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404 (status code)

Contributor(s): Havi Hoffman

Also see errors .

404 is a frequently-seen status code that tells a Web user that a requested page is "Not found." 404 and other status codes are part of the Web's Hypertext Transfer Protocol ( HTTP ), written in 1992 by the Web's inventor, Tim Berners-Lee. He took many of the status codes from the earlier Internet protocol for transferring files, the File Transfer Protocol ( FTP .)

What to Do If You Get a 404

If the site no longer exists, there's nothing you can do. However, it only takes one mistyped character to result in a 404. See whether the ".htm" should be an ".html" or vice versa. If you're linking from a Web site, you can do a "View source" to make sure it wasn't miscoded. Whether or not it is, you may want to send a note to the Webmaster so that the link can be fixed for the next users.

How to Handle 404s If You Have a Web Site

Here are some things you can do:

  • Use a Web site analysis tool such as Web Trends or Weblog to identify links that result in 404s, then fix the links.
  • If you change the Uniform Resource Locator ( URL ) for a page on your site, retain the old URL as a redirect file, putting a message on it and inserting a META element with a REFRESH to change to the new URL in a specified number of seconds.
  • You can create the page contents for a 404 status code page and substitute it for the 404 page that the browser usually provides. This will allow you to personalize the message and encourage the user to send a note to the Webmaster so that the situation can be fixed.
This was last updated in March 2011

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