Find out why you can't access a website or service on the Internet
Even the most prominent websites or services may go down. While the downtime of sites like Facebook, YouTube or Twitter is measured in seconds usually, other sites may be down for hours or even days at a time.
But downtime is not the only reason why you may not be able to access a website. Maybe it is blocked in your country, blocked by security software, or you cannot access it because of ISP routing issues.
The following guide offers a list of suggestions on analyzing connection issues. It lists recommendations to access the site in question regardless of connectivity issues furthermore.
Part 1: Analyze why you can't access a website
You open a site in the browser's address bar or click on a link, but instead of seeing the website rendered in the web browser of choice you get an error message, or it takes ages before a timeout is displayed to you.
In Ways to check if a website is down, I listed four options to analyze why you can't connect to a particular site. I don't want to rehash the whole article, so check it out as a good starting point.
The first thing you may want to do is try to access the site that you can't access again. If the site is still loading, hit the stop button, and then reload the website to see if the connection issue was temporary or if it has been resolved in the meantime.
Ping / Tracert
Run Ping / Tracert on the command line -- This is quickly done and may reveal valuable information right away. Open a command prompt (on Windows, tap on the Windows-key, type cmd.exe and hit the Enter-key)
- Type ping site, e.g., ping www.ghacks.net, to ping the site.
- Type tracert site, e.g., tracert www.ghacks.net to run a trace.
Timeout messages are indicators for server or routing issues.
The main advantage that web checkers have is that they can tell you if others, in this case, the server the checking script runs on, can access a specific site.
This is useful, as you will get two responses:
- The site is down for anyone -- you know now that the issue is not caused by a setting on your computer or your ISP.
- The site is down for you -- the issue is caused by your computer or your ISP.
Use a service like downforme.org to find out if the site in question is down for anyone or just you.
Ask someone else
While you can use a service to find out if a site is not accessible on your end or globally, you may also ask a friend or contact to check it out.
This may not work all the time, depending on the site in question, but it may help you find out more about the connection issue.
Friends who use the same ISP as you may help you figure out if the issue is related to a specific ISP, and if they live in the same country if it could be country related.
Part 2: Troubleshoot connectivity issues
Now that you know that you can't access a site or service on the Internet, you may want to do something about it.
It may not always be possible, however, as connectivity issues are not always issues that you may fix on your end.
Here is a list of suggestions:
- Try a different web browser or the same browser in private browsing mode. If you use extensions, I suggest you try a clean, unmodified profile or a different browser.
- Check if security software on your device blocks access to the site. You need to check the log of a firewall, or temporarily disable security software to find out.
- Check if your Hosts file has an entry for the site in question.
- Use third-party tools like Domain Health Report or Blacklist Check to find out if a site is on a blacklist (and thus blocked).
- Run a search on Twitter, Reddit or other near real-time services to find out if the site is down for others, or if the operators of the site have published information.
- Open the Developer Tools of your browser, usually with F12, and switch to the network tab. Reload the site in question and check if you get errors there.
Part 3: How to access sites that you can't access
It is entirely possible that you may not be able to access a site. Maybe it is blocked at the ISP level or even countrywide, or it is down for anyone.
You may use the following tools and services to try and access the site in question. Note that these often grant access to static content only and don't let you interact with the site. So, if Facebook is down, you may access the public profile but may not be able to post, write comments or use the messaging service.
- Startpage's Proxy (or any other proxy service). The search engine Startpage has a proxy feature which you may use to access sites through their servers. Just enter the URL of the site in question in the search form and click on the proxy link next to it to access the site using a proxy. This works if the site is down for you but not anyone else.
- Use a VPN. This works similarly to using a proxy, but you may connect to servers in different countries usually (depending on the VPN). This is ideal if a service is blocked in your country or region, or if a site is down in a particular country but not in others.
- Wayback Machine. Use the Wayback Machine to access a stored copy of the site. This is useful if you want to access posted content, e.g., an article on a site. There is no guarantee, however, that the Wayback Machine managed to archive a copy of the page in question.
Now You: What do you do if you can't access a site on the Internet?