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How to Fix WordPress 404 “Not Found” Error – Detailed Guide

Updated on July 27, 2022

7 Min Read
wordpress 404 error

It is common that you come across the WordPress 404 or “WordPress site permalinks not working” error on your website if it is not appropriately maintained. But there are times when your website is under maintenance, and your visitors will be automatically directed to a 404 error page.

Are you facing a WordPress 404 error or a “WordPress page not found” error? Don’t freak out! We have a solution for you.

What is a WordPress 404 Error?

The 404 error is an HTTP response code that occurs when the server cannot find the file or page requested by the user. In response, the web hosting server automatically sends the user an error message, “404 Not Found“.

The WordPress 404 error commonly occurs when:

  • You’ve newly migrated your site to a new host.
  • You have changed your URL’s permalink structure and haven’t redirected the old URL.
  • You don’t have file permissions.
  • You have opened an incorrect URL.
  • Poorly coded plugin/theme.

Many WordPress themes offer creative layouts & content options to display the 404 error page. Cloudways’ 404 error has a custom design and layout too:

404 error

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How to Fix 404 Error on WordPress (8 Troubleshooting Solutions)

This tutorial will show you how to quickly fix the 404 Not Found status code. So let’s get started!

1. Clear Browser History & Cookies

The first troubleshooting method you should try is clearing the browser cache and cookies. Or you can try to visit your site in incognito mode.

If apart from your homepage, your other WordPress website pages give you a 404 page not found error, you can update your permalink settings by following the steps below:

  • Log in to your WordPress Dashboard.
  • Go to SettingsPermalinks.
  • Select the Default settings.
  • Click the Save Changes button.
  • Change the settings to the previous configuration (the one you selected before Default). Put the custom structure back if you had one.
  • Click Save Settings.

Note: If you use a custom structure, copy/paste it into the Custom Base section.

custom structure setting

This solution could fix the WordPress 404 not found or “WordPress permalinks not working” error.

If it doesn’t work, you’ll need to edit the .htaccess file in the main directory of your WordPress installation (where the main index.php file resides). 404 errors are also usually due to misconfigured .htaccess files or file permission-related issues.

3. Restore Your .httaccess File

Since .htaccess is a hidden file, you must set all files as visible in your FTP.

Note: It’s always recommended to backup your site before editing any files or pages.

Follow the steps below:

  • Log in to your server using an FTP client.
  • Download the .htaccess file which is located in the same location as folders like /wp-content/ wp-admin /wp-includes/.
  • Open the downloaded file in any text editor.
  • Visit the WordPress .htaccess support page and copy/paste the version of the code that is most suitable for your website.
  • Save the .htaccess file and upload it to the live server.

public folder

For example, if you have Basic WP, use the code below.

# BEGIN WordPress

RewriteEngine On

RewriteRule .* - [E=HTTP_AUTHORIZATION:%{HTTP:Authorization}]

RewriteBase /

RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d

RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

# END WordPress

4. Setup a 301 Redirect

If you have changed the URL of any specific page and haven’t redirected it yet, it’s time to redirect the old URL to your new URL. You may redirect your old post/page via a plugin or a .htaccess file.

If you are comfortable working with .htaccess, add the following code to your .htaccess file. Don’t forget to replace the URLs with your own website.

Redirect 301 /oldpage.html https://www.mywebsite.com/newpage.html

If you prefer the easy way, you may use a plugin to set up a 301 redirect. Follow the steps below:

  • Install the Redirection Plugin.
  • Go to the WordPress Dashboard.
  • Click Tools > Redirection.
  • Complete the setup and Add new redirection.

Redirection via plugin

5. Disabling Plugins/Theme

An outdated or poorly coded plugin may be causing the 404 error on your WordPress site. To check this, you must deactivate all your plugins and change your current theme.

Note: All WordPress themes have 404.php files but don’t necessarily have a custom 404 error template file. WordPress automatically uses the 404.php page if the 404 error occurs. 

You may access your WordPress files using an FTP like FileZilla. Go to public_html > wp-content and change the plugins folder name to something like myplugins.

Disabling Plugins

Now go back to your browser to check whether the website is working. If the error has been resolved, then any of your plugins could be the culprit.

Note: If it’s not resolved, simply change the myplugins folder name to plugins and move to the next troubleshooting method.

If it’s resolved, change the myplugins folder name to plugins and follow the steps below to check which of your plugin(s) is causing the error.

  • Go to your WordPress dashboard.
  • Go to Plugins > Installed Plugins.
  • Activate each plugin one by one and check if your website is working.
  • When you encounter the 404 error, you’d know which plugin caused it.
  • Update the plugin or remove it to get rid of the error.

WordPress plugins

6. Change and Update WordPress URL in Database

You might encounter the following error message on your WordPress website.

“The requested URL was not found on this server. If you entered the URL manually, please check your spelling and try again.”

Update WordPress URL

Fix the error by following the steps below:

  • Go to your PHPMyAdmin.
  • Navigate to your database name, and select wp-option. For example, blog > wp-option.

PHPMyAdmin

  • Change the URL, for example, from https://www.abc.com/blog/ to http://localhost/blog.

change the URL

7. Fix WordPress 404 Error on Local Servers

Many designers and developers install WordPress on their desktops and laptops using a local server for staging purposes. A common problem with local server installations of WordPress is the inability to get permalink rewrite rules to work.

You may try to change the permalinks for posts and pages, but eventually, the website shows the WordPress “404 Not Found” error.

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In this situation, turn on the rewrite module in your WAMP, XAMPP, or MAMP installation. I am using WAMP in this tutorial. Navigate to the taskbar and find the WAMP icon. After that, navigate to ApacheApache modules.

Fixing Errors

It will enable a long list of modules that you can toggle on and off. Find the one called “rewrite_module” and click it, so it is checked.

apache

Then check whether your permalinks are working or not.

8. Alternative Method

If none of the above solutions work, you may try the alternative method to fix the 404 error.

  • Navigate to the local server.
  • Find the Apache folder, then go to the “conf” folder.
  • Navigate to the httpd.conf file.
  • Search for a line that looks like:

#LoadModule rewrite_module modules/mod_rewrite.so

  • Remove the “#” sign so it looks like this:

LoadModule rewrite_module modules/mod_rewrite.so

Additional tip: PHP workers are used while executing your WordPress site’s code. An ecommerce site that gets 50,000 visitors per month needs a lot more resources than a simple blog with the same amount of traffic.

Conclusion

I hope this guide helped you solve the “WordPress 404 page error” or “WordPress permalinks not working” problem. Have you figured out any other ways to get rid of this problem? Please share your solutions with us in the comment section below.

Also, if you are a WordPress user and want to boost your site, you must try Cloudways WordPress hosting solutions and take advantage of its 3-day free trial.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why am I getting a 404 error?

WordPress 404 errors usually occur when you have removed certain pages from your website and haven’t redirected them to your live pages. Sometimes, these errors may also occur when you have changed a URL of a specific page.

Q. How do I test a 404 error?

You can use multiple tools to test WordPress 404 errors, like Deadlinkchecker. Or you may access Google Analytics to find out which blogs are giving you a 404 error.

Q. How do I fix error 404 on WordPress?

You can fix the error 404 on WordPress by implementing the following solutions:

  • Clear the browser cache and cookies
  • Set your permalinks
  • Make a default .htaccess file
  • Set up a 301 redirect
  • Disable plugins and themes
  • Change and update the WordPress URL in the database
  • Fix the error on local servers

Q. How to redirect WordPress 404 pages?

Follow the steps below to redirect WordPress 404 pages:

  • Go to your WordPress dashboard.
  • Navigate to Tools > Redirection.
  • Apply redirection by pasting the broken URL in the source box and the new URL in the Target box.

Q. How to edit a WordPress 404 page?

You may edit a WordPress 404 page by following the steps below:

  • Visit your WordPress dashboard.
  • Navigate to Appearance > Theme Editor.
  • Find the file named “404.php file” and edit the file yourself or with the help of a WordPress developer.
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Farhan Ayub

Farhan is a community manager at Cloudways. He loves to work with WordPress and has a passion for web development. Mostly, he spends his time interacting with the people in the WordPress community. Apart from his work life, Farhan spends his time gaming and playing sports. Feel free to contact him at [email protected]

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