Troubleshooting 404 Errors in WordPress: A Complete Guide

404 Page Not Found”: This error message has probably appeared on your screen while browsing the internet at some point.

404 Errors are the common web error types & can be a real headache for site visitors and owners. 

If you need help fixing the 404 Page Not Found error on WordPress. We’ve got you covered! In this detailed guide, we’ll cover everything about WordPress 404 errors. 

So let’s get started!

Troubleshooting 404 Errors in WordPress

Here’s the table of content to jump to any specific section.

  • What Exactly is a 404 Error in WordPress?
  • Common Causes of 404 Errors in WordPress
  • How to Find & Fix Sitewide 404 Errors in WordPress?
    • How to Reset WordPress Permalinks?
    • How to Update the .htaccess file in WordPress?
    • How to Find & Delete Conflicting Plugins and Themes?
  • How to Track and Fix Page/Post Specific 404 Errors in WordPress?
    • How to Find and Fix Broken Links in WordPress?
    • How to Track and Redirect 404 Pages in WordPress?

What Exactly Is a 404 Error in WordPress?

A 404 error message is displayed when you or one of your visitors tries visiting a page that does not exist on the website.

When you visit a site, your browser requests the server to retrieve the page. If the server cannot find the page, it will return a 404 error message to your browser.

404 error page example

For example, imagine you’re trying to find a book in the library but cannot locate it because it’s not in the right place or someone else has borrowed it. That’s what happens when you see a 404 error on a website.

The same thing happens on the web; let’s say your website has a page with the permalink, and you updated the permalink of the existing page to 

Now, if anyone tries to browse the web page by entering, your website will show a 404 error message because the webpage the user is trying to open is moved to a different location on the website.

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Common Causes of 404 Errors in WordPress

Seeing a 404 error doesn’t mean the website is broken or you did anything wrong. 

It simply means that the page you’re looking for isn’t available at the moment.

Depending on the root cause, 404 errors can appear sitewide or on specific pages/posts.

Sitewide 404 errors can occur if there are issues with the website’s configuration or hosting, such as a server outage, DNS errors, misconfigured redirects, or corrupted .htaccess file.

Alternatively, if you only see 404 Not Found errors on specific URLs, there are a few possible causes:

  1. Broken Links: If you’ve linked to a page or post that no longer exists on your site, visitors will encounter a 404 error. Broken links can happen if you’ve deleted a page or post, changed the URL of a page or post, or linked to an external site that no longer exists.
  2. Permalink Changes: Permalinks are the URLs WordPress generates for each page and post on your site. If your permalink structure is changed or broken, it can result in 404 errors.
  3. Missing Pages or Posts: If you have deleted a page or post that has inbound links pointing to it, the links will no longer work, and visitors will see a 404 error.
  4. Plugin or Theme Conflicts: Sometimes, a plugin or theme update, an outdated plugin or theme, or a conflict between two plugins also results in a 404 error.
  5. Misspelled URLs: If visitors accidentally type the wrong URL, they will see a 404 error. 

How to Fix Sitewide 404 Errors in WordPress?

If you see the 404 error message on your entire site, that means something is wrong with the core of your site, and you need to take action immediately.

You can try below mentioned steps to solve the 404 Errors in your WordPress website.

How to Reset WordPress Permalinks?

Permalinks are also referred to as permanent links. They are the permanent web addresses used to access specific posts/pages of a website.  

Various reasons can cause the WordPress permalinks to break, returning a 404 error. 

Let’s look at how you can fix your site’s permalinks.

Remember to take a backup of your website and database before making any changes to your permalink settings or .htaccess file. This way, you can easily restore your site if something goes wrong.

To reset your WordPress site permalinks, go to your WordPress dashboard and click Settings >> Permalinks.

permalink options - 404 errors in wordpress

On the Permalink Options page, no need to make any changes. Just leave the setting options as it is, and hit the Save Changes button.This will generate a new .htaccess file and probably fix the “WordPress Permalinks Not Working” error.

permalink settings - 404 errors in wordpress

If you are experiencing 404 errors (Page not found errors) even after resetting your permalink settings, it could be due to issues with your .htaccess file.

How to Update the .htaccess File in WordPress?

The .htaccess file is a configuration file for the Apache web server that is used to specify how the server should handle certain types of requests. 

If the .htaccess file is misconfigured or has incorrect permissions, it can cause 404 errors. You can edit the .htaccess file using a file manager or FTP client to fix this. 

Once you have made the necessary changes, try reaccessing your website to check if the issue is resolved. If not, you may need assistance from your web host or a WordPress developer.

If you have just started with WordPress, the term FTP might seem rocket science to you; check out our detailed guide on WordPress FTP Access to learn how to set up WordPress FTP access and connect to your server.

How to Find & Delete WordPress Conflicting Plugins and Themes?

Updating .htaccess and resetting permalinks will solve the 404 server errors. However, if you still encounter 404 errors on your site, you need to check your activated plugins and theme.

Sometimes, a plugin or theme can conflict with your WordPress installation, causing 404 errors. This can happen if a plugin or theme needs to be updated or if there is a conflict between two plugins.

So you need to find the main culprit and delete or update the plugin/theme to prevent 404 errors on WordPress.

Let’s first see how you can check if the activated plugin on your site causes 404 errors in WordPress.

We will disable each WordPress plugin individually and then check your website. If the error persists, turn it back on and move to the next one.To get started, head to your WP dashboard and navigate to Plugins >> Installed Plugins. Navigate to the first plugin on the list and click Deactivate below it.

how to find & delete wordpress conflicting plugins and themes?

Next, refresh your website to see if the 404 error remains. If it is, return to the plugin list and reactivate the plugin you just turned off. Then, move on to the following plugin and repeat the same process until you find the one causing the error.

If you find a plugin causing the 404 error, try updating it to see if the problem is fixed. If you need further help, you can contact the plugin’s owner and raise a support ticket.

If none of your plugins produces the error, you must check your active theme. 

Try deactivating and changing your website’s current theme. Go to Appearance >> Themes in your WordPress dashboard to change your theme.

From the theme’s library page, you can change your current-active theme. 

deactivating and changing wordpress current theme

Once done, reload the page and check if the 404 issues are resolved.

How to Track and Fix Page/Post Specific 404 Errors in WordPress?

Resolving sitewide 404 errors is easy; what’s difficult is tracking and fixing the individual 404 errors on specific pieces of content. 

Let’s say you own an eCommerce site with hundreds of pages; finding the page with 404 errors takes time and effort.

Fortunately, there are dedicated WordPress plugins that help you track and fix broken links and set up redirects. 

How to Find and Fix Broken Links in WordPress?

To scan and fix 404 errors in WordPress, you can use one of the most popular plugins, Broken Link Checker.

broken link checker wordpress plugin

Once you have installed the plugin, it will begin scanning your website for broken links. You can view a list of all broken links by going to the plugin’s settings page. From there, you can click on each broken link to see where it leads and why it is not working.

After you have identified the broken links on your website, you can take action to fix them. If the broken link points to the wrong URL, you can update the link to the correct URL. If the page the link is pointing to no longer exists, you can remove the broken link altogether.Sometimes, you may want to redirect broken links to a working page on your website. This can be done using a plugin like Redirection, which allows you to create 301 redirects from broken links to new pages.

redirect broken links with wordpress plugin

How to Monitor 404 Errors on Your Website?

Monitoring 404 errors on your website is crucial as it helps you to identify broken links and missing pages that your visitors may encounter. 

We recommend using Google Search Console to monitor your 404 Error links.

Google Search Console is a free web-based tool provided by Google that helps you monitor the health of your website. It includes detailed information on crawl errors, including 404 errors. 

To look for 404 errors, click the Pages tab under the Indexing section. 

Next, you’ll see a report of your website’s Indexed and Non-Indexed pages. 

how to monitor 404 errors on your website in google search console

Click Non-Indexed, and you’ll find a list of non-indexing pages. Under Reason, you will see a Not found (404) error.

how to monitor 404 errors on your website in google search console - not found 404

Click on it to display the list of pages with 404 errors.

google search console - not found 404 data

Wrapping Up: Troubleshooting 404 Errors in WordPress

You can try several solutions to fix a 404 error, such as checking for broken links, restoring deleted pages or posts, restoring the .htaccess file, changing permalink settings, disabling plugins, or contacting your hosting provider.

And various reasons cause 404 errors in WordPress, so it’s essential to regularly check your website for broken links and ensure you’re correctly redirecting any deleted pages or posts to prevent these errors from happening.

You can also check our popular guide on WordPress Errors and how to fix them. 

We hope this detailed troubleshooting guide helps prevent 404 errors on your WordPress sites. If you still have any queries about the 404 errors in WordPress, let us know in the comments section below. 

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