ASP.NET MVC 5 error handling

We want to handle 403 errors, 404 errors, all errors due to a MySpecialDomainException and provide a default error page for all other errors (including errors in the IIS configuration!). All errors should return proper Razor views, it would be very nice to have an ErrorController in front of the views. E.g. something like this:

public class ErrorController : Controller
    public ViewResult NotFound () { return View(); }
    public ViewResult Forbidden () { return View(); }
    public ViewResult Default ()
        var ex = ObtainExceptionFromSomewhere();
        if(ex is MySpecialDomainException)
            return View("MySpecialDomainException", new ErrorModel { Exception = ex });

        return View("GeneralError", new ErrorModel { Exception = ex });

Currently you find many different ways to do that on the www, some most probably outdated. Among those:

  • Controller.OnException()
  • Error filter
  • customErrors element in web.config
  • Handling in Global.asax's Application_Error

Q1: What is the recommended way to fulfill our requirements with ASP.NET MVC 5?

Also we want to catch errors occurring in the IIS host. Q2: To prevent that IIS has to handle any 404s we thought about adding a default route matching all possible URLs - is this recommendable? Better to register instead for IIS' 404s as well?

Q3: Is it even possible to register an IIS error page which goes back to a controller, or is IIS capable of ASPX / static HTML only?


The best way is using Global.Asax, because you can manage all types of errors (Ajax calls/ all of unexpected Errors). with others you can't do it.

Like this:

protected void Application_Error()
    HttpContext httpContext = HttpContext.Current;
    if (httpContext != null)
        RequestContext requestContext = ((MvcHandler)httpContext.CurrentHandler).RequestContext;
        /* When the request is ajax the system can automatically handle a mistake with a JSON response. 
           Then overwrites the default response */
        if (requestContext.HttpContext.Request.IsAjaxRequest())
            string controllerName = requestContext.RouteData.GetRequiredString("controller");
            IControllerFactory factory = ControllerBuilder.Current.GetControllerFactory();
            IController controller = factory.CreateController(requestContext, controllerName);
            ControllerContext controllerContext = new ControllerContext(requestContext, (ControllerBase)controller);

            JsonResult jsonResult = new JsonResult
                Data = new { success = false, serverError = "500" },
                JsonRequestBehavior = JsonRequestBehavior.AllowGet

There is no golden solution to all applications.

You can display a friendly error page by using httpErrors in web.config. Unlike customErrors this is an IIS level setting and will even show you a friendly error page for errors which are not from within ASP.NET.

For error logging I would recommend to go with a HttpModule like ELMAH:

I wrote a whole blog post about this and where I explain the different ways of error handling:

Better way of handling error is extending handleerror attribute. Handle error attribute has following advantages

  • With HandleErrorAttribute we get more control over exception handling. HandleError allow us to handle error differently for different controllers and actions easily where in Application_Error to get this feature we take the help of switch loop.

  • Once you are into Application_Error you are out of MVC and you will lose ControllerContext and then we cannot do much things which will easily possible with HandleError.

see the following post for how to extend error handling attribute and advantages

Advantages of [HandleError] over Application_Error

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