Disclaimer: My webmastering experience is almost nil. Apologies if anything seems ignorant - if it sounds that way, it probably is.
My employer is in the middle of switching over from one version of their website to another, and for the time being would like for the old site to redirect to the new one, but have the pages of the old site preserved as a backup of sorts.
After some Google searches, I found that an easy way to perform a site-wide redirect is by adding the following line to a .htaccess file:
Redirect 301 / http://www.website.com
Prior to this task being given to me, the site did not have a .htaccess file, so I created one and it contains only that line. Once that file was saved, attempts to load the old site's URL yielded 500 Internal Server Error.
I am certain that I'm missing something which might be obvious to an experienced webmaster. What more do I need to do to make this redirect hold?