Solve 'Page Cannot Be Displayed' errors

How to fix the ubiquitous Page Cannot Be Displayed error.

Users of Internet Explorer and Windows 2000 sometimes report a problem that at first appears to be a DNS issue, or a network problem in general, but is in fact due to a corrupt cache-management file in Internet Explorer. Since many Internet components in Windows embed IE as a way to render Web pages, either from a local drive or remotely, a corrupt IE cache can appear to be a bevy of problems in different guises.

The most common symptom of a corrupt IE cache is an error message when attempting to open a Web page. Usually the error message has the form:

The page cannot be displayed
The page you are looking for is currently unavailable. The Web site might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your browser settings.

The file that manages IE's local documents cache is called INDEX.DAT and is a hidden file that resides either in the Temporary Internet Files folder or in the Cookies folder. Since this file is generated on a per-user basis, some users on the same machine may have this problem and some may not.

To rebuild the INDEX.DAT file:

  1. Open Internet Explorer and select Tools -> Internet Options, then click Delete Files under Temporary Internet Files.

  2. Clear the History by clicking Clear History.

  3. Close all instances of Internet Explorer, and all other open programs.

  4. You now have two choices. You can either:
    1. Log off and log back on as a different user and then start a CMD prompt.

    2. Start a CMD prompt and then kill EXPLORER.EXE from the Task Manager.
  5. Go to the directory Documents and Settings\<User>\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5. <User> in this case is the user experiencing the network problems.

  6. Type DEL INDEX.DAT to delete the affected file.

  7. If you have your Temporary Internet Files located in another folder (this folder can be manually reassigned, so there is a chance it may be somewhere else), you will need to go to Documents and Settings\<User>\Cookies and delete the INDEX.DAT file there.

  8. Log off and log back on as the original user, then launch Internet Explorer and browse normally.

Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter.


This was first published in December 2002

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