Why can't I go to Google? Why do I sometimes get redirected to LinkedIn?
May 22, 2016 3:13 PM   Subscribe

This has happened to me off and on for a couple of years, and I've never resolved it. Sometimes, on my Macbook, using both Chrome and Safari, I'll try to do a Google search by typing my search directly into the address bar (my usual way of doing things), and when I press enter, I get this screen (Chrome), or I get redirected to a totally unrelated website - usually LinkedIn like just now, but I think I've been redirected to Facebook in the past. This always resolves on it's own after no longer than a day. I don't have the same problem on mobile, on the same wifi network. I can't seem to find anything about it with a Google search (or maybe I'm not using the ideal search terms?). Anyone know what causes this and how I can fix it?
posted by ohmy to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This page on Stack Overflow sort of explains what the issue is. Basically you were using something (add-on? some other security setting) to use https and now you're asking for an http version of the site and Chrome is like "hey wait a sec!" So "search via address bar" may be using the http version of google when you'd prefer it to use the https version? And I have no idea about the LinkedIn redirect. Other things to check according to this (mostly Windows) thread

- is the time on your computer right?
- what DNS are you using?
- do you have security software like Avast that might need tweaking?
posted by jessamyn at 3:22 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah my work computer does it but I always go to some educational site I visited once ... I think it's an ad network problem.
posted by tilde at 3:31 PM on May 22, 2016

i have had this occasionally. i don't have a complete explanation, but last time i looked in detail it seemed to be a corrupt dns cache on my router.

dns is the service that converts website names to the actual address. so, for example, when you point your browser at "metafiter.com" the browser first asks a remote computer (which provides the dns service) for the equivalent address. the dns service computer replies "" and that site is the one that your browser gets the web page from.

so in your case (for your second problem, with linkedin) your browser is asking dns for "google.com", but getting back the address for linkedin.com.

there's an extra wrinkle, which is that various places (your computer, and also various others "on the way to" the dns computer, including your modem/router) store the dns answers to save asking the same thing again and again. this is the "dns cache" i mentioned above.

in my case, at least, it seems that somehow, when my internet connection was unreliable, my router decided to store linkedin's address for google.com's name in the cache (actually, it wasn't those two sites, but the same idea).

BUT i still don't understand why this happens. perhaps it's a bug...
posted by andrewcooke at 6:12 PM on May 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

This happened to me on Chrome when I tried to add a site as a search engine, but accidentally made it my default search engine. (I'm not sure, but I think Chrome might even let you do this with a keyboard shortcut.)

Try going into "Settings", go to the "Search" section, and see what your default search engine is.
posted by Umami Dearest at 8:03 PM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

CERT_COMMON_NAME_INVALID means you're connecting to a site alright, but it's not the right one. So easily the same cause as the second problem. If you're able to view the certificate details it'd probably mention Facebook or something :).

Given the way it affects both Chrome and Safari the same, DNS sounds very likely. (The open source OS's don't set up a system DNS cache yet, but OS X certainly does).

In andrewcookes situation, I too would be very suspicious of bad DNS results from your router (cheap consumer electronics!). Its DNS cache has probably gone buggy and started swapping results. Alternatively I couldn't rule out a separate modem, without more details.

Apple's user-friendly recommendation on how to reset ("flush") the OS X DNS cache, is to reboot your computer :). There are also Terminal commands which depend on the exact version.

So if that doesn't get Google working again, there's a persistent DNS issue outside your computer; this is great news as it suggests a way to diagnose it. Proceed to step two and reboot your router. If that doesn't help, and you have a separate modem, then that's step three for you.

Routers that need rebooting frequently are dumb (but see above). You could buy a different one and luck of the draw says it won't have the exact same problem. (This strategy works surprisingly well for wireless incompatibility). The Apple ones won't be terrible, but if you haven't already been eyeing one up, I don't think you get much more for the premium other than nice setup instructions. Seriously... the only feature I can think of to look for is 5Ghz (or "dual band"), because 2.4Ghz suffers more interference from other routers. If you need some skepticism to remind you how the marketing lies to you, read The Maximum Range of Wifi is Unchangeable from someone smart enough to get employed at Google.

The dumb workaround is to bodge your computer to use an alternative DNS server like OpenDNS / Google (and reboot as above). Maybe you'd fall back to this if the problem does not persist, and hence you can't sure whether it's worth trying a replacement router. I use the DNS server (Google) for testing because it's easy to remember. I call it a bodge because one tends to end up overriding it for _any_ network you connect to, some of which will heavily rely on their DNS not being overridden. In that case I would suggest

posted by sourcejedi at 4:19 PM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

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