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HTTP 500 Internal Server Error – Explained and Solved

We’ve all seen it. As common as it is infamous, the dreaded HTTP 500-Internal Server Error will turn an online-store owner’s smile to a confused frown with one click. The harbinger of lost sales, it stonewalls your customers’ ability to browse your store and purchase products. For web-developers, this error is a nightmare, creating a frenzied scurry to get your store back online.

As horrific as it sounds, it’s not all that scary. I’ll explain the Error and provide troubleshooting ideas for your PrestaShop store. The next time you see this error, instead of hiding under your blanket, you’ll be prepared to act fast, fix the issue and continue to make sales.

How to recognize the Error 500

First, we need to go over the different ways you might see this error message on your computer. There are different forms of this message because each host/server is allowed to customize the way it’s displayed. Here are some common ways you might see this error.

  • “500 Internal Server Error”
  • “HTTP 500 – Internal Server Error”
  • “Internal Server Error”
  • “HTTP 500 Internal Error”
  • “500 Error”
  • “HTTP Error 500″

Most times you will see this message accompanied by various forms of this classic ambiguous line
“The server encountered an unexpected condition that prevented it from fulfilling the request by the client”

It’s important to note that this error can be shown on any browser and any operating system (sorry, but switching to the new Mac Pro will not solve this problem) Here is a screenshot of one of the ways this error might be displayed on your browser.

Internal error server

What is the 500 Error?

Put simply, the 500 error is the Web servers way of saying “Something went wrong but I can’t tell you what, sorry.” This is what we call a “server-side” error. That means that there is something wrong with the server who is hosting the website. It is an extremely general error usually caused by configuration issues with the websites programming, PHP or system permissions.

How Can I Troubleshoot?

Don’t fret; although this error message is absurdly vague, you still have ways to find more information. Web servers are almost always configured to hide specific error messages. If your PrestaShop store is suffering from this debilitating error, you can turn on PrestaShop’s Error Reporting from FTP or your hosting’s CPanel to get more details.

There are two ways to turn on Error Reporting in PrestaShop depending on what version you have.

For PrestaShop v1.4 through v1.5.2

  1. Open config/config.inc.php
  2. On or around line 29 you will find this line
    @ini_set('display_errors', 'off');
  3. Change that line to read
    @ini_set('display_errors', 'on');

For PrestaShop v1.5.3+

  1. Open config/defines.inc.php
  2. On or around line 28 you will find this line
    define('_PS_MODE_DEV_', false);
  3. Change that line to read
    define('_PS_MODE_DEV_', true);

Once you enable error reporting through your FTP or CPanel, you can navigate back to your PrestaShop’s front or back office and reproduce the error or issue you are having. For example, if you are not able to access your website because of the 500 error, you will need to turn on error reporting and refresh the page(s) that had the error. There will be additional information that you can use to investigate the problem.

Investigating the Error

Once you have the additional information, there are some standard ways to further investigate the error. First, let’s go over some the most common ways this problem is caused. Once we find the cause of this error, it is much easier to solve.

Permissions: Many times you will find that the permission setting on one of your folders is set incorrectly. It could be a simple fix as switching a file/folder permission from 777 to 755 or vice versa. In most cases permission sets of 777 are extremely unsafe and can allow even an amateur hacker to access your files and put malicious code in it. Make sure to check with your hosting provider for specific information about permissions set as some servers have different regulations.

Incorrectly configured .htaccess: Oftentimes you will receive an internal server error when the htaccess file is configured incorrectly. For PrestaShop purposes, the main culprits of the htaccess errors are “URL Rewrite” settings or Friendly URL enabling. The htaccess syntax is very strict so even one wrong character or command will cause the server to return an Internal Error 500. Make a backup of your htaccess and regenerate the htaccess file either through the back office or by toggling the Enable Friendly URL option.

Server timeout: Every server has their own timeout setting, which sets the time that any given script can run. If the function or script crosses that limit, you will receive an error 500. The most common scripts in PrestaShop that can take too long to load are CSV Imports, backups, translation loading, import/exports and thumbnail regeneration. Many times the server limit is 30 seconds, which is not long enough to run these scripts. You should contact your hosting provider and inquire about changing the limit, at least temporarily.

Now, if the problem is not solved by investigating these common causes, you should also take a look at the Apache and PHP Error logs. These are provided by your hosting provider but sometimes you will need to contact them directly in order to have access to these log files.

Piecing the Puzzle

As cliché as it sounds, once you get the error information from PrestaShop and/or the Error log, search for it using Google (add the word PrestaShop to your search and hone-in on the problem) You will find a plethora of information and tutorials about your error. Without a doubt you will find some PrestaShop Forum threads with the [SOLVED] tag by them. Make sure to take the time to read those first.

If you cannot solve the problem after reading this post, researching on the internet and working with your Webmaster/hosting provider, you should definitely take the time to register and post on the PrestaShop Forums. With over 500,000 Community members, we will make sure that the problem is [SOLVED]. You can Private Message (username: “Benjamin Utterback”) me on the forum  with the link to your forum thread and I’ll be sure to take a look and facilitate answers from our expert team of Community Mangers and Moderators.

I told you the 500 Internal Server Error is not as scary as it seems. Now you are well prepared with the knowledge to navigate and solve one of the most feared internet errors. Get your PrestaShop store online and continue to make sales!

  1. It’s easy to find the cause of the 500 error, if you use CPanel, open error logs and look for the the line with the URL you meet the error, it will explain you itself why the error happens, then follow Benjamin’s suggestions above to fix it.

    • Author: benjamin utterback

      Date: June 24, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      Hi Don,

      You’re right, it’s not that scary of an error if you know how to troubleshoot it. Thanks for the tip!

      -Benjamin

    • Author: Jewell

      Date: March 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      HTTP 500 Internal Server Error When I go to Missouri Star Quilting website and click on a product to get more info I get that message, Is it their web site or do I have a problem? I can go to other websites and bne able to shop.

      Thank you,
      Jewell

      • Author: Benjamin Utterback

        Date: March 20, 2014 at 1:37 pm

        Hey Jewell,

        If you can go to other websites without a problem, then the issue is most likely on their end. I would try clearing cache and another browser. If that fails then I would try and contact the webmaster through another outlet, maybe through social media?

  2. Author: hailemorejon

    Date: June 24, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    HELLO I HAVE THAT ERROR ON MY BACK OFFICES AND ECHO U.S. STEPS BUT HE TELLS ME NO ERRORS. APPRECIATE IF YOU COULD HELP ME… THANK YOU…

    • Author: benjamin utterback

      Date: June 24, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      Hi hailemorejon, I think your Caps Lock button is stuck! I would love to help. Did you get the error log information from your CPanel or hosting provider?

      • Author: hailemorejon

        Date: June 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm

        IF I HAVE SEEN THE ERROR BUT I DONT NOT WHAT TO DOO..

        • Author: benjamin utterback

          Date: June 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm

          Hi and thanks for the reply hailemorejon. If you could, please stop using CAPS LOCK. Did you get the error log information from your CPanel or hosting provider? Did you follow the steps outlined in this guide? That should guide you what just to do. Let me know how it goes, thanks!

  3. Author: generaal

    Date: June 25, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Hello benjamin,
    thanks in adavance for you article.
    I run more than serval weeks in a 503 Error, when I hit the advance parameters, Configuration tab in BO.
    My version of PS are 1.5.4.1 and they have working correctly for a while, with a 100 products, now I have 2600 products in my shop and I receive a blank, white page back..no mistakes in the server log files, the only thing I can find are the line in Chrome Dev tools..
    With the follows:

    Request URL:http://www.erotiekfabriek.be
    Request Method:GET
    Status Code:503 Service Unavailable
    Request Headersview source

    I have read and tried many advices, have also contact my host company (one.com). And they have investigate the issue and tolt me, there are to many files that the function call’s in PS (about more than 68000, where canI find these?)
    Where can I read the PHP error reporting, I have enable these in the defines.inc.php file, like discribled.

    I don’t know, if I can delete all the img folders and let PS them regenerate again for proper settings, ore have I do some other things to fix this prob..
    Sorry but I’m not a programmer, and have to learn a lot to go for some error goals.
    My host company don’t support InnoDB, is this maybe the case?

    Thanks in Advance,
    Generaal

    • Author: benjamin utterback

      Date: June 25, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      Hi Generaal, thanks for the read and reply. Although your [503] error is a little different from the [500], it many times stems from the same source. My guess would be that it’s a server timeout issue. You may not the have the right hosting power or provider that you need to support over 2500 products and all corresponding pictures. A blank white page is often times a server timeout.

      Also, I saw that you had a forum post on the PrestaShop forum! That’s good, I will respond to you and work with you until we solve this problem.

      Cheers,

      Benjamin

  4. Author: generaal

    Date: June 25, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Hello benjamin,

    Many thanks, benjamin for the quick replay on my post!
    Have an nice day.

    Best Regards,
    Generaal

  5. Author: hailemorejon

    Date: June 26, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    if I give access to my bo pudierar look what happens when I create a new article. does not record changes after

  6. Internal Server Error

    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

    Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@zombiesempire.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

    More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

    Apache Server at zombiesempire.com Port 80

    I’m getting this?

    • Author: benjamin utterback

      Date: June 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      Hi Vincent, yes that is an Error 500 along with a 404 error. Have you followed the steps outlined in this article? Error reporting from FTP and finding the Error logs from your host?

  7. need help asap,cant find file 500.shtml

  8. Hello. I’m having this issue on Gandi SimpleHosting just after updating from 1.5.4 to 1.5.5…

    I can’t access the back office at all. Error : 500 Internal Server Error.

    From Gandi’s log, I can see :

    [Mon Sep 02 18:56:17.498572 2013] [:error] [pid 26035:tid 3549475477248] (104)Connection reset by peer: [client 2.84.29.123:62224] FastCGI: failed to read from backend server

    Any suggestion ? Thanks you.

  9. hi ben,

    the error 500 occurred when i upgrade using 1-click option module. everything works find there,
    then when i am log off, as per instruction. then i couldn’t get my back office at all. the says error 500 server.

    i follow exactly on your file.
    Open config/defines.inc.php
    On or around line 28 you will find this line
    define(‘_PS_MODE_DEV_’, false);
    Change that line to read
    define(‘_PS_MODE_DEV_’, true);

    but nothing change!. is didn’t work out.

    i searching in forum and everywhere, but i guess is making become worse.
    can you help.. i cannot login into my admin.

    • Author: Benjamin Utterback

      Date: October 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      Hi, in this case you would need to contact your hosting provider. There is an error somewhere, I would suspect in your servers Apache or php error log you would have more information. I suggest you read these upgrade tips found here http://www.prestashop.com/forums/topic/271060-upgrade-tips/

      This would prevent your live store from going down during an upgrade process. Testing the upgrade is extremely important.

  10. hi ben,

    now i can log into cpanel admin, prestashop after i renamed the admin folder.
    however to display the webpage is still error 500 , in index.php file.

  11. Hi
    I have a wordpress site named http://www.mahabgarh.com. I also get this 500 server erroe sometimes when I navigate between pages.Is it a theme or plugin issue , Because I have other sites which are also hosted on the same godaddy hosting account and they don’t have this problem. The Godaddy people are also not able to give a concrete answer.

    Do you have any idea . It is very annoying.

    Best Regards,

    Narender

  12. Author: Nirali

    Date: October 9, 2013 at 5:57 am

    Hi…..
    I have error 500 on my mobile phone… How can I solve it… Please help me…

  13. Author: teo_g

    Date: October 11, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I upgrade Presta from 1.5.2 at 1.5.6
    When I deactivate and reactivate Frendly URL in 1.5.6 I have error 500. I discover line: “SetEnv HTTP_MOD_REWRITE On” . I commented this line and works fine. But if deactivate / reactivate Frendly URL the problem reappear.

  14. This is such a great post, and was thinking much the same myself. Another great update.

  15. Author: clauzi

    Date: February 11, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Hello, I have PrestaShop™ 1.5.6.2 when i whant to save Frontend Translation for default and theme I get this error 500 Interna Server Error. I have tryed to debug but no succes .. Can you help me ?

    • Author: Benjamin Utterback

      Date: March 20, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Clauzi,

      When you turned on Error Reporting, what errors showed up? There should always be an error once you reload the page that will give you more information to solve.

  16. Hi
    I am in 1.5 Prestashop version, I followed all the instruction to turn on Error Reporting, but nothing have changed I still have the same message.
    I can’t get access neither to the backoffice or to the homepage.
    I am working on a local server WampServer 2.4

    “>>
    Internal Server Error

    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

    Please contact the server administrator at admin@example.com to inform them of the time this error occurred, and the actions you performed just before this error.

    More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
    <<"

    • Author: Benjamin Utterback

      Date: March 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Hi Ali,

      If you are on a localhost and are receiving this error, the problem is most likely due to the localhost server not being configured correctly. Can you check the connection and the status of your localhost?

  17. Author: Ofelia

    Date: March 9, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    I have this error showing sinc Wednesday, and is driving me crazy it reads.
    HTTP Internal Server Error
    The website cannot display this page

    Most lilely causes
    The website is under maintenance
    The website has a Programming Error

    I don’t understand what to do…Can you please help?

    • Author: Benjamin Utterback

      Date: March 20, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      Hi Ofelia,

      What steps have you done to solve the problem? Have you turned on Error reporting to check what error shows?

  18. Author: Agurtz

    Date: March 20, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Great contribution, I solved the problem instantly.
    Thanks :)

  19. Author: Tina

    Date: October 4, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    I don’t use pretashop, or any other thing. I’m fairly new to this and am using wordpress, with fatcow as my host. I can access my site but get the error upon trying to access anything on it like the dashboard or creating a post or even looking at the theme. Every admin duty gets the 500 message. But I can view the site. I have no idea what pretashop is or how to find any way to get into the inner workings of my site to even find anything similar to pretashop

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