Web Development

“Error 404 Not Found”: Everything You Need to Know

By Bastien, on December 18, 2022, updated on February 5, 2023 - html-errors - 6 min read

If you’ve ever encountered a strange “Error 404 Not Found” message when browsing the internet, you’re not alone. While it may be intimidating and confusing, understanding what this mysterious error means can help you solve any issues you may have with accessing websites.

Learn all about the meaning behind this error code, how to fix it, and how to prevent future instances of it.

  • The 404 error means that the server is not able to find the page you asked for.
  • It’s often caused by an inexisting URL or some broken links.
  • To solve it a simple check of the URL or a refreshment of the page can be enough.
  • You can customize your 404 Error Page.

What is the 404 Not Found Error?

The 404 Not Found message is an HTTP status code that signals the server cannot find the requested resource. It’s also referred to as a:

  • 404 error,
  • 404 page not found,
  • 404 File Not Found among other names.

When you encounter this message, it usually means that the URL you entered does not match any existing page on the website. But it can be caused by something else.

For people visiting your website, it is mostly a problem because they don’t find what they were looking for. Most will left the website.

What Causes the 404 Not Found error?

The 404 Not Found error can indicate a few different issues. Some of the most common causes are as follows:

  • The URL was typed incorrectly or has been entered into the address bar incorrectly.
  • The page may have been moved or deleted from the server, and a redirect is needed to inform users of its new location.
  • Permissions issues can also cause 404 errors when trying to access restricted content.
  • A broken link may be responsible for 404s if it’s not working properly.

As you can imagine, this type of error can be really annoying so it’s really important to fix it.

How to fix the 404 not found error while visiting a website?

There are several steps you can take to fix a 404 Not Found message:

  1. Check the URL for errors: Make sure that the URL is typed correctly and that there are no extra spaces or special characters in the address.
  2. Refresh the page: Sometimes, simply refreshing the page can resolve the error. You can try pressing CTRL F5 on your keyboard or clicking the refresh button in your browser.
  3. Clear your web browser’s cache and cookies: Clearing your browser’s cache and cookies can help resolve the error, especially if it is caused by a temporary issue with the website’s server.
  4. Try accessing the page from a different device or network: If you’re still unable to access the page, try using a different device or a different internet connection to see if that fixes the error.
  5. Contact the website owner: If you’re still unable to access the page, you can try contacting the webmaster of the site to let them know about the error and ask them to fix it.
  6. Use a search engine to find the page: If you’re looking for a specific page on a website, you can try using a search engine to find it. This can be helpful if the page has moved or been deleted.

Here we gave you the tips to resolve the problem if you’re a visitor. But how to do if it happens on your own site ?

How to find and fix 404 errors on your own website?

To find and fix a 404 Error on your WordPress site you can:

  • Use the Google Search Console.
  • Use a WordPress Plugin.
  • Use a web analytics tool.
  • Monitor your server logs.

Use the Google Search Console

You will find a list of all 404 pages by logging into your Google search console account and going to:

Diagnostics > Crawl Errors.

After you click on “Not Found”, a list of all the urls that result in a 404 error will appear. You’re in luck if you’re running a WordPress-based website.

Use a WordPress plugin

If you’re running a WordPress-based website, there are several plugins that can help you track and fix 404 errors. Some popular options include:

  • Redirection,
  • Broken Link Checker,
  • and 404 Solution.

These plugins will allow you to easily monitor your website for 404 errors, and quickly fix them by redirecting them to the correct page or setting a custom error page.

Use a Web analytics tool

Another way to track 404 errors on your website is by using web analytics tools. These tools will provide detailed information about how users are interacting with your website, including any 404 errors that are occurring. Some popular tools include Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics.

Monitor your server logs

Finally, you can monitor your server logs to track 404 errors on your website. This approach is more technical, but can provide valuable insights into the cause of the errors and how to fix them.

To access your server logs, you’ll need to connect to your server using a program like SSH, and then use a command like “tail” to view the log files.

As you can see it’s pretty easy to identify and fix this issue so if it happens to your website you have to resolve it as fast as you can.

Why is it important to quickly solve a 404 Not Found Error?

It’s important to quickly solve this kind of error because:

  • HTTP 404 errors can damage a website’s SEO ranking and reputation.
  • 404 errors can frustrate visitors and potential customers, which can lead to lost sales opportunities.
  • 404s can be caused by malicious actors who want to take down a website or steal information from it.
  • 404s can also be caused by bugs and coding errors, which need to be fixed promptly.

But it’s not always possible to immediately solve a 404 error. So while waiting to fix the problem it’s important to personalize your page to indicate your

3 reasons to personalize your 404 error page

A 404 error page can be an unexpected moment of surprise for your website visitors. But rather than presenting a blank screen or generic message, why not make the most of this moment by personalizing it?

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Here are three reasons to do so:

1. Provide a better user experience: A 404 personalized error page provides users with helpful tips on how to find the information they’re looking for, thereby improving their overall experience on your website.

2. Establish trust and credibility: Providing users with a custom 404 page that is tailored to your brand helps build trust and credibility in your business and may encourage them to explore more pages on your website.

3. Keep visitors engaged: An engaging 404 page design can help keep visitors on your website and encourage them to explore more pages. This can help convert leads into customers and increase the overall success of your business.

Overall, creating a 404 personalized error page is an essential element for any successful website.

It helps improve the user experience, builds trust and credibility, and keeps visitors engaged with your website. With a few simple steps, you can create a 404 page that meets all these criteria and provides an excellent experience for your users.

How to Create Your Own Error 404 Not Found Page?

Creating your own 404 Not Found page is a relatively simple process that consists of the following steps:

1. Create an HTML document: Start by creating an HTML document with the necessary elements such as <head>, <title> and <body>.

2. Design your 404 page: Use creative visuals and text to design an engaging 404 page that stands out from other websites.

3. Add a custom 404 code in the header: Include a 404 status code in the header section of your 404 page so it can be identified correctly by browsers and search engines.

4. Upload the file to your server: Finally, upload your 404 page to the root folder of your website using FTP or another file management tool. Once you have done this, your 404 Not Found page should be ready to go.

WordPress permalinks

A 404 error on a WordPress website can be related to a bad settings of the permalinks. You can check that by:

  • Log into the WordPress backend,
  • Click on Settings > Permalinks in the colmun menu on the left,
  • Save changes at the bottom of the page,
  • Purge the cache of your different cache plugins.

The permalinks should be ok.

Microsoft Internet Server 404 substatus error codes

Microsoft developed a webserver sofware called IIS (Internet Information Services). It returns specific substatus codes for the 404 not found error: a decimal number is added to the 404 status code.

These codes are not approved by IANA. Microsoft’s servers are the only one to return them.

  • 404.0 – Not found.
  • 404.1 – Site Not Found.
  • 404.2 – ISAPI or CGI restriction.
  • 404.3 – MIME type restriction.
  • 404.4 – No handler configured.
  • 404.5 – Denied by request filtering configuration.
  • 404.6 – Verb denied.
  • 404.7 – File extension denied.
  • 404.8 – Hidden namespace.
  • 404.9 – File attribute hidden.
  • 404.10 – Request header too long.
  • 404.11 – Request contains double escape sequence.
  • 404.12 – Request contains high-bit characters.
  • 404.13 – Content length too large.
  • 404.14 – Request URL too long.
  • 404.15 – Query string too long.
  • 404.16 – DAV request sent to the static file handler.
  • 404.17 – Dynamic content mapped to the static file handler via a wildcard MIME mapping.
  • 404.18 – Query string sequence denied.
  • 404.19 – Denied by filtering rule.
  • 404.20 – Too Many URL Segments.

Error 404 Not Found: what you have to remember

Error 404 Not Found is a common error code, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. By taking the time to understand the meaning and causes behind this error, you can easily solve any issues that arise with accessing websites.

So don’t be intimidated by the “Error 404 Not Found” message – take action today and get your website back up and running in no time.

  • Quickly solve a 404 Not Found Error is really import    ant when you’re the owner of the site.
  • This message can be caused by some broken links or a mistake in the URL.
  • You can create a personalized 404 Error Page.
  • There are many tools to help you solve this kind of problem on your website (Broken link checker, Redirection…).
  • An unsolved 404 Error can damage your SEO.

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Bastien