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Server Errors and Return Codes


You've all seen them, the cryptic error messages you get sometimes when trying to find a site. The error message you see is an actual HTML page that someone has set up to describe the error encountered. More often than not, they don't explain what the error means, so as far as you know Godzilla is on another rampage and has stomped their server.

Here's a breakout of what they mean. Note that I have typed in the generic title of the error after the number. Error descriptions are HTML pages created by the server administrator, so they can be made to say anything.

YMMV <-- This is an acronym for Your Mileage May Vary (It means you will probably see this, but not always).

Redirection Codes

  • 300 - Permanent Relocation Not only has this page/file moved, but it's never coming back.

  • 301 - Moved Target has been moved. Most likely permanently.

  • 302 - Moved temporarily/Redirect You will get this error if someone has moved the target page for only a short amount of time, it will usually forward you to the correct URL. This is a temporary relocation.

  • 303 - Another temporary relocation, can't remember what this one is for.

  • 304 - Not Modified You have performed a conditional GET. The linked page will only be returned to you if it has been modified since a certain date. If it hasn't been modified, you get this message.


Client Request Codes

  • 400 - Bad Request Your request just didn't quite make sense for some reason.

  • 401 - Access denied/Unauthorized This usually shows up when you have tried to access a file or page that requires a login and password and you typed it incorrectly.

  • 402 - Payment Required To get to the linked page, you were supposed to pay first. You can get this if you authorized incorrectly for payment.

  • 403 - Forbidden You don't have access to this area. Sometimes you will get these by accident if the webmaster has incorrectly set the permission levels for a file or page. Even if you have a valid login and password for this file/URL you can not get to it.

  • 404 - Requested URL not found This is the most common one you will see. There are generally two causes. One is that you typed the URL incorrectly (or the link you clicked on was typed incorrectly), and the other is that the HTML page you are trying to view does not exist anymore. Usually it's the latter, and it happens quite frequently. Believe it or not, there is an actual name for these deleted pages... Are you ready? They're called COBWEBS. Go figure.


Server Errors

  • 500 - Internal server error This message is generated when an unexpected (read undefined) error occurs. It's not sure what happened, so it can't tell you.

  • 501 - Not Implemented Whatever you tried to do, the server software is not designed to do it, or is not configured to do it. Usually you will see this because of the way you tried to authorize with a login and password.

  • 502 - Service Temporarily Overloaded There is too much going on with the server. It could be too many processes running or too many users. It's temporary, so check it later.

  • 503 - Timed Out The server timed out after 30 seconds. It couldn't complete your request in the allotted amount of time. Could be a busy server, or your connection is very slow.

  • 666 - Server possessed by evil spirits! This one was a joke error I ran across on some guys page a while back. I thought it was funny enough to include here.



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