404 Error Messages explained (File not found)

A 404 error message is a type of Internet web server error message. Many times this web service error can be frustrating as generally there is not an error with your computer but rather an error with the Web server. A 404 error message means that your server is not able to find the file that you requested. The file you are looking for may be moved or deleted altogether and if either of these is the case than a 404 error message appears on your computer screen.

When you are communicating by using HTTP (the web protocol), the server responds to your request with different numeric response code. Every single response code has associated with it a string of English text that must be present. The response code for a 404 message error is „Not Found“. Generally when web servers send a 404 message error a short HTML document which mentions both the numeric code and the associated string is included. There are many web browsers that do not show this message to the person trying to find the page. Some browsers have a friendlier and sometimes humorous 404 message error.

Many times people type in the file quickly and it is misspelled. If this is the case a 404 error message will appear. Try spelling it the correct way and if the file is still not found it means it has probably been moved or deleted. You can also try to backtrack by deleting information in the URL between each backlash. You can do this until you get the correct page and no error message comes up on your screen. By correcting these things you might be able to find what Web page you are trying to locate.

When using Microsoft Outlook Web Access there are several different types of 404 error messages which can appear. The error can say file not found, not found, object not found, page cannot be found, and the page cannot be found.

One of these error messages can be caused by things such as DNS name resolution, proxy server configuration, exchange virtual directory configuration, Uniform Resource Locator (URL) creation, the URL Scan component of the Internet Information Server (IIS) lockdown tool, or the port assignment on the OWA (Outlook Web Access) Web site.

Whatever the problem is there is a solution to finding the page if in fact it does exist. A 404 message error is just telling you that there is a problem directing the server to that page.

It seems that Internet Explorer for Windows has a problem displaying a custom error page if it is too small. As a rule of thumb you should create a custom error page which is larger than 512 bytes (characters), otherwise IE will not display your own message but the default (internal) error message. If you use the browser and want to know how to fix this behaviour of IE, then you can find more information from the Microsoft knowledge base (KB218155).

Some additional thoughts for creating a custom 404 error file:

  • Apologize that the file wasn’t found – that way the user doesn’t feel stupid.
  • Tell the web site visitor that the file they were looking for wasn’t found.
  • Give your visitor a chance to find the information or similar information with a search form or site map
  • Include a link to your home page on the error page.
  • On Euregio.Net’s web hosting accounts, you just have to replace the standard „error.html“ file with your own message using your FTP client.
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