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9/30/2013
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Amazon CloudFront CDN: Goodbye 404 Messages

Amazon's content delivery network CloudFront lets subscribers redirect visitors to desired content while avoiding dreaded 404 error messages.

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The Amazon Web Services content delivery network CloudFront wants to give its subscribers a way to present a more meaningful message than "server not found" when their users encounter a bad link.

CloudFront now lets subscribers customize the infamous 404 message so people trying to visit their business site won't be left with the baffling dead end that "server-not-found" messages so often represent.

"We've added two new features that allow to you to configure how CloudFront handles error responses for your website. Error responses can occur for many reasons. For instance, a user might request objects that don't exist (and receive a 404 Not Found response)," wrote AWS staff in announcing the service. "Or a user you haven't authorized might attempt to download an object you have secured using CloudFront's private content feature (and receive a 403 Forbidden response)."

[ Want more on how AWS has improved CloudFront? See Amazon Speeds Content Delivery Network. ]

The Custom Error Pages service lets the CloudFront business user take the anonymity out of the error page messages by putting the company logo on the page. It also allows a more informative message, such as the URL for another part of the website or guidance to the page that the business concludes the user was actually seeking. If such precise guidance can't be ascertained, then a more static page that gets the user back onto the Web site can be a fallback position.

Custom Error Pages also allows the business to determine how long it wants an error page held in a CloudFront server's cache at some close-to-end user location. It might be that there are a spate of error messages required in a certain part of the world, which might necessitate holding the message in cache longer than the five-minute limit used for standard error messages. Details on implementing the service can be found in the CloudFront developer's guide.

Pricing on custom error pages is the same as pricing on other CloudFront content services. A custom error page would be likely to incur standard S3 object storage, Get request handling, and data transfer charges as levied in other AWS services.

Content delivery services are a new front of competition between cloud services precisely because they increase the use of several related services from a given service provider. Microsoft has its own content delivery service, Windows Azure.

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