Error 404 - page not found

What does the message “Error 404 page not found” mean?


You click on a link and expect your browser to display a certain website. But sometimes this doesn’t work. Instead you only see black font on a white screen: “Error 404 Page not found” or just “404 not found”.

What happened? Why are you not able to access the desired website? And what does the message “Page not found” even mean? And why is this type of error labeled with the number 404? We explain all this to you and showl you how to solve this problem.

Error 404 - where does the name come from?

To begin with we explain the origins of Error 404. Where does the term Error 404 come from? There is a story behind the origin of the term Error 404 that belongs to the realm of mythical tales: Legend has it that Error 404 originated in the early stages of the world wide web. Responsible for the missing data was supposedly a server located in room 404 of the CERN. CERN is short for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, located near Meyrin in the canton of Geneva, Switzerland. The root of the world wide web is found here.
But the truth is: the error message 404 is just one of 27 different errors, which are defined as part of the HTTP standard. Other known error messages which we are going to explain later on include 403 (No permission to access), 400 (Bad request) and 410 (Requested resource is gone).

What does Error 404 mean?

But what then is Error 404? Error 404 is a dead or broken link to a non-existent website or file. Therefore this error message is also known as a deadlink. When you type in an internet address that does not exist or one that tries to follow a faultily programmed link, you will receive an Error 404 message on your screen, such as “404 Not Found” or “Error 404, Page not found”. This error message means that the requested website does not exist under the URL you just typed in. You can also compare this error message to conventional postal services: “Address unknown - return to sender”. Or compare it to communication via email. If you type in a wrong or non-existent email address you will get an automated mail saying “...Return to sender” back.

It is important to know that Error 404 does not pose a threat to your computer. This error message is just annoying, especially if you happen to come across it more than once. Furthermore, this error message tells you that there is nothing wrong with your computer or the quality of your internet connection. The fault does not lie with you but with the server that you sent a request to by clicking on a link or by typing in a certain URL. Generally speaking. With the increase in computer viruses it could also happen that you receive this error message after your computer has been infected by malware. This type of malicious software can force your computer to display error messages. You are unsure whether you accidentally downloaded malware to your computer? Then do not hesitate and visit a TrustATec service partner near you. Our technicians offer quick and easy help.

Error 404 and the consequences

But what are the consequences of Error 404 and other broken links when they are not caused by malware? The problem with non-existent URLs is that the connected websites are not notified of the error and also cannot be notified.

If for example there would be a link here, leading to a website xy with a currently related topic, it could happen that this website would be gone by tomorrow. Consequently, the link to website xy would lead nowhere, and anyone trying to follow the link will receive a page with the Error 404 message. This way the web becomes ‘polluted’ and anyone frequently encountering these error messages is just annoyed. This is especially problematic when it comes to search engines. Here you often find websites listed which have been gone for weeks or even months and no longer exist. This of course affects the quality of your search results.

Solutions for dealing with an Error 404

If an Error 404 is caused by your computer at home, you might be able to resolve the problem of “404 not found”. In case this doesn’t work you should consult a TrustATec service partner near you to solve the issue. But first you should use an antivirus scanner on your computer, for example the one by ESET, to detect any malware on your device. In case your computer has been infected by a virus, this malware could be responsible for the message “Error 404 not found”.

You should also try to delete all your garbage files, which pile up when you browse the web or just simply use your computer to work with. These are for example temporarily stored files or folders you don’t need anymore. Never removing data trash from your device can lead to file conflicts, which in turn are the cause for your error message. Furthermore, your computer’s performance is decreased by the garbage files.

The error “404 page not found” could also be the result of outdated drivers. Therefore you should update these to make sure to eliminate this as a possible cause for the error.

Using the Windows system restore, which has no effects on your personal documents, photos or files, could also help to solve an Error 404. This feature allows you to go back to an earlier time when your device still worked properly and thereby reversing the Error 404. This goes as following:

  • Use system restore (Windows XP, Vista 7, 8 and 10).
  • Click on “Start”.
  • Type “System Restore” into the search field and press Enter.
  • Click on system restore.
  • Follow the given steps to select the point in time you want to restore your system to.
  • Restore your computer.<&/li>

Another option to solve an Error 404 is to install Windows updates. Have you tried all possible solutions and you still receive the error message “404 page not found” but you are sure that the website exists? Then consult a TrustATec partner near you and let our expert technicians solve your computer problems.

Error 404 and other types of error messages

Now that we have explained the most common error you can encounter on the web, “Error 404 page not found”, we will now list some less common error messages you could run into. There are of course many more important error messages you should know about:

400: Bad Request Error - This error is caused by faulty programming of the web server. You could also encounter this error with Android devices using Chrome on an activated data saver mode. A click on an article link only reveals the error message “400 Bad Request” in your browser. The data saver mode should be deactivated to avoid this error message.

401: Unauthorized Error - This error message pops up when a login has failed, for example because you typed in a wrong user ID or password. The desired HTTP-request cannot be processed and the respective login data has to be checked.

403: Forbidden Error - This error concerns your permission to access a certain website. The error message is displayed when you are trying to log onto a website but you are lacking the authorization to access certain files and folders.

410: Gone Error - This is an error similar to Error 404. The website you are trying to find existed previously but was purposely deleted. Now the web server has been programmed to display the 410 Error. A big difference compared to Error 404: The user doesn’t have to try to load this website at a later time. It will still be gone then.

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