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How to Fix the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress?
WordPress is a popular website platform that powers millions of websites worldwide. However, like any other web platform, it is not immune to errors and glitches.
One common error that WordPress users encounter is the 500 Internal Server Error. This error can be frustrating and confusing, especially for non-technical users who are not familiar with server-side errors.
The 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress occurs when there is a problem with the server hosting your website. It means that something has gone wrong on the server, but the server cannot pinpoint what caused the issue.
Importance of Resolving the Issue Promptly
The 500 Internal Server Error can have severe consequences if left unsolved for an extended period. First and foremost, it can cause your website to become temporarily unavailable or inaccessible to visitors, which can hurt your brand reputation and result in lost traffic and revenue.
Moreover, search engines such as Google are known for penalizing websites with frequent downtime or errors by pushing them lower down on search engine result pages (SERPs). If your site gets hit with this penalty because of persistent internal server errors, it could negatively impact your SEO efforts and hurt your online visibility.
Common Causes of the 500 Internal Server Error
The 500 Internal Server Error is a common error in WordPress, and it can be triggered by various issues. In this section, we will discuss the most common causes of the error and how to fix them.
Outdated plugins or themes
One of the most common causes of the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress is outdated plugins or themes. Plugins and themes are essential components of a WordPress website, but they can also cause significant issues if not updated regularly. If your website is experiencing an internal server error after installing or updating a plugin or theme, chances are that it's causing the problem.
To troubleshoot this issue, you should deactivate all your plugins and switch to a default WordPress theme temporarily. Then reactivate each plugin one by one while checking if your website is still showing an internal server error.
Corrupted .htaccess file
Another reason why you might be experiencing the 500 Internal Server Error is that your .htaccess file has become corrupted. The .htaccess file controls how Apache serves files from your website's directories.
To ensure that your .htaccess file isn't causing an internal server error on your site, rename it temporarily and create a new one. You can create a new .htaccess file manually through FTP or by navigating to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard.
Insufficient memory limit or PHP version issues
When running complex websites with high traffic volumes and many features, insufficient memory limit or PHP version can lead to errors such as internal server errors on some pages. In such cases, you may need to increase the memory limit allocated to PHP processes running on your webserver via WP-Config.php code editing.
Updating PHP version through hosting provider will also address any compatibility issues regarding deprecated functions called in outdated plugins or themes. By updating PHP version, your server will have the latest language constructs and security features.
Troubleshooting Steps to Fix the Error
Check for Corrupted Plugins and Themes
One of the most common causes of the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress is outdated or corrupted plugins and themes. To troubleshoot this issue, you need to deactivate all plugins and switch to a default WordPress theme temporarily. Deactivating all plugins involves going to the "Plugins" section in your dashboard, selecting all active plugins, then choosing "Deactivate" from the drop-down menu.
Next, reactivate each plugin one by one while refreshing your website after each reactivation to identify which plugin is causing the error. If a theme is causing the error, you can switch to a default WordPress theme temporarily.
Go to "Appearance" > "Themes," then activate any default theme such as Twenty Twenty-One or Twenty-Nineteen. If this works, it means that your previous theme was causing the error.
Fixing .htaccess File Issues
Another reason why you may be experiencing a 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress is due to issues with your .htaccess file. The .htaccess file controls how Apache serves files on your website’s server.
If it's corrupted or has errors within its code, it could lead to an internal server error. To fix this issue, rename your current .htaccess file and create a new one by navigating to File Manager in cPanel or via FTP client such as FileZilla.
Once located, rename it something like ".htaccess_old." Then go back into WordPress admin area under "Settings" > "Permalinks" and save changes without altering anything about permanent settings themselves. This will generate a new .htaccess file with default code within it automatically.
Increasing Memory Limit or Updating PHP Version
In some cases, insufficient memory limit or outdated PHP versions can cause the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress. To fix this issue, you can increase your memory limit by editing the wp-config.php file. Add a line of code that specifies the maximum amount of memory that WordPress can use, such as −
define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M'); If this doesn't work, you may need to update your PHP version through your hosting provider.
To check which version of PHP you're currently using, go to "Tools" > "Site Health" > "Info." If it's outdated, contact your hosting provider to update it. Some popular hosting providers like Bluehost or SiteGround offer an option to easily upgrade PHP versions from within their control panels.
Advanced Steps for Resolving Persistent Issues
Debugging with WP_DEBUG
Enabling the WP_DEBUG mode can help identify the root cause of the error. Navigate to wp-config.php file and modify its settings to enable debugging.
Add the following line of code to your wp-config.php file −
define( 'WP_DEBUG', true ); define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', true ); define( 'WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', false ); @ini_set( 'display_errors', 0 );
This will change debugging from default (false) to true, meaning any errors will be logged in your server’s PHP error log. Check error logs for specific issues. Once you’ve enabled WP_DEBUG, check your server’s PHP error logs.
You can find out where these are located by asking your hosting provider or checking their documentation. The log files may contain several warnings or errors that could help identify the cause of the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress.
Reinstalling WordPress Core Files
If all efforts have failed so far, consider reinstalling core files of WordPress. Download a fresh copy of the latest version from WordPress.org’s official website and extract it on your computer.
Connect to your website using FTP client and navigate to public_html folder (or wherever your website is located). Select all files but exclude /wp-content/ folder and /wp-config.php file and delete them from your server.
Upload fresh copies of all files from extracted folder onto server. This will restore all core files in WordPress, including default themes and plugins while keeping site’s data intact.
Resolving a 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress can be a daunting task, but it is critical for user experience on your website. By trying out some basic troubleshooting techniques like deactivating plugins and correcting corrupted .htaccess files, you may be able to fix the error. If all basic steps fail, consider re-installing WordPress core files or enabling debugging with WP_DEBUG mode to get more specific details on the issue.
Remember to always back up your website prior to making any modifications. With patience and persistence, you can successfully resolve the issue and ensure uninterrupted user experience on your WordPress website.
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