But if your favourite website won't load or you keep getting an error message, there's no reason to despair. Instead, try these tricks (via gHacks) to figure out what's wrong and come up with a solution.
Considering the Possibilities
There are a few different reasons why a website might not be loading, and you may be able to solve the issue without much effort at all.
It's possible the page you're trying to visit could be knocked offline by overwhelming traffic, some sort of coding error, or even a cyber attack. If that's the case, fixing the issue could be as simple as waiting a few minutes and refreshing the page.
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On the other hand, it might be an issue on your end. Maybe your security software has the site blacklisted, or a browser extension you use is causing the problem. In this situation, you'll need to do some digging on your computer, and you might have to temporarily remove that security software.
It's also possible that the site in question is being blocked by your internet provider, the Wi-Fi network you're using, or even by government censorship. If that's the issue there are a few ways to hide your identity so you can get around whatever blocks are in place.
With that in mind, let's dive in.
Diagnosing the Problem
The first thing you should do is confirm whether the site in question is down for everyone or just for you. There are a bunch of websites devoted to just that -- try Down For Everyone Or Just Me. You can also search Twitter or Reddit for the name of the site to see what comes up. If it's really offline, people will probably be complaining about it somewhere else on the internet.
Assuming that the issue really is just you, there are a few different ways to figure out what's wrong. First, try using a different browser or visiting the site in incognito mode. If that doesn't work, try disabling any security software temporarily to see if that helps.
Still no luck? Try checking your computer's Hosts file. This is basically an address book for your computer that remembers the sites you've visited and adding new ones, and it may have some information on why a certain website won't load.
If you still can't figure out what's wrong and there's no obvious solution, there are still a few ways to brute force your way through the problem.
If you know (or suspect) that the site is being blocked by your internet provider, IT department, or the country you live in, trying using a virtual private network (VPN). This is a tool that spoofs your address so it looks like you're visiting the site from another country or region where it isn't blocked. If you're not familiar with VPNs, here's our guide on getting started.
If you don't feel like installing a VPN, you could also try Startpage Proxy, which lets you anonymously visit websites. All you need to do it head to Startpage and use the search engine to find your site. Then, instead of the main link, click on the one just below it that says "View by Ixquick Proxy." That should help you get around any blocks.
Finally, you can check out the Wayback Machine, an archive of the internet, to see older versions of the site you're looking for. This is useful if the website really is down, or if you just need to find an old article or page that's been deleted. After all, nothing on the internet ever really goes away.