How Does a 404 Error Occur?

By Josienita Borlongan

Error Message

A "404 Error" appears when a person trying to get to a website or URL but the site is unavailable or unreachable. This error may also manifest in different appearances on the web page, depending on the way the website administrator programs the error to appear to the users. Aside from "Page cannot be displayed," it can also appear as "Page cannot be displayed," "404-Page not Found," "Error 404: Not Found," "The page cannot be found" or "HTTP 404- Not Found." Aside from the error messages, the error page may have additional information indicating the possible cause and resolution.


There are different reasons why a website becomes unreachable or unavailable, possibly due to a problem on the web server hosting the website or a possible problem with the link or URL. Another possibility would be a network connection issue between the web server and the user's computer. It is also possible that certain components within the web server that is hosting the site is having issues, such as services and web instances not running that the website is depending on to run normally.


The common resolution suggested by technical support or programmers would be to do the simplest thing, often suggested on the error page itself, which is to refresh the screen by hitting the refresh button on the web browser menu bar. This will allow the web browser to try to reconnect to the website that is having issues. Oftentimes, companies that host websites have redundant servers in place to provide minimal disruptions, after hitting refresh the other server or servers in the pool will process the request in order to display the website. Another way to solve the 404 Error code is to make sure that the website spelling is correct. The cause may be a typing error by misspelling or missing letters or symbols. By typing the correct URL or link to the website, the error code will disappear and will lead to the correct web page. Sometimes, if the error does not go away, it is best to wait patiently until the problem disappears. This is often the case when a web site may be experiencing technical difficulties and a user has no control over the situation. Most reputable webhosting companies already know the problem before the users do; therefore, they may already be hard at work to resolve the problem. If the wait is taking much longer as anticipated, it is best to call the webmaster or webhosting services to report the problem or find out the status of the problem. Technicians supporting the websites may need to restart services, recycle web instances or reboot the web server to resolve the problem. If the website is corrupt or it needs the programmer to rebuild it again may take several hours to resolve. If the web server is broken, support technicians may need to repair or replace the broken parts or replace the entire server with another one. It is best practice for webhosting companies operate with redundant pairs in order to minimize disruption of service or to provide uninterrupted service. If the problem is due to network connectivity, support technicians will have to fix the network connections first before the website can come back up.

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