Recovering from Internal Server Errors

You may have noticed that my blog has been offline for a couple of days. To be honest, I’m not sure how it happened, but I have discovered the cause. The process of fixing it may prove beneficial to others, so I’ll detail it here. Here’s what the problem looked like:

As you can see, that’s of no help. So the first thing to check was whether the blog WordPress admin pages were working. Nope, same error there. So it’s off to the trusty cPanel to check the server logs. Clicking the “Error Log” gave a lot more information:

Aha, now we’re getting somewhere:

SoftException in Application.cpp:252: File “/home/xxxxx/public_html/blog/index.php” is writeable by group

Now this makes no sense at first, what’s a SoftException and what’s a writeable group? Here’s my simple interpretation, a soft exception is an error, which in this case isn’t to do with the file contents itself, but the real clue is the “[file] is writeable by group” bit.

Writeable is a permission (like read or execute) and group is one of the 3 types of user that you can set permissions for: Owner, Group and Public. So it appears that our problem is to do with the file permissions for the index.php file, specifically that the Group set, has writeable permissions, which isn’t correct. Now it’s off to the cPanel “File Manager” to check the permissions:

You can see the permissions are set to “0777“. Don’t worry too much about this, but you do need to know that this is wrong and it should be 755 in most cases. In fact, it wasn’t just index.php that was set to 777, but every file and every folder! I can’t imagine what has caused this, but I assume it was a dodgy upgrade script. Either way, now to fix it by setting the permissions back to 755.

I use an ftp plugin for Firefox called FireFTP which allows this. Selecting all the files and folders using Ctrl+A, right clicking and selecting “Properties (incl contents)” and after a few minutes of processing, you get a permissions dialog box up:

Just untick the Write boxes against the Group and Public users, and tick the “All Contained Folders” and “All Contained Files

Click OK and wait for a few minutes whilst Fire FTP ripples through all your files and folders resetting the permissions, and Bob’s your uncle, Internal Server errors and “is writable by group” errors are gone and the WordPress blog is back up!

{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Tonester 22 March 2009, 5:00 pm

    Col, was the upgrade script a WordPress update or one of your own? Do you need someone to (expertly) test it for you next time? 😉 Cheers Tone

  • Colin McNulty 22 March 2009, 9:39 pm

    Well I’m only guessing it was a dodgy script, but I had upgraded a few of my plugins recently. So no, it wasn’t one of my scripts.:p

  • Robin 11 April 2009, 8:56 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this! I was having problems importing wordpress files and getting the Internal Server Error. Frustrating! But I did exactly what you did here and voila! Magic! 🙂 Many thanks!

  • Colin McNulty 11 April 2009, 9:21 pm

    You’re welcome Robin. A mention and link back is always appreciated, as it helps others with the same problem.

  • johnny 29 April 2009, 10:50 pm

    thank you very much this fixed my site also 🙂

  • Christopher 15 June 2009, 6:11 pm

    Thank you so much!! You just saved me endless hours of troubleshooting this. Your solution worked perfectly!!!

  • Steven 10 July 2009, 5:12 pm

    Colin,

    Thank you very much for posting this resolve! After reading your post and checking the errors in the log file, I had a “EUREKA!” moment and changed the settings. In no time at all I was able to access the backend…..you’re a lifesaver! Thank you once again.

  • Colin McNulty 12 July 2009, 7:20 pm

    I love getting these nice warm fuzzy feelings. All link backs welcome, which help others solve the same problem. 🙂

  • ALI 7 September 2009, 5:24 am

    Hay thanks buddy was also facing such a problem
    ad did as you said above .
    its working now

  • Colin McNulty 7 September 2009, 5:24 pm

    No worries Ali, glad you got it sorted.

  • nand 1 December 2009, 4:53 pm

    thanks very much for posting this it really helped me solve my sites problem.

  • Colin McNulty 1 December 2009, 5:23 pm

    A pleasure Nand.

  • Thank you! 20 March 2010, 9:35 pm

    Thanks a lot!
    You are a saver!

  • Julian 17 April 2010, 3:10 am

    Great! It worked!

  • Paola 12 May 2010, 5:12 am

    Colin, thank you so much for posting this…the “famous 5 min wordpress install” was becoming a nightmare for me! 🙂

  • Leonardo 4 June 2010, 3:37 am

    Thanks! I was going nuts about some unzipped apps in my folders.. saw the error in my logs.. some googleing and boom! here is the answer.

  • Psycho 3 August 2010, 5:37 pm

    This guy deserve a donation. I was scared, but it was fixed. yayyyyyyyy!!!

  • Colin McNulty 3 August 2010, 9:20 pm

    Lol, cheers Psycho. I’d settle for a back link. 😉

  • Janckos 30 October 2010, 1:30 am

    Gracias.

  • cctv quote 24 May 2011, 11:44 pm

    Thanks for posting this, I just changed the permission on the index.php file and all my pages came back. Not sure how it got changed I didn,t update anything, just made some new pages.

  • Sexy Cosplay 10 June 2011, 9:38 am

    Fantastic! I was having the same issue after cloning a blog of mine from one server to the other…you saved my day!

  • Spiros kabasakalis 17 August 2011, 3:50 pm

    I nearly went INSANE trying to solve this.
    Lesson learned:Always check the server log in cPanel,
    AND Google as soon as possible!
    THANKS!

  • avto 7 January 2012, 12:31 am

    Thanks for this tips! My website give me same error…

  • seo expert 26 January 2012, 4:25 pm

    I had faced same error ‘A misconfiguration on the server caused a hiccup. Check the server logs, fix the problem, then try again.’ on our bluehost account, thanks for resolving the issue.

  • PAT Testing Nationwide 4 March 2012, 7:58 pm

    Thanks for this Colin, my site appeared to have the permissions messed with somehow, I am not sure if it was something to do with the hosting company, anyway sorted now.

  • James 28 April 2012, 9:11 pm

    I just lost 2 hours of my life trying to fix this problem. I have no idea why the setting suddenly changed but your fix worked perfectly.

    Thank you

    p.s. I’ve never replied before on a website, but your help really saved me in a difficult situation and your explanation was very clear. Thanks! 🙂

  • arturw 4 July 2012, 7:03 pm

    Great it’s worked

  • kevin 27 August 2012, 7:47 am

    thank you..^^

  • Engin 13 September 2012, 3:33 pm

    Hey thank you, absolutely i was wondering why 500! ; )

  • Mattias 4 March 2013, 2:23 pm

    Just wanted to drop in and say thank you.

  • stigi 5 April 2013, 10:40 am

    Graciass, me has salvado la vida :))) . Da gusto con los que comparten estas cosas que nos ayudan a otros que no sabemos apenas.

  • Caryn Humphreys 7 August 2013, 11:39 pm

    Oh man thank you so much for posting this! I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what happened after a standard Wordpress update that resulted in 500 errors. Changed permissions and all’s right with the world! (Now if only I could figure out what happened to my permalink structure that’s breaking these custom posts! haha)

  • Indulekha 14 October 2013, 11:19 am

    Thanks, It worked for me too…

  • Egidio Caprino 19 January 2014, 12:44 pm

    Thank you very much!

  • Geoff Winkless 14 November 2014, 9:07 pm

    This is probably a setting in suphp.conf. Change allow_file_group_writeable to true (change allow_directory_group_writeable at the same time too) and the problem will go away.

  • shaun 1 May 2015, 10:21 am

    Thanks for the assist dude 🙂 Dunno what or why the group permissions on my site changed .

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