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What Is a Socket Error?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 16, 2024
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When a computer user checks emails or uses instant messaging or a peer-to-peer (P2P) program, he or she is opening a socket and connecting to another computer or server. A socket error is when there is a problem with the user’s computer or the other computer or server while making this connection. There are more than 100 socket errors, but they all boil down to similar problems on either side of the connection. Fixing a socket error is usually easy, but not always.

A computer socket connection occurs when both sides of the connection open up a gateway to each other. In the case of checking emails, the user’s computer opens up to an email server, while the email server accepts and opens up to the user’s computer. Sockets are commonly used between different systems but also may be used in two programs on the same system. A socket can be thought of as a virtual wire between programs.

Socket errors manifest when something keeps the socket from connecting. The socket error can either come from the user’s computer or from the other computer or server. Despite there being many different socket errors, most of them are roughly the same with some minor variation. The most common cause of a socket error is a firewall or antivirus program blocking the socket.

On the side of the user’s computer, socket error problems generally come from the Internet connection. If the user’s router shuts off during the connection or if the program itself is accidentally closed, it could create a socket error. They could also be caused if the user’s Internet protocol (IP) address is not configured properly. The user should check these connections and may need to call the Internet provider for assistance.

The other side of the connection, the second computer or server, cannot be fixed by the person making the socket connection. Common reasons for socket errors on that side are that the server is off or down or that side is overloaded with visitors. It may be useful to contact the server operator, if contact information is available. Until the server problem is corrected, the socket error will continue to show up.

Socket errors can occur when a connection is made or in the middle of a connection. If it occurs during the connection, then any downloads or uploads will cease. Correcting the error will restore the connection, and everything should continue from where it stopped.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon1006020 — On Jan 13, 2022

I keep getting a socket error according to a website and random drop outs and suddenly decrease in speed, but nothing i do seems to fix it. Is my computer under attack from hackers? It only happens on one computer. What should I do?

By Logicfest — On Feb 08, 2014
Indeed -- if you see a socket error, it's usually time to check and see if your antivirus program is the culprit. Some antivirus programs are good at allowing those connections that have been made exceptions by the Windows firewall, while some are not.

When getting an antivirus program, it's a good idea to do some research and see how good it is about not interfering with connections that you want to make.

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