What Does "500 Internal Server Error" Mean?


Quick Answer

A 500 Internal Server Error is a generic error code displayed by a Web server when a more appropriate error code does not exist. It can be difficult to troubleshoot this error code because many different issues can trigger it.

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Full Answer

The HyperText Transfer Protocol defines many error codes for displaying information about specific errors to users accessing a Web server. Examples include the 404 Not Found for a missing file, which often indicates that a user has typed in an incorrect Web address or is attempting to access a deleted file, and the 503 Service Unavailable error that is displayed when a Web server is overloaded with traffic or processes. However, not all possible conditions have defined error codes in the HTTP standard, so Web servers return a 500 Internal Server Error if there is no defined code for the particular error that has occurred.

A diverse array of issues can cause a 500 Internal Server Error. It is rare, though not impossible, for problems with the computer connecting to the server to trigger this error. Faulty scripting on a Web page is a common cause of this error, such as if a form fails to correctly handle a missing or incorrect value. This error can also indicate a literal server error, such as a failed disk or a non-functional server software module.

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