Is That Site Down, Or Is It Me?

When you encounter a problem with website, like a "404" error, or the "web page cannot be displayed" message, you (or at least I) often assume you have a problem with your computer or other devices; referred to as a "local problem" by us tech support types.

However, that may not be true; if you try a different site and it works correctly, then it may just be a temporary problem with the first site. Websites do go "down" from time to time, for various reasons. 

If it is the site itself, more than likely all kinds of people are probably scurrying around right now trying to fix it, and it will be back "up" pretty soon. If you are still not sure, you could always call a friend and ask them to try reaching the site, but a quicker and less needy way would be to use one of several websites that can check that for you. These different web addresses independently check the site you are trying to reach, and let you know if it is responding normally or not.  will usually give you additional information if a site is up now, but may have recently been having problems.  gives a straight up/down answer on the current status  (a shorter version of the previous site)

It also *may* be an issue (also usually temporary) with DNS (the Domain Name Service). This is the mechanism computers use to translate something like to an IP address. Computers don't understand "", but they can find an IP address. In other words if DNS is having a problem, you can usually just type in the IP address in your browser address bar to get to that website (you are then just bypassing DNS for now). Here are a couple of common web sites and their IP addresses:
(you can get to Gmail from here, too)

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