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28. Making way through web of Internet errors

By Mark Alberstat

Computers, like people, are not perfect. Errors occur, sometimes during the most basic of tasks.

Take surfing the web, for example. There are a number of common Internet error messages that mystify most novice web users.

Instead of your computer displaying the page expected, an almost blank white page appears with a number in the right-hand corner in large print. Most users will hit the backspace, try the page again or simply move on. More practiced web-hands may be familiar with the messages but not know the underlying reason for them.

Following is a list of the most common Internet error messages, what they mean, and what you can do to remedy the problem:

400: Bad request. This is a common message. It means that the URL (Uniform Resource Locator, or the address to the website) you typed in or requested is not correct.

The page you want to view could have changed its location in the website's file structure. It may have been deleted entirely and the host server cannot find it.

If you see this message, the first thing to do is to double-check that you typed in the URL correctly and that all the letters that are supposed to be upper case are in their proper case.

Also check on the slashes, tildes and numbers and make sure the 0s are numerical and not the letter O.

404: Not found. This is one of the most commonly seen error pages by anyone who surfs the web. Also fairly generic and often caused by the same things found in the 400 error page.

If the URL you are looking for ends in ".html" you can try ".htm" or vice versa. This small difference can make all the difference to the hosting computer.

401: Unauthorized/403: Forbidden. You receive this message when you are trying to access a site that is protected by some type of security.

You may be allowed to view the page but have entered an incorrect password, or the hosting server does not allow access to their site from the domain you are working from.

If you see this message, you can try your password again or request a new one.

If you are truly not supposed to be on this site, or viewing certain areas of it, getting around the security is next to impossible for the average web user.

Host Unavailable: This message is the result of the hosting server being off-line or down for maintenance. You may try clicking on the reload button or try again later in the day when the other end has cleared up whatever problems brought down their server.

Network Connection was refused by the server: You get this error message when you are making a request to a server that limits the number of people or requests it can handle at any given time. The only way around this error is to click on the reload button until you connect or try again later.

With a better understanding of these error messages, your next surfing experience could be less frustrating when faced with an unfriendly page that displays an error number in the left-hand corner.

The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


The Mousepad Index


Originally published 15 February 2004


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