How You Might See the 500 Error
The 500 Internal Server Error message might be seen in any number of ways because each website is allowed to customize the message. Here are several common ways that you might see the HTTP 500 error:
"500 Internal Server Error"
"HTTP 500 - Internal Server Error"
"Temporary Error (500)"
"Internal Server Error"
"HTTP 500 Internal Error"
"HTTP Error 500"
- "500. That's an error."
500 Internal Server Error messages can show up in any browser in any operating system.
In Internet Explorer, the message The website cannot display the page often indicates an HTTP 500 Internal Server Error. A 405 Method Not Allowed error is another possibility but you can be sure by looking for either 500 or 405 in the IE title bar.
Most of the time, a 500 Internal Server Error displays inside the Internet browser window, just as web pages do.
When Windows Update reports an Internal Server Error, it appears as a WU_E_PT_HTTP_STATUS_SERVER_ERROR message or as the 0x8024401F error code.
When Google services, like Gmail or Google+, are experiencing a 500 Internal Server Error, they often report a Temporary Error (500) or simply 500.
Cause of HTTP 500 Errors
The 500 Internal Server Error is a very general HTTP status code that means something has gone wrong on the web site's server but the server could not be more specific on what the exact problem is.
Most of the time, "gone wrong" means an issue with the page or site's programming, nothing you have anything to do with.
Note: More specific information about the cause of a particular HTTP 500 error is often provided when it occurs on a server using Microsoft IIS software. Look for numbers after 500 as in HTTP Error 500.19 - Internal Server Error which means Configuration data is invalid. You can see a complete list here.
How To Fix the 500 Internal Server Error
Like I alluded to above, the 500 Internal Server Error is a server-side error, meaning the problem probably isn't with your computer or Internet connection but instead is a problem with the web site's server.
While not probable, it is possible that there's something wrong on your end and we'll look at some things you can try.
- Reload the web page. You can do that by clicking the refresh/reload button, pressing F5, or trying the URL again from the address bar.
Even if the 500 Internal Server Error is a problem on the web server, the issue may only be temporary. Trying the page again will often be successful.
Note: If the 500 Internal Server Error message appears during the checkout process at an online merchant, be aware that duplicate attempts to checkout may end up creating multiple orders - and multiple charges! Most merchants have automatic protections from these kinds of actions but it's still something to keep in mind.
Clear your browser's cache. If there's a problem with the cached version of the page you're viewing, it could be causing HTTP 500 issues.
Note: Internal Server Errors are not often caused by caching issues but I have, on occasion, seen the error go away after clearing the cache. It's such an easy and harmless thing to try so don't skip it.
Delete your browser's cookies. Some 500 Internal Server Error issues can be corrected by deleting the cookies associated with the site you're getting the error on.
After removing the cookie(s), restart the browser and try again.
- Troubleshoot as a 504 Gateway Timeout error instead.
It's not very common, but some servers produce a 500 Internal Server Error when in reality the more appropriate message based on the cause of the problem is 504 Gateway Timeout.
- Contacting the website directly is another option. Chances are good that the site's administrators already know about the 500 error but if you suspect they don't, letting them know helps both you and them (and everyone else).
See my Website Contact Information list for contact information for popular websites. Most sites have support-based social network accounts and a few even have email and telephone numbers.
Tip: If it looks like the site is down completely and you can't find a way to report the 500 Internal Server Error message to the website, it might help your sanity to keep up with the outage on Twitter. You can usually do this by searching for #websitedown on Twitter, as in #gmaildown or #facebookdown.
- Come back later. Unfortunately, at this point, the 500 Internal Server Error is no doubt a problem outside your control that will eventually get fixed by someone else.
If the 500 Internal Server Error message is appearing at check out during an online purchase, it might help to realize that sales are probably being disrupted - usually a great incentive to the online store to fix the issue very quickly!
Even if you're getting the 500 error on a site that doesn't sell anything, like YouTube or Twitter, as long as you've let them know about the problem, or at least tried, there's little more you can do than wait it out.
Errors Like the HTTP 500 Error
The following error messages are similar to the 500 Internal Server Error message because they're all server-side errors: