How to open a 404 not found page

A 404 error is an HTTP status code that means that the page you were trying to reach on a website couldn’t be found on their server.

To be clear, the error indicates that while the server itself is reachable, the specific page showing the error is not.

404 Not Found error messages are frequently customized by individual websites. So, keep in mind that the error might show up in just about any way imaginable depending on what website it’s shown from.

Illustration of a laptop with 404 Error Page on the screen

Theresa Chiechi / Lifewire

How You Might See the 404 Error

Here are some common ways in which you might see the HTTP 404 error displayed:

  • 404 Error
  • 404 Not Found
  • Error 404
  • The requested URL [URL] was not found on this server
  • HTTP 404
  • Error 404 Not Found
  • 404 File or Directory Not Found
  • HTTP 404 Not Found
  • 404 Page Not Found
  • Error 404. The page you’re looking for can’t be found.

These error messages can appear in any browser or any operating system. Most display inside the browser window just as web pages do.

Google.com 404 error

In Internet Explorer, the message The webpage cannot be found usually indicates an HTTP 404 error but a 400 Bad Request error is another possibility. You can check to see which error IE is referring to by checking for either 404 or 400 in the title bar.

404 errors received when opening links via Microsoft Office applications generate a The Internet site reports that the item you requested could not be found (HTTP/1.0 404) message inside the MS Office program.

When Windows Update produces one, it appears as a code 0x80244019 or as the message WU_E_PT_HTTP_STATUS_NOT_FOUND.

Cause of HTTP 404 Errors

Technically, an Error 404 is a client-side error, implying that it’s your mistake, either because you typed the URL incorrectly or the page has been moved or removed from the website and you should have known.

Another possibility is if a website has moved a page or resource but did so without redirecting the old URL to the new one. When that happens, you’ll receive a 404 error instead of being automatically routed to the new page.

Microsoft IIS web servers sometimes give more specific information about the cause of 404 Not Found errors by suffixing a number after the 404, as in HTTP Error 404.3 – Not Found, which means MIME type restriction.

How to Fix the 404 Not Found Error

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  1. Retry the web page by pressing F5, clicking/tapping the refresh/reload button, or trying the URL from the address bar again.

    The 404 Not Found error might appear for several reasons even though no real issue exists, so sometimes a simple refresh will often load the page you were looking for.

  2. Check for errors in the URL. Often times this error appears because the URL was typed wrong or the link that was selected points to the wrong URL.

  3. Move up one directory level at a time in the URL until you find something.

    For example, if www.web.com/a/b/c.htm gave you the 404 Not Found error, move up to www.web.com/a/b/. If you get nothing here (or an error), move up to www.web.com/a/. This should lead you toward what you’re looking for or at least confirm that it’s no longer available.

    If you have moved all the way up to the website’s home page, try to run a search for the information you’re looking for. If the site doesn’t have a search function, try navigating to the page you want using category links to dig deeper into the site.

  4. Search for the page from a popular search engine. It’s possible that you simply have the entirely wrong URL in which case a quick Google or Bing search should get you where you want to go.

    If you do find the page you were after, update your bookmark or favorite to avoid the HTTP 404 error in the future.

  5. Clear your browser’s cache if you have any indication that the 404 message might just be yours. For example, if you can reach the URL from your phone but not from your tablet, clearing the cache on your tablet’s browser might help.

    You might also consider clearing your browser’s cookies or at least the one(s) involved with the website in question if clearing the cache didn’t work.

  6. Change the DNS servers used by your computer, but usually only if an entire website is giving you a 404 error, especially if the website is available to those on other networks (e.g., your mobile phone network or a friend in another city).

    404s on an entire website isn’t particularly common unless your ISP or government filters/censors websites. No matter the reason, if it does happen, giving another set of DNS servers a try is a good step to take. See our Free and Public DNS Servers List for some alternatives and instructions on doing this.

  7. Contact the website directly. If they’ve removed the page you’re after then the 404 error is completely legitimate and they should be able to tell you that. If they’ve moved the page and are generating errors instead of redirecting visitors to the new page, they’ll be happy to hear from you so they can go fix it.

    If you suspect that everyone is getting a 404 error for this site, but you’re not sure, a quick check on Twitter might help clear it up. All you have to do is search Twitter for #websitedown, as in #facebookdown or #youtubedown. Twitter users are usually the first to start talking about a website outage. Learn how to tell if a website is down for everyone or just you for some more help.

  8. Finally, if all else fails, wait. No, it’s not fun, but it might be your only course of action, especially if you’re confident the 404 error shouldn’t be happening (i.e., the page really should be at the URL you have and others are having the same problem and find it equally strange).

You can find 404 errors on your own website through tools like DeadLinkChecker.com and ATOMSEO.

Errors Similar to Error 404

Some other client-side error messages related to the 404 Not Found error include 400 Bad Request, 401 Unauthorized, 403 Forbidden, and 408 Request Timeout.

Several server-side HTTP status codes also exist, like the popular 500 Internal Server Error. You can see all of them in our HTTP Status Code Errors list.

FAQ

  • How do I fix error 404 messages on my website?

    If you’re aware of pages on your website with broken links, redirect or correct them. If a 404 error appears due to a deleted page, consider restoring or redirecting it to new and related content.

  • How do I fix error 404 on WordPress?

    If you use WordPress, 404 errors often pop up because of redirect conflicts or permalink issues. Fix broken links for individual pages or posts. Visit the WordPress dashboard and update permalink settings if it’s a site-wide problem. 

  • A 404 error indicates that the webpage you’re trying to reach can’t be found.
  • You might see a 404 error because of a problem with the website, because the page was moved or deleted, or because you typed the URL wrong.
  • 404 errors are less common today than they used to be, as websites now strive to automatically redirect visitors away from deleted pages.
  • There are several ways you can try to resolve 404 errors on your own site or other sites.

One of the most common errors on the web — so common it’s slipped into non-internet slang — is the 404 error.

Also known by its longer name, “404 Page Not Found,” this is an error that indicates that the page or resource you’re looking for can’t be found. This usually means that it’s been deleted or moved.

What you need to know about 404 errors

404 errors are common, and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered one before. Most people find them when they try to go to a specific webpage that doesn’t exist anymore.

What’s happening is simply that your browser is asking a website to display something, the website can’t find the right page to display, so it gives you an error instead.

Nearly every website has the potential to give you 404 errors. It’s the easiest way to tell a user that they’re in the wrong place. Even Business Insider has its own 404 pages, which display when you try to visit a page that doesn’t exist.

That said, compared to the early days of the internet, finding 404 errors isn’t as easy as it used to be. There are two reasons for this:

  • Most major websites now redirect users away from 404 pages automatically. If a website is planning to delete or unpublish a webpage, that page now usually gets redirected to a different page. As a visitor, you might not end up on the exact page you requested, but you won’t be stranded on a 404 error page, either. As a result, there are fewer “broken” pages than there once were.
  • Many websites now have their own custom 404 pages, which help users more easily find what they’re looking for. In some cases, these pages are so UI-friendly that it’s hard to tell you’ve even hit a 404 error.

Most websites now create custom error pages that soften the blow of encountering a missing page.

Dave Johnson/Business Insider

What you can do about 404 errors

If you receive a 404 error when trying to reach a particular webpage, it’s not always clear what went wrong. Here are some ways you can try to resolve a 404 error:

  • Double-check the URL you’ve entered, especially if you typed it by hand. You might have made a simple typo.
  • Refresh the webpage. 404 errors may be momentary glitches that you can resolve by refreshing your web browser on a page. 
  • Use Google (or a similar search engine) to try and find the page again. It may have moved to a different URL.
  • Try to get there on another device. If you have another computer, phone, or tablet available, try the page there. If you can see the webpage from another device, it’s probably a problem with your computer’s cache. Clear the cache and try again. 
  • Use the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine is a free utility that lets you see what specific URLs would look like at various points in the past. If you know that the page you’re looking for was around for a while, there’s a good chance that the Wayback Machine has it saved.
  • Contact the webmaster or site owner. If you’re trying to reach a page on a small website, the site manager probably wants to know if there are broken links on the site, because a significant number of 404 errors can damage the website’s reputation and search engine ranking.

If you’re getting reports of 404 errors on a site that you manage, make sure that no pages have been deleted accidentally, and that all your links and buttons lead to the correct URLs. You can use free tools like Dead Link Checker to find your broken links and missing pages. 

Tools like Dead Link Checker can help ferret out lost and broken links on websites.

Dave Johnson/Business Insider

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Dave Johnson is a technology journalist who writes about consumer tech and how the industry is transforming the speculative world of science fiction into modern-day real life. Dave grew up in New Jersey before entering the Air Force to operate satellites, teach space operations, and do space launch planning. He then spent eight years as a content lead on the Windows team at Microsoft. As a photographer, Dave has photographed wolves in their natural environment; he’s also a scuba instructor and co-host of several podcasts. Dave is the author of more than two dozen books and has contributed to many sites and publications including CNET, Forbes, PC World, How To Geek, and Insider.

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Written by Jane