What Is 5xx server Error [Causes & Solutions]

Server error codes are prevalent these days, and you most likely have encountered one on the internet. 5xx error codes are server error codes that prevent you from using the internet properly. These error codes may occur due to corrupt or missing files on your system, incompatible updates, etc.

However, even though these error codes are difficult to detect by site owners, there are a few workarounds for that. This guide will discuss what these errors are, the causes, and possible solutions for them.

5xx error codes are status codes that show up when using an internet browser, and the server fails to complete a request. These error codes come in different forms depending on the particular situation that you are facing. When it occurs, you will get an error message which explains the error situation.

The error message reads;

“The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request. Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@gs-example.com, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.”

As soon as this message appears on your screen, your next move should be to fix it. However, the section below will discuss the possible solutions for the error.

What Causes 5xx Server Error Codes?

Before you fix 5xx server error codes, you must know the causes of these error codes. It is often difficult to ascertain the source of these error codes. But, it usually occurs due to the following reasons:

  • You have corrupt files on your device.
  • Some files are missing from your device.
  • There are errors within scripts on your device.
  • There are some incompatible updates on your device.

Consequently, it is a good idea to always check for the points above to prevent 5xx server error codes on your device. For site owners, detecting these error codes can be difficult. So, the next section will review tips on identifying 5xx error codes.

How to Detect 5xx Error Codes?

If you own a site with numerous pages, it is always challenging to detect status codes like the 5xx error codes. If the error is only on one page, going through all the pages one after another to discover it can be time-consuming. Unless one of your site’s users notifies you about the error, it won’t be easy to detect.  

Nonetheless, there is a way you can detect these error codes without having to waste too much time investigating all the pages. And it is by using SEO tools such as Ahrefs, Moz, OnCrawl, etc. You can also use services like Serpstat for a one-page audit.

Different 5xx Error Codes

There are different 5xx error codes, and having a good understanding of each one will help you fix it. Therefore, the following are the different 5xx error codes you may encounter:

  • Error code 500 (Internal Server Error) – This status code shows up when the server has encountered an unexpected condition that stopped it from completing the client’s request.
  • Error Code 501 (Not Implemented) – The 501 status code will appear when the webserver does not support the functionality required to process the request. The server is not familiar with the request method. 

  • Error Code 502 (Bad Gateway) –
    The 502 status code will show up when the server acts as a proxy or gateway. The response it received from the upstream server it accessed while attempting to process the request is invalid.

  • Error Code 503 (Service Unavailable) –
    The web server will generate a 503 status code if it is temporarily unable to take on the request because of short-term maintenance or overloading.  
  • Error Code 504 Gateway timeout) – When acting as a proxy or gateway, if the server did not receive a timely response from the upstream server specified by the request URL, you will get a 504 error.
  • Error Code 505 (HTTP Version Not Supported) – When a web server generates a 505 status code, it does not support, or it refuses to support the HTTP protocol version that you used in the request message. When this happens, the response will contain an entity that explains why the webserver does not support that HTTP version.
  • Error Code 506 (Variant Also Negotiates) – This status code means that the server has an error located within its internal configuration. The chosen variant resource is configured to engage in clear content negotiation. 
  • Error Code 507 (Insufficient Storage) – In this instance, the code is generated when the operation could not be performed on the resource because it can’t store the representation required to fulfill the request. This condition is also temporary just like the 503 server error. This status code occurs because of a user action.
  • Error Code 508 (Loop Detected) – This message appears when the server has ended an operation because of an infinite loop detected while processing a request with “Depth: infinity.” The status means that the entire process has failed.
  • Error Code 510 (Not Extended) – The 510 server error happens when the policy for accessing the resource is not met within the request. When this applicable, the server should send back all the information for the client to issue an extended request.
  • Error Code 511 (Network Authentication Required) – This error occurs when clients need to authenticate themselves to access the network. The response code from this type of error should have a link to a resource that lets users submit their credentials.

Impact of 5xx errors on SEO

When Google gets a 5xx error on a website, it can lower a page’s ranking or drop it from the index. This drop occurs because such can cause a negative user experience. 5xx server errors have the most harmful impact on SEO.

5xx errors are not too easy to fix. And this is because it is hard to pinpoint the exact issue they indicate and its best solution. Frequently, you cannot fix these problems by changing the page code. You may need to apply to server administrators for help.

Search engines do not like 5xx errors, so you should fix them immediately. A search engine cannot analyze your site if it receives 503 and 500 errors. Your ranking will not drop once a 5xx error shows up. There have to be multiple cases of 503 responses over a week or more before the page is taken off from Google’s index. 

How to Fix 5xx Error Codes?

If you notice that you have a 5xx status code, you need to perform some verification before fixing it. These verifications include:

  • Consider any upgrades or changes to the system that you have made in recent times and roll them back until the error is resolved.
  • Try reloading the page in case the error was merely temporary.
  • You should check the error log on the website.
  • It is also worth checking any plugins that you have just installed. 

However, you can fix 5xx error codes by following the guide below.

Solution 1:Uninstall Upgrade

Upgraded software and unsuccessful upgrades could be the cause of a 5xx server error. Therefore, if you have just upgraded your software, you should uninstall the upgrade to fix this server error.

Solution 2:Deactivate Plugins

New plugins and themes that are incompatible with the software might cause this server error. So try troubleshooting the error by deactivating the plugins one after another until the error is resolved.

Solution 3:Check If The Server Permissions Are Set To 0755 (-rwxr-xr-x)

You should also check server-side scripts when 5xx errors appear on your site to resolve the problem. If the server is unable to connect to external services, a PHP timeout is probably the reason. Go through your timeout rules and error handling. These can be difficult to find so that the solution will remove external connections. 

Too many calls at once can trigger a server timeout and lost server connections and reboots. Therefore, test the script to make sure that this does not occur all the time. There can also be an error in a .htaccess file. And this can prevent a page from loading.  

You can check the .htaccess file by temporarily removing it and reloading the page. If a webpage has a Perl or CGI extension, then you need to check the script. Make sure that you save CGI files in an ASCII format and upload them to the ASCII mode’s cgi-bin directory.


5xx error codes appear when you are using an internet browser, and the server fails to complete a request.

They may be difficult for you to detect as a site owner, but you can quickly discover them with SEO tools. In this guide, I detailed the necessary information on these error codes and how to fix them. I believe that after reading this, you can now fix them.