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404 error1. A 404 is an HTTP status code often displayed as either "Not Found 404" or "Page Not Found" and is an indication that the web server exists, but the page you are attempting to access, does not. When this occurs it is an indication that the web page has moved, been deleted, or is currently being updated. Below is an example of how a generic 404 error message may look on a web page.

404 not found error message

What should I do when I get a 404 error?

If you are visiting a web page you have no control of and get a 404 error there is nothing you can do on your end to get the page to work again. However, you can try the suggestions on the document below.

Creating a custom 404 page

If you run your own website or blog it is essential that you create a custom 404 page to help direct visitors who encounters this error. If you have access to the .htaccess file and want to create a custom 404 error page add the below line into your .htaccess file. In the example below, any time a visitor encounters a 404 error they are directed to the my_404.htm page. If you have a web based Control Panel, such as cPanel, your 404 error pages can also be customized in that Control Panel.

ErrorDocument 404 /my_404.htm

Tips on creating a smart 404 error page

  • At the very least, make sure your 404 error page has links to other sections of your site. One good example is a link to your site map.
  • If your site or blog has a search engine, make sure it is visible on the 404 error page.
  • If you are using Google Analytics, setup error tracking so you can know about your 404 errors. 404 errors are also in the Google Webmaster tools.
  • If you are familiar with a scripting language, instead of referring a static 404 page make it dynamic. For example, the Computer Hope 404 page logs each error, runs the URL through an algorithm to suggest a recommended page, and finds keywords in the URL to be used in the search box.

Tip: If you are a webmaster and have moved a web page to an alternate location use a 301 error code. If you have removed something with no intentions of returning it use a 410.

2. 404 is a US area code, see our 404 area code listing for further information.

3. 404 is shorthand used in text-based communications that indicate you have no idea.

Also see: 410, Chat terms, Error, HTTP