If you are a website owner, developer, or IT professional who uses Cloudflare, you may have encountered Cloudflare Error 523: Origin is Unreachable. This error occurs when Cloudflare is unable to contact your server, and visitors won’t be able to access your website until you resolve the issue. In this article, we’ll discuss what Error 523 is and provide you with actionable steps to fix it.
What is Cloudflare Error 523: Origin is Unreachable?
Cloudflare Error 523 occurs when Cloudflare is unable to contact your server. This can happen for several reasons, including problems with your DNS settings, dynamic IP addresses, SSL/HTTPS, Railgun, overloaded databases or sites, and server issues. If you don’t have the “Always Online” feature enabled, your visitors won’t be able to access your website until you resolve the issue.
Ways To Fix Error 523: Origin is Unreachable
1. Just Wait – It Might Fix Itself
Sometimes, servers experience temporary outages, and waiting for a few minutes can solve the problem. During this time, your web host might be restarting or your application might be initializing. If your web host takes down servers for maintenance, you’ll get the “Origin is Unreachable” error from Cloudflare.
2. Check your DNS Settings
Check your DNS settings to ensure that the IP address next to your domain name is correct. Go to your web hosting dashboard and verify that the IP address in your cPanel is the same as the one under the DNS record type “A.” If you haven’t changed anything on your end, there’s no reason why your DNS settings would be wrong, but it’s always good to double-check.
3. Fixing Dynamic IP Addresses with DNS-O-Matic
Web hosts don’t change IP addresses often, but it does happen. If your web host changes the IP address of your server, then you’ll get the 523: Origin Unreachable error on Cloudflare. DNS-O-Matic is a service recommended by Cloudflare that helps monitor IP address changes and uses Cloudflare APIs to change DNS addresses dynamically.
This service is particularly useful when web hosts change IP addresses frequently, especially on shared hosting servers.
By signing up for an account and selecting Cloudflare as your service provider, you can give DNS-O-Matic your Cloudflare API token to monitor your website for DNS changes and update your Cloudflare DNS settings automatically.
4. Check if SSL/HTTPS is the Problem
If you recently enabled SSL/HTTPS on your server and Cloudflare is unable to connect to your SSL port (usually port 443), you may receive the Error 523 message. In such cases, check if your firewall is blocking Cloudflare or all incoming connections to port 443. If you are unsure about how to check this, contact your web host for assistance.
5. Disable Railgun and Try Again
Railgun is a Cloudflare service designed to speed up website connections. However, it is not always reliable and may cause delays in website connections. If Railgun fails, it can make your origin server unreachable. If you are experiencing Error 523 and use Railgun, disable it and try again.
Cloudflare’s latest Cache Reserve feature is a more modern approach that can cache entire pages to improve website speed.
6. Pause Cloudflare and Check Your Error Messages
If you are confident that your IP address is correct, temporarily pausing Cloudflare is an effective way to troubleshoot issues with your server. You can do this by selecting the domain you want to disable from the “Overview” page of your Cloudflare account and clicking the option to disable all Cloudflare functionality other than DNS routing. This can help you determine whether the problem is with your server or Cloudflare.
7. Check for an Overloaded Database or Site
One common cause of Error 523 is an overloaded database or website. If your website is overworked, either due to its popularity or spamming, it can crash unpredictably, causing the error message to appear.
Troubleshooting this issue can be challenging as your site may function properly at times of low traffic and crash during peak hours. Therefore, it is recommended to improve your server’s performance by optimizing your website and database. Additionally, you can use Cloudflare to mitigate common attacks.
How “Always Online” Interacts with Cloudflare Error 523
Cloudflare’s “Always Online” feature allows a watered-down version of your site to be displayed even when the origin is unreachable. Although there are limitations to how users can interact with a cached version of your site, this feature can be the difference between a failed visit and a successful one. Since Cloudflare’s integration with the Internet Archive in 2020, it has backed up publicly-facing pages of your website on a frequency that depends on your plan:
- Free customers: Once every 30 days
- Pro customers: Once every 15 days
- Enterprise customers: Once every 5 days
Cloudflare generates this cached copy for the error range 520 to 527, so Error 523 falls in the middle. If the problem with your origin server is temporary, then the “Always Online” feature may help you maintain the availability of your site while you work to resolve the issue.
Contacting Cloudflare Support: Business or Enterprise Plans
If you are confident that your origin server is running smoothly and your DNS settings are correct, then contacting Cloudflare customer support is the next step. However, unlike web hosting services, Cloudflare only offers live chat and priority e-mail support to customers with Business or Enterprise plans. These plans guarantee a response in under two hours. Customers with other plans may have to wait longer for a response.
In the meantime, it is recommended to disable Cloudflare’s functionality and retain only the DNS resolving mechanism by clicking the orange cloud icon next to your domain name in the Cloudflare DNS dashboard. This ensures that all traffic to your site will be “pass-through” without being touched by Cloudflare, allowing you to troubleshoot the issue without interference. This is an excellent way to pause Cloudflare for extended periods while you work out what went wrong.
Bottom Line: Error 523 is Usually a Problem on your Server
While Cloudflare can occasionally be at fault, the 523 error of an unreachable origin is usually a problem with your server or the IP address that you provide to Cloudflare for DNS resolution. By analyzing your server logs and ensuring that your server has enough resources to function, you can prevent it from happening again.
Remember to take the time to check all the potential causes of the error before contacting Cloudflare support, and if you do need to reach out to them, be prepared to provide detailed information on the problem and the steps you have already taken to fix it.
In conclusion, Error 523: Origin is Unreachable is a common issue that can occur when using Cloudflare. While it can be frustrating and disruptive, the good news is that there are several steps you can take to troubleshoot and fix the problem. From waiting a few minutes to checking your DNS settings and using a service like DNS-O-Matic, there are many ways to resolve the error and get your website back up and running.
Remember to take the time to identify the root cause of the problem and test each potential solution before moving on to the next one. With patience and persistence, you can fix Error 523 and ensure that your website remains accessible to your visitors.