information about this. And if you are using a shared hosting plan, you can also contact your hosting provider to get more information. As it is a server-side error, this means it has something to do with the website programming or configuration settings.

If the server is using Microsoft IIS software instead of Apache, there is a high chance that you will find some clues to figure out what is causing the Internal Server Error.

In addition to this, you should also focus on multiple debugging options and try to fix the issues. However, if you are unsure how to fix the Internal Server Error, let me go ahead and discuss the fixes that you can try out.

So here we go:

HTTP Error 500 – Internal Server Error and How to Fix This

Before you proceed with any methods to fix the HTTP Error 500, I recommend taking a backup of your website. This precautionary measure will ensure that if anything goes wrong and the situation worsens, you can restore your website to its current state using the backup.

There are various ways to back up your website, depending on the type of web hosting you have. To assist you, here is a quick guide on how to back up your website on Shared Hosting.

How to Take a Site Backup on Shared Hosting?

  1. Log in to your hosting’s cPanel.
  2. Find the Backup option and click on it.
  3. Click on the Download a Full Website Backup option.
  4. On the next screen, select the Home Directory option from the Backup Destination drop-down menu.
  5. If you want to receive email notifications when the backup is complete, enter your email address. If not, tick the “Do not send an email notification of backup completion” option.
  6. Click on the Generate Backup button to start creating a full backup.
  7. Once the file generation process is complete, you will receive an email notification if you have enabled it.
  8. Go to the /home directory of your cPanel to find your backup. Download it to your computer for future use.
  9. To restore the backup, go to cPanel and select the Backup Wizard.
  10. Choose the restore option and upload your file. You’re all done.

Now that you have finished downloading a backup of your website, let’s proceed to discuss the steps we need to follow to fix the Internal Server Error.

Method 1: Debugging the Issue

One of the first steps you can start with is debugging the issue. By doing so, you will be able to understand the nature of the error.

To do this, you need to check the PHP logs or the relevant section of the Apache error logs. This will provide you with more information about the error.

If you are unable to find the error logs there, try enabling PHP error reporting by making some changes to the index.php file.

Open the index.php file and paste the following lines of code:

ini_set('display_errors', 1);
ini_set('display_startup_errors', 1);

Also, if you have a WordPress website, you will need to download the wp-config.php file, which is located in the website’s root directory. You can download the file from cPanel or by using an FTP client.

Once you have downloaded the file, open it using your preferred text editor. If you do not have a text editor installed on your computer, you can try Notepad++ for Windows or TextMate for macOS.

Next, search for the ‘WP_DEBUG’ string in the file. When you find the line, change the value from False to True and upload the file back to the server.

If you cannot find the line in the config file, you will need to add the following lines to the wp-config.php file:

define( "WP_DEBUG", true );

Afterwards, reload the website to check if the error persists. If it does, you may encounter a “Fatal error” message that identifies a specific line of code in a specific file. This indicates a simple code error.

In this situation, I will assume that a plugin or theme causes the error. To resolve it, you should disable the plugin or theme and then verify if the issue has been resolved. If you are unsure how to disable plugins and themes from the cPanel, follow these steps.

How to Disable Plugins and Themes from cPanel?

  • Step 1: First, log in to your cPanel.
  • Step 2: Next, click on the File Manager to access your website files.
  • Step 3: Navigate to your WordPress installation folder and open the wp-content folder.
  • Step 5: Go to the plugins folder.
  • Step 6: Here, locate the plugin you want to disable. Right-click on it and rename the file.

Also, you will need to follow these steps to disable the theme if there is an issue with the theme on your website.

Furthermore, remember that once you have finished identifying the problem, ensure to change the WP_DEBUG value from True to False and re-upload the file to the server.

Troubleshooting Popular Software Problems

The next thing we can try is troubleshooting common software problems. If your server is running popular applications like WordPress, bad installations, incompatible versions, and incorrect server permissions can cause an HTTP 500 Internal Server Error.

The good news is that fixing the issue is not as difficult as it may seem. Here are a couple of things you can try to fix the issue:

  1. First, check if you have recently installed or upgraded any software that may not have been installed or upgraded properly. If so, disable the software and verify if everything is functioning correctly. If not, contact the software vendor for further assistance.
  2. Another possibility is that a newly activated plugin or theme is conflicting with your website, resulting in an internal server error. To troubleshoot this, deactivate the plugins and themes one by one and test if the issue is resolved. (To disable them, refer to the guide above on how to disable plugins and themes from Cpanel).
  3. If you have recently upgraded your software, plugins, or themes, there is a chance that they are not compatible with the new upgrade. In this case, deactivate the plugins or themes one by one and check if this resolves the issue.

Method 2: Debugging Server-Side Scripts

You can also try debugging server-side scripts. Custom scripts that are currently being developed and tested can also cause the HTTP 500 Internal Server Error.

To fix this issue, follow these steps:

  • Check for wrong permissions on a file or folder that has a script, such as a PHP or CGI script. If the permissions are incorrect, the script will not be allowed to run. Make sure to set the permissions correctly on your server.
  • Programming errors or unavailable resources can also cause the issue. If the script is not allowed to run or creates an endless loop, you may receive a timeout error.
  • Coding errors in a .htaccess file and custom scripts can also cause the HTTP 500 Internal Server Error.

Errors with the .Htaccess File

As mentioned above, there could be an error with the .htaccess file. If you are using a .htaccess file on your website, there is a high chance that it might be interfering with the webpage you are trying to access in your browser.


In such a case, I recommend checking the .htaccess configuration for any syntax errors. Syntax errors can cause a 500 internal server error.

To confirm whether a misconfiguration of .htaccess is the main problem causing the HTTP error 500, I suggest removing the .htaccess file (after creating a backup, of course). Alternatively, you can temporarily rename the file and see if that helps resolve the issue.

PHP Coding Timing Out

If your PHP scripts are designed to establish an external network connection, there is a chance that the connections are timing out.

If too many connections are attempted and all of them time out, it can result in an internal server error.

To prevent this, you can ensure that your PHP scripts include timeout rules.

However, it can be difficult to catch a timeout error when connecting to a database or external resources such as RSS feeds. In a server environment, scripts can freeze and stop running.

By removing any external connections, you can improve the performance of your website and reduce the occurrence of HTTP Error 500.

Creating a New .htaccess File

We can also try creating a new .htaccess file because there is a high chance that the current .htaccess file on your website might be corrupted.

In such cases, you will need to log in to the WordPress root directory through the cPanel or use an FTP client like FileZilla. After that, you will need to enter the public_html folder. If you find folders like wp-admin and wp-content, it means you are in the right place.

Now, look for the .htaccess file. If you don’t see it, make sure that hidden files are viewable by clicking “Server” and selecting “Force Showing Hidden Files.

Once you have found the .htaccess file, right-click on it and rename it to “.htaccess.bak.” By doing this, the current .htaccess will no longer be in use.

Now, we need to create new htaccess file. Go to your WordPress admin area, hover over “Settings,” and select “Permalinks.” Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes. Next, open your website in your browser to see if everything working fine.

If it is, it means the error was caused by corrupted htaccess, and your issue is now fixed.

Increasing Your PHP Memory Limit in WordPress

PHP memory limits are determined by your web hosting provider and WordPress. WordPress will try to raise the limit if you exceed it, but it cannot surpass the limit set by your hosting provider.

In many shared hosting plans, the limit is often lower. Therefore, you will need to increase your PHP memory limit in WordPress and then verify if your website still encounters the same 500 internal server error.

To increase your PHP memory limit in WordPress, follow these steps:

  • First, open your root directory. Next, locate your WP-Config.php file.
  • Right-click on the file and select “download” to save it to your computer. Open the WP-Config.php file using your preferred text editor. Then, paste the following line of code into the file:

define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’64M’);

  • Afterward, you will need to save the file and upload it back to the root directory. This action will overwrite the original file.

Once you have completed the above steps, please refresh your website and check to see if the error persists. If you still encounter the same error, it indicates that you do not have any PHP memory limit problems.

To resolve this, please remove the code from the wp-config.php file on your computer and upload it back to the server.

Method 3: Deactivate All Plugins:

If none of the above methods work for you, then maybe this problem was caused by a poorly coded plugin and some other plugins. It might be a good option to deactivate all plugins from the “public_html>wp-content>plugins” folder.

If one or two of your plugins are not working properly, they can also cause a 500 internal server error. Deactivate plugins from the “public_html>wp-content>plugins” folder and try reloading your website.

If deactivating a plugin solves the problem, then you will know that one of your plugins is causing this error. Simply activate plugins one by one to determine which plugin is causing the error, then remove the infected plugin and report it to its author.

3.1. Updating Core Files:

If none of the methods mentioned above resolve the issue, you can attempt to resolve the HTTP Error 500 by overwriting the WordPress core files. This involves replacing the “wp-admin” and “wp-includes” folders. To do this, first install a fresh copy of WordPress on a subdomain or a different domain. Then, take the newly installed “wp-admin” and “wp-includes” folders and move them to the main site folder. By doing so, any corrupted files will be replaced, potentially resolving the HTTP Error 500 problem.

It is important to note that replacing the “wp-admin” and “wp-includes” folders will not have any negative impact on your website or database. Instead, it will help address the underlying issue causing the HTTP Error 500. This method can be effective in fixing the problem caused by corrupted files and restoring the functionality of your WordPress site.

By following these steps and overwriting the core files, you can effectively troubleshoot and resolve the HTTP Error 500. However, it is always recommended to create a backup of your website before making any changes to prevent any potential data loss.

3.2 Clear Your Browser Cache

There is a chance that the issue has already been fixed on your website. However, due to caching, you may continue to see the same error repeatedly. In this case, you can resolve the problem by clearing your browser cache.

If you are using Google Chrome, you can follow these steps:

  1. Copy and paste the following URL into your Chrome browser: chrome://settings/clearBrowserData
  2. Click on the “Clear data” button, which will remove all cached data from your website.
  3. Finally, try loading your website again to see if the issue has been resolved.

3.3 Contact ISP or Hosting Provider

If you own a website but don’t have access to the web server’s logs and filesystem, you should contact your ISP/Hosting provider for further details about the logs that you can investigate.

Some ISPs/Hosting providers offer access to different tools through the Control Panel only, so you can easily obtain the details you are looking for. However, there are hosting providers that do not grant access due to security reasons.

There is also a high possibility that the issue lies with the hosting provider. It could be that they are upgrading the server or software, resulting in the HTTP Error 500 on your end.

Therefore, it is advisable to reach out to your hosting provider and inquire if they can assist in resolving the issue. Many hosting providers have help articles available for similar problems.

Contacting them will allow you to hear their perspective on the problem.

3.4 Contact CMS provider

When you encounter issues with your website, it’s not only your hosting provider that you can turn to for help. Another option is to reach out to your CMS provider. If you are using content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, or other similar platforms, they may offer support and resources to address your concerns. It’s worth checking their website for help pages or documentation that can provide more details on troubleshooting common issues. Additionally, consider participating in the official forum associated with your CMS. By posting about your problem there, you might receive valuable assistance from other users or experts in the community.

Don’t limit yourself to just one avenue for assistance when encountering difficulties with your website. While your hosting provider is a good starting point, don’t forget to explore the resources provided by your CMS provider as well.

Whether it’s through help pages, documentation, or forums, these platforms often offer valuable assistance and guidance when it comes to troubleshooting and resolving issues. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge available from your CMS provider to ensure a smooth and seamless website experience.


In conclusion, the HTTP Error 500 – Internal Server Error can occur due to various reasons. Therefore, it is important to try different methods to fix the issue. By following the suggestions provided, you can address the error and restore the proper functioning of your server.

Remember to carefully review your server logs and identify any specific error messages or patterns that might help in diagnosing the problem. One common cause of the Internal Server Error is a misconfiguration in your server software or settings. Ensure that your server software is up to date and that all configurations are properly set.

Additionally, it is recommended to check for any issues with your website’s code or plugins. Faulty code or incompatible plugins can also trigger this error. By debugging your code and deactivating unnecessary plugins, you can pinpoint the source of the problem and resolve it accordingly. If you have any further questions or need assistance, feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll gladly help you out.

Avatar of Sunny Kumar
Sunny Kumar
Hello! I’m Sunny Kumar from New Delhi, India, a tech enthusiast and blogger with an IT degree from IIT-D. My expertise lies in SEO, Cloud Computing, Telecom & Networking, and CEH. I specialize in SEO, WordPress Development, and PC Building. And being a proficient WordPress user, I’m dedicated to delivering quality content and a remarkable user experience.

6 thoughts on “How to Fix the 500 Internal Server Error: An Advanced Troubleshooting Guide”

  1. Kumar, you have really gone through a lot of things and its really helpful for the people who are getting this kind of problem. What if someone not using the cPanel? Would it be quite similiar?

    • Thanks for your valuable comment.

      Yes, if you’re not using the cPanel (or if you’re using any other panel), open the public_html folder and then follow the same method using any text editor.

      You can reach me at [email protected]. I’ll fix the error for you 🙂


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