Connecting to your newly created website from your local computer involves your ISP, a series of outbound routers, a series of inbound routers, and your web host’s servers. Often, as many as 12 – 24 individual computers are involved in the transmission of data between your computer and your account on hosting servers.
Of those 12 – 24 computers, only one belongs to your hosting company. While it’s easy to blame your hosting company for every problem the internet experiences, in the overwhelming majority of cases the problems do not originate with them, and there’s nothing they can do to fix them.
The information below describes the process in more detail and may assist you in locating the source of the problem.
Note: The Internet is not 100% reliable and it probably never will be. You can increase the reliability of your own access to the Internet by maintaining two or more separate ISP accounts, each of which is preferably connected to the Internet by a different backbone. If you’re having trouble connecting with one account, switch to an alternative and see if the problem improves. That’s an expensive solution, but if reliable access is important to you, it may be worth the added cost.
Cannot find server or DNS Error
This error occurs when the domain name cannot be resolved to a valid IP address. It can be caused by a number of problems, including the following:
You’ve typed the domain name incorrectly
Make sure that the domain is spelled correctly in your browser’s address bar.
You’re not connected to the Internet
It’s happened to all of us. Make sure you’ve established a valid connection to your internet service provider.
Your domain registration has expired and been deactivated by the domain registrar
Do a WHOIS Lookup on your domain name and check the expiration date. If your domain name has expired, you need to renew it with the domain registration agency.
Your domain name is not pointing to Your Web Host’s Domain Name Server (DNS)
Make sure that the DNS information for your domain name is pointing correctly to your web host’s nameservers (
Your ISP’s Domain Name Server (DNS) is not functioning correctly
Run a traceroute and see if you receive an error message that says something like “Unable to resolve hostname”. Send a copy of the traceroute results to your web host’s support department for evaluation.
Your Web Host’s Domain Name Server (DNS) is not functioning correctly
Run a traceroute and see if you receive an error message that says something like “Unable to resolve hostname”. Send a copy of the traceroute results to your web host’s support department for evaluation. Please note: after changing your domain’s DNS settings, DNS propagation can take up to 24 hours.
There’s a problem with an intermediate router
Run a traceroute and see if there are any timeouts or failures along the route (indicated by asterisks in the time columns.) Send a copy of the traceroute results to support department for evaluation.
Your web host’s server has crashed or is down for maintenance
Run a traceroute and see if you receive an error message that says something like “Unable to resolve hostname”. Send a copy of the traceroute results to support department for evaluation.
Forbidden (You don’t have permission to access …)
This error means that the directory you’re attempting to browse is not available for one of the following reasons:
There’s no index page
You must place an appropriately-named index page in each directory if you want to browse without specifying an exact file name.
Permissions are incorrectly set
The directory and file permissions must be set to world-readable. Typical permissions for a directory are
rwxrwxr-x); for HTML documents, permissions are usually
rw-rw-r--). See the File Permissions Tutorial for more information.
Your account has been disabled.
You will typically see the Forbidden error if your web host has disabled your account for a policy violation or non-payment of your hosting fees. They probably attempted to notify you if this were the case. Contact your support to make sure that your account is in good standing.
Internal Server Error
The Internal Server Error is usually associated with CGI scripts. If you’re receiving an Internal Server Error when browsing HTML pages, notify your web host’s support.
Reporting Connection Problems to Your Web Host
When reporting a connection problem, provide as much information as possible: The more information you provide, the faster your website host can investigate and solve the problem. Questions that they’re likely to ask before they can solve the problem for you include the following:
- What’s your domain name?
- What connections are affected (browsing, FTP, SSH, e-mail, or everything)?
- What is the exact error message or result you’re encountering?
- Can you connect to your account by numeric IP number?
- Do you have access to a different ISP (or another computer / mobile device connected to a different ISP, or a friend or colleague who’s connected to a different ISP …), and if so does the problem occur with that connection, too?
- Is the problem consistent, or does it work sometimes and sometimes not?
- How long have you been experiencing the problem?
- Is the problem software-specific (e.g., does it work okay with Chrome, but not with Firefox, or vice-versa)?
- What is the username for the user account experiencing the problem (they’ll need this in some cases to attempt to replicate the problem or error.)
- What are the traceroute results?