Ever came across a page that shows 404 – File not found instead of the actual content you wanted to view? Typically, this error will not go away even if you reload the web page. Today we are going to take a deep look at this error and the possible ways to fix it. There are two sides to this. The first one is when you are a visitor and sees a 404 page. The second scenario is when you are the webmaster. We will look into both scenarios and the fixes.
What is 404 error?
Error 404 or popularly known as the 404 not found error is an HTTP status code used to notify the user that there is no resource available at the provided location. In simple words, when you try to access a web page which is either removed or moved to another URL, you will see the 404 page not found error. This is how the Wikipedia 404 – file not found page looks like.
You can check some more 404 page examples to know how websites implement a 404 page. As already mentioned, the 404 error is an error happening due to the missing content or resource on a web page. There are several situations when someone faces this error on their web browsers. If the URL they are searching for is removed from that location, the user will face the error 404. Like that, even if it is moved to a new URL, the user will see the 404 Page Not Found error.
10 methods to fix 404 Not Found error
As mentioned, there are two sides for the fix. If you are a regular website user, you can continue reading the methods given below. But if you are a webmaster who is trying to fix the HTTP 404 Not Found on his website, you may skip these steps and jump into the second section for the webmasters to fix the error in their own websites. These are the methods to fix 404 error as a user –
1. Reload the page
To fix the 404 code, the first thing you have to try is reloading the web page, either using the reload icon at the top bar of your browser or by simply pressing the F5 key on your keyboard. It will reload the page, and the chances of getting it fixed are very low. However, you should give it a shot before stepping into any advanced fixes listed below.
2. Check if the URL is correct
If you are typed the web address in a hurry, there may be some errors or misspelled words in your URL. Double-check the URL to make sure that the URL is entered correctly. If you accessed the URL from a link, do the same checks on it too. Because, the links are manually inserted by the webmaster who may be typed it wrong.
3. Switch the directory levels
This is a tricky method to solve error 404. If the accessed URL is in a subdirectory of the website, like example.com/2017/03/abc, try removing the subdirectories one by one from the last. In our case, we should move one directory up, like example.com/2017/03/. If the 404 code still appears, move up again to example.com/2017/. It is most likely to get into any of those subdirectories where you could find out the archive which lists the article you are looking for.
4. Try searching on that website
After you see the 404 server error on any website, you could try searching the term on the site directly without a search engine. Find the search area on the website and input your search time. You will most likely get the article listed.
5. Search again in search engines
Still can’t find the fix for the 404 error code? Try redoing the search on a good search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. There might be tens or hundreds of articles covering the same topic which you are looking for. Unless it is a very rare topic or something special on a single website, you are most likely to get another useful resource where you can find the answer.
6. Clear browser cache
Browser cache is extremely useful to access the websites much faster. But sometimes, due to some misconfigured caching functions or some browser bugs, the cache may remain the same for a long time. If the web page you are looking for was an empty page months ago and the browser cache is still serving the same content on the web page, clearing your browser cache may solve the problem. It is very rare to happen such a problem because all the modern browsers are intelligent enough.
7. Clear cookies
If clearing the web browser cache didn’t work, you should also give a try to clearing the cookies in your browser. After clearing the cookies, reload the web page with the 404 error.
8. Change DNS servers
DNS servers may also block you from accessing certain websites due to some restrictions. If it is the DNS problem, an entire website will block you from accessing it. If you are only finding the 404 problems on a single web page, it is not the DNS problem. So, try changing the DNS server to a good DNS like the public DNS from Google (126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52). Then try reloading the web page. You can check our best DNS servers list to choose the best one.
9. Try accessing from a different device
After trying all of the above-listed error 404 fixes, it is the time to do something more. If you tried to access the web page from your smartphone, try a computer to access it again. If it was from your PC, try a smartphone instead. There is not that much chance to avoid error 404 by switching the devices. But as a last resort, you could try it also.
10. Contact the website owner
Of course, you could try contacting the webmaster of that website and let him know that the web page is missing. He will be happy to help you as you are pointing out a traffic driving web page problem on their website. Even if the web page is moved to a new location, they will let you know that. Most of the websites provide a contact us page with a contact form. You could utilize that to communicate with them.
How to Fix the 404 on your Website
If you are a webmaster and want to fix the 404 File or Directory Not Found error on your own site, the above-given methods won’t be the solution. Because you are not the user here, instead you are the one who should fix the problem either from the server side or on the website. To fix the 404 not found error on your website, try the following methods –
1. Fix source link
Always make sure that the website which is pointing to that 404 page entered the link correctly. If you notice any errors in the URL, contact that webmaster and tell him to change the URL to the correct one. They will surely fix the problem as soon as possible.
If the pointing link is from a search engine, just resubmit your sitemap in the webmaster tools like Google Search Console. If an incorrect page is indexed in the search engine, remove the URL from search results and fetch the correct URL for indexing.
2. Restore deleted pages on your Site
If you deleted an unnecessary page with less or no traffic and later found it is driving traffic to your website but to a 404 page, you could try restoring it to the same location. If you have a database backup of your website, just restore the database (make sure that the new posts are not removed). When there is no database backup, no worries. If your web page is old enough that the web crawlers found it, you might find the missing pages in web archives such as archive.org.
3. Redirect the 404 error page
If you finally found that the web page is lost forever, and you don’t have any backups to restore it, you may create a fresh post regarding the same topic and redirect the old URL to the new one using the 301 redirection method. It is very important to use the 301 permanent redirection if you are concerned of the SEO of your website.
4. Just ignore it
If you believe that the web page has not much potential to drive a considerable amount of traffic in comparison to other pages on your site, or if the page is no more relevant, you could just ignore the 404 the requested URL was not found on this server error.
The error 404 page not found may be disturbing sometimes. Especially if you are looking for a rare page which any other websites haven’t published yet. If so, just follow the steps given above in order to get rid of the 404 error.
How to find 404 pages on your website?
If you are a webmaster, you should keep an eye on the 404 errors on your website. If you performed any bulk deletion or moving of your active pages, it might result in a lot of 404 errors. Search engines don’t like 404 errors unless properly handled.
You can find 404 pages on your website from the webmaster tools such as the Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools.
Find 404 pages using Google Search Console
- Open Google Search Console. If you didn’t have an account, signup for one and add your website.
- Go to Pages under Index.
- Click on Not found (404) under Why pages aren’t indexed.
- There you will see all the 404 pages found by Google.
Find 404 pages with Bing Webmaster Tools
- Open Bing Webmaster Tools. Signup for an account if you don’t already have one.
- Click on Site Explorer on the left sidebar.
- In the Filter by dropdown, choose URLs with Crawling Issues (dead link 404-410).
- It will list all the 404 pages on your website found by the Bing bot.