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Fix a WordPress internal server error

An internal server error (ISE), also known as a 500 error, is a generic error message that appears when your WordPress site cannot be displayed. An ISE can also appear as a blank white page.

The error can happen for a variety of reasons, but it’s usually caused by a conflict with WordPress, a plugin, a theme, or one of the site’s control files. This most commonly happens after an update to WordPress, a plugin or a theme and now a conflict exists.

Finding the cause of an ISE and then resolving it is often a matter of trial and error. So below are some of the ways you can find the cause of the error with links to articles that will take you through each process.

Warning: Always make a backup of your site before troubleshooting or making any changes.

Disable your .htaccess file

One of the most common causes of 500 internal server errors is a corrupt .htaccess file. The .htaccess is a control file that WordPress uses to help manage and control your site. WordPress, its plugins and themes often make changes to this file, but at times the changes cause a problem and corrupt the file.

Start by disabling your .htaccess file. If disabling the .htaccess file worked, then reset your permalinks to automatically create a new one.

Disable all of your plugins

WordPress plugins can conflict with one another or with WordPress, which can lead to an ISE. This is more likely to occur after an update to WordPress or your plugins.

Disable all of your plugins and then reload your site to see if your site loads without the error. If so, then enable your plugins one at a time, reloading the site after each plugin is enabled, until you find the error and which plugin(s) is causing the problem.

If possible, update the problematic plugin(s) to the latest version.

If updating the plugin doesn't work, then try the following:

  • Search for your plugin on, then select it to open the details page for that plugin. Next, select the Support tab to open the plugin-specific forums.
  • Review the documentation provided by the plugin's developer.
  • Review the general WordPress support forums.

Note: If you can’t access the WordPress admin dashboard then you can disable your plugins through the database.

Switch to a default WordPress theme

If the options above didn’t help fix the problem, then it’s possible your theme is causing the conflict. To test, you can change to one of the default WordPress themes, like TwentyTwenty or TwentyTwentyOne.

Note: If you can’t access the WordPress admin dashboard then you can change your theme through the database.

If your site loads without the ISE, you can update your normal theme to its latest version and then change it back.

If updating the theme doesn't work, then try the following:

  • Search for your theme on, then select it to open the details page for that theme. Next, select the Theme Homepage link to open the site for that theme's developer. Search their site for support specific to the that theme.
  • Review the general WordPress support forums.

Increase the PHP Memory limit

By default your hosting account will assign a set amount of it’s memory to running PHP, which is one of the scripting languages WordPress uses. Due to your WordPress site's size or the number of plugins it uses, It’s possible the site requires more than the default PHP memory.

You can increase the PHP memory limit for your hosting account.

Enable WordPress debug mode

WordPress comes equipped with a debug mode, which can give a more detailed error message, instead of the generic ISE. With debug mode enabled, the error message will usually show whether WordPress, a plugin or a theme is the problem

Start by enabling debug mode. Once debug mode is enabled, the more detailed error message will help you find the cause.

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