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Old 01-12-2021, 01:58 PM   #1
JSWolf
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Overdrive 504 error

Is anyone else having a problem signing in to Overdrive at their library? I'm getting a 504 Gateway Time-out error. I've tried two different libraries. Also, one of them I was browsing eBooks when the error happened.
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Old 01-12-2021, 01:58 PM   #2
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Is anyone else having a problem signing in to Overdrive at their library? I'm getting a 504 Gateway Time-out error. I've tried two different libraries. Also, one of them I was browsing eBooks when the error happened.
I just hit that error myself.
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Old 01-12-2021, 02:00 PM   #3
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I just hit that error myself.
Thanks for the confirmation.
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Old 01-13-2021, 03:01 AM   #4
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All 5xx errors, including your 504 Gateway Timeout error, are server errors. You and your web browser are the client - there is nothing you can do on your end to fix a 504 error. It must be fixed on the website that you are trying to access.

Where I have seen these errors is when you have a server that is trying to do something on your behalf. It is basically a middleman. Also known as a "gateway".

Since you said this was from Overdrive, I expect that you were trying to go to a specific library, e.g. "my_library.overdrive.com". So your web browser accessed the main overdrive.com webserver, that was then acting on your behalf to contact the my_library webserver. overdrive.com is only going to wait so long for my_library to respond, and if it doesn't get a response it will throw a 504 error. If overdrive.com knew that my_library was down, most likely you'd get a 502 Bad Gateway error. But if overdrive.com didn't know that my_library was down (or very slow to respond), it would send its request out to my_library. Receiving no response in a timely manner, overdrive.com would eventually timeout and give you the 504 error (the timeout length is configured on overdrive.com)

Many, but not all, 504 errors are transient. Because they can be caused if my_library is overloaded. Wait a few moments, try again, and it will succeed (after the load on my_library has dropped). But some 504's can last a long time - say, my_library's response depends on it being able to query its database, and that database is down.

Since you said that multiple libraries were giving you the 504, it is entirely possible that overdrive.com contacts my_library_1 and my_library_2, but then these my_libraries go back and contact overdrive.com as part of their algorithm to fulfill your request. So in that case the problem is actually on overdrive.com, it spreads its problem to the my_libraries, then it sees the reflection of its own problem when it goes to contact the my_libraries.

So basically, you don't know anything about what caused this (unless you are an engineer at overdrive.com with access to their logfiles). The best you can do is "try again later and hope it works".

overdrive.com is no doubt large enough that they have automated server monitoring that contacts appropriate tech and engineering staff when errors like these pop up (this server monitoring should be looking at logfiles, constantly searching for errors). If they don't have that type of monitoring in place, they are terribly remiss. This all used to be what I did before retiring. Network management, network/server security, and network/sever/application automated monitoring and problem resolution.

Last edited by haertig; 01-13-2021 at 03:07 AM.
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Old 01-13-2021, 06:45 AM   #5
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It has since been fixed. But I have gotten a 504 error before from Overdrive and the solution was to delete the Overdrive cookies. This time it was an Overdrive error.
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Old 01-13-2021, 12:59 PM   #6
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But I have gotten a 504 error before from Overdrive and the solution was to delete the Overdrive cookies.
Unless the cookie was triggering the overdrive.com website to act as a gateway on your behalf that it wouldn't do absent the cookie, the 504 error going away would have been pure coincidence.

e.g., Say the cookie contained your login credentials for my_library, without those credentials my_library would not do a database query for you. And if the database being down was the original problem, you have effectively stopped my_library from trying to access that database for you. The 504 may go away, but you are not in any better situation than you were before. Trying a database query and failing is not any better from your viewpoint than never trying the database query in the first place.

But despite this example of how a cookie might uncover a 504 error, it was probably just pure coincidence that you deleting the cookie appeared to make a difference. It was probably a short term transient error due to overload that caused the 504 (which is what many of them are), and the time it took you to delete the cookie allowed the transient condition to clear on its own.

But I'm just speculating on the most likely cause based on my work experience. We can't know for sure what happened without a look at the relevant log files on the server. I have noticed slowness on the Overdrive website quite often. This is most noticeable to me when I have Overdrive searching all my libraries to find a copy of the book I want. This manifestation of slowness strongly points to an overload condition. It could well be that Overdrive is chronically underpowered for the task it's being asked to do. This may result in overall slowness, partial webpage renderings, timeouts, and various other apparently unrelated error messages. Developers sometimes throw specific error conditions into a generic pool (because they are not adequately looking for them), and spit out a cryptic error message that doesn't really address the true problem - something like "unknown failure". A useless message. Sometimes they even try to deflect blame by intentionally constructing an error message that appears to indict the user, and not the server that is really at fault.
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Old 01-13-2021, 01:16 PM   #7
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[QUOTE=haertig;4081763]Unless the cookie was triggering the overdrive.com website to act as a gateway on your behalf that it wouldn't do absent the cookie, the 504 error going away would have been pure coincidence.

e.g., Say the cookie contained your login credentials for my_library, without those credentials my_library would not do a database query for you. And if the database being down was the original problem, you have effectively stopped my_library from trying to access that database for you. The 504 may go away, but you are not in any better situation than you were before. Trying a database query and failing is not any better from your viewpoint than never trying the database query in the first place.

But despite this example of how a cookie might uncover a 504 error, it was probably just pure coincidence that you deleting the cookie appeared to make a difference. It was probably a short term transient error due to overload that caused the 504 (which is what many of them are), and the time it took you to delete the cookie allowed the transient condition to clear on its own.

Wen I had the problem that the cookie deletion solved, I did try Edge and it worked. Went back to Firefox and still the 504 error remained. I deleted the cookies and it was fixed. If it didn't work with Edge, I would not have deleted the cookies had Edge not worked.
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Old 01-13-2021, 01:42 PM   #8
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Wen I had the problem that the cookie deletion solved, I did try Edge and it worked. Went back to Firefox and still the 504 error remained. I deleted the cookies and it was fixed. If it didn't work with Edge, I would not have deleted the cookies had Edge not worked.
That is an interesting finding. I have never run into that scenario for a 504 error. When you cleared your cookies in Firefox, did you also clear your cache (maybe did a "clear all site data")? it is possible that the 504 error page was cached and being displayed to you inappropriately. i.e., the problem had already cleared, but due to faulty cache management, your browser kept displaying the cached error page to you (inappropriately). Clearing the cache would have fixed that. But if you deleted cookies only, and didn't touch your cache, I am currently stumped on what your issue could have been.

It is harmless to clear cache. Deleting cookies should be harmless too (but you may have to re-login, lose some of your preference settings, or something like that).
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Old 01-13-2021, 04:11 PM   #9
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That is an interesting finding. I have never run into that scenario for a 504 error. When you cleared your cookies in Firefox, did you also clear your cache (maybe did a "clear all site data")? it is possible that the 504 error page was cached and being displayed to you inappropriately. i.e., the problem had already cleared, but due to faulty cache management, your browser kept displaying the cached error page to you (inappropriately). Clearing the cache would have fixed that. But if you deleted cookies only, and didn't touch your cache, I am currently stumped on what your issue could have been.

It is harmless to clear cache. Deleting cookies should be harmless too (but you may have to re-login, lose some of your preference settings, or something like that).
Cache was cleared first and no go. Then I cleared the cookies and it worked again.
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