Among the many online errors that can serve as an obstacle to your browsing, the Error 502: Bad Gateway message is one of the most intrusive. If you’re not sure what this particular HTTP error message is, don’t worry — we’re going to explain it below. But if you regularly use plenty of online services, you’ve no doubt encountered this. And there’s a good chance that you’ve been utterly confounded and frustrated by it, too, since no troubleshooting steps ever accompany this particular messages.
Which is why we’ve got you covered, below. Like any other HTTP error code, there are specific reasons for the Error 502 message to be prompted. We’re going to walk you through several of those reasons, and then show you how to solve for them.
We’ve all been there — you’re suddenly accessing your Gmail account, or maybe your Twitter feed, or any other online service, and instead of getting the appropriate site, you get that error message. Error 502: Bad Gateway, or something similar. This code doesn’t necessarily present itself, in the same way, each time that it’s encountered. Site and server administrators can customize their error 502 message to appear in a unique way, and for the sake of maintaining a cohesive online presence, many do.
The important thing to realize, right from the get-go, is that a 502 error is technically out of your hands. Rather than being a client error — something on your end, having to do with your software or hardware — it’s a server error. This means that whatever is prompting the Error 502 message is probably occurring on the server responsible for hosting the site that you’re trying to access. Maybe reassuring, but a fact that provides no help in getting you closer to the content that you’re trying to access. Regardless of that, however, there are steps that you can take to find a way around the Error 502 message, even if it’s technically a server error.
HTTP Error Codes
Before we dig into the specifics surrounding this particular error code, it’s important to establish some groundwork surrounding HTTP error codes, in general. Those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy aren’t given any methods or instruction to resolve these problems, and thus they can be fairly confusing on their own.
“Using the HTTP protocol, computer scientists around the world began making the Internet easier to navigate by inventing point-and-click browsers. One browser in particular, called Mosaic, created in 1993, at the University of Illinois, would help popularize the Web, and therefore the Net, as no software tool had yet done.” – Katie Hafner
It’s important to know that HTTP error codes all surround online activities, sites, and services. Thus, it doesn’t matter what web browser you’re using; they can occur within any operating system and in any web browser. Mac, Windows, or Linux — all connect to the same internet as one another, and thus they’re vulnerable to the same types of obstacles. Occasionally, using a different browser can help you to resolve the odd error code or two, but there is no operating system or browser choice that is immune to them.
Meaning that you’re going to run into HTTP error codes at one point or another.
For our purposes today, it’s helpful to understand the categorization of two different types of error codes — 400-range error codes, and 500-range error codes. In the simplest sense, 400-series error codes are all client-side errors. This means that whatever is happening that prompts the error code, network services are identifying it as a problem with your computer, your network, or your ISP. Essentially, the error is perceived as not being the responsibility of the host server.
A 500-series error, on the other hand, is a server error. Your browser is identifying the problem as being rooted in the host server of whatever service or site you’re trying to access.
This is all highly technical language. It doesn’t allow for instances of perceived error, or when 400-range client errors might exist because of mismanaged servers, for example. Thus, knowing what each type of error code represents is a useful beginning for debugging the problem — not necessarily for discerning every troubleshooting step that’s necessary.
Error 502: Bad Gateway
As we stated before, there are all kinds of different ways that this error message can be phrased. “Bad Gateway” is most prevalent, while “Proxy Error” or “Gateway Error” are also common. Different sites and services will often customize their error messages, both for the sake of them appearing unique, and also help tech-savvy users to better understand the cause of the error. It all boils down to basically the same problem, though, even if that problem can be a result of many related issues.
The Error 502 message is prompted when communication between two online servers fails, usually when you’re pinging an inactive server with an active one. When a site or service is down, or unavailable, a 502 message is one of the frequent prompts that will alert you to this. Similarly, if a portion of a website was taken down without warning, or is down for maintenance, you might be given this error message.
Because it’s a 500-series error, it’s most certainly a server error, at heart. Even if there’s a little bit of troubleshooting that you can do on your end to move past it, this is not in any way a client error.
Causes for Error 502
At its heart, the cause is simple — two online servers are having trouble communicating. At the most technical level, this has nothing to do with you. So as long as there’s nothing else contributing to the issue, it’s out of your hands. The best course of action is to contact the administrators for the networks or services in question.
But that isn’t always the case.
In some outlying circumstances, your web browser might think that there’s a problem in the communications between two servers when there isn’t one. Your own network configuration can actually prompt an Error 502. In these cases, we can construct a workaround.
Here are some of the unexpected things that can prompt an Error 502 message:
- An incorrect URL.
- Depending on your web browser, an isolated browser error can sometimes be the cause.
- Corrupted internet data, in your browser’s cache.
- Network errors in the router or modem hardware.
- Operating system error, due to outdated OS release.
- Bad DNS lookup information.
In most cases, when an Error 502 messages can be resolved on the user end at all, it’s happening for one of these reasons.
Resolving Error 502
Next, we’ll move through each of these problems, and present a method by which you can potentially resolve the issue. Understand that HTTP error codes can be tricky to pin down, and even though they’re easy to describe, the root causes for each of them can be very different.
If any of the below steps are something that you’re not comfortable with, know that it’s always acceptable to contact a certified computer repair professional.
It might seem simple, but before pursuing any further troubleshooting, make sure that the URL you’re using is correct. Check the entire thing for typos, and if it’s a long URL, try moving up the address itself until you find a part of the site or service that’s working.
Clear Browser Data
Every browser is going to present slightly different options for clearing browsing data, but the end result is virtually the same for all of them. Whether you’re using Safari, Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer, you can find options for clearing your browsing data in the browser settings.
Look for indicators that you’re deleting cookies and cached internet data. Since these types of data can occasionally become corrupted, it’s actually a good practice to do this regularly; not only when you’re encountering HTTP errors.
Try a New Browser
If the above steps don’t help to resolve the Error 502 issue, try using a different browser. We frequently recommend that our readers keep at least two web browsers installed and updated on their computers at all times. This allows you to debug and understand circumstances when one browser might be out-of-date, or prone to a particular problem on a site or service.
We highly recommend Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge. All three are very strong browsers that allow you a great deal of versatility and extension use.
Power-Cycle Network Hardware
Though it’s somewhat rare that this works as a resolution to a 502 Error, it isn’t unheard of. You’ll want to power down your modem and router, as long as you’re in a place where you have control enough over the network to do so. If you’re at work, and network functions are overseen by a supervisor or IT specialist, contact them instead.
After you’ve unplugged your router and modem, wait between 30 and 60 seconds. Then, plug your modem back into its power source and allow it to boot up. Once it’s finished, do the same for your router. Once both have entirely finished rebooting, connect your computer to the network again. Occasionally, this can help to eliminate errors that are occurring due to the way that your own networking hardware is routing data. A rare fix, but a fix just the same.
Update Operating System
No matter which operating system you’re using, you should always keep it up to date. Mac OS X and Windows both feature utilities that allow you to do this automatically, and we recommend that you take advantage of them!
Regardless, make sure that you’ve installed all relevant updates to your current operating system. This isn’t guaranteed to fix HTTP errors, but if there are updates to the ways that your OS handles networking utilities, there’s a chance that it might.
Lastly, you can reconfigure your DNS settings and flush your DNS cache. Both of these can be done even when you’re not experiencing any errors, in order to improve your online activity. These are two different activities, that each has their respective, necessary steps.
The Error 502: Bad Gateway message can be frustrating to encounter, but we hope that the information above has helped you to resolve it. You should now know what the error is, as well as the various steps you can take to make sure that it’s not being prompted due to a problem in your own local network. In most cases, it’s a server-side issue, however. If you have any remaining questions or frustrations, let us know in the comments below!
Ryan is a computer enthusiast who has a knack for fixing difficult and technical software problems. Whether you’re having issues with Windows, Safari, Chrome or even an HP printer, Ryan helps out by figuring out easy solutions to common error codes.