What do Error Pages Mean?

Website errors. Everybody unfortunately experiences these at some point or another. One second you’re clicking along, blogging, writing, or coding, when suddenly you’re smacked with a 404 page. And to make matters worse, there is usually no obvious rhyme or reason as to why they appear!

But let’s try to not hold it against the error pages. They may look intimidating, but they’re actually quite helpful if you understand what they represent. Below are the two most common error pages that our customers face. I’ll review what they mean and offer some tips on how you can diagnose them.

404: Page Not Found

This essentially means that the resource (link, picture, post, file, etc…) you’re attempting to view, click, embed or obtain is unavailable. The server attempted to find the specified file and failed.

What should I look for?

  1. URL’s are case-sensitive. Verify that your URL employs the correct casing, then try again.
  2. Make sure the domain name is entered properly, including any necessary subdomains and subfolders. A common mistake is to either add too much to the URL (e.g. including “/public_html”), or not including the proper subdomain (e.g. domain.com/file.php instead of sub.domain.com/file.php).
  3. Verify your files are uploaded to the correct directories. Often files are uploaded to the home directory instead of the public_html directory, making them inaccessible on the Internet. You can check this using your cPanel -> File Manager or your preferred FTP program.

500: Internal Server Error

An Internal Server Error means that the server attempted to handle your request, but something went wrong in the process. Fortunately extensive logs are always kept which make diagnosing these errors pretty straightforward. Simply go to cPanel -> Logs -> Error Logs. You can scroll through entries manually, but often it is easier to search using the IP address listed on the error logs page to locate pertinent information. Press “CTRL” “F” on your keyboard to do so.

What should I look for?

  1. Invalid characters in your .htaccess files. This is a special file which allows a user to control certain aspects of the Apache web server. While powerful, it must be very precisely constructed. Your Error Log will tell you if there is a problem and on which line it exists.
  2. Invalid permissions are another common cause of 500-type errors. We work to ensure our customers always operate in the most secure web hosting environment possible. This occasionally means certain files are assigned permissions that don’t allow them to be accessed. Generally files or folders with permissions set to “777,” “666″ or any combination where “write” permissions are given to “group” or “world” will result in a 500 Internal Server Error as a security measure.
  3. Verify you do not have invalid characters in your index.html, index.php scripts or dependent scripts. Like with the .htaccess, errors occur if these contains errant code or characters. As most websites are comprised of many files, we strongly suggest referring to your error logs for the precise location. You can also replace a suspect file with a version known to be working to see if the switch corrected the problem.

So now you can now diagnose your own site errors in just a few minutes! As always, if you have any questions, you’re always welcome to contact our world-class support department 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Chad K.
Support Communication and Project Coordinator

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