How to avoid 500 Internal Server Errors when using the WordPress Importer

wordpress-iconI’ve used the WordPress Importer on many occasions – most of which gave me more grief than results. Usually I end up with a white screen telling me that there was an “Internal Server Error”. It basically means that something went wrong, but nobody knows what it was – and there is no way to find out.

While entertaining ideas of finding another hobby, I searched the web one last time to sift through the hundreds of posts by other users sharing the same woes – until I came across this forum post by Anon who had the same problem:

Anon did not give up so easily and found a solution which WORKS GREAT – even though it doesn’t make sense, or is in any way documented:

Rather than simply importing the XML file you receive from Tools – Export, turn this file into a GZIP file, and then import it.

I have no idea why this works, but I’ve just tried it with WordPress 3.9.1 and it works like a charm. On a Mac, simply

  • open Terminal
  • type “gzip ” (with a space)
  • then drag the file in question into the Terminal session
  • this will paste the full path of that file

Hit return and you have a .gz file. The original file is deleted automatically.

You can also do this from the command line like this:

gzip yourfile.xml

Anon suggests that if you’re a Windows user you can use 7zip to create a .gz file.

Jay is founder of WP Hosting, a boutique style managed WordPress hosting and support service. He has been working with Plesk since version 9 and is a qualified Parallels Automation Professional. In his spare time he likes to develop iOS apps and WordPress plugins, or drawing on tablet devices. He blogs about his coding journey at and

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