How do I fix a “500 Internal Server Error” on my WordPress website?

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My WordPress website is broken! We started getting the HTTP ERR 500 INTERNAL SERVER ERROR. It appears to be an error with our server? Please help!


The client is experiencing a “500 Internal Server Error” issue which could indicate a problem with their server, it may also indicate an error within WordPress itself.

How do I fix a “500 Internal Server Error” on my WordPress website?

A HTTP 500 Internal Server error can indeed signal multiple kinds of problems. It could be an issue with your server, but it’s equally likely that it’s a problem inside your WordPress application. In essence, a HTTP 500 error means that something has gone wrong in your website’s server so much so that normal operations have collided.

Here are preliminary steps to troubleshoot and diagnose what might be causing the HTTP 500 error:

Check Error Logs

One of the first steps you should take any time you’re faced with a “500 Internal Server Error” message is to check your site’s error logs. Some hosting platforms provide these logs through their control panel, while others may require you to access them via FTP.

You are looking for recent entries that might shed some light on what could be causing your server issues. If there’s no information within these logs that helps, or if you don’t have access to them, you will need to try debugging using other methods.

Check for .HTAccess Corruptions

The first thing to check is the site’s .htaccess file. Using cPanel or FTP, or whatever preferred method you use to access files on the server hosting your site, look for this file and rename to .htaccess1 (or anything else) as backup. Try accessing the site again, if it works… replication of .htaccess has resolved your server issue.

Deactivate all plugins to check for plugin incompatibility issues or conflicts

If it isn’t an issue with .htaccess, another possibility could be a problem with one of your plugins or themes. If this is the case, you’ll need to identify which plugin is triggering the error by selectively deactivating each one in turn.

Easy way to check if this is the issue:

  • Access your website via FTP or SFTP.
  • Navigate to ‘wp-content’.
  • Rename the ‘plugins’ folder (for example, rename it ‘plugins_old’).

This action automatically deactivates all your plugins at once. Afterward, rename the folder back to ‘plugins’ and reactivate your plugins one by one (this can be done through the WordPress dashboard). When the error message appears again, you’ll know that the last plugin you activated is causing it.

Switch to a Default Theme

If deactivating plugins doesn’t help, then your theme may be the problem. Switch to a default WordPress theme, like Twenty Twenty or Twenty Nineteen. This change shouldn’t impact your live site so long as you switch back quickly.

Increase PHP Memory Limit

If a script exhausts PHP’s memory limit, a 500 error could be triggered. To increase the memory limit:

– Access your site through FTP.
– Open wp-config.php in a text editor.
– Add define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’64M’);
This line instructs WordPress to increase the PHP memory limit to 64MB.

Reupload Core Files

If checking at .htaccess results no way forward, then you might want consider Re-Uploading Core Files through FTP. Download fresh versions of wp-admin and wp-includes directories within WP and replace these old ones in your hosting account.

Remember that prior to using any of these methods, it’s essential to backup your WordPress website, just in case the solutions have unexpected effects. Always store a complete copy of your website’s contents so that you can restore things to their initial state if necessary.

Don’t worry! It’s always okay to ask for help. WordPress is widely supported, with numerous online forums, resources, and companies such as ours willing to lend a hand. Explore our WordPress management solutions that can make managing your website a non-issue.

Additional reading

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