Server errors handling

Let’s face it: who likes errors? We don’t want them in real life nor in our digital lives. But they do exist and will always do. It’s a matter of how we react to them and make the most of their existence — in some cases, they are the necessary evil to guard against things breaking too badly.

In this article, we will walk you through the meaning of different types of errors that you may encounter while dealing with a WordPress website. We will also try to offer you some steps to tackle them.

500 Internal Error – The Hidden One

The 500 Internal Error it is actually a generic error. It is like a mask for the real error, and this is quite great since on the web there are times when masks are mandatory.

Usually, every server error has a code and a message. However, if this message is public, it means that anyone who sees it can easily find out your website’s vulnerability.

To enjoy a safer web, the majority of the web hosting providers kick-off their clients’ sites with something that is called a production environment. It just means that every blocking error code and message is replaced with the 500 Internal Error. In this case, only the system’s admin knows the real problem behind the scenes and can fix it in due time.


Every time you send us a support question about a 500 Internal Error you should be aware that we know as much as you do.

The source of the truth lies in the server errors, and if you don’t know what that means, then you have to contact your hosting provider and ask them for a helping hand. In other words, it doesn’t mean that we don’t want to assist you, is more that we can’t do anything useful in this context.

4xx Errors – The Public Ones

Now it’s time to shed some light on the situations when the errors are public or when we have access to our wp-config.php file, and we can enable the WP_DEBUG feature (to make them public).

400 Bad Request

Most of the time this means that your hosting server is down. We don’t have much to do for you to get rid of it and you should contact your hosting provider.

401 Unauthorized

This error covers a bunch of cases since the authorization can come from different levels such as:

  • Plain simple HTTP authorization – sometimes a link can require authentication and your setup might not allow for it
  • File permissions – a file can be behind this error if the server asks more than it can handle
  • Browser Cache – if your page is cached and the tokens or nonces are expired you will definitely turn into a 401 error because the “password” changed. Sometimes, you get this error with CloudFlare, and a simple clear cache solves the struggle.

A general solution can be explored on this link.

403 Forbidden

Usually, this means that you ended up in a forbidden place. A web server can define where and under what conditions a URL shouldn’t be accessible. This is why in most tutorials on the web you find a reference to the .htaccess file.

However, sometimes a misconfiguration of the .htaccess file (or the Nginx config) can lead to unexpected 403 Forbidden errors. On top of that, wrong file permissions can lead to the same effect but with a different cause: you simply cannot access that file.

Some tips and details about this manner can be found on this link.

404 Not found

The most famous error in the history of the web usually appears when the server cannot find what you are looking for.

404 Not found error can pop up when you are looking for a lost gem, like a removed page, post or any unknown URL.

Sometimes is just confusion, especially when there is a problem with the configuration of the permalinks in use, and the server cannot understand the difference between your About page and your About post.

One important thing to know about permalinks is that they are intensely cached by WordPress, so if you install a plugin that defines new link routes on your website (like e-commerce or membership) you may get 404 Errors until you flush the permalinks from the Settings → Permalinks WordPress Dashboard page.

You can read more about this error on this link.

Try to have an in-depth understanding of these errors and you will be able to investigate them correctly. You will not only find the right solution for each one, but you will also be more confident while maintaining a solid WordPress website in the long run.

Never let errors intimidate you

As a closing remark, you should not let an error ruin your day. There is always a solution for everything, even if this requires a google search, an email to your hosting provider or to us at [email protected].

Updated on August 25, 2020

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