Last updated: 2 March 2022

When your website shows a blank page the web server encountered an issue that prevented it from displaying the page. This is a so-called internal server error, or error 500. It is quite a generic error, which can make it difficult to find the cause. Also, server errors are logged to the web server’s error log rather than an error log in your user directory. Unless you have access to the server logs it can be difficult to figure out what triggered the error.

We can usually quickly see what the error is. So, unless you know what caused the issue you probably want to submit a support ticket.

What triggers an error 500?

An error 500 can happen when you do work on your website. For instance, changing a configuration file, such as the .htaccess file or WordPress’s wp-config.php file can easily trigger an error 500. A small typo in a configuration file can break everything. If you took a backup of the file(s) you changed then you can solve the issue by restoring the file(s). If you didn’t make a backup; don’t worry, we got you covered. We take nightly backups which are retained for seven days.

Another thing you can easily check is whether or not your website’s database needs to be repaired. This is something you can do via the Databases interface in cPanel.

It may also be that your website is running out of memory. Each website has a finite amount of resources available, and when the limit is reached the server can no longer handle requests. If you were running a resource intensive script then this could be the reason. Or, if your website just needs a lot of resources, for instance because it gets lots of visitors, you may need to upgrade the hosting package.

Other possible reasons for an error 500 include updates to Content Management Systems such as WordPress and Joomla, incorrect file permissions and incorrect database login credentials. As said, an internal server error is quite a generic error! Usually, though, we can quickly solve the issue, so please get in touch if you need any help debugging an error 500.