GetNetGoing helps make networks work

Bookmark and Share

“Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage” errors

This Internet Explorer error message occurs when IE can't reach the web server using HTTP. This may be because IE cannot:
  • Convert the name into a numeric address, using the Domain Name System (DNS)
  • Connect to the server using the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)
Both causes may in turn be caused by lost Internet connectivity.

Instructions below show how to determine the cause, i.e. to test whether:

Symptoms

Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage
In this case, there is a typing error (“ww.”) in the domain name (“address”).

How to test which issue is why “Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage”

Under “More information”, Internet Explorer will list a variety of issues that may have caused your problem. The instructions below show you how to test which of those issues might be causing the problem.

You can readily recreate this error by trying to access the address “http://localhost/”. In that case, Internet Explorer is trying to access a web server on your own computer (localhost) which likely isn't running a web server. So in this instance, this error arises because the server doesn't respond, as described below.

1. Internet connectivity has been lost.

There should be other clear signs of this, e.g. if you can't get a search engine results page when you do a new search (e.g. search for random words). Be wary that caching may cause static content (e.g. this web page) to continue to appear even when Internet connectivity has been lost.

Unfortunately, there are a multitude of possible reasons why Internet connectivity has been lost. You should first check whether only specific types of connectivity have been lost (e.g. check whether “The Domain Name System (DNS) server is not reachable” as described below), and if all connectivity has been lost, then check foundation network functionality.

See Microsoft Knowledge Base article 936211: “How to troubleshoot network connectivity problems in Internet Explorer

2. DNS problems

Domain names are textual names (e.g. www.example.com) used to identify machines on the Internet. The Domain Name System (DNS) translates these names into numeric Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (e.g. 192.0.32.10) that are used to transport information across the Internet.

The Domain Name System (DNS) server is not reachable.

If you can view the page http://192.0.32.10/ but not http://www.example.com then your DNS server is probably not reachable, since DNS would normally translate www.example.com into 192.0.32.10.

To identify your DNS server1, you will need to open a Command Prompt, and type the text in red below:

C:\Windows\system32>ipconfig /all | find "Servers"
DNS Servers . . . . . . . . . . . : 123.45.67.89
C:\Windows\system32>

What you may see:

  • If no address is listed, then you will need to specify a DNS server
  • You may see an IPv6 address consisting of hexadecimal digits separated by colons (:)
Once you have identified your DNS server, you should test whether it is reachable, and if not, specify a DNS server.

How to specify a DNS server with Microsoft Windows

By default, Windows will automatically determine which DNS server to use from the operator of your network (e.g. your ISP or company) through the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). However, if that server is unavailable, unreliable, or can't answer a DNS query, then you may wish to specify that Windows use a different server. Public DNS services are available from OpenDNS (e.g. address 208.67.222.222) and Google (e.g. address 8.8.8.8) and others.

To specify that Windows should use a particular a DNS server:

  1. Open the Network Connections control panel:
    • In Windows XP: From the Start menu, click on “Connect To” and then “Show all connections;”
    • In Windows Vista or 7, from the Start menu, either:
      • Copy and paste “explorer.exe::{7007ACC7-3202-11D1-AAD2-00805FC1270E}” in the search box, and press Enter. Or
      • Through the graphical user interface:
        1. Choose the “Control Panel”, then
        2. “Network and Internet”, then
        3. “Network and Sharing Center”, then
        4. “Manage network connections” from the list of tasks on the left hand side of the window.
  2. Right-click on the network connection that you want to want to specify the DNS server for, and select “Properties” from the menu.
  3. Select “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP)” from the list of items, and then click on the “Properties” button, which should lead you to a dialog box like:
    Microsoft Windows: Using OpenDNS as the DNS server
  4. Select “Use the following DNS server addresses” and enter one of the addresses of a DNS service, such as that of OpenDNS or Google's DNS, as listed above.
  5. Click the "OK" button

There might be a typing error in the address.2

“address” here means the domain name, and not the complete URL or the object pathname3. A typing error would probably cause there to be no DNS listing (see the next issue), but may be easier to spot if you check the domain name for possible typing errors, e.g. "ww.example.com" rather than "www.example.com".

The Domain Name System (DNS) server does not have a listing for the website's domain.

To check whether your DNS server has a listing for a domain, open a Command Prompt and use the name server lookup (nslookup) program:
C:\Windows\system32>nslookup www.example.com
Server: dns.yourisp.net
Address: 123.45.67.89

Non-authoritative answer:
Name: www.example.com
Address: 192.0.32.10


C:\Windows\system32>
Note that some ISPs provide a DNS Redirection function which will return a default address for names that don't have their own DNS listing. You can check for this by using nslookup to query a likely non-existent name that you create randomly, e.g. nslookup kjhqwe45sdf.com (few real domains have digits in the midst of letters).

No DNS listing may be because:

  • only your DNS server doesn't have a listing.
    You could use a web-based DNS lookup to see if other servers can find a listing. You need to find an IP address record type (A or AAAA), and if you find one, you might4 be able to connect to the server using http:// followed by the IP address, e.g. http://192.0.32.10 rather than http://www.example.com
  • a previous listing no longer exists, or
  • such a listing has never existed
    To check whether a listing has existed, use an online whois tool to check whether the domain has been registered. If not, then there is likely a typing error in the domain name. If it has been registered, then you may be able to Access a replica of the web page.

Test whether a machine is reachable

To test whether a machine (DNS server or website) is reachable, open a Command Prompt and type “ping address-or-name” e.g.:

C:\Windows\system32>ping 123.29.152.116

Pinging 123.29.152.116 with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 123.29.152.116: bytes=32 time=10ms TTL=59
Reply from 123.29.152.116: bytes=32 time=11ms TTL=59
Reply from 123.29.152.116: bytes=32 time=8ms TTL=59
Reply from 123.29.152.116: bytes=32 time=9ms TTL=59

Ping statistics for 123.29.152.116:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 8ms, Maximum = 11ms, Average = 9ms

C:\Windows\system32>

You may see different numbers, but the “% loss” is what is important, and should be low. If loss is occurring, then you may be able to reach the machine merely by retrying.

Note that ping sends information across the network using ICMP packets, whereas DNS uses UDP packets and web access uses TCP packets. So it is possible (though unlikely) that you may be able to ping a machine but not access it for DNS or a web page, e.g. if a firewall blocks your UDP/TCP access. Reciprocally, a firewall may block ping but not block your DNS/web access.

3. Transport problems

Once Internet Explorer has determined the address of the web server, it needs to transport, across the Internet, a request to the server.

The website is temporarily unavailable.

This is caused by the web server not responding to your request5. That can be because: Check if the site is unavailable for other users. If so, then you may be able to Otherwise, you may6 be able to access the site through a proxy, or if your address is blacklisted you may be able to access if you try again later (by which time your address may have changed).

If this is an HTTPS (secure) address, click Tools, click Internet Options, click Advanced, and check that the SSL and TLS protocols are enabled under the security section.2

SSL and TLS security layers are used to secure communication across the Internet. The options to use SSL and TLS appear at the bottom of the list of Advanced options.

Extra information

Microsoft Knowledge Base article 956196: “You receive an error message in Internet Explorer: “Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage”

The corresponding Internet Explorer version 6 error message is “Cannot find server

Some other error messages are subtly different:

Footnotes

1 If you have multiple DNS servers then this procedure will only list the first server. To identify all servers, type ipconfig /all | more and search for the “DNS Servers . . ” line, and any other servers will be listed after the first line.

2 This possible issue is not always listed.

3 If the error was in the pathname, then you should receive a HTTP 404 error. If the error was in the URL, then you should receive an Address not valid error.

4 This depends on whether the web server has been configured to default to providing access to the domain that you are after. Usually HTTP requests include a Host: header line which specifies which domain is being requested from a server.

5 A separate HTTP 503 error should occur if the network can connect you, but the website itself is unavailable.

6 The network blockage may also block your access to the proxy.

Updated 29 June 2012

Copyright (C) 2012 | Site map | Contact us