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Error Codes and
Custom Handling of
"404 Missing Page" Errors




Common Apache Server Error Codes

ERROR CODE
MEANING
304 see below
400 Bad Request
401 Authorization Required
403 Forbidden Often occurs when a CGI script is invoked, whose file permission was not set to "executable".
404
(the most
common)
Not Found no web page exists at this address. (Perhaps the file was renamed or deleted.)
500 Internal Server Error -- Often occurs when there is a programming bug or a settings problem in a CGI script

What Does a 304 Error Code Mean?

The 304 error is somewhat misleading. The Apache Webserver logs it as an error, but it's really this. Someone visits your site today, and tomorrow, they go back to your site. When they do, their local system connects with your server, and then the server tells the local machine that the
information (html files, images, etc) are already in the cache of that users system, and the information is shown from the cache rather than the server itself. Apache logs this as the 304 error because it hasn't been modified since the last time that the user has accessed that part of your site.

Thus this error is generally the online "good" error a user could get because this means that they have been to your site previously and have returned.

Custom Handling of "404 Missing Page" Errors

If you have your own domain name, then whenever someone types in a web address on your site for which there is no actual page, they will receive a generic 404 Missing Page error message.

You can customize the error page that comes up. Simply create a file named, "missing.html", and place it on your top-level directory. Our server will automatically display your custom page in place of the generic error message page.

When would someone enter a web address that has no corresponding web page? Here are some common cases:

  • Someone bookmarked a page on your site, and you've since changed your site, and renamed or deleted some of your web pages.
  • A search engine indexed some of the pages on your site, and you've since changed your site, and renamed or deleted some of your web pages.

Example. Make "missing.html" be a copy of the front page of your site. Note: If you do this make sure that you update your missing.html file every time you update your front page!

Suggestions. We recommend that you use absolute addressing (e.g., <a href = "http://www.yourdomain.com/page2.html">) rather than relative addressing (e.g., <a href = "../page2.html">) for all references made on your "missing.html" page. If the missing page is in a subdirectory of your site, our server will display your missing.html page as though it were located on that subdirectory, which would screw up all the relative addressing references, creating missing images, broken links, etc.

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