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What is a 404 error? How does it occur and how to fix it.

A 404 error is a popular error message on the website that shows that a website cannot be identified. It may be created when the user clicks an out-of-date (or “broken”) connection, or when the URL is typed incorrectly in the address field of the web browser. Some websites show custom 404 error pages that might look identical to other pages on the net. Other websites simply display the default text error message of the Web server, which usually begins with “Not Found.” No matter what the appearance, a 404 error means that the server is up and running, however, the web page or web page route is not correct. 

So why call it “404 error” instead of simply “Missing Webpage Error?” The explanation is that 404 is an error code created by a Web server that cannot locate a Web page. This error code is known by search engines, which prevents search engine crawlers from indexing bad URLs. 404 bugs can also be read by web scripts and web monitoring software that can help webmasters find and patch broken connections. 

Other popular Web server codes are 200, which means that a webpage has been located, and 301 indicates that a file has been transferred to a new location. Like 404 errors, these status messages are not accessed directly by users but are used by search engines and website monitoring apps.

How does a ‘404 error’ come about?

The standard cause for an error 404 message is when the contents of the website have been deleted or transferred to another URL. There are also other explanations for why an error message may appear. This includes the following: 

  1. The URL or its contents (such as files or images) have either been removed or transferred (without adjusting any internal links accordingly) 
  2. The URL was incorrectly written (during the development or redesign process), incorrectly connected, or incorrectly typed in the browser. 
  3. The server responsible for the website is not working or the link has broken 
  4. The requested domain name cannot be transformed to an IP by the domain name system (DNS) 
  5. The entered domain name does not exist (anymore) 

Dead links are frequently left for a long period of time because operators have no idea that the linked material has been removed or transferred. Many websites still appear on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) even if they are no longer accessible online (or at least not at the specified URL). Other related websites, such as blogs, news portals, etc., are also not told that the site has been deleted or can now be found under a new URL. Many website operators do not regularly review their external links and thus a working link could easily become a dead link.

How to fix the error ‘404 Not Found’

A 404 error is seldom a cause for celebration. At the end of the day, visitors to the website did not find the content they were searching for. However, the existence of a 404 page does not necessarily mean that the requested information is not available at all. In certain instances, the solution to the original mistake is easily found and the visitor can be quickly guided to the web page they were initially searching for. And how exactly do you make a 404 error fix? Our recommendation will be to check out these possible options (in order to list them

  1. Reload the tab: It may be that the 404 error occurred for the simple reason that the page was not loaded correctly. This can be tested very quickly by clicking on the ‘Refresh’ button in your browser or by pressing the F5 button. 
  2. Check the URL: Irrespective of whether you entered the URL manually or guided through a connection, it may be that a mistake has been made. You should check the defined path of the website for this purpose. It could be that either you or the person who entered the connection, mistyped something. Apart from spelling errors, it may also be that forward slashes have been left out or lost. But keep in mind that this can only really be verified with ‘clean’ URLs, as they contain unreadable words instead of nonsensical abbreviations, letters, numbers, and symbols. 
  3. Go back to the directory level: For example, if the URL of the following example.com/Directory1/Directory2/Directory3 structure creates a 404 error page, you can always go back to the previous directory level (in this example: example.com/Directory1/Directory2) to verify if the desired page is connected there. Everything you need to do is clear the last directory on the URL. The link to the page you are searching for should be clear on the previous page. If you can’t find it on that page, you can also go back to the previous page to find the correct link. But if it so happens that this method is also successful and you eventually end up back on the homepage, then move onto the next tip. 
  4. Use the website’s search function: Many websites offer a search function as part of their homepage. Entering one or several keywords, it can help you find the specific page that you are looking for. 
  5. Use a search engine: You also have the possibility of using the website of your choice to find a website. As long as the desired site exists, you should be able to find it by entering the website domain and/or a keyword transcription of the subject matter. 
  6. Delete the browser cache and cookies: If you can access the website from another device, and the HTTP 404 error only seems to appear on a certain computer, then the problem could lie with your browser. Therefore you should delete the browser cache as well as all cookies for this site, and this may then finally allow you to access the page. 
  7. Contact the website: If none of the abovementioned tips have been successful then the only remaining option may be to get in touch with the person/people responsible for the website. Contact information can usually be found in the website’s masthead or else on a specific ‘Contact Us’ page. The operators of the website should be able to provide information as to whether the page you are looking for actually exists. It might be the case that the page in question has been moved to a new URL, and in this scenario, you will be doing the website operator a big favor. They can then carry out a 404 error fix by introducing a domain redirect, which will automatically direct users from the old web page to the current one.

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