Getting Internal Server Error while updating to Joomla 3.5? Here is a solution

These 3 pro tips will help you to avoid common Joomla 3.5 update error.

What is the problem?

Joomla update frequently fails in the middle of the process. This happens when updating from Joomla 3.4.8 or older to Joomla 3.5 or later. This is caused by a timeout on a php script that is changing database encoding. Once you get an Internal Server Error the conversion process is interrupted. After refreshing the page, back-end panel is accessible, but the database conversion process needs to be finished.

This is more probable to happen when the update is done manually then when it is automated through Perfect Dashboard.

Which sites are affected by this problem?

Every website that use MySQL data base version 5.5.3 or later can be affected by this issue. There are 2 factors that have impact:

  • The size of the date base
  • Timeout on php script execution

Basically speaking, the larger the database is and the shorter the php script execution timeout is, the more likely it is that a website can be affected by this issue.

How to fix it?

There are several approaches to solve problem with updating to joomla 3.5. Here is a selection of recommended solutions:

  1. Extend php scripts execution timeout. If you have a shell account access set max_execution_time in php.ini to at least 180 seconds. Otherwise, you should be able to set it in your hosting settings (eg. in cPanel). Don’t forget to change it back afterwards, as short execution time prevents poorly written scripts from tying up the server. Then go to Extensions > Manage > Database and click „Fix” button.
  2. Clear the database. Remove unnecessary content, clear the trash, uninstall unused modules, plugins, components, menus, languages and templates. Then go to Extensions > Manage > Database and click „Fix” button. The smaller the database the biggest chance the update will succeed.
  3. Upgrade using Perfect Dashboard. We have reworked the default Joomla update script and divided it into smaller chunks. This way you can upgrade to Joomla 3.5 websites with larger databases on server with shorter timeout on php scripts execution.
  4. Do it locally. In extreme cases, the only way is to download website locally, fix the datebase on your computer and upload it back to the server. Go to Extensions > Manage > Database and click „Fix” button to do that. You may try to combine it with steps 1 and 2 if it still doesn’t work.

I hope this helps. If you have any other tip how to solve it - let me know in comments below.