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Fixing the 500 Internal Server Error

Find out how to fix some of the most common website errors

Last updated 11th May 2021

Objective

The "500 Internal Server Error" can affect your entire website or only parts of it. It can be permanent, appear sporadically, or result in a blank page.

error500

These errors may also come from updates carried out automatically by components of your website and therefore occur without any action taken on your side.

Learn how to diagnose the most common cases of "500" type errors.

OVHcloud provides services which you are responsible for with regard to their configuration and management. You are therefore responsible for ensuring they function correctly.

We have provided you with this guide in order to help you with common tasks. Nevertheless, we recommend contacting a specialist provider and/or the service’s software publisher if you encounter any difficulties. We will not be able to assist you ourselves. You can find more information in the Go further section of this guide.

Requirements

Instructions

Before you continue, check your website on different devices and browsers. If the error does not appear in some cases (e.g. on a different browser), your OVHcloud services are working fine. Restart your local devices and contact an IT professional if necessary.

A website consists of a source code (most of the time, .php files connected to a database) and additional data. We strongly advise you to create backups of your data before taking any further measures:

  • Follow this guide to retrieve a copy of all your website's files.
  • If your website uses a database, you can additionally refer to this guide on how to retrieve a copy of it.

In order to solve a 500 error, you can restore your website. However, we recommend to first investigate the causes of this error through the following steps:

Check your hosting logs

First, please check your logs with this guide.

Put your website in development mode

To reveal any PHP errors, switch your web hosting to development mode with these instructions.

Test the .htaccess file

A 500 error can be caused by a defect of the .htaccess file of your website, which is usually located on the first level of its root folder within your hosting's FTP storage space.

To check this, log in to your hosting plan via FTP.

Then rename this file to .htaccess.old and refresh the page in your browser.

If your website is online again, it means the .htaccess file should be corrected. If you need help to make the necessary operations, you may consider contacting an OVHcloud partner.

Check folder and file permissions

Each file and each folder of your source code has a certain level of read, write and execute permissions within your web hosting's file system. This is meant to protect them from any malicious or improper manipulation.

An incorrect level of access rights on a folder or a file may create a 500 error.

To access these files, log on your FTP server.

The FileZilla guide will then help you check the following points:

  • The root of your hosting plan (this is the directory marked / or . on Filezilla) must have 705 access rights (these are the default permissions). Do not change this level of permissions.
  • Folders must have 705 access rights.
  • Files must have 604 access rights.

Access error details on your scripts

For security reasons, your website hides all technical details about the error 500.

To verify these details, you can use a SSH connection. (SSH is only available with a hosting plan of the Business or Developer range.)

Restore your website to its previous state

If the 500 error appeared after modifying the PHP configuration of your web hosting, return to the previous one by following our guide Changing a Web Hosting plan’s PHP version.

Executing database or FTP restore operations replaces all data contained in your FTP server or database by a backup. As a result, you will not be able to recover any changes made or data stored after the timestamp of the backup used.

Restoring your website’s source code will affect all websites on your OVHcloud web hosting.

To restore your website’s source code, read our guide Restoring your Web Hosting plan’s storage space. Keep in mind that this operation alone is not a permanent solution.

If your website uses a database, read our guide Importing a backup into a Web Hosting plan database.

Go further

For specialised services (SEO, development, etc.), contact OVHcloud partners

Join our community of users on https://community.ovh.com/en/


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