We’ve all encountered it – an error that tells us something is wrong on the website you’re visiting. This is a 500 internal server error, and it’s usually a problem with the website’s server.
The Many Faces of a 500 Internal Server Error
500 server errors are almost inevitable, so many websites customize their error messages to explain to visitors why the page isn’t working.
Here are typical server error messages you’ll see beyond “internal server error”:
- “Oops, something went wrong!”
- “We can’t find that page.”
- “The server was unable to complete your request.”
- “[Name] will be back soon/is offline”
YouTube is an exception. Its error messages include this treasure: “Sorry, something went wrong. A team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with this situation.”
How to Fix a 500 Internal Server Error: Users
Even though an internal server error is probably something the website has to fix, our instincts usually require us to take action. And sometimes the problem is on the user side.
Here are a few steps users can take in the face of a 500 error message:
- Reload the page. Some websites use one message to cover all errors, and it’s possible you encountered a 504 “timeout” error because your ISP was working too slowly and couldn’t bring up the webpage.
- Clear your browser’s cache. Your browser might have brought up an older, cached page that no longer exists. Browsers normally check to see if there’s a new version of an already visited webpage, but sometimes they get stuck. Go ahead and clear it. Then schedule your system to regularly clear the cache.
- Delete your cookies. This means you will have to re-enter data to access password-protected websites, but that’s also a good reminder to change them too.
If none of these work, try again later. If you’re a nice sort, go to the website’s home page (assuming this isn’t the one with the error) and click on the webmaster link, or use a contact form to let them know there’s a problem.
How to Fix a 500 Internal Server Error: Websites
If you’re new to WordPress, don’t panic. Server errors happen to everyone.
First, make sure everything on your WordPress site is updated, especially plugins. Old ones can trigger server problems and are also a security risk, so be sure to regularly update yours. Even better, set your security plugin to notify you when a plugin has released a new version.
Sometimes you have to manually reset all your plugins to resolve a server error. If the plugins aren’t the problem, go ahead and contact your host. It’s possible that they are having problems since it’s their server, after all. And if it isn’t, they can troubleshoot and walk you through solutions; this is part of their service.
Your host will probably check your theme to make sure it’s updated to the current version of WordPress. If it isn’t, it’s time to switch to a compatible one. WordPress’ default themes are good emergency substitutes.
If you’re the DIY type, go to WordPress.org, and search for “500 error”. Look at the first few result pages to find examples that match your problem. For example, if the error only appears on blog pages, include that in a refined search so you’ll get the most recent answer.
It’s best to get server errors fixed quickly, so most people will contact their website host. But there’s nothing wrong with doing some research afterward to better understand how your WordPress website works. Visit our blog to learn more about this topic.