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Incomplete pages served

Posted on 2006-11-02
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Last Modified: 2010-04-20
I am running a web site at a host with Linux and Apache.  Some users on my web site complain that they get incomplete pages.  They see all the text, but only a few of the graphics.  If they click refresh, they will see more or fewer graphics, but never the whole pages.  Every one of them says they don't have the problem on any other web site.  Most are using I.E. 6 and have a broadband Internet connection, but a few are dial-up.  The have various ISPs.  I run the same software on a different web site with a different host and have not received any complaints there.

Most users have no problem and I have not seen the issue myself.  Could this be some sort of server timeout issue?  My web host's support has not been helpful.  Are there any settings that can be adjusted that might help?
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Question by:geomouchet
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by:periwinkle
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Do you have access to the log files?  Can you track the entries of the users that have problems by their IP address to see if the full page is being served?  Is there anything in the error_log?
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by:geomouchet
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I just reviewed the log files for one of the users in question.  There are no errors showing - the status is 200.  What is the number that appears after that status code?  What I do see is the request for the page, but no requests for the jpeg files.  If I look at other users I see the request for the page and then requests for each of the jpeg files that are on the page.  What could be causing that?
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by:periwinkle
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What format is the log file?  Common format?

Look for the LogFormat command in your httpd.conf, and then you can use:

http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.2/logs.html

to explain the options that are being used.  

For example:

 LogFormat "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b" common

translates as:
  %h = ip address
  %l = RFC 1413 identity of the client  (generally not available, which means it's a dash)
  %u = userid if using .htaccess authenication
   %t = date time stamp
   \"%r\" = the actual request line surrounded by double quotes
  %>s = status code
  %b = size of the object returned to the client

It's likelyi that the number you are referring to is the size of the information passed back to the client.  Is this the full size?
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by:geomouchet
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I don't have access to the httpd.conf file, but you're probably right.  The number looks about right for the size.  I can't tell if it's the full size because the content is on the fly generated from a PHP program.

What do you think about the main part of my question?  What would cause the request for the page, but not for the jpeg files on the page?
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by:periwinkle
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If the page is transferring, but not the images, I'd immediately look at adware blockers, particularly those built into firewalls and antivirus software.  They often mistakenly block legitimate parts of web sites, even when they aren't the shape or size of traditional banners and ads.  Have the client disable the ad blockers, and see if the problem still occurs.
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by:geomouchet
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I managed to locate the log entries for a particular user that has this problem.  It shows each image file request with a status code of 304.  I looked up the code and the definition is, "Not modified. If the client has performed a conditional GET request and access is allowed, but the document has not been modified, the server SHOULD respond with this status code. The 304 response MUST NOT contain a message-body, and thus is always terminated by the first empty line after the header fields."

So now I'm really confused.  Wouldn't the browser only do a conditional get request for files it already has?  If it already has the files, why doesn't the user see them?
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by:geomouchet
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With regards to adware blockers, wouldn't other sites have the same issue?  The users with this problem always say, "I don't have this problem with any other web site."  I'm just using a regular img tag, so they'd be missing a lot of images from a lot if web sites if adware blockers were the problem.
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periwinkle earned 400 total points
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Adware blockers often do blocking based on the dimensions or size of an image; if your image is a common banner size, it might be blocked.

Additionally, the copy of the image that they have cached locally might be corrupted.

Finally, I've often seen problems particularly with Internet Explorer when the settings for temporary internet files is set to automatically check for newer versions of stored pages.  Particularly, if you go into Internet Options (from the Tools pull down menu), and click on Settings on the Temporary Internet files (on the General tab), for the question which says "Check for newer versions of Stored Pages", make certain that the setting is either "Every time you start Internet Explorer" or "Every visit to the page".  I've seen very strange things happen when it is set to automatically, including the symptoms that you mention.
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by:geomouchet
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Thanks!  The solution was in your last paragraph.  I had the last user with this issue delete her temporary Internet files and change "Check for newer versions of Stored Pages" to "Every time you start Internet Explorer" and that seemed to fix it.
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by:periwinkle
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excellent - I'm glad to have helped!
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