A ‘500 Internal Server Error’ message can be exasperating as you are restricted from accessing a website, especially when you need it the most. Get to know what a 500 error is and how to fix it for your website.
When a user types an internet address such as ‘www.google.com’ in a browser (the client) and hit enter, a request to the web server (the server) is made to answer with an HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) status code that comprises of a three-digit number.
An HTTP status code thus helps in locating the desired website or web address on the internet. The server then the information to the client in the form of a three-digit code whether the request was successful, an error, or a further authentication.
The HTTP 500 error is a common occurrence when you visit a specific website. The user cannot access the website requested due to the error. However, it is generally not an error with the user’s system as the user can still access other websites. Let us learn more about this error in detail.
What is HTTP error 500?
The HTTP status code ‘500 Internal Server Error’ can occur any time and indicates something is wrong with the website’s server (or web server or simply the ‘server’). However, it does not explicitly specify the problem. The user can rest assured that there is nothing wrong on their part, and it only indicates some trouble with the website server.
How is the 500 error often expressed?
There is no specific format to display the 500 status, and websites usually customize them. Here are some of the typical 500 error display formats:
- 500 error;
- Temporary Error (500);
- 500 Internal Server Error;
- HTTP 500 Error;
- HTTP 500 – Internal Server Error;
- Internal Server Error;
- 500. That’s an error;
- HTTP 500 Internal error.
The HTTP 500 error is a website-specific error. Hence, you can see it irrespective of the type of browser, operating systems, and even on your smartphone. The 500-error message is usually displayed as an in-browser window message.
If the server has installed Microsoft Internet Information, it displays the error code along with additional details. For example:
- 500.0: Module error occurred;
- 500.11: Application is shutting down on webserver;
- 500.21: Module not recognized.
Such descriptions allow webmasters to understand the issue better and take appropriate action at the earliest.
What causes HTTP 500 errors?
HTTP 500 errors occur when the web server processes the request. Some of the causes of HTTP 500 errors are as follows.
- Permission error. Main files and folders have incorrect permission settings.
- Incorrect code in .htaccess. There could be an error in the structure of the .htaccess file.
- PHP timeout. The script experiences a timeout when trying to access an external resource.
- PHP memory limit. It cannot execute the process because it exceeds the PHP memory limit.
- Error in syntax or code in CGI/Perl scripts. Occasionally, paths can be misaligned, or scripts can be incorrect.
How to fix HTTP error 500 if you are a website user?
The 500 Internal Server Error is a simple server-side error. As mentioned, it doesn’t represent any problem with your computer or internet connection. It appears when the server encounters an unexpected condition, which in turn prevents it from fulfilling the request from the client.
Hence, generally, a user cannot rectify it. Instead, a user can follow the below steps during a 500 error.
- Reload the webpage. The 500 Internal Server Error can be a temporary issue. Hence, by reloading the webpage, you may get access to it. Pressing the F5 key or ‘Ctrl+r’ options can refresh the webpage. Alternatively, you can try punching in the URL again.
- Clear your browser cache. There is a chance that you are viewing a cached page. Hence, clearing the cache may clear the 500 error screen.
- Delete browser cookies. Deleting the browser cookies may also resolve the HTTP 500 error. You may remove the cookies and restart the browser.
- Treat it as a 504 timeout error. At times, the server reports a 504 Timeout Error as a 500 Internal Server Error. Though it does not happen all the time, you can troubleshoot the error as a 504 error.
- Contact the website administrator. Generally, website administrators get notified about the 500 Internal Server Error. If you suspect that they are not aware of it, contacting the website administrator can help you and other users. The website contact information is available on almost all websites.
How to fix HTTP error 500 if you are the website owner?
The above instructions were about what to do to deal with the HTTP error 500 as a user. However, if you have a website and you face HTTP 500 server errors relating to it, it requires different handling methods, as given below.
- Correcting the permission error. An incorrect file/folder permission on a PHP or CGI script can cause a 500 error. The solution is to set the permission to 0755 (-rwxr-xr-x) and 0644 (-rw-r-r-r) for folders and files, respectively.
- Setting the PHP timeout rules. Your script can connect to external resources, and there could be a timeout in those resources. Under such circumstances, you can follow the timeout rules to handle the error.
- Rectifying the coding error in .htaccess. Though it is not a common form of a 500 error, you can check if the .htaccess file is appropriately structured.
Check the website for 500 status code
Audit your website to detect whether the site has pages with 500 HTTP status code