status code

An Introduction to HTTP – Response Status Codes

Since the first internet browser came out, the end user’s have been puzzled by these 3 letter codes that frequently show up whenever there is a problem with either the webpage, internet connectivity or something else. A professional web developer understands all the HTTP – Response Status Codes and their significance. But an end-user does not have a clue. By learning about the frequently occurring HTTP – Response Status Codes, you can enhance your internet browsing experience.

Why do these HTTP – Response Status Codes appear on my screen?

Since this post is intended to help a regular internet user(and not a web developer), I am going to keep it simple and concise. The main purpose of HTTP – Response Status Codes is to help your internet browser(like Google Chrome, Firefox, etc) communicate with the webserver. A webserver is a place where the data of the website you are trying to load is stored. It can be located anywhere in the world.

As you can see from the picture, the client program–which is your browser– sends a request to the server and the server responds after processing your request. This happens every time you try to load a webpage. If the server fails to process the request properly, it communicates back to you via an error code–which essentially is an HTTP – Response Status Code.

What are the most common error codes that show up when I or the website developer is at fault?

1) 400 Bad Request

This is a very HTTP error that tells you that there is something wrong with the syntax of the code of the webpage you are trying to load. This happens when a website hasn’t been tested properly during the software development cycle.

2) 401 Unauthorized

402 is another common error code that shows up when you try to access a site without passing or qualifying for it. Meaning, you failed the authentication test. It could be anything from a captcha code authentication or having to enter an API key.

3) 403 Forbidden

403 Forbidden error code is a lot similar to 401 Bad Request, but 403 is sent by the server if the authentication attempt made by you turns out to be flawed or erroneous. This error code pops up whenever a user tries to access the pages–usually in unethical ways– they are not authorized to.

4) 404 Not Found

404 error

The most popular error code, the 404 Not Found is sent as a response to the browser when you are trying to access a webpage that does not exist. This can happen if the website owner took the page down or you have misspelled the URL. With a 404 error code, the server lets you know that it can’t find what you are looking for. So, maybe you should come back later or try another URL.


When such an error pops up on your computer screen, there is nothing much you can do really. All you can do is try to find the email address of the website owner(via the contact form) and shoot them an email complaining about the error. Or double-check the URL you have entered in the web browser.

Give a Comment