Why Do I Get 500 Internal Server Errors? How to Fix It

Why Do I Get 500 Internal Server Errors? How to Fix It
  • 4 min read

Anyone who’s used the internet in the last thirty years has likely encountered a 500 error code. Though there are specific error codes in the 5xx range, the 500 error code is a default for any server error that doesn’t match a specific code.

HTTP code errors happen when you use an internet browser. These codes always consist of a three-digit number and a short explanation of the response. 

These are categorized as:  

  • Informative Responses (100s or 1xx) 
  • Successful Responses (200s or 2xx)
  • Redirections (300s or 3xx)
  • Client Errors (400s or 4xx)
  • Server errors (500s or 5xx)  

The 500 series of codes are server errors.

What Is a 500 Internal Server Error Code?

In HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), a 500 error code is a response to the query in a browser. A user types in an address (http://website.com) and the server gives an answer. That answer is normally rendering a website. But a 500 error is like calling a phone number and hearing the “I’m sorry this call can’t be completed as dialed.” The 500 HTTP status code is a catch-all code for any error that a server has in processing a request. 

Okay. I know. It gets techno-babble blah blah quickly. Basically, when people use a web browser, they’re talking to computers that talk to other computers and respond in their own language: HTTP.

“I’m Sorry Dave, I’m Afraid I Can’t Do That.” 

Let’s put it in terms of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

There is a famous scene where HAL 9000 locks Dave and Frank out of the Space Pod. They left the pod to discuss disconnecting HAL beyond earshot. They didn’t know HAL 9000 reads lips. When Dave asks HAL to open the pod bay doors (HTTP request), HAL refuses (error code).

I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that,” is the same as the 500 HTTP Status Code.

After Dave sends more requests, HAL ends the conversation definitively. “Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.” Talk about a Gateway Timeout (504). Rude.

The server couldn’t (wouldn’t) process Dave’s request to open the pod bay doors. Now, this comes from a SciFi movie in 1968 that cautions humanity about artificial intelligence. Kind of still relevant with ChatGPT and Open AI, but that’s another blog post

Are There Other 500 Error Codes?

Yes, there are a few types of HTTP error codes in the 5xx series. You can think of HTTP status codes like general ledger codes in accounting if that helps. They’re simply categories that help you determine the next step. 

According to the IETF HTTP Working Group, the 500 error codes include:

  • Internal Server Error (500)
  • Not Implemented (501)
  • Bad Gateway (502)
  • Service Unavailable (503)
  • Gateway Timeout (504)
  • HTTP Version Not Supported (505)

Colloquially, we can remember 500 HTTP status codes as:

  • It’s on you, Bro (500)
  • “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” (501)
  • It’s you, not me. (502)
  • Be right back – I have to pee. (503)
  • Ain’t nobody got time for this.  (504)
  • Bye, Felicia. (505)

But I Host at Rocket.net. Why Would I Worry About 500 Error Codes?

Sad to say, but sometimes the website client is the issue. Maybe their cousin’s neighbor forked a bad plugin. Someone might have searched on Stack Overflow for a hack on their .htaccess file. There are a lot of ways user error results in HTTP 500 errors. Most of them, in our experience, come from editing the .htaccess file or installing a less-than-stellar plugin.

“WordPress uses this file to manipulate how Apache serves files from its root directory, and subdirectories thereof. Most notably, WP modifies this file to be able to handle pretty permalinks.”

WordPress.org

Simple things like corrupted .htaccess files, bad plugin installations, syntax errors, and permission errors cause 500 error codes. We recommend that you test all new plugin installations and updates before pushing to live, especially if you’re running a high-volume eCommerce site

“There are many ways to corrupt a .htaccess file. It can happen during plugin installation, file configuration, or while you are working on your server.”

HubSpot

Should I Contact Rocket.net Support if I Get a 500 Error?

Of course, we’re always here for you with our experienced support. A good first step to resolving your HTTP 500 error code is refreshing your browser. It’s possible that helps resolve your problem.

It could be that the website you’re trying to access doesn’t support your browser. If you’re using Safari, for example, and you get a 500 error, try the website in Chrome. 

If it still doesn’t work try searching the site Down For Everyone Or Just Me. The most common is people searching for Facebook, Instagram, or ChatGPT being down. 

The next best step is searching our knowledge base (login required) for your question.

If you’re still encountering errors on your website that is hosted with us, get ready for great support.

Start by writing down a few things:

  • What is the website address?
  • What were you trying to do when you encountered the error?
  • What error did you get?
  • What browser were you using?
  • Did you try a new browser?
  • What recent updates were made to your site?
  • When you deactivate the most recent plugin installed does the error still happen?

Are You Ready to Change Hosts?

If your 500 error came from another host and you had a less-than-acceptable experience, we’d love to throw our hat in the ring. Let us be a partner that your business can rely upon.

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