Your internet connection seems to be okay.
Most websites load instantly.
A few of them don’t seem to open, no matter how many times you press that reload button.
Fortunately, the solutions in this article can help you resolve your situation right now.
Certain Websites Won’t Load (Causes, Fixes)
Websites may fail to load for many reasons, including browser issues, VPN glitches, geographical bans, and server timeouts.
In all cases, it’s essential to take a systematic approach and rule out causes one by one.
1. Getting The Basics Out Of The Way
As with many computer-related glitches, you should always rule out the basic causes.
These causes are often so simple that we ignore them.
Do the following before going further:
- Make sure you’ve typed in the correct address.
- Restart your browser.
- Check your internet connection by opening a reliable website or using a tool such as “Is My Internet Working.”
- Switch to a different browser. For instance, if Chrome is your default browser, open the website on Firefox or Safari.
- Restart your computer.
- Switch devices. Open the website on your smartphone or borrow a friend’s laptop for a few minutes.
- Switch your internet connection. If possible, connect to a mobile hotspot or another WiFi router.
If the issue persists after taking these measures, move on to the following sections.
2. Is The Website Down?
Although rare, websites go down for many reasons, including server misconfiguration or hardware failure.
Larger companies usually have redundant servers to prevent this, and they also provide an appropriate error message to inform users about the issue.
However, websites belonging to smaller companies may go offline without warning.
In these situations, you can only wait until the company finds a solution, but you can check to see whether the issue is on your end or theirs.
How To Check
Multiple services can tell you whether a website is offline by entering its URL.
These are some of the top-ranking ones:
How To Fix
If the website is down, there isn’t much you can do to bring it back online.
Check every few hours to see if the issue has been resolved.
Sometimes, website owners take their properties offline without prior warning.
You may still be able to access copies of some of their pages stored in Google’s cache.
To do that, follow these steps:
- Search for the website on Google.
- Click on the three vertical dots near the site’s URL.
- From the dialog, click Cached.
Note: If you’re looking for a specific page, type in the keyword for that page with the “site:” operator and the website’s domain.
For example, to search for Xbox on Microsoft’s website, you should type this phrase into Google: Xbox site: Microsoft.com.
Another option is The Wayback Machine, a digital archive that periodically crawls and indexes all the websites it can find.
Once you enter the website’s address in their search engine, you’ll see a calendar where some of the dates are bolded.
Click on each date to see which pages of the website are available.
You most likely won’t get an interactive page, but you’ll be able to find the information you’re looking for.
3. Are You Using A VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a privacy tool that establishes a secure connection and hides your identity from everyone on the internet.
It also masks your IP address or switches it with one from another country.
Many users install VPN clients to increase their security and maintain their privacy.
However, VPNs also increase the risk of fraud on the internet.
That’s why many websites, especially those owned by Google and other tech giants, implement measures to detect and prevent the use of a VPN.
Additionally, some websites use a CDN such as Cloudflare to increase their load speed and security.
CDNs often denylist VPN traffic to prevent DDoS attacks.
If VPN is your issue, the browser may tell you that the target server “refused to connect.”
Alternatively, you may get a request timeout error.
Or you might not see an error message at all.
So, turn off your VPN and reload the website.
Read on if you don’t know whether there’s a VPN on your computer.
How To Fix
To establish a VPN connection, you need a client application and a username/password.
And those apps usually load with your operating system, so they’ll be in your task tray next to the clock.
Hover your mouse over an unfamiliar icon and see it matches any of these names:
- Nord VPN
- Open VPN
In case you locate any of those apps, double click on the icon, disconnect the app, and reload the site.
Now, even if you don’t see any of those apps in your task tray, it doesn’t mean you’re not connected to a VPN.
Another way to check is to look at your IP address.
You’re connected to a VPN if it’s outside your state or country.
4. Is A Browser Extension Blocking Your Access?
Browser extensions are third-party tools that give your browser extra functionality such as screen recording, time tracking, productivity.
Most of the time, these extensions are safe and work without any glitches.
If your issue appeared soon after installing an extension, it’s most likely the culprit.
If you haven’t recently installed anything, a browser update may have caused a conflict with an existing extension.
In either case, run your browser in safe mode to see whether the problem disappears.
How To Fix
All modern browsers come with a safe mode that disables the extensions and other non-essential features on your browser.
As a result, nothing will interfere with your requests.
The functionality is called Incognito mode in Google Chrome, and you can activate it by pressing Ctrl + Shift + N.
Alternatively, you can use the menu icon in the top right corner and click New Incognito Window.
In Firefox, it’s called Private Browsing.
You can open it by pressing Ctrl + Shift + P or via the menu.
Note: Your browsing history won’t be saved when you’re in Incognito (Private) mode, so make sure you know the URLs if you want to return to them.
If your intended website loads in safe mode, it’s time to figure out which extension is blocking your traffic.
Close the Incognito window, and head to your Extensions Manager under Settings (Add-ons and themes in Firefox).
Then, starting with the most recent one, disable the extensions individually and reload the website every time.
Once you find the culprit, remove it and restart your browser.
5. Is Your Browser Up To Date?
Web browsers update frequently—some add major new functionality, while many fix bugs and bring minor improvements.
Major updates usually bring in new technology that may cause older websites not to load.
This is especially the case if you see a white blank page when you open the site.
How To Fix
Your first option is to switch to a different browser.
For example, if you’re using Chrome, try Firefox or Safari.
The other option is to roll back the update.
Alternatively, you can wait a few days to see if a new update will be released.
Most companies detect and remove bugs quickly.
6. Are You In A Restricted Area?
Certain websites may decide to deny access to their services in certain locations.
They can detect where you are based on your IP address and decide whether you have permission to use their website.
It’s not just tech giants like Google and Facebook.
Regular websites may be using hosting or security services that apply those restrictions.
On the flip side, the government may be blocking a website, especially if you’re traveling and don’t know about the country’s policies.
For example, recently, Turkey banned Wikipedia for a few years.
These restrictions are mainly due to political or legal reasons, and they can pop up without prior warning.
How To Fix
The best way to get around these restrictions is by using a VPN.
A VPN masks your IP address and makes it look like you’re connecting from a different region.
Plus, it has extra security provided that you get a connection from a reputable service provider.
Otherwise, you risk being hacked and your sensitive information being stolen.
Because the topic is sensitive, we won’t go into how you can acquire a VPN, but a Google search will give you plenty of paid and free options.
7. What’s The HTTP Response Code?
If none of the solutions have worked so far, it’s time to get technical.
Whenever you type a URL into your browser, an HTTP request is sent to the website server.
Before sending over the actual pages, the server sends an HTTP response code that tells your browser what to expect.
The three-digit code starts with 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.
The browser will get a 200 OK response if all goes well, and the website will load.
However, a response code starting with a 4 of 5 indicates an error.
Class 4 codes indicate errors on the client-side, while class 5 codes are designated for server-side errors.
How To Find the HTTP Response Code
Sometimes, your browser will display the code and a short message on a white screen.
However, the most reliable way is through a third-party tool such as the ones below:
Another way to obtain the code is through the Inspect tool in your browser.
Here’s how to use it:
- Right-click on a blank area of the page.
- Click Inspect.
- Move to the Network tab.
- Reload the page.
- See the status column.
Once you have the code, refer to the section below to see the problem and what you can do about it.
Most Common Error Codes
A. 400 Bad Request
This is a generic error indicating that the server couldn’t or didn’t want to process the client’s request.
The reason could be anything from the wrong URL to geographical restrictions.
First, try a VPN.
If that doesn’t work, clear your cookies and restart your browser.
As a final measure, you can purge your DNS cache.
Here are the steps for Windows 10:
- Open the command prompt by typing cmd in the Start Menu.
- In the window that opens, type ipconfig /flushdns and press Enter.
- Once you get that confirmation message, reload the website.
Read Kinsta’s comprehensive guide on flushing the DNS cache if your device has a different operating system.
B. 401 Unauthorized
The URL you’re trying to access requires permissions.
In other words, you need a username and password to access it.
You should see a prompt to enter your credentials before getting the 401 error.
However, if you go directly to the error page before having a chance to enter your details, the wrong username/password may have been cached.
Open an incognito window (private browsing in Firefox) and enter the URL again.
Also, check the URL to see if the credentials are appended—you should see a question mark (?) and a couple of equal signs (=).
C. 403 Forbidden
Your client doesn’t have access either because the information on the page is privileged or you’re in a banned location.
Fire up your VPN, and see if the issue gets resolved.
If not, you’ll need to obtain permission from the website’s administrators.
Maybe they’ve moved the page behind a paywall, or perhaps they’re doing maintenance operations.
In any case, wait a couple of days and then contact the website’s support.
D. 404 Not Found
The URL you typed in doesn’t exist.
Because 404 is a client-side error code, the website is alive and working, but the page you want can’t be found.
That’s either because you’ve typed in the wrong address or the page has been removed.
In the latter case, there isn’t anything you can do.
E. 500 Internal Server Error
This code means the server couldn’t handle your request, maybe because it was offline.
Sometimes, servers return a fake 500 error to deter banned traffic.
You can try a VPN to be sure.
If that doesn’t do the trick, there isn’t much to be done.
F. 503 Service Unavailable
Servers return a 503 code when they’re too busy to handle a request, or the website is down for maintenance.
Believe it or not, servers can only process a limited number of connections per second.
When too many users try to log on simultaneously, the server gets overloaded and returns a 503 error.
In this case, the only thing you can do is to wait it out.
Check back every hour or so until the server can respond.
G. 504 Gateway Timeout
Servers often rely on one another to store different pieces of a website.
For example, one server could be responsible for generating the HTML code, while another is optimized for storing images and other large files.
When you enter the website’s URL in your browser, the primary server receives your request and then sends an appropriate request to the file server before getting back to you.
You’ll get a 504 error if the second server fails to respond promptly.
The 504 is mostly a temporary issue as the second server may be overloaded or offline for a while.
Like the previous case, reload the page every once in a while.
H. 505 HTTP Version Not Supported
HTTP has been around since the mid-90s, and during that time, it has undergone a few major updates.
If you’re seeing this error, it’s either because your browser is very old (more likely) or you’re trying to open a website whose server configuration hasn’t been updated in over five years (less likely).
Switch to a modern one such as Chrome, and keep it up to date.
If the issue persists, you’re pretty much out of luck.
What If There’s No HTTP Code?
If you don’t see an HTTP code, there are three possibilities:
- You’ve typed in the wrong address.
- You’re not connected to the internet.
- The website you’re trying to access doesn’t exist or has been taken offline.
If you’re trying to find a specific piece of information, use The Wayback Machine or Google’s cached pages the way we explained.