10 Things to Do During a 504 Gateway Timeout

Scream at Computer during 504 error

I knew something was seriously amiss with one of my blogs when only a paltry 17 messages showed up during the morning email check.

So, I checked my sites and sure enough, the sites hosted on one of my servers were showing a 504 Gateway Timeout error.

A 504 error usually means that a server upstream from yours that is acting as a gateway to handle the HTTP request is either down or too slow to fulfill the request.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to solve a 504 gateway timeout problem. It has to be dealt with by the techies at the ISP that hosts the errant web server.

The following is a list of my recommended responses to such a problem.

  1. Know that ‘stuff’ happens and remain calm. The outage may last only a minute or two, so there’s no need to get stressed out. Do your best to avoid visions of bankruptcy court and bag ladies.
  2. Assess the HTTP error. Here’s a good list of HTTP status codes, with explanations.
  3. Shut down applicable PPC (pay-per-click campaigns. Every click that goes to a site that isn’t online is a waste of money. Refrain from wondering how long your site has been down or thinking about how much money you’ve just flushed down the drain.
  4. Contact your webmaster or ISP immediately and explain the problem CONCISELY. There’s no need to tell them that you were in the middle of enjoying a delicious breakfast of ham and eggs when ESP told you that things with your site were awry.

    If your hosting service or webmaster does not allow phone support and takes more than 10 minutes to respond to an URGENT request, it is high time you used a better hosting service. I recommend BlueHost and Hostgator.

  5. Twiddle your thumbs while you think of what to do next.
  6. Post to social networking sites. Release whatever angst you feel by posting about your situation to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Someone may respond with such concern that you feel better for a short while. If not, send out a bunch of friend requests to find better friends.
  7. Write a few blog entries (using a text editor) to post when your site is again available. If you’re short on ideas or too stressed about the situation to think clearly, see the next list item.
  8. Buy a PLR package.
  9. Take a break away from your office. If the outage becomes prolonged, use the time to do something really different like refill your shampoo dispenser. Better yet, go outside, get some exercise and see what your town looks like in daylight hours.
  10. When you return and/or the problem is rectified, check your stats. You might find that you’ve made enough money with free search engine traffic to want to modify that PPC campaign before you turn it back on.

The most important thing to remember – DO NOT stress!

You can still get good work done and/or have fun. Enjoy the break while it lasts.

Comments, questions or suggestions? Please leave a comment below!



  1. says

    I have just bounced into this 504 Gateway timeout error! I think another thing we can do is knock our heads on the wall, as it’s so frustrating to get this error!

  2. says

    I agree, getting a network problem like this can be extremely stressing. But with most hosting who offer network uptime higher than server uptime, I should say this rarely happens compared to server downtime.

    Sound advices, Rosalind.

    But for hard working net marketers, I’d suggest that they fire a support email asking for explanation about the problem or watch the hosting and network status if they’re made available to the public…

    … and then catch some sleep they are so in need :-)

    If problem persists, consider migrating to another hosting company.

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