Unable to access

If you can’t log in to a website, look next to the login form for any error messages which will tell you what the problem seems to be – does it say “Incorrect Password”? Does it say “Incorrect or unknown username or email?”. Look for these kinds of hints near the login box to see if this is the reason you can’t log in.

Username problems

If the website you are trying to log in to is telling you that you are using the wrong user name, then double check the spelling – you might have accidentally misspelt it – a missing or wrong character in your username is enough to stop you from logging in. Your username will have to be typed exactly right for the website to recognise you.

Make sure you’re using the right username for the website you’re having trouble with. Some people have multiple social media accounts with different usernames – for example, you might have accidentally tried to log in to your Instagram account with your Twitter user name.

Have you changed your username recently? Some websites let you change your username and if you’ve changed your username but try to log in with your old username, it won’t work.

Does the site use email addresses instead of usernames?

Some websites and apps ask you to use your email address as your personal identifier instead of a username. Read the website’s login form closely and make sure this isn’t the case for you – if they are asking you for your email address, be sure to type it in. Some websites even let you log in with your phone number, so be sure to read exactly what they’re asking you for.

Are you using the correct email address?

It’s very common for people to use more than one email address – perhaps you have a work email address and a personal email address – if you try to log in to a website with your work email when you actually registered with your personal address or vice versa, it won’t work. So double check that you’re using the correct email address.

Misspelling the domain name is a common problem too – you might have accidentally typed “john@mgail.com” instead of gmail.com!

Are you locked out for too many failed attempts?

If you enter an incorrect password too many times, some websites will temporarily block your account from logging in. This is to help prevent automated password attacks. If this happens, you might just have to wait a bit until you can try again. If you haven’t been entering your password lots while trying to log in, then it’s possible that someone else is trying to “brute force attack” your account. If that’s the case then make sure you have a very strong password – don’t use a word that can be found in a dictionary. We’re working on a guide to help you use strong passwords; it’s coming soon!

Have you been banned or suspended?

Some websites might temporarily or permanently block your account from logging in if you violate their site policies (or if their automated system thinks you have). If this ever happens they usually at least give you a message like “Your account has been banned” or something like that when you try to log in.

If they have an appeals proceedure, you can see if you are able to contest the block or at least find out what they think you did wrong. Some websites won’t even tell you what policy they think you violated (as this can lead to people trying to game their system and policies).

If you have been unfairly banned or blocked, hopefully they will give you a warning and let you access your account again.

Incorrect password

Probably the most common cause of not being able to log in to a website is using the wrong password. At least websites will be pretty clear about this problem and give you a nice Incorrect password style error message.

Lets explore the reasons why you might be told that you’re using the wrong password.

Caps lock?

If you have Caps Lock turned on while you’re typing your password then your password will be in all upper case, which means it won’t match what it actually is and the website won’t let you in. Make sure your Caps Lock is turned off (most keyboards have a small light in the key that indicates it’s turned on – push it to turn it off) and try your password again.

Are you using the right password for the site?

Hopefully you aren’t reusing passwords and have a different password for each site you log in to (it helps you stay secure and minimize the damage if one of your passwords gets stolen/discovered) – but it also might mean you are typing the wrong password in to the site you’re having trouble with.

Double check you’re typing the right password in – don’t forget that if a site is asking you for your email and your password, it’s NOT asking you for your email password – you’re using your email address to identify yourself and then using the password you set for that website to log in with (…unless you are actually logging in to your webmail check your email!!)

Have you changed your password recently?

The next thing to ask yourself is have you changed your password recently? Maybe you typed your old password by mistake or your browser or Password Manager extension is auto-filling the old, incorrect password. If you’ve recently changed it, make sure to type and update your saved password with the new one.

Uh-oh, has someone broken in and changed your password?

If you’ve double checked your password and you are certain you’re typing the correct username/email and correct password into to the correct website and it’s still having problems, then you might start to consider the possibility that someone has discovered your password and logged in and changed it!

Please don’t jump to any conclusions about this; you might have just gotten completely confused and while you think you’ve got the right password, you actually don’t… or maybe the website is just having some weird, non-obvious problem that’s preventing logins from working… But of course, peoples accounts do get broken in to, so it might unfortunately happened to you, but for now, just remain calm and see if you can just set a new password.

Is there a problem with the website?

If, after making sure you’re using the right username and password, you’re still having trouble logging in to a website it’s possible that the website itself has a problem. There are a few other things you can try.

Is the website working at all?

It seems obvious, but we’re covering all the angles here! If the website is completely down then you’ll obviously have trouble logging into it! There’s still a few different reasons why a website might not respond, and they’re worth investigating.

When a website “isn’t working” you might get a few different error messages, each which indicate a different problem.

Have you typed the wrong domain name?

If you type in the incorrect domain name then depending on your web browser you’ll get a different error message, telling you that the website can’t be found at all

What’s a domain name?

The domain name is the main part of the URL you type to load the site – For example, Facebook’s domain name is facebook.com, Google’s domain name is google.com and so on.

If you’ve typed the wrong domain name:

  • Chrome will tell you This site can’t be reached (“server IP address could not be found.“)
  • Firefox will tell you Hmm. We’re having trouble finding that site.
  • Safari will tell you Safari Can’t Find the Server

If you get an error like this, then it means you’ve typed the wrong URL (or maybe clicked a bad link on another website). Try retyping the URL making sure to spell it correctly and hopefully it will load.

If you are getting one of these errors there’s a small chance your DNS Settings are incorrect or your ISP has a problem, but that’s outside the scope of this guide – we’ll write a guide to help with this soon too.

The server isn’t responding

If you’ve typed the correct URL your web browser will then know how to find and contact the website, however if the server is “down” it means that while the server can be found it’s not responding to your requests.

  • Chrome will tell you This site can’t be reached (and says the domain “refused to connect“)
  • Safari will tell you Safari Can’t Open the Page

If the site just isn’t responding then perhaps the website is overloaded and just too busy to work at the moment, or perhaps they’ve got a problem with their servers and nothing is working for them right now. There’s nothing you can do about this. Hopefully they fix it soon.

If you’re trying to access the site from your computer, you could try to access the site from your mobile phone (or vice versa). This might help narrow down where the problem is. If your phone is connected to your Wifi connection, make sure to temporarily disconnect it from the Wifi so that it falls back to using your 4G/Cellular connection instead of using your internet connection which may have a problem.

The website is down for maintenance

Running and maintaining websites is a complicated endeavour and sometimes sites need to temporarily go down for upgrades or maintenance – it isn’t common on big websites but it does happen. They should at least give you a big notice that says something to the effect of “Down for maintenance – back soon” so that you know why you can’t log in. If it’s scheduled maintenance, some websites will give you notice a few hours or days beforehand.

The website is actually just broken

Sometimes, things do just break and stop working – we’re all human, and the people who make the websites you love are human too – It’s possible the site you’re trying to log in to is just having some issues. Maybe the site is showing the normal page, but logging in is just broken, or there’s some other weird bug at the moment. Hopefully their team of developers and admins are working hard to fix whatever the problem is. If it’s a wide-spread outage for a big website it will often make some waves on social media or even the news, so you might hear about it there and be able to confirm the outage.

Only some parts of the website are loading

If the website is having some kind of problem, you might find that only certain parts of the website load for you.