How to Respond to Error 404 (File Not Found) When Surfing the Web

By Techwalla Internet Editor

When your browser cannot locate the URL that you entered in the address bar, you will receive a 404 error message or a message telling you that the file was not found. Responding to the message will increase your chances of accessing the Web page that you were seeking. There are a number of responses to try.

Things You'll Need

  • Modems
  • Internet Service Providers
  • Computers
  • Internet Explorer
  • Netscape Navigator

Step 1

Check the URL (Web address) to be sure it was entered correctly. One letter or digit out of place will get you an error message. If you see an error, correct it and push the Enter key (Return key on the Mac).

Step 2

Try moving backwards along the path of the URL. For example, if the URL you entered was http://www.something.com/songs/blues/bbking.html and you get a 404 message, place your cursor in the address box and backspace to remove bbking.html. Your URL should now read http://www.something.com/songs/blues/. Press Enter again. If you are able to access a site this time, look around to see if there is a link to BB King. If necessary, continue backwards until you reach http://www.something.com.

Step 3

Try changing the extension of the last file. In the example given above, change bbking.html to bbking.htm. Or if the last file ended in .htm, change it to html and hit Enter.

Step 4

Wait for a few hours or a few days and try again. Sometimes Internet traffic or other technical problems may make a site temporarily unavailable.

Step 5

If your 404 message includes an invitation to report the missing site to a Webmaster, reporting the error might lead to being provided with the correct URL.

Tips & Warnings

  • When you try to access an URL that has previously resulted in an error message, try refreshing your browser. The old error message site could be stored in your cache, and you will need to refresh it before you can view the updated page.