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Troubleshooting Access to Online Resources: Common Issues

The first line of defense in trouble-shooting access to online resources is to clear your web browser cache, cookies, and history.


Trouble Shooting IconThere are three common, browser-related issues that routinely cause problems for library patrons attempting to access online subscription resources, such as databases and electronic journals. The following guide defines the most routine of these technical issues—the browser cache, the history, and cookies—and provides quick, do-it-yourself solutions. Not sure what these things are? Read the definitions below. For step-by-step instructions for trouble shooting your electronic device, click on the appropriate tab above. Current as of 08/03/2018

What is a browser cache?

Clear browser cacheA browser cache stores data that speeds up retrieval of online information. The cache stores HTML code from previously visited web pages then uses this code to re-render the page upon a return visit. This can sometimes set up a conflict when attempting to access proxy-validated or password-protected online content. Clearing the browser cache eliminates the potential for this conflict.

What are web cookies?

Clearing CookiesA cookie is a small piece of code downloaded to your computer when you access certain websites. Session cookies are created temporarily in your web browser when you access a website with proxy-validated or password-protected content. When you leave the site, the session cookie is typically deleted but on occasion, the session cookie is retained, creating the potential for conflict when attempting to access the site again. Clearing cookies eliminates the potential for this conflict.

What is the browsing history?

Clear browsing historyWeb browsers store a record of websites you have visited. This information includes saved data such as passwords and information entered on web forms. It also includes cached data and web cookies. Clearing the browsing history can eliminate potential for code conflicts when returning to proxy-validated or password-protected resources.

Try a different browser

Clear browsing historyWhen all else fails, attempt to access the desired resource using a different browser. If access is still unavailable, please report the issue using the instructions below.

Still need tech support?

Tech support

To expedite our staff’s ability to help you, please Ask a Librarian and provide the following information:

  • The name of the electronic resource you are attempting to access (database, electronic journal, ebook)
  • The title of the book or article you are attempting to access
  • Your computing or mobile device
  • Your computer operating system (Windows version; Mac OS version)
  • Your browser (e.g., Firefox, Safari, Edge, Chrome)
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