Trusted browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox make it easy to navigate the web. However, none of these services are immune to errors like the pesky ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED.
The good news is that the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error is quite easy to fix. As long as you have the patience to try out some troubleshooting tactics, like turning off your firewall or clearing your browser cache, you should be able to resolve the issue without any hassle.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error and what causes it. Then, we’ll show you six ways to fix it. Let’s get started!
What Is the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED Error?
When you’re trying to access a website, you might see an ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED message. This can be frustrating, as it prevents you from viewing the site:
This error can occur on different browsers, including Google Chrome and Safari:
In order to understand this error, it’s important to know that it’s often dependent upon GZIP compression. This type of compression is an easy way to optimize your WordPress website.
In a nutshell, when someone tries to access your site, the browser checks for GZIP compression by looking for the
content-encoding: gzip response header. If it finds it, it will automatically retrieve the compressed files, decompress them, and deliver them to the user:
If something goes wrong during this process (and there are lots of possibilities here), you’ll get the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error.
What Causes the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED Error?
Now that you know what the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error is, let’s explore some of its common causes:
- Firewalls. This security feature can protect you from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, brute force attacks, malware, and more. However, it can also confuse your browser and trigger the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error.
- Corrupt cache or cookies. A browser cache can come in handy when you want your content delivered faster. Meanwhile, cookies can be crucial for affiliate marketing. However, if you don’t clear your cache from time to time, outdated or corrupt content can cause issues with your browser.
- Encoding error. As we mentioned earlier, GZIP compression can lead to some issues. You might also see this error simply because your HTTP request header is showing that the website material is encoded when it’s really not.
- Incorrect DNS address. If your DNS addresses aren’t accurate, this might also lead to the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error.
- DNS settings. As with caching, your DNS configurations can become outdated or corrupt.
These are just a few common causes of the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error. As you can see, some are quite easy to resolve, while others will require a bit more work. In the next section, we’ll show you how to tackle these problems.
How To Fix the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED Error (6 Methods)
Now, let’s explore six ways you can resolve the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error. While it can appear in several different browsers, we’re going to work exclusively with Google Chrome, since it’s the most popular browser on the market.
1. Disable Any Active Firewalls
A firewall can protect your device from online threats. However, it can also cause the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error.
You can check to see if this is the case by disabling the firewall. First, let’s see how to do this on a Mac device.
To get started, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy. Then, navigate to the Firewall tab:
At this point, you may see your firewall is off. However, if it is on, select the lock in the bottom left corner of the window.
You’ll be prompted to enter your password before you can continue. Then, you’ll be able to modify your security settings.
Select Turn Off Firewall and click on the lock again to save your changes:
On a Windows device, the process is just as easy. You’ll need to go to Control Panel > System > Privacy & security. Then, select Windows Security and click on Firewall & network protection to manage your firewalls:
When you’re ready, return to your browser and check to see if this has resolved the issue.
2. Clear Your Browser Cache and Cookies
If you’re still getting the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED message, the issue may be with your cached data. Caching can speed up content delivery, but if you don’t clear out your browser cache every once in a while, it can create complications.
Cookies can also be problematic. So, let’s look at how to wipe them out along with the cache.
Open Google Chrome and click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. Then go to More Tools > Clear Browsing Data:
You’ll now see the following pop-up window:
To be safe, we recommend choosing All time for your time range. Then, make sure to select Cookies and other site data as well as Cached images and files.
Hit Clear data and return to the web page that was giving you the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error. If it’s still not loading, you can move on to the next step!
3. Disable GZIP Encoding
GZIP compression can be a great way to improve a website’s performance. However, if something goes wrong during the compression process, it may trigger an ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error.
So, we’re going to show you how to disable GZIP encoding. To do this, you’ll need to use a Chrome extension like ModHeader – Modify HTTP headers. Simply go to the extension page and select Add to Chrome:
You’ll then see a pop-up alert notifying you that this extension can read and change data on your websites. Click on Add extension to continue.
This will automatically open the ModHeader dashboard, but you can go ahead and close this screen. Instead, click on the ModHeader icon next to your navigation bar:
Under Request Headers, locate the empty field for Name and enter accept-encoding. Then, in the Value field, input gzip;q=0,deflate;q=0 (as shown below):
Now, GZIP compression has been disabled in your browser. Simply return to the page that was throwing the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error to see if it’s working. If it’s still not fixed, you may want to remove this chrome extension and proceed to the next step.
4. Manually Configure Your DNS Server Addresses
Your Domain Name System (DNS) configuration can be another possible reason you’re getting the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error message. Therefore, you might want to change your DNS server addresses to see if this solves the problem.
Chances are your current device is running the default settings provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), but don’t worry, they are easy to modify. In any case, remember to take note of your original server address, just in case you want to revert back to it.
On a Mac device, start by going to System Preferences > Network. Make sure Wi-Fi is selected and hit Advanced. Then, navigate to the DNS tab:
Now we’re going to replace this server address with Google’s Public DNS. To do this, simply click on the + icon in the bottom left-hand corner.
Then, enter 188.8.131.52 and/or 184.108.40.206. These are Google’s IPv4 addresses:
Alternatively, you can enter Google’s IPv6 addresses. Finally, click on OK to save your changes.
On a Windows device, open the Settings app and select Network and Internet. Then, click on Properties:
On the next page, locate IP Assignment and click on the Edit button:
This will launch a popup window. Choose Manual, then turn on the toggle switch for IPv4. Enter the IP address in the appropriate field and hit Save:
If you have trouble with this process, you may want to check out Google’s detailed guide on changing your DNS server addresses to its public DNS.
5. Flush Your DNS
If reconfiguring your DNS server addresses didn’t resolve your browser issue, it may be time to flush your DNS entirely. To do this on a Mac, you’ll need to use Terminal.
You can look for this application using the Spotlight Search tool:
Once you have Terminal open, enter the following command and hit enter:
sudo dscacheutil -flushcache; sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder
You’ll then need to input your admin password. Click on enter again and you should see a confirmation that your DNS has been flushed.
On Windows, the process is equally simple. You’ll need to open the Command Prompt application and input the following:
Now, return to the page in question to see if it’s still showing the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error.
6. Flush Your Browser’s Socket Pools
If the methods above haven’t worked for you, there’s one more strategy you might want to try. That’s flushing your browser’s socket pools.
Just open a new tab in Chrome and type the following address into your search bar: chrome://net-internals. This will take you to the following page:
Go to Sockets in the left-hand menu. Then, click on the Flush socket pools button:
Now, return to the page throwing the ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED message and see if it’s working!
The ERR_CONTENT_DECODING_FAILED error can show up unexpectedly in your browser. Sometimes this is due to a complex encoding or decoding issue. Other times, the culprit can be something as simple as a firewall or corrupt cache. Regardless, you’ll want to resolve this error as soon as possible.
You can start by turning off any firewalls and clearing your browser cache and cookies. If neither of these strategies works, you might need to disable GZIP encoding, flush your DNS, or manually re-configure your DNS server addresses.
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