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If you come across a 404 page not found error on your website there are usually a few things that can cause this. Ultimately, this error means that something the server attempted to look for and load was not where the server thought it would be. When this happens the server returns the 404 not found error. This is most common when attempting to pull static content or specific pages, but can come up with dynamic content like posts. Below you'll find some information on what you can do to clear this up when found.
If the what is causing the 404 is a static file (such as an image, video or HTML page) then the first check thing you need to do is see whether the file is still where it is supposed to be. For example, if the image URL causing the error is mydomain.com/wp-content/uploads/picture.jpeg, then the first thing to do is go to that location and make sure the image picture.jpeg is still at there. You can do this by:
- Connecting to your website with FTP.
- Navigate to the folder shown in the URL bar. In the above example, this would be in the /web/content/wp-content/uploads.
- Look for the file in the list of files in that folder.
If the file is NOT present, then this is the cause of your 404 error. The file was likely moved or deleted. To fix this you can simply upload a copy to this folder. Refresh your site and check the URL again. This should fix the 404 error.
If replacing the file does NOT fix the error, or if the file is already in the correct location, then we need to continue on for some further troubleshooting. Follow these steps to determine the source of the issue:
- Create a test HTML file to upload to your site
You can use the following code to make that file:
- Upload the file to the /web/content folder of your website via SFTP.
- Visit mydomain.com/filename.html in your web browser. (Be sure to replace mydomain.com with your domain and filename with the name of the file you uploaded)
If you see the file you uploaded when you visit the page, then your server is properly displaying HTML content. Remove the test file from your server.
Next, test your server for processing PHP files:
- Create a test PHP file to upload to your site
You can use the following code to create the file
echo 'Hello World';
- Upload the file to the /web/content/ folder of your website via SFTP.
- Visit mydomain.com/filename.php in your web browser. (Be sure to replace mydomain.com with your domain and filename with the name of the file you uploaded)
If you see the content you placed into that file on the page, then there are no issues with accessing and rendering PHP files. Remove the test file from the server.
If either of the above tests fail, then there is likely an issue with the server. Contact our support team and we will be more than happy to lend a hand.
If both tests pass, then you are likely experiencing a WordPress-based issue. That's when this next section will come into play.
Dynamic and WordPress Content
If your dynamic or WordPress content is returning a 404, you can try these steps to fix the issue.
The way WordPress works with permalinks can cause it to generate some 404 errors. WordPress is a content management system. This means that it distributes your content and rewrites URLs so they can be displayed in a more user-friendly format. This can sometimes cause issues when you move content or change the way permalinks work for your posts and pages.
Sometimes all you need to do to fix issues where users are running into 404 errors is to re-save (and therefore reset) your permalink settings.
- Go to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard.
- Scroll down and click Save Changes. You do not need to make any other changes.
Refresh your site at the URL in question to see whether this has fixed the issue.
If that didn't work or you are seeing 404s again, try disabling any and all plugins that handle redirection or create customized permalinks. Refresh your site and see if it fixes the issue. Finally, you can also try disabling all of the plugins temporarily to ensure that there isn't a different one interfering.
What if I actually moved something?
If whatever URL is producing the error used to exist and you have changed your domain or URL permalink structure, you can implement redirect to send users to the new URL where the content is now located. Though we still recommend trying the troubleshooting steps above clear up your issue, setting up redirects can help maintain your SEO ranking. This is because it maintains the links to your content and search engine indexing that existed prior to your domain/permalink changes. This can be managed by following our redirects instructions or set up using various plugins available from WordPress.org.