Website Error Messages, What Do They Mean?

If you're reading this article then you have or are currently experiencing an issue with a website or even your website. You've probably seen one of many mysterious messages that has popped up and you're wanting to know what it means. You're not the only one, we see these messages nearly daily across the web as well, but let's get into this and see if we can help.


Error 404

What is a 404 Error exactly? An 'Error 404' is can come in several forms including '404 Not Found', '404', '404 Error', 'Page Not Found', or 'File Not Found'. While not all of these messages convey the exact reason for the issue, seeing them together helps make sense of it. What we are looking at is an error message indicating the browser is able to communicate with the server, but the server can't find what the browser looking for.

Note: You might also see this error when the server doesn't want to disclose whether or not it actually has what was being asked for. This may be for privacy reasons or simply that are not allowed to have access to the data.

However, the most common reason for this error message is that you've visited a broken or dead link. This may be because the link was changed prior to clicking on it or because the link's data has been removed. Below are several reasons why this error will appear.

  • The URL or the data found at the URL has been deleted or moved
  • The URL was typed incorrectly or linked incorrectly
  • The server holding the data is down or something is interfering with the connection between you and the server
  • The domain name isn't capable of being converted into an IP by the DNS
  • The domain no longer exists

If you're looking for additional information on 404 errors and tips on fixing them for your website take a look at Neil Patel's site discussing this very topic:


Error 500

What is a 500 Error? If you've ever visited a website and stared directly into the eyes of the Error 500, you know its mysterious. What you're looking at indicates that "something" has gone wrong. The good news is it's not you, or your browser, or your computer, or your internet connection. It's the site's fault.

This error may be displayed as '500 Internal Server Error', '500 Error', 'HTTP Error 500', '500. That's an Error', 'Temporary Error (500)', or simply '500'. This generic message pops up when an unexpected event happens on the server and it's unable to give you any more details about it.

You really have no control over this, whoever runs the site you're trying to visit needs to diagnose the problem and hopefully fix it.


"This Site Can't Be Reached"

There are a couple of reasons you might be seeing the "This site can't be reached" error message but it's stating the obvious, the site is unreachable. It's especially annoying because it's so vague and unclear what is going on even with the extra error codes that appear along with it, for example, 'DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN'.

It's possible that you just made a spelling error when typing the website address, it's more likely being displayed because there is another underlying issue occurring with the Domain Name System (DNS) server, and the issue either needs to be fixed or it needs to be reset.

Here are a few error codes that generally display with "This site can't be reached".


This error message is Chrome letting you know that the data transfer establishing a connection, has been interrupted and the connection between the browser and the server is closed. There isn't much to go on here from a "fixing it" perspective. You can try checking your internet connection, restarting your router, resetting your network settings, disabling any VPN connections, turning off any anti-virus software or firewalls, or seeing if you need to update Chrome.


This error message from Chrome indicates that the DNS isn't able to change the provided URL into an IP address. Because of this, the site can't be reached. The implication is that the domain doesn't exist but it could be a typo.


This error message from Chrome indicates the connection is taking too long to get the data from the website you're trying to visit. When a query is sent to the server, you've got about 30 seconds for a response, and then it's timing out.


This error message from Chrome indicates your browser can't connect to the server. This is generally because of a misconfiguration in your internet settings or something is blocking the connection.


This error message indicates your browser couldn't find the IP address that matches the domain name and therefore the website can't be displayed. This error is not exclusive to Chrome as you may see it on Firefox or Safari in a slightly different form. There are several reasons this message may display but the most common is that the DNS server is unavailable. You may need to restart your router, delete your browsing history, or check for malware on your computer.


This error message from Chrome indicates that it has failed to create a tunnel connecting to the website you're trying to visit or Chrome isn't able to connect to the internet. You may see this when using a proxy, try disabling it to see if this fixes the problem.


This error message from Chrome indicates that the website you're trying to visit is inaccessible. This could be because of an issue on your computer or server-side. You can try checking your internet connection, restarting your router, resetting your network settings, disabling any VPN connections, turning off any anti-virus software or firewalls, or checking if you need to update Chrome.


This error message from Chrome is fairly common and means pretty much what it says, the connection was refused. Try checking your internet connection, restarting your router, resetting your network settings, disabling any VPN connections, turning off any anti-virus software or firewalls, or checking if you need to update Chrome.


"Your Connection Is Not Private" or "Your Connection Is Not Secure"

You'll typically see this message in browsers when attempting to access your website via an improperly configured SSL Certificate. Basically, you're trying to open a safe that doesn't have a lock. Try this, in your browser type in the URL with "http://" in front of it, (, and check if your site works. If it does, the site is functional but you're missing the SSL Certificate or one that's configured incorrectly.

If the message persists you can check if your SSL Certificate has expired by using any web browser. For this example, we will be using Google. Try clicking the small 'lock' icon in the address bar. If the message reads 'Your connection to this site is not secure' you may have an expired certificate, but click on that text and then look for 'Certificate is Valid' (you can further click on this to see the expiration date. If you don't see this validation you may need to give us or your IT team a call.


Site Is Hosted Here But Not Set Up / Site Parked

If you're seeing the "Site is hosted here, but not set up", "Site Parked", or "See how to purchase this domain" message it generally means that your domain name isn't pointing to the host. Remember websites are broken into the domain name, what you type into the browser such as, and the host, the place where the files, content, and images are stored. A lot of the time this is an all-in-one purchase similar to how GoDaddy typically handles this, and you may not even realize it. However, it is possible to purchase a domain name at GoDaddy and hosting at another company such as Opalstack.

Why would you do this? Well, cost and extras of course. Opalstack has a cheaper hosting package and provides nearly unlimited emails accounts, not to mention a single Opalsatck account allows you to host as many websites as you would like. You're not getting that from GoDaddy.

If you load your website and you get a "this site is hosted by" or "see how to purchase this domain" web page, it means that your website isn’t pointing to your server properly. This happens for a number of reasons:

  • Your domain might be pointing to the wrong place
  • You might have updated your products with your hosting provider in the wrong place
  • You've bought hosting with a provider but it expired
  • A mistake was made in your DNS

Check your domain registrar settings, and make sure that the name servers or DNS records are set up according to the instructions of your web host.


Blank Page / Part of the site

If you load your website, and all that you see is a blank white page or something with very minimal text or design elements, the likely issue is that there's something wrong with your CMS ( content management system ). A few likely culprits for sites using WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or another CMS might fall into the following.

  • Your plugins or CMS needs to be updated or was updated and there are compatibility issues
  • Your site uses a page builder like Visual Composer, and the plugin is deactivated, out of date, or unlicensed
  • Recently, a lot of web hosts have forced their clients to update to PHP version 7.2, and their websites or its plugins weren't compatible or updated

If you suspect one of these things might be the issue, you’ll have to login to your website and update all your plugins and your CMS core. If logging in is not an option at this point,  contact your web host or web developer and see if you can restore an older backup from when your website was working- then update from there.


Slow-loading website, maybe everything is there

A really slow website is a problem for a number of reasons - user experience, SEO, ability to update, and more. If your website times out a lot, meaning you can load it but it’s so slow it may only load sometimes (or not at all), you’re most likely looking at a hosting issue. We see this a lot with inexpensive $5-per-month hosts - they put your site on a server with hundreds of others and it gets overloaded.

But there are other reasons for a slow site, too:

  • Scripts that are timing out due to being old our misrouted
  • You might have a redirect loop - pages redirecting to each other
  • Your CDN may be misconfigured
  • Your site may have been hacked, (possibly by things like a DDOS or bitcoin mining)

If your site is running slow, make sure you update all your plugins and CMS core, check your host’s system status for errors and reach out to your web host to get to the bottom of it. It’s possible that you won’t be able to see which scripts or files are the culprits without their help since you don’t have access to the server logs or processes.


What Now?

If you need help looking into any of these errors, or just want it fixed, then get in touch with Doc4 Design today and we can help out.

Dale Crum
Dale Crum
Owner / Creative Director at Doc4 Design

Want to Hear More?

Need a cost estimate for a new project? Or just want to know what options are available? Get the answers you need by calling us at (479) 202-8634, or drop us a line using the form.