Custom error pages within ISA

These error messages are displayed when errors occur.  I have found these messages to be very general and found them not to display comprehensive amounts of information.  I have looked into ways of making the information more comprehensive and customized to suit your organization.  To reduce helpdesk calls I have found this method to help enormously.

Telling the user what he/she might be doing wrong by displaying a custom error message with a picture normally gets his/her attention. Normally I also include the helpdesk phone number and email address.  Once the user reads the custom message it helps them to understand where they have gone wrong and then what can be done rectify the problem them selves and continue browsing.


Sometimes it becomes very difficult to understand what the error message is trying to tell you, and so that is why microsoft has allowed you to be able to edit the default error messages, you can customize them in such a way that the error messages can point to your helpdesk or to specific tutorials on your intranet that will help you users in resolving the problem themselves.  This time saving strategy has worked in many organizations.  Try it!


Questions users ask?


1.       When I click a link it does not take me there.

2.       I have typed in the URL that I visit everyday and am unable to get to it.

3.       When I click refresh I am unable to get to the webpage I was on originally.

4.       I keep getting an error that says that the domain name does not exist.

5.       When going to a website that I visit frequently I get different error responses but mostly 403 errors.


Answers to the top 5 questions.


1.       The link may have been copied or sent to you incorrectly, look at the link and make sure it is not a java script link or a link to a webpage that you might not have access to because you have been restricted.

2.       Check the spelling of the URL that you have typed in, if the spelling is correct the site may be temporarily unavailable or the link to the internet might be down for maintenance.

3.       The site that you are refreshing may not be able to be refreshed, the session may have expired or that dynamic page is no longer available and the credentials need to be resubmitted.

4.       The DNS server that your ISA server uses may not be online, the website may have moved or the domain registration has expired.

5.       the permissions to parts of the site that you visit may have changed most 403 errors are synonyms with permission faults or no access granted.


Where are the error log pages stored?


The diagram below displays where the error messages are stored on the ISA server. (Make a backup of this directory before editing the file within it.)



Now we know where the messages are stored that are displayed in your web browser when an error occurs and ISA returns that specific web page.  In order to be sure that the page you are about to edit is the correct one backup the ErrorHtmls directory and then after that you can edit the pages within at your own discretion.


·         The picture above shows the error message being edited in FrontPage and in this specific instance it is a 404 error.  That is the typical page not found error that you can get from misspelling the URL or getting the suffix such as the .com,.net or .org incorrect.  You can also add graphics and company logos to the error message to give it a more corporate look.


Description of error, or possible cause.  This info can be used to make a custom webpage to make it easier for the user to identify what he/she is doing wrong.


Page not found, a policy or rule within you ISA server is not allowing your users to view this page, the user has miss spelt the URL, the URL is not available at his time, and the URL has moved servers and is no longer hosted where the DNS record points.

10060.htm 10060R.htm

The specified Web server could not be contacted

11001.htm 11001R.htm

The specified host could not be found

11002.htm 11002R.htm

The DNS name server for the specified host could not be contacted.



11004.htm 11004R.htm

Host was not found


The table above lists the files inside the ErrorHtmls directory.  The purpose of the files are listed in the description column to help you when constructing your organization specific error messages.



This page can be edited with any Html editor such as FrontPage or Dream weaver.  Variables have been paced within the Html page so that you can edit them to suit your organization. The variables are [ERRORNUM], [ERRORTEXT], [SERVERNAME] and [VIAHEADER].  All are self explanatory except for [VIAHEADER] and this is the error message that ISA receives form the responding server.



A sample error message.  (The examples in this sample are purely fictitious.)


Place company logo here>>>   <<<



ERROR number 404 <<<< Put your error number in here<<<

We apologize for the inconvenience but 




The page you are looking for can not be found.

You may have typed the URL Universal resource locator incorrectly.  Check the spelling of the address that you typed in.  If the spelling is correct the server that hosts the web site maybe down or unavailable at this moment.


Or click the link below to take you to the intranet for a more comprehensive description of the is error.


Click this link to the intranet



Contact your Help desk or your IT personnel for more information.

Tel: 555-5000

Mobile: 0400-555-5000

e-mail [email protected]

Summary: Many users become frustrated when not able to connect to sites that they are use to connect on a day to day basis.  They do not take into account the vast and highly complicated environments that exist out there in the cyber kingdom, and they shouldn’t because that is why we have jobs.  To alleviate the frustrations it helps if the error messages that they receive have a more understanding and comprehensive tone with their own company logo.  It comforts the users and creates the perception that there is someone working on the problem.  It is a good idea to log how many people visit the error pages and who they are, so that you ca proactively see if this solution is working.  I know that if this tutorial is implemented correctly the rewards of lesser frustration are well worth it.

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