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Understanding Types of Website Errors

I'm the owner and founder of PIT Designs. I love creating digital presence and creative digital solutions for our clients.

Posted 1 year ago on August 25th, 2021.

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Understanding Types of Website Errors & How to fix them is crucial if you care about browsing the internet trouble-free. When accessing certain websites, you may encounter issues such as 502 Bad Gateway, 404 Not Found, or even slow loading pages.

Without proper troubleshooting, these errors can leave you frustrated – you can’t access the requested content and find what you’re looking for.

In this article, we’ll go through different types of website errors and ways to fix them. You’ll learn why they occur and how to identify the problem. This way, you won’t waste time fixing the wrong issue.

Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

1. Server-Side Errors

Server-side errors occur when a server fails to return a request made by a client. Instead of the requested content, users will receive a 5XX status code on their web browser.

Here are some of the most common server error status codes and ways to fix them.

500 Error - Internal Server Error

This status code is a generic server error message where the server cannot fulfill a request and identify the problem.

However, this often occurs due to the incorrect configuration of the server. As a client, try troubleshooting this error by clearing the browser cache and trying again another time.

502 Error - Bad Gateway

502 Error - Bad Gateway
502 Error - Bad Gateway

502 Error is usually due to an improperly configured proxy server, causing it to receive an invalid response from its origin server.

Adding to that, the issue can also happen because of server overload, firewall blocks, or poor IP communication between the server.

To continue accessing the website, try restarting your computer or network equipment such as the router.

503 Error - Service Unavailable

This error occurs when a site’s server is temporarily unavailable. Some of the most common reasons for this issue include site maintenance and server overload.

Luckily, 503 Service Unavailable is easy to troubleshoot – simply visit the website later or reload the page.

That said, each error indicates a different problem. Therefore, it’s essential to understand what each code means to successfully troubleshoot the error.

If you’re still unsure about the cause, try following these steps to fix the problem:

  1. Reload the page.
  2. Clear browser cache.
  3. Delete browser cookies.
  4. Try using Incognito mode.
  5. Check internet connection or try connecting from another network.

2. Client-Side Errors

Aside from server-side errors, there are also client-side errors which are responses to an error caused by the user. Examples include invalid requests, bad syntax, or failed web browsers.

Client-side error codes start with the digit “4”. Here’s a list of the most common 4XX errors and how to troubleshoot them.

400 Error - Bad Request

This indicates that the user’s request contains incorrect syntax, which can occur due to a bad internet connection, a caching issue, or browser malfunction.

To troubleshoot, try checking your connection and browser settings. Additionally, clear the browser cache before reaccessing the site. If it fails, try opening it from another browser.

401 Error - Unauthorized

This error means the requested content requires authentication, such as a username and a password.

To fix it, browse the website and look for a sign-up form. If not, try contacting the webmaster through available communication channels and ask for the proper credentials.

403 Error - Forbidden

403 Forbidden occurs when the server doesn’t allow visitors to access the requested content. 

This error typically happens when a user accessed a URL that has been set up as private. Thus, users need to have an account or authorization to access the page.

To troubleshoot, follow the same step as 401 Unauthorized error.

404 Error - Not Found

404 Not Found is the most common client-side error. This occurs when the server could not find the requested content.

Usually, this error happens when a URL is mistyped. Therefore, recheck the spelling, punctuation, and domain suffix before reloading the page.

3. Duplicate Page Content

Duplicate content refers to content within or across domains that is matching or very similar.

This practice is not as harmful when found across a single website as duplicate content can originate from repeated meta descriptions, titles, and tags.

Additionally, webmasters can use a method called canonicalization if their website contains multiple pages with identical content. This practice will further help the website rank and grow despite duplicate content.

That said, duplicate content becomes an issue when it is found across different domains to manipulate search engine rankings and win more traffic.

This practice will negatively affect your page’s ranking on search results and decrease organic traffic due to repeated content within the search results.

To mitigate the trouble, Google indexes, filters, and returns one of the sources from the list. Moreover, Google will also adjust the ranking of the manipulative sites to prevent poor user experience.

So if you have duplicate content across domains, consider these steps to address the issue and ensure a great user experience for those seeking your content:

  • Have consistent internal links. For instance, avoid linking to yoursite.com/aboutus/ and yoursite.com/aboutus, and yoursite.com/page/aboutus.htm.
  • Use top-level domains. This is especially important to handle country-specific content. For instance, Google is more likely to acknowledge example.co.uk instead of example.com/uk or uk.example.com.
  • Minimize similar content. If you have multiple pages with similar content, consider joining them into a single page or expanding each one to make it more unique.
  • Avoid publishing placeholder pages. Empty pages can negatively impact your site. Avoid placeholder pages and refrain from publishing them before it’s ready.

4. Infinite Loading

Infinite loading is an issue where your browser is stuck loading a website, indicated by a never-ending spinning wheel.

If you encounter this problem, it’s essential to figure out where the problem is. To do so, open a new tab and check whether it can load popular websites like Google or YouTube. If it can, then the problem only happens with certain websites.

If so, the error could be because there’s a problem with your browser’s cache, such as:

  • The connection was interrupted
  • The connection was reset
  • The connection has timed out

To fix this, try clearing your browser’s cache and cookies. If this doesn’t work, it’s a sign the problem is with the website instead. In that case, just wait for it to get fixed and access it another time.

Additionally, try accessing the website from different web browsers. If the error occurs in all of them, there may be a problem with your internet connection.

Here are some of the possible causes and ways to troubleshoot them:

  • Security software. Check if security software such as antivirus programs and firewalls are blocking your internet connection.
  • System time is incorrect. Ensure your system’s data, such as time and timezone, is correctly configured.
  • DNS cache. Try flushing your DNS cache so it can connect to sites faster.
  • Wireless connection. Ensure you’re using the correct access point.
  • ISP problem. Although not indicating an error, ISP problems can cause infinite loading on websites. To fix this, contact your Internet service provider.

Lastly, search for malware as viruses can trouble high-traffic sites to load.

5. Slow Loading Pages

Site speed matters. When visiting a slow-loading site, not only will it negatively affect your browsing experience, but it’ll also hinder users from getting the information they’re looking for.

So if that happens when you’re browsing the internet, try these fixes to troubleshoot the problem:

  • Check for malware and viruses. Run a malware scan on your system to clean it from malicious data. Additionally, make sure there is no malware running on your router.
  • Run a speed test. Check to see whether the problem is with the website or with your internet connection, so you’ll know the correct way to fix the issue.
  • Visit isitdownrightnow.com. Check if the site is down, causing it to load slowly. If it’s performing just fine, then the problem might be from your end.
  • Reboot. Try rebooting your browser and computer before reloading the page. If it still doesn’t work, consider rebooting your network equipment, such as the router or modem.
  • Check system load. Websites can put a heavy load on computers. So when it’s performing poorly, consider checking the load on your system by accessing the Task Manager and selecting the Performance.

There, you’ll see whether the CPU, memory, or disk is near its maximum usage. If it is, it could be the reason for the poor site loading performance.


Different types of website errors can occur when browsing the internet. When this happens, users experience a poor browsing journey.

Therefore, it’s critical to understand what each error means and how to fix them. Let’s take another look at the errors mentioned in this article:

  • Server-side errors. This refers to errors due to the server’s inability to return the requested content. Common server-side errors include 500 Internal Server Error, 502 Bad Gateway, and 503 Service Unavailable.
  • Client-side errors. This issue occurs because there’s a problem with the client, such as browser malfunction, poor internet connection, or mistyped URL. Client-side errors start with the digit “4” such as 401 Unauthorized or 404 Not Found.
  • Duplicate page content. Duplicate content influences a site’s ranking on search engine results pages, causing users to have a poor browsing experience when looking for certain information. This happens when highly similar content is repeated across multiple domains.
  • Infinite loading. When your browser is stuck loading a website without success in returning your content, this can be a sign that there’s a problem with your browser, the website, or your internet connection.
  • Slow loading pages. Troubleshoot a slow loading page by checking for malware and viruses on your system, running a speed test, or rebooting your equipment.

There you have it – different types of website errors, what may be the cause, and ways to fix them.

Now, it’s time to continue browsing and put this information into practice when you run into an error. Good luck!