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What Is a 404 Not Found Error?
We've all gone to a site and found the dreaded 404 Not Found error. But what does this message actually mean? A 404 Not Found error can refer to either Page Not Found or Server Not Found errors.
If you want to know more about why you’re seeing a 404 Not Found error and what you can do about it, keep reading. We’ll share the details you’re looking for to help you fix this error and lower your chances of seeing one.
Why am I seeing the 404 Not Found error?
When you see a 404 Not Found error, it simply means that your computer is trying to access information on a page that either is broken or no longer exists.
The most common scenario when you'll see a 404 Not Found error is when the web page you’re looking for was deleted from the website. So maybe that list of apartments you’re trying to check out doesn’t exist anymore. Or maybe someone already adopted that particular cat. If you’re receiving this error when about to access a page, it was most likely deleted.
Another reason could be that you entered the wrong link address. Are you sure you typed in the right website with the correct number of Ws and spelled everything correctly? Maybe you’re seeing this error simply because somebody’s website spells Carrie with a “K.”
It’s important to note that a 404 Not Found error can occur on any browser on any computer system. Whether it’s Google, Yahoo, FireFox, or Safari, there's a chance you’ll run into this error somewhere.
Also keep in mind that sometimes it’s not your fault. Sure, you could’ve typed the URL wrong. But if the domain name simply doesn’t exist anymore, then there’s really not much you can do about it. If you’re looking for specific information, try searching for it without typing the domain. Maybe the information still exists but was moved to a different page. You’ll never know until you look.
How to fix a 404 Not Found error
Here are some basic ways you can try fixing a 404 Not Found error.
- Check the URL to make sure everything is typed and spelled correctly, including the beginning and end of the link.
- Clear the cache and cookies on your device. Sometimes certain browsing history and cookies can make this error pop up when you’re accessing a web page. To check if your device is the problem, access the website on a different device and see if it works.
- If the link has multiple directory levels, go back a few.1 Sometimes links will have many different levels (forexample.com/level1/level2). If the link isn’t working with level two typed in, backspace until you try level one. Sometimes just a very specific page is no longer available and by going back a level you’ll find the page that is.
- Reload the web page.
- Use a dead link checker.
There are plenty of free dead link checkers available.2 All you need to do is enter the link you’re trying to access and you’ll be able to see if there are any dead links associated with that website. You can search a single web page or the entire website. You can also use a free checker to help you identify any dead links in your own website that might be showing up for other people.
1. Digital Guide Ionos, “Error 404: What the Error Page Means and How to Use It,” August 16, 2019. Accessed November 6, 2021.
2. Dead Link Checker, “Free Broken Link Checker.” Accessed November 6, 2021.