WordPress internal server error

If you are currently seeing the 500 internal server error in WordPress message when you try to access your site, we know how you feel. WordPress internal server error essentially tells you your site cannot be used because “something is wrong somewhere, but the system has no clue where”.

We understand how frustrating this can be, so in this article, we will take you through the common causes of this issue, and the solutions that have helped many WordPress users get their sites working again.

If you would rather not go through the stress, you may request our WordPress help service and our developers will help you fix your issue quickly. Otherwise, you can continue reading our guide on how to fix 500 internal server error in WordPress and do it yourself.

In this article:

  1. Before you Start – Backup
  2. Common solutions to fix WordPress Internal Server Error

Before You Start – Backup

It is always advisable to do a backup of your site files and database before making any major changes. If you had regular backups running before now, then you should be good to proceed. Otherwise, we suggest you perform manual WordPress backups of your files and database now.

Common Solutions to Fix WordPress Internal Server Error

To use most of the solutions in this section, you would need to access your website files using file transfer protocol. This FTP video guide shows you how to access your files using FileZilla FTP Client.

Note that you would need your cPanel details which you should already have. If you don’t, contact your web host and request these details.

When you have successfully accessed your files, FileZilla should look like this:

FileZilla - WordPress internal server error

Check .htaccess For Errors

The .htaccess file is used to configure the settings and links in your server. Problems with this file can very often lead to the WordPress internal server error message.

To check if this file is the source of your issue, you need to disable it and see if your site loads normally. Here’s how:

In FileZilla, locate the folder that contains your WordPress files. This folder is usually public_html. Double click to open it.

Note: if your site is located on your main domain (www.domainname.com), your files will be located in public_html. If your site is on a sub-domain (blog.domainname.com) then you would see a folder named after your subdomain which would contain your WordPress files.

Open WP files - - WordPress internal server error

In this folder, search for .htacess file, right-click on it, select Rename and change the name so your server can no longer read it.

Rename htaccess - WordPress internal server error

Now reload your site. If it works, it means the source of the error was a corrupt .htaccess file.

Next, you would want to create a new .htaccess file. To do this, log in to your WordPress admin dashboard and go to Settings > Permalinks. Do not make any changes; simply scroll down and click Save Changes and a new .htaccess file will be created.

Create new htaccess - WordPress internal server error

Increase PHP Memory Limit

Sometimes the WordPress internal server error occurs because WordPress exceeds the allocated PHP memory during runtime. If this happens, it is a sign that something else (a plugin, theme, script, etc) is using too much memory.

To check if this is the problem, you would need to increase your PHP memory limit and try loading your WordPress site. Here’s how:

In FileZilla, open the folder containing your files (usually public_html), and search for the “wp-config.php” file. Right-click on it and select View/Edit.

Edit wpconfig - WordPress internal server error

Scroll down towards the bottom of the opened file to find the line that says “/* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */”  and paste the following code above it:


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

Increase memory limit - WordPress internal server error

Next, save your changes and close the file. FileZilla will prompt you to upload the edited file. Click Yes and wait for the upload to complete.

Upload edited file - WordPress internal server error

Now try reloading your site to see if the problem is fixed.

If it is, great! We now know that the issue is WordPress running out of memory. However, we still need to find out why this is happening.

The reason is, the php memory limit is put in place to prevent scripts from taking too much memory, so if you are running into memory problems, it means one of your plugins or themes (or even core files) is causing the issue, in which case you want to find out the one.

Although the next 3 steps are solutions to the main problem if your issue is not yet fixed, they can also help you find out the source of your memory problems if increasing memory fixed the issue. If you want to use them for that purpose, delete the memory increase line we created above to reproduce the problem, and then proceed.

Disable Plugins

If the solutions above did not fix your issue, the next thing you want to do is disable all your WordPress plugins to see if a plugin is a cause.

And since you do not have access to your admin panel, you would need to manually disable your plugins. Read this brief guide to find out how to disable plugins using FTP.

Disable Current Theme

In some cases, the script causing this error may be in your currently active theme. To check if this is the case, you can manually disable the current theme.

Follow the steps in this guide to disable your active WordPress theme.

Re-upload Core WordPress Files

If after the steps above you are still getting the WordPress internal server error message, it’s time to consider the possibility that one of your core WordPress files is corrupt.

To fix this, you would need to re-upload all the files in your wp-admin and wp-includes folders. This would not affect any of your website content but could fix the internal server error problem.

Go to the WordPress.org download page and click Download WordPress.

Download WordPress

Extract the downloaded zip file to get the new WordPress folder (note the location of this folder).

Next, access your site files using Filezilla and open the folder containing your WordPress files (usually public_html). In this folder, you would be able to see the wp-include and wp-admin folders.

On the left side in FileZilla, go to the location of the WordPress folder you just extracted and open this folder to reveal the various WP folders and files.

open new wp files - WordPress internal server error

On the left, select the wp-admin and wp-includes folders, right-click, and select Upload.

Upload new files - WordPress internal server error

In the pop-up screen, select “Overwrite”, tick “Always use this action” and click OK.

Overwrite old files

When the transfer completes, access your site to see if it displays correctly. If it does, then a corrupt core file was the source of your internal server error message.

Contact Hosting Provider

In some cases, this error may be due to a problem from your web host, which you can find out by contacting them.

Even if that is not the case, your web host tech support has access to logs that can help them pinpoint the cause of your error, so you should contact them at this point.

Conclusion

After going through all the steps above, you should no longer see the 500 internal server error message on your site. However, in some cases, this can be more stubborn than usual.

If you are still seeing this error, it may be best to have one of our developers look at it for you.

If on the other hand, you found other solutions not covered in this guide that fixed your issue, please share them with us and our readers in the comments section below.