Tutorial: Troubleshooting Broken Links/Images

Introduction
At one time or another everyone has run into problems with broken images or links. Normally these are easy to fix but to the inexperienced user they can turn into a nightmare. In this tutorial we’ll discuss some techniques for fixing these types of problems.

Check The Address
The first thing to look at when troubleshooting a broken image or link is to check where the link or image is pointing. To do this for a link simply pass the cursor over top of the link. You’ll see the address for the link appear in the lower left-hand corner of the browser. For an image, you’ll need to pass your cursor over the broken image icon, right click with the mouse and choose Properties from the pop-up menu. The address for the image will be listed on the properties window.

In both of these cases you want to look for obvious problems with the address. This includes misspellings or putting in the wrong information. One common problem with addresses are ones that begin with file:///. Any address beginning with file:/// is going to attempt to load an image or follow a link on the user’s hard drive. This usually happens whenever a page is designed in MS Word or other HTML editor. Sometimes these editors will include the full address to a file on the developer’s machine rather than creating a web address.

If you don’t see any obvious problems, next start with the address and check that it is pointing to the right location. For example, let’s examine the following address:

http://www.marshall.edu/somedepartment/images/picture.jpg

The first thing we check is which server the address is pointing to. In the above example, the server is www.marshall.edu. Next we check the first subdirectory of the address. In our example, the first subdirectory is somedepartments. Then we check the next subdirectory which in our example is images. After we have looked at all the directories we check the filename. In our example the filename is picture.jpg. So if we were troubleshooting the example we would want to go back and verify that all the server, directories, and filename were all correct.

Check That The Address Physically Exists

If you are linking to one of your own images or files, you should check to make sure that the file actually exists on the server. On www.marshall.edu or users.marshall.edu you can do this by going directly to your web directory and verifying that the file exists and is in the right directory. On webpages.marshall.edu you’ll need to use an FTP program to verify the file.

Conclusion

In this lesson we have looked at a few of the general guidelines to use when checking broken images and links. Although it may seem overwhelming at first, it is a skill that is well worth the effort to learn.