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404 vs. 403 vs. 500: What These Errors Mean and How To Fix Them

You design and launch a new website – maybe it’s an e-Commerce site, a site for your personal brand or portfolio. But what do you find when you go to visit it live? An error message! 

Unexpected errors and bugs can drive anyone crazy. There are actually different types of errors, depending on what exactly has gone wrong with the architecture of your site. But with a little help, and a little background information, you can have this sorted out in no time. Here’s what you need to know on the most common types of website errors.

What is HTTP?

Hyper-text transfer protocol is the language of the internet and website pages. This transfer protocol is a request-reply tango that is performed over and over when you request information from servers, and the internet at large. Every time you send a request, i.e. go to a website, you receive a response. 

When you send a request to a server, you will get a status code and the information you requested. The default status code when you go to “google.com” is status code 200. But you do not see this status code, because you get the web page you requested.

Receiving a 400 Error: Bad Request

HTTP error 400 is a client-side error. Technically everything in the 400 family of status codes marks a client-side error. In this relationship you, your computer, or any device attempting to access the information is the client. The client sends a request to the server for information, and the server responds with 400 if it does not understand the request. This could be caused by a security threat to your machine or OS, a bad internet connection, or uncleared cache. 

Try clearing your cache, closing your browser, and then reopening and visiting the site again. You may need to check for updates and install, or you may need to have your device scanned for security vulnerabilities.


The server has seen the request, and decides the client simply cannot have access. Typically this is due to a permission or security issue. Often the website creator has disallowed access to the file directory tree of the page, or the client in general. Limiting indexing of file directory is often a security feature offered by website hosts. You can also use it on your own site for improved security. ModSecurity – the web application firewall we use at CanSpace – can also give a 403 error when it denies access to a page based on its internal ruleset.

404-Not Found

This is the response you get when you request an address that does not exist. It is the internet’s “return to sender.” This could be due to an incorrect or mistyped url by the client. It could also be a result of the DNS pointer being wrong. 404’s can usually be resolved on the server or website side succinctly. Some use 300 level redirect codes, to preserve SEO scores.

Error 500

500 level status codes denote server-side errors. They could be internal server errors, problems with servers responding to one another(as in proxy servers), problems with unsecured wifi connections, or server resource errors. If you encounter 500 level errors on a site you are managing, you may want to connect with your hosting service. They should be responsive and help you to determine what can be done on your end, and accountable if it is a resource or networking issue on their side.

CanSpace Solutions can help you manage and host your website with ease and security. With world class customer service and routine comprehensive maintenance, you can always count on us to be there for you. Contact us today!

CanSpace Team

CanSpace Solutions is Canada's leading domain name registrar and web hosting provider. Keep an eye on our blog for expert information on domain names, websites, and running a business online.