HTTP Error 500 Internal Server Error

Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) is an application-level protocol that is used to transfer data on the World Wide Web. It works on the request-response model i.e. a client, typically a web browser, makes a request to a server, which is hosting the web application, responds to the client with relevant details.

The first line of the response contains a status code and description. HTTP Error 500 Internal server error is one such error or status message that the server sends when it is unable to retrieve the page or perform an activity that the browser has requested.

Open System Interconnection

Open system interconnection well known as OSI was created by the International Organization of
Standardization (ISO) to define common networking standards and protocols to enable interoperability
between network devices and software. The OSI model for networking comprises 7 layers – physical,
data link, network, transport, session, presentation and application.

Set of Tasks

Each layer has a defined set of tasks that is performed on data packets in order to facilitate data transfer
in the network. Users have access to the application layer via software applications like browsers that
implement the relevant protocol, which in the case of a web browser is the HTTP protocol.

HTTP Language

The HTTP language is quite uncomplicated and uses requests like GET and POST to retrieve information from a server. The server attempts to locate the address, and if it finds the page, it sends data back, and else it will pick one of the standard error codes that it finds suitable, and send it back to the client. The message is simply trapped at the browser and displayed for the viewer.

Categories of Error Messages

Status or error messages are categorized under 5 types. The status codes are typically numeric, and 3 digit long. Codes under 1xx (eg. 100, 101) are informational, i.e. requests have been received and continuing process. 2xx status codes indicate that the requests have been processed successfully. 3xx indicate redirection and that the client is expected to take additional action to complete the request.

4xx codes are error codes – eg. 404 Not found. 5xx is a server error which means the server is unable to proceed with a valid request. Error number 500 is thrown, when the application realizes that the problem is at the server, but is unable to identify the exact reason for its failure.

Such errors are usually logged at the server, and the Web site administrators analyze them to understand what went wrong. Most often, the error 500 is encountered when scripts are malformed or improper, or ini files are found to be missing. Other reasons are the website could be shut down or restarted, authorization credentials at the server are improper, and configurations of the application are
invalid.

Administrator’s intervention

All these issues require the intervention of the administrator of the website, and nothing much can be done by a user or viewer of the website. The best solution would be to intimate the web master of the problem. If the application has failed while in the middle of an online purchase, it would be advisable to recheck the status of the purchase before attempting it once again.

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