Error 404 not found – What does it mean & how to fix it!

  • Encountering a 404 error can be quite frustrating. It’s an HTTP status code that signifies the page you were attempting to access on a website cannot be found on their server.
  • To clarify, the 404 error implies that while the server itself is reachable, the specific page you are trying to reach is absent.
  • Interestingly, individual websites have the liberty to customize their 404 error messages. As a result, these errors can manifest in various forms, depending on the website in question.

Commonly, you might come across the following variations of the HTTP 404 error:

  1. 404 Error
  2. 404 Not Found
  3. Error 404
  4. The requested URL [URL] was not found on this server
  5. HTTP 404
  6. Error 404 Not Found
  7. 404 File or Directory Not Found
  8. HTTP 404 Not Found
  9. 404 Page Not Found
  10. Error 404. The page you’re looking for can’t be found.
  • These error messages can emerge in any browser or operating system, appearing within the browser window just like regular web pages.
  • For instance, even popular websites like Google.com are not immune to 404 errors. When opening links via Microsoft Office applications, a 404 error generates a message that states, “The Internet site reports that the item you requested could not be found (HTTP/1.0 404)” within the MS Office program.
  • Windows Update, on the other hand, may display the error as a code 0x80244019 or as the message WU_E_PT_HTTP_STATUS_NOT_FOUND.

Causes of HTTP 404 Errors

  • Technically, the Error 404 is a client-side error, indicating that the mistake lies with you, the user. This could occur if you typed the URL incorrectly or if the page has been relocated or removed from the website, which you should have been aware of.
  • Another possibility is when a website moves a page or resource without implementing a redirect from the old URL to the new one. In such cases, you will encounter a 404 error instead of being automatically directed to the new page.
  • In some instances, Microsoft IIS web servers may provide more specific information about the cause of a 404 Not Found error by appending a number after the 404, such as HTTP Error 404.3 – Not Found, which indicates a MIME type restriction.

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Resolving the 404 Not Found Error

When confronted with a 404 Not Found error, there are several steps you can take to address the issue:

1.      Retry the web page:

  • Press F5, click/tap the refresh/reload button, or try entering the URL again in the address bar. Sometimes, a simple refresh can successfully load the page you were seeking.

2.      Check the URL for errors:

  • Often, this error arises due to mistyped URLs or selecting links that lead to incorrect destinations.

3.      Move up the directory levels in the URL:

  • If you encounter a 404 error on a specific page, gradually navigate up one directory level at a time until you find relevant content. For example, if www.web.com/a/b/c.htm displays a 404 error, try www.web.com/a/b/ or www.web.com/a/ to explore possible alternatives or confirm that the content is no longer available.

4.      Search within the website:

  • If you reach the website’s homepage but can’t locate the desired information, try using the site’s search function or explore category links to delve deeper into the site’s structure.

5.      Utilize search engines:

  • Conduct a search on popular search engines like Google or Bing, using keywords related to the content you are seeking. Sometimes, an incorrect URL can be rectified by locating the correct page through a search engine. Remember to update your bookmarks or favorites accordingly.

6.      Clear browser cache and cookies:

  • If you suspect the 404 message is specific to your device, clearing the browser cache or relevant cookies might help resolve the issue. If you can access the URL from one device but not another, clearing the cache on the problematic device’s browser could be effective.

7.      Consider changing DNS servers:

  • If the 404 error occurs across an entire website and is not limited to your device, it might be worth trying alternative DNS servers. This step is especially relevant if the website is accessible to users on other networks but not yours. Consult a Free and Public DNS Servers List for instructions on changing DNS servers.

8.      Contact the website administrators:

  • If you believe that a page has been intentionally removed or relocated, reach out to the website’s support or administrator. They can provide clarity regarding the 404 error and take necessary action to rectify the issue.

9.      Check social media platforms:

  • If you suspect that a website is experiencing a widespread 404 error, search relevant hashtags on platforms like Twitter, such as #websitedown. Twitter users often share and discuss website outages promptly, helping you determine if others are encountering the same problem.

10. Patience may be required:

  • If all else fails, waiting might be the only course of action, particularly if you are certain that the 404 error is unusual. It’s possible that the page should exist at the URL you have, and other users are facing similar difficulties, making the situation perplexing. While waiting is not ideal, it could be worthwhile to allow time for the issue to be resolved.
  • For website owners, tools like DeadLinkChecker.com and ATOMSEO can be utilized to identify 404 errors on their own websites.

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Similar Errors to Error 404

  • Some other client-side error messages that resemble the 404 Not Found error include 400 Bad Request, 401 Unauthorized, 403 Forbidden, and 408 Request Timeout. Additionally, there are server-side HTTP status codes like the widely recognized 500 Internal Server Error. For a comprehensive list, refer to our HTTP Status Code Errors resource.

FAQ

How can I resolve error 404 messages on my website?

  • If you are aware of broken links on your website, it is advisable to either redirect or fix them. In the case of a 404 error due to a deleted page, consider restoring or redirecting it to new and relevant content.

How can I fix error 404 on WordPress?

  • WordPress users often encounter 404 errors due to redirect conflicts or permalink issues. To address this, fix broken links for individual pages or posts. Additionally, visit the WordPress dashboard and update permalink settings if the issue persists across the entire site.

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Conclusion

  • a 404 Not Found error can be frustrating when trying to access a specific web page. It indicates that the requested page cannot be found, usually due to mistyped URLs or pages being moved or deleted without proper redirection. To resolve it, try refreshing the page, checking for URL errors, navigating up the directory levels, using search engines, clearing browser cache, changing DNS servers, or contacting the website directly. Monitoring social media can also help. Remember to be patient and troubleshoot to find the desired content.

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