Sometimes, a server is down, and it sends a "Request Time Out" message. The browser then displays this page: request timed out

However, the web server is unable to display the page. Wikipedia says:

The server timed out waiting for the request. According to HTTP specifications: "The client did not produce a request within the time that the server was prepared to wait. The client MAY repeat the request without modifications at any later time.

However, if the server is unable to display a web page, how can it send a Request Time Out message?

  • 1
    This isn't a server request or gateway timeout response, it's generated internally by the browser when a socket connection to the server times out. You can view this error message in the source code of Chromium here. Other browsers have similar error messages in their source code. You can tell the difference between the two because servers will display a response status code {e.g., 408 or 504).
    – dan
    May 21, 2021 at 4:31

1 Answer 1


It may be the client displaying that message and not the server sending anything. If it is a response coming from the server (408 response) it means a connection was opened but remained idle for too long.

Usually this means something happened on the client side. This is a 4xx error after all which tends to mean client error, and not server (5xx).

Its as if someone (client) knocked on your (server) door, you open your door, but they went away. You wait for them to come back (idle), but you have to close the door so you can answer your other doors.

  • So it's the client's browser deciding to show the 408 screen? May 21, 2021 at 4:46
  • @Someone_who_likes_SE - No, most other timeout errors are decided by the client's browser. A 408 response is from the server. May 21, 2021 at 8:15

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