Problem With WordPress 2.9 Upgrade on 1and1 Hosting Provider

Upgrading our WordPress platform to version 2.9 was almost a non-event. All automatic upgrade was done within minutes very smoothly. It is almost taken for granted until we upgrade the one hosted on 1and1 hosting provider. As you probably know 1and1 is now one of the largest hosting company in the world and expecting some of you will have to experience similar problem, I hope this post is useful for you.

A little bit research on Google give us some reliefs that 1and1 did have some problem with WordPress 2.9 upgrade. But all of them are talking about some MySQL incompatibility (need higher version) and tips how to get around it.

The problem is: that’s not our problem. The MySQL databases of ours are already using MySQL 5.0. Furthermore, we did not get the error message at all. All upgrade process until “Upgrading Database” was done without problem. Only when it finished, we cannot go to the admin are/dashboard at all, Error 500 – Internal Server Error  was always triggered.

TroubleShooting

So , these are what we did:

  • I disable all the plugins currently installed. This can be easily done by renaming “/wp-content/plugins” into something else. Result: only additional warning that some plugin cannot find the file it need, but nothing more.
  • Immediately, we rolled back to WordPress version 2.8.6 as it was before using manual update. That’s involved deleting /wp-admin and /wp-includes folders and copy all the core files of wordpress 2.8.6 via FTP to the server. Result: back to normal. So, what can we get from this: probably the plugins are all fine, they have nothing to do with this problem.
  • Now, we repeat the upgrade using manual upgrade by FTP as above. Result: Error 500 Internal Server Error  reappeared.

Well, there are only 4 major factor on every WordPress Blog: the webserver (Apache), the database (MySQL),  the interpreter (PHP) and the program itself (WordPress 2.9). Since Apache (still run without problem), WordPress 2.9 (have been used in other blog without problem) and MySQL (already version 5.0) are fine, then I start to suspect the PHP.

PHP on 1and1

The hosting company 1and1, installed both PHP5 and PHP4 on every webserver. And by default if your script’s name end up with .php, the webserver will use PHP4. To use PHP5 you need to add 2 lines below on your .htaccess file:

AddType x-mapp-php5 .php
AddHandler x-mapp-php5 .php

Once both lines are incorporated into .htaccess, your .php script will be executed by PHP5. I guess this situation and its solution are unique to 1and1 setting. A little bit unusual, but not difficult to overcome.

Problem Solved.

It turned out, that was the root cause of the problem. Somehow, the combination of plugins that we use and the server’s configuration (Apache, PHP and MySQL settings) interact each other and triggering some critical command on WordPress 2.9 that can be executed (safely) by PHP5 only. Which part to be exact? We don’t know. Probably we leave that for the the great WordPress team to track it down.

After we have incorporated those 2 lines to use PHP5 instead of PHP4, WordPress 2.9 then was running without problem.

How do we know that is the problem? Easy. We just remove those 2 lines above from .htaccess and voila !: Internal Server Error was back.

So, as the conclusion, if you are with 1and1, make sure you just use PHP5 instead of PHP4 by modifying .htaccess to include mapping to PHP5 as described above. After all, most of the new plugins will require PHP5 anyway.

Hope this has been a useful info for you.

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Comments

2 Comments on Problem With WordPress 2.9 Upgrade on 1and1 Hosting Provider

  1. Michael Bertoldi on Sun, 28th Mar 2010 8:34
  2. So, where is the .htaccess file? I’ve searched and no one seems to say where to find this file in plain english.

    Thanks for the post though. I’m going to try it if I can find the htaccess.

  3. Michael Bertoldi on Sun, 28th Mar 2010 8:37
  4. I found it. You have to “view hidden files” on your ftp. So far it seems to have worked… thanks!

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