Thanks to affordable website builders, you don’t need to be a tech genius to create your own gorgeous website. But sometimes, your visitors might encounter error codes that you have no idea how to fix. If you feel a bit out of your element when you or your visitors encounter an HTTP error code, you’re not alone. Nobody’s born with an encyclopedic knowledge of error codes. But you don’t have to feel mystified by them, because, as it turns out, HTTP error codes all have simple, everyday meanings.
Before we get into those, let’s get you familiar with some of the basics of web-surfing.
How web-surfing works
When you surf the web, what you’re really doing is sending requests through your browser. You request your favorite web forum or a funny video of a cat pranking its owner, and your browser gets a response from the server. If everything goes well, your browser will load the page or video you asked for. But sometimes, something goes wrong, and instead of loading a funny video of a cat hiding behind a wall so it can scare the daylights out of its unsuspecting owner, your browser shows you an HTTP error code.
These error messages are a normal part of web-surfing, so it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of what they mean. Knowing the meaning of the HTTP error codes can help you figure out what exactly went wrong, which will give you a clue as to how to fix it. For instance, if you encounter a 404 not found error code, you know you can check your URL to see if you typed it properly, and then you can try again.
Let’s start with the basics.
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It’s the communication protocol that determines how messages are formatted and sent on the internet, as well as how web servers and browsers should respond to different commands.
What’s an HTTP error code?
When you type a website’s address into your browser, what you’re actually doing is sending an HTTP command to the web server that hosts that website. The HTTP command tells the server to find the website and send the web page to your browser. If something goes wrong with this process, your browser will show you an HTTP error code.
These are five of the most common HTTP error codes:
- HTTP error 403
- 404 Not Found
- Error 522
- HTTP error 401
- HTTP error 500
Now let’s get into what they mean:
1. HTTP error 403
The HTTP error 403 means that the page you’re looking for exists, but you’re not allowed to access it.
This error message usually crops up for one of these two reasons:
- The owners of the server have set up access permissions properly, but you don’t have their permission to view the page.
- The owners of the web server haven’t set up permissions properly, so you’re being denied access even though you should be allowed to access that particular web page.
Here are some other ways that the HTTP error 403 might be written:
- 403 Forbidden
- HTTP 403
- Error 403
- Forbidden: You do not have permission to access this directory on this server
- HTTP Error 403.14 – Forbidden
- HTTP Error 403 – Forbidden
2. 404 Not Found
The 404 Not Found error message means that your browser connected with the server perfectly, but the server couldn’t find the web page you were looking for.
The 404 Not Found error might mean that the URL was typed incorrectly, or that the web page has been removed from the website or moved to another location on the website. Most website owners will redirect the old URL to the new location when they move a web page, but if they forget to do this, you’ll get the 404 Not Found error message instead of being automatically redirected to the correct page.
Here are some more ways the 404 Not Found message might be displayed:
- 404 Error
- Error 404
- HTTP 404
- Error 404 Not Found
- 404 File Not Found
- 404 Directory Not Found
- HTTP 404 Not Found
- 404 Page Not Found
- The requested URL was not found on this server
3. Error 522
The HTTP error 522 message means that the web server’s connection to Cloudflare has timed out. These are some of the most common reasons you might see the HTTP error 522:
- A firewall is blocking the request: If the server is connected to its own firewall, this can trigger an error 522 message because a connection can’t be properly established. If settings have been incorrectly entered, this could also delete packets from the original host network.
- The web server is offline: This is the most common reason for the error 522 message. If the server is offline, the server can’t communicate with Cloudflare. (There needs to be an active internet connection for the communication to take place.)
- The server has been overloaded: If too many requests need to be processed at the same time, the server will be overloaded, and your visitors will see an error 522 message.
- Keepalive messages have been disabled on the server side: Cloudflare’s “keepalive” header entry is responsible for keeping established connections open over a longer period, so that performance can be improved. If this option has been disabled, the connection will fail, and your visitors will get an error 522 message.
4. HTTP error 401
The HTTP error 401 is also called the “401 Unauthorized error”. It means that you need to enter a valid user ID and password in order to view a particular web page. If you have logged in and still see this error message, it means your credentials were incorrectly entered or are invalid for some other reason.
5. HTTP Error 500
The HTTP error 500 is usually written as “HTTP error 500 (Internal Server Error)”. This is the most common server error and is often called the “catch-all” error code.
You’ll see the HTTP error 500 if the web server is facing an internal error that’s preventing it from connecting you or your visitors to a web page. For example, you’ll see this error message if the server is overloaded and therefore unable to handle additional requests.
It’s really useful to understand what HTTP codes mean, and the good news is that you don’t need to be a tech genius to understand them. Now that you understand five of the most common HTTP errors, you can keep checking out our handy guides to learn more about how web-surfing works and how you can minimize the number of errors users will see when they visit your website.