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      How to Fix a 500 Internal Server Error on a WordPress Site

      Part of the Series:
      Common WordPress Errors

      This tutorial series explains how to troubleshoot and fix common errors that you may encounter when deploying, maintaining, and updating your WordPress installation.

      Each tutorial in this series includes descriptions of common deployment, maintenance, or update errors, and explores ways to fix and optimize your installation to scale.


      The 500 Internal Server Error code can be an ambiguous one when maintaining a WordPress installation, and issues in PHP or the web server) could likely be the culprit. If you are receiving a 500 error on your WordPress installation, this tutorial will share solutions to help you identify, solve, and verify that the changes you made were successful in getting your WordPress site running smoothly again.

      Step 1 — Identifying and Replicating the Issue

      An Internal Server Error HTTP code indicates that the server is having an issue, but cannot be specific about what sort of issue it’s having. Using this knowledge about the 500 Internal Server Error code, let’s take a look at the error message:

      `HTTP Error 500 NGINX`

      To solve this problem, the first step is to replicate and monitor the error. If you recently enabled, changed settings, or upgraded a plugin, there is a chance the plugin is the culprit of your issues.

      Deactivating WordPress Plugins

      You may want to start your audit by disabling your plugins one by one and seeing if this changes anything.

      To deactivate your plugins temporarily, navigate to your WordPress dashboard and select Plugins. In your list of plugins, locate the Deactivate button and select it to start the process of disabling your plugin. Repeat this process for each plugin you have activated.

      Deactivate WordPress Plugins

      Auditing Web Server Logs

      As mentioned before, the 500 Internal Server Error on WordPress sites can happen for a wide variety of reasons, all related to the back end server. Auditing your web server logs can be a helpful practice to identify the issue or what may have caused it in the first place.

      To audit your server log, enter the following in the command line:

      • tail -f /var/log/nginx/error.log

      After entering, reload your current WordPress page to see if more information on the error is shown.

      If you still can’t identify the specific code that is triggering this error, the issue might come from an incompatible or damaged installation of either WordPress or PHP on the server. In the next step, you’ll see how to upgrade WordPress and PHP to make sure this is not what’s causing your error.

      Step 2 — Updating Your Installation

      To make sure the 500 Internal Server Error encountered on your WordPress installation doesn’t come from a damaged or incompatible installation of either WordPress or PHP, you’ll need to check your currently installed versions and update them accordingly. Keeping your web server and your WordPress installation up to date is a good security practice and should be incorporated as a regular maintenance task.

      Updating WordPress

      When you’re experiencing a 500 Internal Server Error, you may have limited access to your site, to update WordPress automatically. If the error is not preventing you from accessing your WordPress admin panel, log in to your /wp-admin dashboard. Because WordPress automatically sends notifications on new updates available, there may be a notification at the top of your dashboard:

      WordPress update notification

      If there is no notification, you can update your WordPress installation by visiting the Updates section, and selecting Update when prompted to update your WordPress site.

      After the update, move to Step 3 to test for the 500 error. If you are still experiencing the error, return to this step to update your version of PHP.

      If you aren’t able to log into your dashboard because of the 500 error, you’ll need to perform a manual WordPress update via the command line.

      Updating PHP

      To update your version of PHP on your WordPress installation, you’ll need to check your hosting provider’s steps to accessing and updating the PHP version on your installation. Some providers allow for updates via cpanel, while others require updates on their platform. Consult with your hosting provider’s documentation to learn more about how to update the PHP on your WordPress installation.

      You can also manually update your installation – learn more about this process and why updating PHP for WordPress sites is important on WordPress’ official documentation.

      After you’ve successfully updated your WordPress installation and/or version of PHP, it’s time to move to Step 3 to test for errors.

      Step 3 — Testing for Errors

      To test for errors after updating your WordPress installation and/or PHP version, try accessing your domain.

      If you encounter the 500 error again and have successfully updated your version of PHP as well as your WordPress installation, you’ll need to check with your hosting provider to dive deeper into issues with your server that may exist beyond your site.

      If you’ve successfully resolved the 500 error, you’ll have also updated your installation to ward against commonly experienced bugs and security vulnerabilities. It’s a good practice to keep both your WordPress installation and PHP versions updated for this reason, and can prevent 500 errors from occurring in the future.


      In this tutorial, we successfully performed troubleshooting a 500 error on a WordPress installation, commonly experienced when either the WordPress installation or PHP version is damaged or outdated.

      For more information on error codes and how to solve them, visit our tutorial, “How to Troubleshoot Common HTTP Codes”.

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      How to Fix the 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress (5 Methods)

      Being barred from your own site can be very frustrating, especially when you have no idea what is causing the problem. The 403 Forbidden error typically occurs when you’re trying to log in to WordPress or visit a specific page on your site.

      Fortunately, there are a few simple fixes for this common WordPress error. Depending on your hosting plan, you may even be able to resolve the issue with help from your web host.

      In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the 403 Forbidden error and its main causes. We’ll then show you five ways to fix it. Let’s get started!

      What the 403 Forbidden Error Is (And What Causes It)

      The 403 Forbidden error is one of several HTTP status codes used by servers to communicate with your browser. When the 403 status code shows up on your screen, it means that your server thinks you do not have the required permission to access that particular page.

      The 403 Forbidden error typically appears when you’re trying to log in to your WordPress admin area or when you visit a specific page on your site. You may also encounter it while installing WordPress.

      The error is usually accompanied by one of the following messages (or similar variations):

      • “403 Forbidden – Access to this resource on the server is denied.”
      • “Forbidden – You don’t have permission to access [directory name] on this server.”
      • “You are not authorized to view this page.”
      • “It appears you don’t have permission to access this page.”
      • “403. That’s an error. Your client does not have permission to get URL [address] from this server.”

      Instead of the “403 Forbidden” status, you might come across a simple notification that says “Access Denied.” It is also possible that you will get the following message: “Access to [domain name] was denied. You don’t have authorization to view this page.”

      There are several possible causes of this 403 Forbidden error. The most likely one is an incorrect file permission on your server. However, this error can also be triggered by a faulty plugin or a corrupt .htaccess file.

      In most cases, you should be able to resolve the issue on your own. However, you might also need to get in touch with your hosting provider to access or change some settings on your site.

      Skip the Permission Settings Stress

      Avoid WordPress troubleshooting when you sign up for DreamPress. Our friendly experts are available 24/7 to help solve website problems — big or small.

      How to Fix the 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress (5 Methods)

      Now, let’s go through a few ways you can fix the 403 Forbidden error in WordPress. First, we recommend that you make a backup of your site just in case something goes wrong and you need to restore it to an earlier version.

      1. Change Your File Permissions

      Every WordPress file on your site’s server has its own permissions. These settings control who can access and modify its contents. If these files have incorrect permissions, your server will stop you from accessing them.

      If you want to check your file permissions, you can simply contact your hosting provider, and a technical expert should be able to take care of it. You can also do this yourself by connecting to your site with a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) client such as FileZilla.

      Alternatively, you can also access your site through the file manager in your hosting account. If you have a DreamHost account, you can navigate to WordPress > Managed WordPress in the sidebar. Then, find your domain and select Manage.

      Accessing your domain in your DreamHost account.

      On the next page, click on the Manage Files button in the Details section.

      Accessing your file manager via your DreamHost account.

      You’re now in the file manager. Next, open the folder labeled with your domain name to access your site’s directory.

      Inside your root directory, select the folder that contains all of your WordPress files. If you’re using FileZilla, this is the public_html folder. Then, right-click on it and choose File Attributes.

      Changing the file permissions using FileZilla

      In the popup window, locate the Numeric field and enter “755” or “750” in the value box. Then select the Recurse into subdirectories and Apply to directories only options, and click on OK.

      Changing the file permissions for the directories.

      So far, you’ve applied the correct file permissions for your directories. You’ll now do the same thing for your files.

      To start, right-click on your public_html folder and select File Attributes. This time, you’ll need to type “644” in the Numeric value field. Then choose Recurse into subdirectories, select Apply to files only, and click on OK.

      Changing the file permissions in FileZilla.

      Note that your wp-config.php file requires a different numeric value than the ones stated above. This unique value prevents other users on your servers from accessing the file. Therefore, you’ll need to manually change its file permission.

      In your root directory, find the wp-config.php file, right-click on it, and select File permissions. Next, set the numeric value to “440”, and click on OK.

      Changing the permissions for the wp-config.php file in FileZilla.

      Now, every one of your WordPress files and folders should have the correct permissions. Once you’ve completed the above steps, go back to your site and try to reproduce the 403 Forbidden error. If your site is working fine, you don’t need to do anything else.

      However, don’t worry if you’re still facing the same problem. There are still a few more fixes to try, and some of them are very simple.

      2. Deactivate Your Plugins

      As we mentioned earlier, the 403 Forbidden error can also be caused by a faulty plugin. To find out if this is the case, you’ll need to deactivate your plugins and then reactivate them one by one.

      To start, connect to your site via FileZilla or the file manager in your hosting account. Then, in your site’s root directory, open the wp-content folder and locate the plugins folder. Then right-click on the plugins folder and select Rename.

      How to rename the plugins folder in your site’s root directory.

      Next, give the folder a new name, for example, “plugins_test. This will automatically deactivate all of your plugins.

      If you can access your site after renaming the folder, then the 403 Forbidden error was caused by a glitchy plugin. Your next step is to find out which one it is.

      First, return to your site’s root directory and rename the plugins folder back to “plugins”. Then navigate to the Plugins page in your WordPress dashboard and activate the plugins one at a time. Keep doing this until you are able to reproduce the error. Once you’ve identified the faulty plugin, you can either remove it or contact its developer for support.

      3. Delete and Restore the .htaccess File

      A corrupt .htaccess file can also trigger the 403 Forbidden error. This file is located in your site’s root directory and enables WordPress to interact with your server.

      Inside your site’s root directory, locate the .htaccess file, right-click on it, and choose Delete.

      Locating and deleting the .htaccess file in your site’s root directory.

      Now, try accessing your site again. If the 403 Forbidden error has disappeared, then your .htaccess file may have been corrupted. This means you’ll need to create a new one.

      To do this, navigate to Settings in your WordPress dashboard and select Permalinks. Then click on the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page, and a new .htaccess file will be generated. You can look for the file in your site’s directory to ensure that it has been restored.

      4. Deactivate Your CDN

      If you’re still getting the 403 Forbidden error after completing the above steps, you may have a problem with your Content Delivery Network (CDN). This is a network of servers located in different parts of the world, with each server hosting a copy of your website. Many hosting plans come with a CDN to help boost your site’s performance.

      To see if your CDN is the cause of the error, you’ll need to temporarily disable it. You can do this by logging into your hosting account and locating your CDN settings. If you’re unable to access your CDN, we recommend getting in touch with your hosting provider.

      5. Check Your Hotlink Protection

      Finally, you might want to check your site’s hotlink protection. Hotlinking is when someone embeds media files on their site by linking them directly from another site. Some individuals may do this to use another site owner’s bandwidth (rather than their own), which is effectively theft.

      Some hosts and CDN providers offer hotlink protection. However, if this is not set up properly, it can trigger a 403 Forbidden error on your site. Therefore, you may want to contact your web host about this issue. While you may want to look into this yourself, it’s best to get help from a technical expert to ensure that your hotlink protection is configured correctly.

      Additional WordPress Resources

      If you’re new to WordPress, you’re bound to run into some technical issues while setting up your site. To help you fix some of the most common WordPress errors, we’ve put together several how-to guides:

      Meanwhile, if you’re looking for more WordPress tips and hacks, check out our WordPress Tutorials. This collection of guides will help you set up and design your first WordPress site like a professional.

      Take Your WordPress Website to the Next Level

      Whether you need help navigating the WordPress dashboard, decoding an error message, or finding the plugins folder, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly digest so you never miss an article.

      Bye, WordPress 403 Error

      The 403 Forbidden error appears when your server denies you permission to access a page on your site. This is mainly caused by a faulty security plugin, a corrupt .htaccess file, or incorrect file permissions on your server.

      In this post, we looked at five main ways you can fix the 403 Forbidden error using an SFTP client like FileZilla or the file manager in your hosting account:

      1. Change your file permissions.
      2. Deactivate your plugins.
      3. Delete and restore the .htaccess file.
      4. Deactivate your CDN.
      5. Check your hotlink protection.

      If you want to receive expert help when encountering WordPress errors, you may want to consider a managed WordPress hosting plan. Our DreamPress plans come with 24/7 technical support for WordPress site owners, so you can spend less time troubleshooting and focus your efforts on growing your business.

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      How to Fix the “Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance” Error in WordPress

      Is your website stuck in maintenance mode? During updates, WordPress displays a temporary notice on your site that reads: “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute”. However, this message may sometimes remain visible after a few minutes, thus preventing visitors from accessing your site.

      Thankfully, fixing this error doesn’t require technical expertise. The maintenance mode issue is one of the easiest WordPress problems to resolve — and prevent.

      In this article, we’ll look at the main causes of the WordPress maintenance mode error. We’ll also show you a quick fix for this issue and share some tips to help you avoid the same problem in the future. Let’s get started!

      Skip the Stress, Delegate to Us

      Avoid troubleshooting when you sign up for DreamPress. Our friendly WordPress experts are available 24/7 to help solve website problems — big or small.

      What the Maintenance Mode Error Is (And What Causes It)

      When updating core software, themes, or plugins, WordPress puts your site in maintenance mode. It does this by creating a temporary .maintenance file in the root folder of your site.

      Anyone who visits your site during the update process will see the following message:

      The “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance” message in WordPress

      Typically this notice is only up for a few seconds. Once the updates are done, WordPress automatically deletes the .maintenance file, and the message disappears from your site.

      However, an error may prevent your site from completing updates. When this happens, the maintenance notice stays up on your site, making it inaccessible.

      There are several reasons your site might be stuck in maintenance mode:

      • You may have closed the browser window in the middle of an update.
      • You may have tried updating a lot of plugins at the same time.
      • The update script may have timed out due to a slow hosting server response or a low memory problem.

      To resolve this issue, you may need to increase your site’s PHP memory limit. However, we’ll also be looking at two other simple fixes for this maintenance mode error.

      How to Fix the “Briefly Unavailable For Scheduled Maintenance” Error in WordPress

      Fortunately, there’s a very quick way to fix the WordPress maintenance error in WordPress. All you have to do is delete the .maintenance file from your site’s root directory.

      First, you’ll need to connect to your site using a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) client such as FileZilla. Alternatively, you can access your site by logging into your web hosting account and using the file manager.

      If you have a DreamHost account, you can navigate to WordPress > Managed WordPress in the sidebar, find your domain, and select Manage.

      Accessing the file manager in your DreamHost account

      On the next page, click on the Manage Files button in the Details section. In the file manager, open the folder with your domain name.

      In your site’s root directory, open the public_html folder, locate the .maintenance file, and delete it.

      Deleting the .maintenance file in your site’s directory


      If you’re using an SFTP client and can’t see the file in the directory, it may be hidden. To find it, go to the menu and click on Server > Force showing hidden files.

      Showing hidden files in FileZilla

      Your site should now be out of maintenance mode. If you’re still getting the error message, you may need to update the wp-activate.php file.

      To do this, go back to your site’s root directory and find the wp-activate.php file.

      Editing the wp-activate.php file in your site’s directory

      If you’re connected to your site via your hosting account, you may be able to open and edit the file within the file manager. Alternatively, you can download it to your computer.

      Open the wp-activate.php file and locate the following line of code:

      define ('WP_INSTALLING', true)

      Next, change the value “true” to “false” so that the code looks like this:

      define ('WP_INSTALLING', false)

      Save your changes and close the file. If you’ve been using the file manager in your hosting account, you don’t need to do anything else. If you’ve edited the wp-activate.php file on your computer, you’ll need to upload it to your site’s root directory.

      Once you’ve completed the above steps, return to your site and refresh it. You should now be out of maintenance mode.

      How to Prevent the Maintenance Mode Error

      When your site gets stuck in maintenance mode, people are unable to view your content. Thus, if you fail to notice the problem straightaway, you may lose potential conversions.

      Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent this error in the future:

      • You can update your plugins and themes one at a time. While updating plugins in bulk saves you a bit of time, it can lead to conflicts and errors during the process.
      • You can upgrade your hosting plan. It’s a good idea to choose a managed WordPress hosting plan for enhanced site performance and fewer technical issues.
      • You can check the compatibility of your themes and plugins with your current version of WordPress. For this, you may want to set up a staging site so you can test new themes and plugins on an offline platform before making your changes live.

      Moreover, you may want to avoid closing your browser until all updates are complete.

      Updating plugins in WordPress

      If you exit the browser before then, WordPress won’t be able to update and remove the .maintenance file. You’ll know that updates are ready once you see the “All updates have been completed” status, as shown in the screenshot above.

      We also recommend that you check your site when running updates. This way, if the maintenance error does crop up again, you’ll be able to spot it and get it fixed immediately.

      How to Customize the Maintenance Mode Notice

      You can also avoid the default WordPress maintenance notice by using a plugin. This will enable you to manually put your site in maintenance mode before running any updates. You’ll also be able to customize the message.

      One popular tool you can use is the SeedProd plugin. After installing and activating the plugin, navigate to SeedProd > Pages in your admin dashboard. Then click on Set up a Maintenance Mode Page.

      Creating a maintenance mode page using the SeedProd plugin

      Next, you can choose a template and customize it to your liking. Note that some templates and features are only available in the premium version of the plugin.

      Selecting a template for the maintenance mode page in SeedProd

      Every time you need to run updates, you can head to SeedProd > Pages and simply activate your maintenance mode page. This will replace the default WordPress maintenance message.

      Another option you may want to consider is the Maintenance plugin. Install and activate the plugin, then click on Maintenance in your dashboard and edit the text you want to be displayed on your maintenance page.

      Customizing your maintenance mode notice using the Maintenance plugin

      You can also choose a premium pre-built theme. The plugin also lets you select pages and posts that you want to exclude from maintenance mode. Once you’re done, click on the blue Save Changes button.

      Similarly, the WP Maintenance Mode plugin lets you create your own maintenance page. After activating the plugin, navigate to Settings in your dashboard and select WP Maintenance Mode.

      To customize the content of your page, click on the Design tab.

      Editing your maintenance mode text in the WP Maintenance Mode plugin

      When you’re done, click on Save settings at the bottom of the page. To activate maintenance mode, go to the General tab and select the Activated option.

      Activating the maintenance page using the WP Maintenance Mode plugin

      You can also use these maintenance mode plugins for other purposes. For example, you can activate them while making some major changes to your content or working on a particular page or section on your website.

      WordPress Error Resources

      Now that you know how to tackle the “Briefly Unavailable for Scheduled Maintenance” message, you can learn how to solve and prevent other issues on your site. We’ve put together several tutorials to help you troubleshoot the most common WordPress errors:

      Are you looking for more information about running a WordPress site? Check out our WordPress Tutorials, a collection of guides designed to help you navigate the WordPress dashboard like an expert.

      Take Your WordPress Website to the Next Level

      Whether you need help navigating the WordPress directory, fixing incorrect credentials, or choosing the right WordPress plugin, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly digest so you never miss an article.

      Fix the Briefly Unavailable For Scheduled Maintenance Error

      WordPress puts up a notice on your site during updates to let visitors know it’s currently under maintenance. This message is only visible for a few seconds, but an error during the updating process may result in your site getting stuck in WordPress maintenance mode.

      To fix the maintenance mode error, you simply need to delete the .maintenance file in your site’s root directory. You can also prevent this problem from cropping up again by running updates one at a time, ensuring that your plugins are compatible with the latest WordPress version, or upgrading to a better hosting plan.

      Are you looking for an advanced hosting solution for your WordPress site? Our DreamPress plans offer high-performance WordPress hosting with 24/7 expert support. This means that we take care of all your technical issues, so you can focus on growing your business.

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