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404 Not Found Error: What Is It and How Do You Fix It?

The Pesky 404 Not Found Error Message

Most people have become rather accustomed to seeing the error message “404 Not Found” when browsing the web. But being used to seeing the error doesn’t mean you feel any less annoyed when you run into it. And many folks who encounter this error have no idea what it means or how to fix it, leaving them stuck.

If you’re thinking that sounds like me or you’re just completely over the Dead End that is a 404 error, then let’s take a second to better understand the 404. That way you’ll be well prepared to attack it head-on in the future (without causing any damage to your computer).

What Is a 404 Not Found Error?

A 404 Not Found error means that you’ve asked for a page that is simply not available on the site you’re currently browsing. The page could be unavailable for a number of reasons:

  • A link that’s broken
  • The page has been removed from the site
  • There’s a spelling error in the URL
  • The page has been moved to another area of the site without redirecting to the new URL

The 404 Not Found error simply means that what you’re requesting is not in that location and when the browser can’t find anything to give you, its only choice is to say “Sorry, I give up” in the form of a 404 Not Found error message.

How Do You Fix the 404 Not Found Error?

Most of the time, bumping into a 404 error throws you off. It feels almost as if the Internet has let you down. You might think you don’t have any options; no way to find the page you were initially seeking. But never fear…there are a few things you can try to fix the 404 Not Found error:

  • Refresh the page. Sometimes that’s all you need to load the page you were looking for.
  • Check for errors in the URL. Oftentimes the 404 Not Found error appears because the URL was typed wrong or the link that was clicked on points to the wrong URL.
  • Move up one directory level at a time in the URL until you find something. This should lead you toward what you’re looking for or at least confirm that it’s no longer available.
  • Search for the page on a search engine. It’s possible that you simply have the wrong URL and a quick Google search should get you where you want to go.
  • Clear your browser’s cache. 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.
  • Change the DNS servers used by your computer but only if an entire website is giving you a 404 error. Use your tablet or phone to check to see if the website is available on other networks.
  • Contact the website directly. If they’ve removed the page you’re after then the 404 error is completely legitimate. If they’ve moved the page and are generating 404’s instead of redirecting visitors to the new page, they’ll be glad to hear from you so they can fix it.
  • Be patient. Getting a 404 Not Found error is definitely aggravating. But if you take your time and remain calm (say it with me: WHOOSA), you should be able to find a solution to your problem.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

There is little more frustrating than getting a 404 Not Found error (it’s like the speeding ticket of the Internet). Even though many websites go the extra mile to make their 404 pages amusing, it’s only a momentary distraction from the fact that you can’t find what you’re looking for. But all is not lost! The next time you encounter a 404 error, use these tips and you should find the page you’re looking for in no time.

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