Quick ways to fix a 404 page not found error message

Maria LeLaurin
ML
Maria LeLaurin
Apr 29, 2019

One of the most common computer error messages is the 404 page not found. In fact, its origin goes back to the beginning of the internet. Essentially, it means the page you’re looking for cannot be found. No need to worry though because you just found some simple ways to solve the problem.

A 404 page not found error comes from the site and not the server

A 404 is an HTTP status code that means you’re able to communicate with the server but the server can’t find the specific page. An important distinction is that a 404 is different from a DNS error, in which case the server doesn’t exist vs. the webpage. You may also see a 404 appear as:

  • error 404
  • 404 error
  • HTTP 404

A 404 error is so common, some companies message it in creative ways as part of their marketing. At the very least, these creative messages provide a bit of levity when you might otherwise be frustrated.

What causes a 404 error?

One of the following scenarios is likely causing the 404 error message.

1. A misspelled URL

Since we mostly use links to go from one site to another, it’s rare that we need to manually type a URL. Add a small device such as a smartphone into the mix and a mistyped letter is bound to happen.

2. The page has been moved or deleted and there’s no redirect set up

Sometimes, the content-owner will update content or delete content that’s out-of-date. In this case, they should set up a redirect so that all you see is the new information. If they didn’t do their part, then you get a 404.

3. The URL wasn’t correct when it was originally set up or it was linked incorrectly

This takes place behind-the-scenes but you should be aware that it does happen on occasion. You may discover that this is the case when and if you need to contact the company, service or organization.

4. The server malfunctioned or has been shut down

As a content-user, there’s not much you can do when a server goes haywire but at least you can add it to the list of possibilities.

How to fix a 404 error

Try these approaches when you face a 404 error message. They’re relatively quick and don’t require a lot of technical know-how. Also, try them in the order that they’re listed because you might solve the issue on the first try.

1. Refresh the page

Just click the refresh button in your browser window; the button looks like a circular arrow and is usually in the upper-left corner. You can also try using the F5 function on your computer.

2. Double-check the URL

It’s easy to mistype a URL so simply retyping it may fix the 404 error.

3. Navigate back to the home page

Starting from the home page, use the search box or navigational links to help you find what you’re looking for.

4. Clear your cache and cookies

These terms are sometimes used in the same sentence so it can be confusing to know the difference between the two. A cookie is all about crumbs: those little pieces of information that map out where you’ve been on any given site, what you like on the site, where you spend time on the site, etc. Cache, on the other hand, is about speed. When you clear your cache, loading time is faster. Clearing cache might also improve your internet speed in general.

Here’s how to clear cache and cookies on different browsers. Remember to check your browser settings so that your passwords don’t get cleared by mistake.

5. Contact the company, service or organization directly

It could be that the 404 error is ongoing and that multiple people are experiencing it. You may need to reach out and let someone know about the issue.

A 404 error isn’t the only message you’ll encounter

While a 404 error message is quite prevalent, you may also run into a 403 forbidden error. Count on our internet experts to learn more about common internet errors and what you can do about them.

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