17 Most Common Website Errors & Codes

What They Mean & How to Fix Them

(Cheatsheet & Slides Included)

Image Source: wayhomestudio

by Oct 20, 2020Design

We all have been there – you enter a URL in your browser or click on a site expecting a certain page to show up, but instead, you receive a three-digit HTTP error. (☉.☉) Sometimes you are lucky to receive a message clarifying what the error means but more likely than not, you get no guidance. Here are the most common HTTP codes and errors, what they mean, and how to fix them.

HTTP Status Codes

1xxs – Informational response
2xxs – Successful response
3xxs – Redirection to somewhere else
4xxs – Client errors on the user side (the web browser)
5xxs – Errors generated by the server, not the website

Based on the fixes for most of these errors, there are things you can always try:

  • Check the spelling of your URL;
  • Reload the page;
  • Clear your cache;
  • Try a different browser;
  • Try accessing the page in a Safe Mode;
  • Check your internet connection;
  • Rollback recent upgrades to the site;
  • Check your .htaccess file in your public_html directory;
  • Contact your host provider.

11 Common HTTP Errors by Aki Stepinska is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0ccbynd

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1. 200 – OK

Meaning & Causes: This code indicates a properly functioning page. Yay – success!

How to fix it: No need to do anything – Things are working well.

2. 301 Permanent Redirect

Meaning & Causes: Whenever you need to redirect one URL to another permanently, you need to use 301 redirect. If you want bots and visitors, who land on Page A to go to Page B, you need to use 301 permanent redirect. 301 code is often used to redirect an old domain to a new one or redirect whole domains from http to https. About 85% of the linking juice that is originally sent to Page A is moved to Page B.

How to fix it: Most often server-side 301 redirects can be configured in the .htaccess file, located in the website’s public_html folder, or by using a WordPress plugin.

3. 302 Temporary Redirect

Meaning & Causes: Whenever you need to redirect one URL to another, temporarily, you can use a 302 redirect. If you want bots and visitors who land on Page A to go to Page B for the time being, you can use 302 temporary redirect. However, none of the linking juice that is originally sent to Page A will be passed to Page B. 302 redirects are not to be used as permanent solutions.

How to fix it: If you need a permanent redirect, use 301 code, otherwise none of the linking juice will move to the new URL. There are times when using 302 redirects is appropriate:

  • A/B testing of a webpage;
  • Getting client feedback on a new page;
  • Fixing broken webpages.

4. 400 Bad Request

Meaning & Causes: Something has gone wrong with your web browser. The request to visit this specific website was corrupted, and the application you are using (e.g., your web browser) accessed it incorrectly. It could also be caused by a bad internet connection or a caching issue.

How to fix it: You should:

  • Check your internet connection and settings;
  • Clear your cache;
  • Try a different browser.

5. 401 Unauthorised

Meaning & Causes: You are not authorized to access the page you are trying to visit. A login was presented, but you didn’t log in properly.

How to fix it: To access this web page, you need to obtain a password. Contact the web page administrator or owner.

6. 403 Forbidden

Meaning & Causes: You are not allowed to visit the page you requested. You were trying to access a directory or page that you don’t have access to, and there was no login presented.

How to fix it: To access the web page, you need to obtain an account or a login. You should go back to the home page and check if you can sign-up for an account.

7. 404 Not Found

Meaning & Causes: You are trying to access a web page that doesn’t exist. You get the 404 error whenever you mistype the URL; try to access a deleted or a moved page; or access a page with a broken link.

How to fix it: Set-up custom 404 pages with instructions for the visitors where they should go next (i.e., Home Page). Double-check the URL spelling, punctuation, and suffix (.com, .net, .org, etc.) of the domain name.

8. 405 Method Not Allowed

Meaning & Causes: The server is refusing to perform your request. The web browser placed a request for the web page, but the server is refusing to fulfill it.

How to fix it: If it is an error in the website’s code or a faulty redirect, it has to be fixed on the back-end. However, you can always check:

  • The spelling of the requested URL;
  • Rollback recent upgrades to the site;
  • Uninstall new extensions, plugins;
  • Check your .htaccess file in your public_html directory.

9. 408 Request Timeout

Meaning & Causes: The request to retrieve the page was stopped before the server finished fetching page information. You can get error 408 if you closed the browser too quickly, clicked on a link too soon, or if you hit a stop button on a page. Sometimes the server may be running very slow, or the page you are trying to retrieve is massive.

How to fix it: Try reloading and accessing the page again.

10. 410 Gone

Meaning & Causes: You are trying to access a web page that doesn’t exist. This is similar to the 404 Not Found error code but more permanent. The page is no longer available from the server, and there is no forwarding information available.

How to fix it: Remove any references or links on your website to ghost pages; otherwise, you are sending visitors to dead ends.

11. 451 Unavailable for Legal Reasons

Meaning & Causes: You requested a page that can’t be displayed because it has been censored by the government. The court orders block the site. It can mean that the page has copyright issues or illegal political content. It is similar to the 403 Forbidden code.

How to fix it: You can first try accessing the page by using the HTTPS protocol instead of HTTP. If the website is blocked due to censorship, you can try accessing it through Private Internet Access (PIA).

12. 500 Internal Server Error

Meaning & Causes: A web server encounters some form of an internal error. It is the most common server error. When the webserver is overloaded, it is not able to handle requests properly.

How to fix it: You should try to:

  • Reload the page;
  • Clear your cache;
  • Delete cookies;
  • Restart or try a different browser.

13. 501 Not Implemented

Meaning & Causes: You requested a page with a feature that your browser does not support. Or in other words, the server is doesn’t have the functionality to fulfill your request. Sometimes error 501 can be caused by malware.

How to fix it: You should try to:

14. 502 Bad Gateway

Meaning & Causes: While acting as a gateway or a proxy, the server received an invalid response from the upstream server. The response received is bad, overlo­­aded, or it has network issues.

How to fix it: It is an error that must be fixed on the webserver. However, you can try:

15. 503 Service Unavailable

Meaning & Causes: You are trying to access a web page where the server is down, or the site is busy. The server may be undergoing maintenance or is overloaded with access requests.

How to fix it: You should try reloading and accessing the web page later.

16. 504 Gateway Timeout

Meaning & Causes: There is a server to server commun­ication problem. A web server attempting to load a page did not get a timely response from the server where the page is hosted.

How to fix it: You can try:

  • Reloading the page;
  • Disabling proxy settings;
  • Checking your DNS;
  • Temporarily disabling CDN;
  • Checking with your host;
  • Rolling back recent upgrades to the site.

17. Bonus: 418 I’M A Teapot 

Meaning & Causes: The server refused to brew coffee because it is, permanently, a teapot, and the resulting entity-body MAY be short and stout. (☉_ ☉) It was released on April’s Fool Day in 1998 as part of the Request for Comments (RFC) to the community. Who said developers don’t have a sense of humor. <( ̄︶ ̄)>To See it: https://www.google.com/teapot 

How to fix it: Don’t brew coffee using a teapot. Try a coffeemaker instead. (~˘▾˘)~

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