The 500 Internal Server Error is one of the most perplexing issues WordPress users can encounter, as it doesn’t provide any clear indication of its cause. This error can result from problems with the .htaccess file, insufficient PHP memory limits, or corrupt plugins or themes. Fortunately, with a systematic approach, you can diagnose and resolve this error. Follow these steps to get your WordPress site back up and running.
1. Understanding the 500 Internal Server Error
This error typically indicates a problem with the website’s server, but it can also be triggered by specific issues within a WordPress site. Because it’s a server-side error, the problem doesn’t lie with your computer or internet connection but with the website itself.
2. Check the .htaccess File
A corrupt .htaccess file is often the culprit behind a 500 Internal Server Error. Follow these steps to check and create a new .htaccess file:
- Access Your Site via FTP: Use an FTP client to access your site’s files. Navigate to the root directory, where you’ll find the .htaccess file.
- Rename the .htaccess File: Rename the file (e.g., to “.htaccess_old”). This action disables the potentially corrupt file.
- Create a New .htaccess File: Go to your WordPress admin area, navigate to Settings > Permalinks, and click “Save Changes.” This will generate a new .htaccess file.
- Test Your Site: Check if this resolves the 500 error. If it does, your .htaccess file was the problem.
3. Increase the PHP Memory Limit
Insufficient PHP memory can also cause a 500 Internal Server Error. To increase your PHP memory limit:
- Edit the wp-config.php File: Access your site via FTP and locate the
wp-config.phpfile. Edit the file and insert the following line:
- Save and Upload: Save the changes and upload the file back to the server.
- Check Your Site: See if increasing the PHP memory limit has resolved the issue.
4. Deactivate All Plugins
A corrupt plugin can be another reason for this error. To check if a plugin is causing the problem:
- Deactivate Plugins: Access your site via FTP, navigate to the
wp-contentfolder, and rename the
pluginsfolder (e.g., to “plugins_deactivate”). This deactivates all plugins.
- Check Your Site: If your site returns to normal, a plugin is likely the cause. Reactivate each plugin one by one until you find the problematic plugin.
5. Switch to a Default Theme
If the error persists, a theme conflict might be the issue:
- Switch Themes via FTP: Access your site via FTP, go to
wp-content/themes, and rename your current theme’s folder. WordPress will revert to a default theme.
- Check Your Site: If this fixes the issue, your theme was causing the 500 Internal Server Error.
6. Contact Your Hosting Provider
If none of the above steps work, the issue might be more complex and related to your server. In this case, contact your hosting provider. They can check the server logs that detail the exact cause of the error and help you resolve it.
The 500 Internal Server Error in WordPress can be daunting, but it’s often solvable with patience and a systematic approach. By checking the .htaccess file, increasing the PHP memory limit, and investigating plugins and themes, you can identify and fix the issue. Remember, always back up your site before making any changes, and consider reaching out to a professional if you’re uncomfortable performing these steps on your own.