What are error pages?
Error pages are the pages displayed when a user tries to access a location on your site and encountered an error. There are many different types of errors, the most common ones are:
- 301 - The page has been moved Permanently
- 401 - The user does not have permission to view the file/directory.
- 404 - The page could not be found (bad URL).
- 500 - One of your scripts is not functioning properly, and is returning an Internal Server Error.
Error pages can be modified from the server default by adding custom error handling in your .htaccess file.
Any user, who uses the internet to browse, is certain to come across an error page. It is prudent to note that though every browser portrays its error pages in a unique way, they all convey the same meaning.
Important Types of Error Pages
- Certificate Error Page
- Phishing and Malware Warning Page
- 404 Error Not Found Page
- Custom Error Page
- Server Not Found
- Unable to Connect
Certificate Error Page
Whenever you have a problem with the HTTPS encryption, then it is indicated by an SSL certificate error. This error will only be displayed while connecting to a website using HTTPS.
When you use a HTTPS encryption to connect to websites, then these websites will be validated that they are legitimate by presenting certificates. For example, Google’s security certificate is issued by a trusted certificate authority thereby verifying that Google is the actual owner of the domain google.com and is hence, entitled to the certificate. This certificate is produced by Google when a user connects to its domain using HTTPS. The browser verifies the certificate’s legitimacy by ensuring that it was issued by a known and registered authority. This helps in the user being connected to the actual Google domain instead of a proxy or fake server.
When a certificate error is noticed, it means that you have not been connected to the real domain or website. But, in some rare cases, a website may have failed to renew or configure its certificate following which an error message is displayed in the certificate. Regardless, continuing to browse after noticing such errors is not recommended.
Phishing and Malware Warning Page
Web forgery is one common type of internet hacking. A decent browser knows when a web forgery or “phishing” occurs and warns the user accordingly, including malware warnings. A browser keeps downloading data about such rather dangerous websites and stores the data. So when the user attempts to connect to such websites, the browser will immediately issue a warning or error message.
Such dangerous websites are placed on the list since they have malware which may harm your computer. These malwares may also try to replicate or impersonate a real website as it is in order to “phish” or steal passwords and other such personal information.
Sometimes, a website may be temporarily taken down or may be added to this list because of various reasons like being compromised, server problems, etc. After being rectified, it should be taken off the list.
404 Not Found
This is one of the most common error messages found on almost all browsers when they are accessing web pages. This error basically means that a user is attempting to access a website or its page that no longer exists. It may also be because the user was mistyped the address or that the webpage was removed.
Such error messages are sent by a remote web server and routed to the user’s web browser. When the user is displayed this error message, they can double check for mistyped addresses or they might have clicked an erroneous link.
Custom Error Pages
Website or domain owners can customize how these error messages are displayed on a user’s browser. Whatever may be the customizations, the messages all mean the same thing. The reason they are customized so is that they are more user friendly and are visually pleasing.
Server Not Found
Another common error message displayed in web browsers is “Server Not Found”. This simply means that a browser could not find the specific website that the user was looking for or trying to access.
The error may be in the form of mistyped web address, a non-existent domain or website, temporary shutdown of the user’s DNS or firewall, misconfigured settings, etc.
Unable to Connect
This message or error indicates that though the browser has established connection with the DNS servers and that an indication of a website at the targeted location is there, a reply message from the website servers was not routed back to the browser when the connection was being established.