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How to Fix the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress

Are you seeing a 500 internal server error in WordPress?

The internal server error is one of the most common WordPress errors. Since the error doesn’t give any other information, many beginners find it quite frustrating.

In this article, we will show you how to easily fix the 500 internal server error in WordPress.

Fixing the internal server error in WordPress

Here is a quick overview of the topics we will cover in this article:

What Is the 500 Internal Server Error?

The 500 internal server error is a common web server error. It is not specific to WordPress and can happen with any website.

The 500 in the error message is technically an HTTP error code. Looking up this code will only show its standard description:

500 Internal Server Error response code indicates that the server encountered an unexpected condition that prevented it from fulfilling the request.

This is a generic catch-all error message, which means that the server was unable to assign a better, more helpful error message when it encountered the issue.

The error page looks different depending on which web server software (Nginx or Apache) your website uses and which browser you use.

Here is how the Apache error page may look:

Internal server error page on Apache

It may look different if you are using Nginx and Google Chrome.

It will also look different if Google Chrome is unable to find an error page to display:

Google Chrome http 500 error

For beginners, this can be incredibly frustrating. No clue or message will point them in the right direction to quickly fix it.

Asking how to fix an internal server error is like asking your doctor how to fix the pain you are experiencing without telling them where the pain is.

However, if you know the common causes that trigger this error, then you can try fixing them one by one to resolve the error without breaking anything.

What Causes the Internal Server Error in WordPress?

Internal server error in WordPress is often caused by a corrupt .htaccess file, poorly coded plugins, or your active WordPress theme.

Other possible causes of the internal server error in WordPress are PHP memory limit or corrupt core WordPress files.

In some conditions, the internal server error may only show up when you are trying to access the WordPress admin area while the rest of the site works fine.

That being said, now let’s take a look at how to go about troubleshooting the internal server error in WordPress.

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Fixing the 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress

Before you begin troubleshooting, make sure that you have a complete WordPress backup of your website on hand.

If you have access to the WordPress admin area, then you can use a WordPress backup plugin to create a complete backup of your website. We recommend using Duplicator to handle this.

On the other hand, if you don’t have access to the WordPress admin area, then you can manually create a WordPress backup using phpMyAdmin and an FTP client.

After that, you can follow the following steps to troubleshoot and fix the internal server error on your website.

Clear WordPress and Browser Cache

Browsers and your WordPress caching plugins can sometimes mistakenly store a cached copy of an error page.

The easiest way to fix this is by first clearing your browser cache.

Clear cache

After that, if you have access to the WordPress admin area of your website, then you can empty the WordPress cache by visiting your caching plugin’s settings page.

For details, see our tutorial on how to clear WordPress cache.

Checking for Corrupt .htaccess File

The .htaccess file is a server configuration file that is also used by WordPress to set up redirects.

One of the most common causes of the internal server error is the corrupt .htaccess file.

The easiest way to fix this is by simply visiting the Settings » Permalinks page in the WordPress admin area and then clicking on the ‘Save Changes’ button without making any changes at all.

Update permalinks to regenerate .htaccess file

WordPress will now try to update your .htaccess file or generate a new one for you. You can now visit your website to see if this has resolved the internal server error.

If you can still see the error, then you need to make sure that WordPress was able to generate or write to the .htaccess file.

Sometimes, due to file and directory permissions, WordPress may not be able to create or write to your .htaccess file.

You can now try to replace the .htaccess file manually. First, you need to log in to your website using FTP or the File Manager app under your hosting account control panel.

Next, you need to rename your main .htaccess file to something like .htaccess_old. This lets you keep the file as a backup, but WordPress won’t recognize it.

To rename the .htaccess file, you will need to log in to your site using FTP or the File Manager app in your hosting account’s cPanel dashboard.

Once you are connected, the .htaccess file will be located in the same directory where you will see folders like wp-content, wp-admin, and wp-includes.

Simply right-click on the .htaccess file and rename it to .htaccess_old.

Rename .htaccess file

Next, you need to create a new .htaccess file.

Inside your site’s root folder, right-click and then select the ‘Create new file’ option in your FTP client or File Manager app.

Create new htaccess file

Name this new file .htaccess and click ‘OK’ to save it.

Now, this .htaccess file is currently empty, and you need to add default WordPress rewrite rules to it.

Simply right-click on the file and then select ‘View/Edit’ in your FTP client or File Manager app.

Edit .htaccess file

The empty file will open in a plain text editor like Notepad or TextEdit.

Now, you need to copy and paste the following code inside it:

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>
# END WordPress

This code is the default rule set used by WordPress. Don’t forget to save your changes and upload the file back to the server.

You can now visit your website to see if this has resolved the internal server error.

If it did, then give yourself a pat on the back because you fixed the internal server error.

Important: Before you move on with other things, make sure that you go to the Settings » Permalinks page in the WordPress admin area and click the Save button without making any changes. This will regenerate the .htaccess file for you with proper rewrite rules to ensure that your post pages do not return a 404 error.

If checking for the corrupt .htaccess file solution did not work for you, then you need to continue reading this article.

Increasing the PHP Memory Limit

Sometimes, the internal server error can happen if a script consumes all the PHP memory limit.

The easiest way to increase the PHP memory limit is by editing the wp-config.php file. Be careful when you do this if you are a beginner. You want to follow these instructions carefully because even small mistakes in WordPress core files can break your site.

To begin, simply connect to your WordPress website using an FTP client or the File Manager app under your hosting account control panel.

You’ll find the wp-config.php file inside the main folder of your website. Right-click on it and select ‘Download.’ This will ensure that you have a file backup in case something goes wrong.

When you’ve saved that, you can right-click on it and select ‘View/Edit.’

Edit wp-config file

Inside the wp-config.php file, you need to add the following code just above the line that reads, ‘That’s all, stop editing! Happy publishing’:

define( 'WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M' );

For more details, see our tutorial on how to increase the PHP memory limit in WordPress.

Note: If 256M doesn’t solve the problem, then try increasing it to 512M.

If you see the internal server error only when you try to log in to your WordPress admin or upload an image in your wp-admin, then you should increase the memory limit by following these steps:

  1. Create a blank text file on your computer and name it php.ini
  2. Paste this code in there: memory=256MB
  3. Save the file
  4. Upload it into your /wp-admin/ folder using FTP

If increasing the memory limit fixed the problem for you, then you have only fixed the problem temporarily. You still need to find the cause that is exhausting your memory limit.

This could be a poorly coded plugin or even a theme function. We strongly recommend that you ask your WordPress web hosting company to look into the server logs to help you find the exact diagnostics.

If increasing the PHP memory limit did not fix the issue for you, you are in for more troubleshooting.

Deactivate All WordPress Plugins

If none of the above solutions worked for you, then this error is most likely being caused by a specific plugin installed on your website.

It is also possible that it is a combination of plugins that are not playing nice with each other.

If you can access the WordPress admin area of your website, then you can simply go to the plugins page and deactivate all WordPress plugins.

Deactivate all plugins

However, if you are unable to access the WordPress admin area, then you can deactivate all WordPress plugins using FTP.

Simply connect to your WordPress website using an FTP client or the file manager app under your hosting account control panel.

Once connected, navigate to the /wp-content/ folder and rename the plugins folder to plugins.deactivated.

Plugins deactivated via FTP

WordPress looks for plugins in the plugins folder. If the plugins folder is not found, it will automatically deactivate all plugins.

You can now try visiting your website to see if this resolved the internal server error on your website.

To restore all your plugins, you can simply rename the ‘plugins.deactivated’ folder back to plugins.

Your plugins will now be restored, but they will still be deactivated.

You can now activate plugins individually and visit your website to figure out which plugin is causing the internal server error.

For more details, see our guide on how to deactivate all WordPress plugins without WP-Admin.

If deactivating all plugins didn’t fix the internal server error on your website, then continue reading.

Switch to a Default WordPress Theme

One possible cause of the internal server error could be some code in your WordPress theme.

To determine if this is the case, you need to switch your theme to a default WordPress theme.

If you have access to the WordPress admin area, then go to the Appearance » Themes page. If you have a default theme already installed, then you can simply click on the Activate button to switch the theme.

Activate a default theme

If you don’t have a default theme installed, you can click on the ‘Add New’ button at the top and install a default theme (Twenty Twenty-Three, Twenty Twenty-Two, and so on).

If you don’t have access to the WordPress admin area, you can still switch to a default theme.

Simply connect to your WordPress website using an FTP client and navigate to the /wp-content/ folder.

Right-click to select the themes folder and download it to your computer as a backup.

Download theme folder

Next, you need to delete the themes folder from your website. Once it is deleted, go ahead and create a new themes folder.

Your new themes folder will be completely empty, which means you don’t have any WordPress themes installed at the moment.

Next, you need to visit the WordPress themes directory and download a default WordPress theme to your computer.

Download a default theme

Your browser will then download the theme as a zip file to your computer.

Locate the file on your computer and then unzip it. Windows users can unzip the file by right-clicking on it and then selecting ‘Extract All’. Mac users can double-click on the zip file to extract it.

Extract theme files

You’ll now see a folder containing your WordPress theme.

Switch back to your FTP client or File Manager up and upload this folder to the empty themes folder.

Upload theme folder

Once uploaded, WordPress will automatically start using the default theme.

You can now visit your website to see if this resolved the internal server error.

If this didn’t work, then you can reupload your WordPress themes from the backup or switch back to the theme you were using.

Don’t worry. There are still a few more things you can do to fix the error.

Re-Uploading Core Files

If the plugin and theme options didn’t fix the internal server error, then it is worth re-uploading the /wp-admin/ and /wp-includes/ folders from a fresh WordPress install.

This will NOT remove any of your information, but it may solve the problem in case any file is corrupted.

First, you will need to visit the WordPress.org website and click on the ‘Download’ button.

Download WordPress

This will download the WordPress zip file to your computer.

Go ahead and extract the zip file. Inside it, you will find a wordpress folder.

WordPress folder extracted

Next, you need to connect to your WordPress website using an FTP client.

Once connected, go to the root folder of your website. It is the folder that has the wp-admin, wp-includes, and wp-content folders inside it.

In the left column, open the WordPress folder on your computer.

Now you need to select all files inside the wordpress folder and upload them to your website.

Upload core WordPress files

Your FTP client will now transfer those folders to your server.

It will ask you whether you would like to overwrite the files. Select ‘Overwrite’ and then select ‘Always use this action’.

Overwrite WordPress core files

Your FTP client will now replace your older WordPress files with new, fresh copies.

If your WordPress files were corrupted, then this step will fix the internal server error for you.

Enable Debug Logs in WordPress

WordPress comes with a built-in system to keep logs for debugging.

You can turn it on by using the WP Debugging plugin. For more details, see our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Once activated, the plugin will turn on debugging logs on your WordPress website.

If you don’t have access to the admin area of your WordPress website, then you can turn on debugging by adding the following code to your wp-config.php file:

define( 'WP_DEBUG', true);
define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', true); 

Once you have turned on debug logs, you can view these logs by using an FTP client and navigating to the /wp-content/ folder.

Debug log

You can open the debug log file in a text editor, and it will show you a list of errors and warnings that occur on your website.

Some errors and warnings can be harmless incidents that may not need fixing. However, if you are seeing an internal server error on your website, then these may point you in the right direction.

Ask Your Hosting Provider

If all methods fail to fix the internal server error on your website, then it is time to get some more help.

Contact your web hosting support team, and they will be able to check the server logs and locate the root cause of the error.

If you want to continue troubleshooting on your own, then see our ultimate WordPress troubleshooting guide for beginners.

We hope this article helped you fix the internal server error in WordPress. You may also want to see our complete list of the most common WordPress errors and our guide on how to choose the best web hosting provider.

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671 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Hey WPBeginner readers,
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  2. What if it’s NOT the .htaccess file? Can we then change the filename back .htaccess??

    What if it’s NOT the plugins? Can we simply change the plugins folder name back to what it was??

    These are details we should know about.

    Thanks!

  3. Thankyou so much, I had installed a plugin which had somehow corrupted the .htaccess file, renamed it to .htacces_old as per the advice on this page, and all’s back working again, if you cant find the .htaccess file on your server, it could be hidden, cpanel has an option to look for hidden files.

    thanks guys

  4. When all the files in your “wp-content” are empty, you always get the server (both locally and remotely). Took me longer time before recognising this.

    I was moving the an existing wordpress engine alognside many other things, Unfortunately the wp-contents and it’s respective folders were all empty.

    Finally, Happy when I solve this.

  5. Thanks! Great tutorial. Turned out for me that, when I was unactivated the plugins, I got another error-message saying i had some corrupt @media print-code in the functions.php. Took that away and got my page back :D

  6. Make sure index.php has permissions of 644. Somehow mine has 777 when transferred from one server to another.

  7. I must have spent 4 hours trying everything I found online. In the end, turns out I was running an old version of PHP. When I updated it in my cPanel, the 500 error was gone.

  8. Internal Server Error

    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

    Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@ and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

    More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

    Additionally, a 500 Internal Server Error error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

    how to solve this error?

  9. My problem was actually a corrupt wp theme rather than a corrupt plugin.

    To solve I renamed the corrupt theme (Oxygen) (which gave me a white screen) than named Twenty Sixteen “oxygen” so that my site would use Twenty Sixteen (a working theme) as my theme. Than I switched using dashboard to Twenty Fourteen (my second favorite installed theme) than again used my file editor to rename Twenty Sixteen back to “twentysixteen” & Oxygen to “oxygen.corrupt”.

    I think my theme did not download properly, making it corrupt.

    Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

  10. Thank you so much for so complet information! :)

    i have a .htaccess problem.. solved.. now working as charm..

  11. Someone pointed me to your article (thank heavens) I did the htaccess file change and it helped it for two minutes. Then I did the php memory thing and that helped for a few minutes as well, then back to the internal server error. I’m currently working on trying to figure out if it’s a plugin. If that doesn’t help… then I’ll do the core files. And then after that… I have no idea. I guess I’ll try my hosting provider again.

  12. Is it possible to have an Internal Server Error only on select computers, but not others?
    That is the issue I’m dealing with right now.
    I have 6 sites all hosted through one account via GoDaddy. All are showing an Internal Server Error. They were fine this morning, but now nothing.
    Problem is that GoDaddy says that they see the sites just fine.
    I can pull the site up in gtmetrix.com and analyze it with no issues.
    Please help.
    Every computer I use PC, Macs and Chromebooks all show internal server errors, but gtmetrix.com and GoDaddy says everything is fine.

    One of the sites is

    Thanks in advance

  13. Phew…thanks a lot guys!

    A new guy here…installed ‘bulletproof security’ plugin on my wordpress site & got an Error 500!

    Was shit scared…& finally found out about your site and this article – finally fixed it by applying your tip to rename to .htaccess file to .htaccess_old!

    Once again, thank you so much – you guys rock!! :D

  14. Hi Guys

    I have a questions in regards of 500 internal server error, i experienced the problem with a plugins [JSON API] when i type example.com/api/ – it is showing 500 internal server error.

    any advises on how to solve this problem? much appreciated before.

  15. Thank you!
    In my case, it was the theme that was broken (my fault for tinkering around), not a plugin. I renamed the theme folder .mytheme-deactivate like in your plugin example, and hallelujah, I could access my site again! (I simply activated a different theme, but I could probably uninstall and re-install the original theme if I wanted to)

  16. Sometimes this is a bug in your own PHP code.

    For this it’s best to use a binary chop ‘echo’ method. That is add a simple echo ‘fred1’; exit; into your code starting at the top of the index.php. If you see ‘fred1’ displayed when you visit your site then you know it’s a PHP bug and not any of the other reasons. (Note I used a .htaccess online validator to check the syntax of my .htaccess file too, in order to rule that out).

    Once ‘fred1’ is displayed now move it halfway down the index.php file (useful to increment the integer each time too, e.g. fred2, fred3 etc). If the server error occurs then you know you need to move the statement up. If fred1 etc is printed then you need to move it further down the code. If you get to an include or require statement then you then delve into that file in the same way.

    I found the offending PHP file in under 10 minutes. You should then use php -l whateverfile.php to find offending line in that file and also to know what the syntax error is. If ‘php -l’ doesn’t give you the syntax error then you should read this:

    The ‘php -l’ would need to be done by remote logging into your hosting account. If you can’t do this then as this article says, contacting your hosting support can be useful to find the php log file.

  17. I have tried all the options given in this article but it’s still the same. the error message appears on both the admin and the web pages of my site. I’d appreciate more options to solve this problem. The error message is:

    500 – Internal server error.
    There is a problem with the resource you are looking for, and it cannot be displayed.

    Thanks

  18. I am running a large WooCommerce store and was receiving 500 internal server error on most front end pages & WP admin login. The store resides on a dedicated cloud server and had been running fast without fault for a few months. Tried ht access remedy firstly, but nothing changed, php memory should not have been a problem as I had increased this on install & I did not think WP ftp core files were corrupted, so looked elsewhere. Ran putty to connect to dedicate linux server and command line was showing huge CPU usage for mysql – 90%. Previously in my WP development experience sql errors or high usage are database related, so via a combination of sql workbench to kill connections & php myadmin to repair database tables (I only repaired wp_options in this instance) I was able to fix the internal server problem. My point on all of this is – even though problem was flagged as internal server error, it was a database table repair (after table analysis) which cleared the error.

  19. Hey Guys ,

    I have this problem right now with some site and it looks like it is because server is overloaded and website is on shared hosting, so keep an eye on that !

    • Thanks i think you are right, i tried all above solutions but nothing helped, and i have pinge my site to a lot of search engines today so can be robots from there that have made the error.

  20. Not work for me. I face this problem when I want to customize my theme. Everything goes well. But to do ‘customize’ I get this error. I don’t why.

  21. Thank you so much! I was encountering endless Internal Server Errors for about 36 painful hours, and deleting/reuploading my theme via FTP then renaming the .htaccess file SAVED ME SO MUCH!
    You are a life saver.

  22. Thank you very much. it was the option of re-uploading the wp-admin and include folders that saved me after about 3weeks of troubleshooting.

  23. For me, it was the permissions setting for the entire directory. It needed to be 750. Soon as I changed that in the File Manager in cPanel it was back up.

    I didn’t figure that out on my own.

    Rod

  24. Thank you so much! You save me from an heart attack…
    Simply I have renamed, via FTP, the .htaccess in .htaccess_old, and WP goes on.

    This is the new .htaccess, created as you suggested:

    # BEGIN WordPress

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
    RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

    # END WordPress

    This is the .htaccess that I find in my FTP and renamed in .htaccess_old:

    ## BEGIN WordPress<
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
    RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

    # END WordPress

    I don’t know what had modify the file. Someone have an answer?
    Thank you!

    • I think it is a # problem, because your old file has 2 # and the new 1 # in the beginning.

      Hope it helped

  25. I just want to say a big thank you to you guys. You saved my day with this article. I’m bookmarking this website now as I know I will have to come back and learn more from your resources. Thanks a bunch.

  26. I had this issue after a fresh install of WordPress. I would get this error specifically when accessing the plugins from my dashboard it turned out to be a corrupt .htaccess file but had to be handled server side by my web host. I’m running on Arvixe.

  27. I must give kudos to the moderators and content developers of this blog. I’ve not regreted knowing this website for one bit. The .htaccess solved the problem for me with ease. Keep up the good work.

  28. Thanks a lot, it was due to a bad plugin I couldn’t login, Wouldn’t have been possible without reading this. Great work … !

  29. I’ve got a weird one. My Internal Server Errors only happen on “Posts”, and Not on “Pages”. The host just updated the PHP version as well as the memory limit, and I re-uploaded the wp-admin and wp-admin files. No luck. Any other ideas?

  30. Thanks, It solved in my case. Just delete de .htaccess , reload, and a new .htaccess file was generated and the site works !

    Thank you again

  31. I have been in touch with my hosting provider two times and they have no idea what it is. They switched databases, thought it was hacked, and the other guy couldn’t figure out why I was having problems at all.

    Someone pointed me to your article (thank heavens) I did the htaccess file change and it helped it for two minutes. Then I did the php memory thing and that helped for a few minutes as well, then back to the internal server error. I’m currently working on trying to figure out if it’s a plugin. If that doesn’t help… then I’ll do the core files. And then after that… I have no idea. I guess I’ll try my hosting provider again.

    Would switching hosts be of any help at all?

  32. Thank you so much for so complet information! :)
    It was a plugin problem for me, impossible to find without your help!

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