If you’ve ever visited a website that gave you an error page, you know how frustrating it is.
One of the worst things you can do as a brand is fail to meet the needs and expectations of your audience. If your website visitors see an error page when looking for help or information, they could get frustrated and lose trust in your brand, permanently damaging your reputation.
The 504 Gateway Timeout error is one type of error that can adversely affect the user experience in this way. To help you avoid losing brand sentiment and consumer confidence, we’ve explained exactly what this error means and what are its most common causes and solutions.
What is a 504 Gateway Timeout Error?
A 504 Gateway timeout error means that your web server did not receive a quick response from another upstream server when it tried to load one of your web pages. Simply put, your web servers are not communicating with each other fast enough. Because a 504 gateway timeout error is rather generic, it does not identify the exact cause of the problem. When this happens, your website will display an error webpage to your site visitors.
Here’s how a 504 Gateway Timeout error might appear in your user’s browser:
504 Wording errors
The screenshot above shows how a 504 Gateway Timeout error appears on a server. Below are some other common ways that a 504 error might appear, depending on the server, operating system, or browser you are using.
- In Google Chrome, a 504 error will appear as HTTP ERROR 504. This code will appear under a message that reads: “This site cannot be reached. _____ took too long to respond.
- In Windows-based programs, a 504 error will appear as ERROR 504, HTTP_STATUS_GATEWAY_TIMEOUT, or “The request timed out while waiting for a gateway message”. Here is how it can appear when using Excel:
- During a Windows update, a gateway timeout error generates an error code 0x80244023. The message will be: WU_E_PT_HTTP_STATUS_GATEWAY_TIMEOUT.
- In other operating systems, web servers, or browsers, a 504 error can also result in the following message, although it is less common: “The proxy server did not receive a timely response from the upstream server. . Here is a slight variation:
So now we know how the 504 error is phrased – but what exactly does that mean? Let’s decipher it below.
What does the gateway 504 timeout mean?
When you visit a website, your server sends a request to another server where that site is hosted. This server – known as the “upstream server” – receives the request and responds with all the resources necessary to load the website on your browser.
However, a 504 Gateway Timeout error means that your server did not receive a fast enough response from the upstream server. Because its request timed out, your server is unable to load the web page and ultimately fulfill its role as a gateway – hence the error name “Gateway Timeout”.
You might be wondering what exactly is causing the delay in the response from the upstream server – and that’s a good question. Let’s tackle it below.
504 Causes of the gateway timeout
504 Gateway timeout errors are some of the most frustrating HTTP status codes you can receive. They indicate what happened to your website, but they don’t tell you why it happened, making it difficult for you to pinpoint the cause and ultimately correct the problem.
Below are some possibilities.
Server connectivity issues
Most websites live on multiple servers or third-party hosting providers. If your server is down for maintenance or for any other reason, your website may display a 504 Gateway Timeout Error page to visitors.
If you’ve recently changed servers or moved your website to a different IP address, changes will be made to your website’s DNS server. This could cause your website to provide its visitors with a 504 gateway timeout error page. Your website will not be operational until these DNS changes take full effect, which may take a few hours. .
Faulty firewall configurations
Your firewall is the guardian of your website, protecting your site from malicious visitors or Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Sometimes a faulty firewall configuration causes your firewall to consider requests from a content delivery network as an attack on your server and reject them resulting in a gateway timeout error. 504.
Errors in your website code
If there is an error in your website code, your server may not be able to properly respond to requests from a content delivery network.
Network connectivity errors
Since a 504 error is the result of a timeout while processing a request between servers, the problem is most likely with them, and not with the internet connection or the user’s device. However, if a single user reports seeing a 504 error on your site, it could have to do with their modem, router, or other device. or their Internet connection.
Since there are several reasons why a 504 error can occur, it will ultimately be up to you to rule out each one until you find the true cause. Fortunately, there are five common and effective solutions to correct the causes of most 504 Gateway Timeout Errors.
How to Fix 504 Gateway Timeout Errors
- Check for server connectivity issues.
- Check the DNS changes.
- Sift through your newspapers.
- Correct faulty firewall configurations.
- Review your website code for bugs.
- Contact your host.
1. Check for server connectivity issues.
If your server is down for maintenance or for some other reason, your website will likely provide visitors with a 504 Gateway Timeout Error page. The only way to resolve this issue is to wait until your server has completed maintenance or to resolve the issue causing the error.
2. Check the DNS changes.
If you’ve recently changed hosting providers or moved your website to a different IP address, your website’s DNS server will need to be updated. These DNS changes take a few hours to process. In the meantime, your website may provide visitors with a Gateway 504 timeout error page. The only solution is to sit still while these DNS changes take effect.
3. Sift through your newspapers.
If the problem is not with your server connection or DNS information, check your server logs. These logs provide details about the health and condition of your server. Sifting through them can uncover other issues that could be causing a 504 error.
4. Correct faulty firewall configurations.
A faulty firewall configuration may be the reason for your 504 gateway timeout error. exclude it as a cause, you can temporarily turn off your firewall.
If your device is running Windows, go to your Control Panel and click Update and security > Windows security > Protection against viruses and threats > Manage settings. On this settings page, you can turn off your firewall.
If your device is running Mac OS, just go to System Preferences > Security and confidentiality > Firewall to turn it off.
Once you’ve disabled your firewall, check to see if the 504 error is resolved. If so, you can either reconfigure the settings of your existing antivirus program or upgrade to a new one.
If the error is not resolved, be sure to re-enable your firewall before proceeding to the next step.
5. Scan your website code for bugs.
Review your code for bugs or copy your code to a development machine. It will perform a thorough debugging process which will simulate the situation where your 504 gateway timeout error occurred and allow you to see the exact moment when things went wrong.
6. Contact your web host.
Contacting your web host should be a last resort. But if you have tried the above steps and you still see the 504 Gateway Timeout error, they might be able to fix the problem or provide some valuable information.
How Gateway 504 Timeout Errors Affect SEO
Fixing a 504 Gateway timeout error might take some time, but it’s worth it considering the impact it can have on your site’s technical SEO.
Like an HTTP 500 internal server error, 503 error, or any other 5xx error, a 504 Gateway Timeout error is preventing your website from loading. This not only hurts the user experience but also your SEO performance.
If a web crawler tries to crawl one of your pages and receives a 504 error, it cannot crawl the page. If this page has already been indexed, it may be lowered in search engine results. Or it can be deindexed if the error persists.
Resolving the 504 Gateway Timeout Error
There is no foolproof way to prevent 504 Gateway Timeout errors on your site, but there are steps you can take to resolve them. Correcting this error as quickly as possible will ensure that visitors continue to have smooth experiences on your site and mitigate any negative impact on your SEO.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for completeness.