There are many different scenarios behind broken links, dead websites or 404 errors. For one, the server could in fact be down or overloaded. Especially popular sites like Facebook or Twitter are often slow and timed out when hit by the masses. The same is true for pages that receive a short-lived hype via Digg, Del.icio.us and the like.
On the other hand it may be an issue on your side. Just think of a bumpy ISP or a bad wireless connection. In any case, it’s annoying when you cannot access a website, and constantly hitting the reload button doesn’t make it any better.
Here are three Firefox addons to ease your mind.
When a page doesn’t load because the server is down, there are two options: wait until the server has recovered or load a cached version. Now viewing a cached version is rather easy. Yet this addon makes it even more comfortable by adding a menu with the most popular page caches right below the standard Firefox error page. All you need to do is pick a mirror from the list and wait for the cached clone to load.
In the latest version, the addon is also accessible via the context menu for the current page and all links, there is a toolbar button, and via the keyboard it opens when clicking Ctrl+Shift+U. Within the options for this extension you can select whether the page shall be resurrected in the current tab/window, a new tab or a new window.
ErrorZilla is similar to Resurrect Pages, with the added bonus of a Ping, Trace and Whois button for the curious surfer. Unfortunately, the Retry This button is the same as the standard Try Again button and doesn’t allow for automatic page reloads.
Resurrect Pages and ErrorZilla Mod are very good for when a site is dead, giving you a good selection of archives to choose from, and ways to find out where the connection has gone bad. However, when you’re fighting with a bad internet connection, even the page mirrors and pings will time out. This is where I recommend Try Again. Within the options for this extension, you can set a timeout timer and the amount of maximum times Try Again will attempt to automatically reload the page. You can hit the Try Again button to manually reload anytime thereafter, and you can access a cached version of the page via the links to Google Cache or the WayBack Archive.
Personally, I have used Resurrect Pages for a while, but Try Again now looks like the better and more flexible alternative. Which one do you prefer? Let’s hear!