WordPress 404 Error: How To Fix the Not Found Error (11 Methods)

No one likes “Page Not Found” errors, and they always pop up when you least expect them.

They’re as annoying as they are mysterious. Your website could be working fine one moment, and the next, boom – one or even all your pages are pointing toward dead-ends.

What’s more, dead-ends and blank pages hurt your SEO efforts and hamper the user experience, forcing visitors to click off and go elsewhere. The longer you leave 404s to fester, the more business you lose!


Take a breath. Thankfully, WordPress 404 not found errors are quick and easy to fix when you know how.

Skip ahead for some surefire ways to fix WordPress 404 errors. If you’d prefer an expert to help, we’ll show you who to call, too.

What Is the WordPress 404 Error?

The WordPress 404 error is a code that tells you a page can’t be found on your host’s servers. It can also mean your links are broken and are pointing to the wrong place.

A 404 error in WordPress typically looks like this:

Essentially, it’s a dead-end message when a page that should be there, simply isn’t. And nobody likes it – it annoys both human users and search engine robots!

Common variations of the 404 error not found in WordPress

Depending on your host, the 404 error appears as a few different warnings and messages. The most common error messages include:

  • “Page Not Found”
  • “The page cannot be found”
  • “404 Not Found”
  • “HTTP Error 404”
  • “We can’t find the page you’re looking for.”
  • “Error 404”
  • “404 error file not found in WordPress”
  • “The requested URL was not found on this server.”

What Causes the 404 Not Found Error on WordPress?

WordPress 404 errors can affect individual pages and entire sites. A 404 error generally occurs when you make large changes to your site or when your links aren’t functioning properly.

For example, you might get 404 not found errors on WordPress if you’ve moved to a new host, your URL’s permalink structure has changed, or you’ve changed your URLs without redirects.

There’s also a chance critical files need updating, your DNS settings are faulty, or you’re using custom code and/or faulty plugins and themes. It could even be as simple as your browser storing old data in its cache and cookies, or you may have accidentally deleted or renamed a page.

If you’re unsure if your site may be hiding 404 errors, you can use a broken link checker, Google Search Console, or even Google Analytics to look for them proactively.

11 Proven Ways of Fixing 404 Errors in WordPress

Below, we’ve rounded up 11 ways to help fix the WordPress 404 error, arranged into the following groups:

  • Common fixes, which usually solve the problem and don’t take much effort
  • More technical fixes, which take a little longer and might need expert backup
  • Call in the cavalry, where it’s best to ask for help

Before investigating an error 404 in WordPress, always back up your site! This way, if a problem occurs during fixing or you accidentally mess up the permissions, you can just reload at a safe point. We recommend you use automated backups from now on!

You might also need to edit files in a program external to your WordPress dashboard. Download a free FTP (file transfer protocol) client such as FileZilla and log in with details from your host.

Remember, if you don’t feel comfortable trying any of these fixes, don’t have time, or would prefer an expert to guide you through it, you can skip ahead and speak to StateWP for fast, friendly support.

How to fix 404 errors in WordPress

Common fixes
1. Refresh your siteReload your site or try a different browser in case it’s a local glitch
2. Clear your web history and cookiesEmpty your temporary internet files in case you’re using outdated assets
3. Reset your permalink settingsRe-save permalinks settings in WordPress to ensure your website links up as expected
4. Disable your plugins and themes one by oneDeactivate each plugin individually and refresh your site – remove any plugins that trigger a 404 error
5. Check you haven’t deleted any pagesCheck your “Trash” folder in your Pages and Posts
More technical fixes
6. Restore your .htaccess fileUse FileZilla to open .htaccess and paste in default details from WordPress (tutorial below)
7. Set up a 301 redirectUse a plugin to redirect 404s to live pages
8. Update the WordPress URL in your databaseLog into PHPMyAdmin and check your site’s URLs are pointing correctly
9. Roll back to a previous backupLog into your web hosting provider’s user portal or use a plugin to restore a backup from before the problem arose
Call in the cavalry
10. Check for local server errorsIf you run a private local server, edit your Apache settings and check for errors, or ask an expert for help
11. Contact a WordPress developer for helpContact StateWP’s experts for a quick, sustainable 404 fix

Common fixes

These quick fixes easily help you troubleshoot 404 problems, and they are, more often than not, the root cause of dead ends.

1. Refresh your site

There’s a chance a 404 error is just a glitch or even the result of a typo in the URL. Verify that you’ve entered the URL correctly, then after a few minutes, refresh the website or 404 page in your browser. If the problem remains, try loading it in a different browser (or different device, if possible).

2. Clear your web history and cookies

Sometimes, web browser caches and cookies store outdated information that stops websites from loading correctly. There’s a chance the problem is just yours – so, clear your cache, web history, and cookies.

If you’re using Chrome, open your browser’s menu, head to “More Tools,” and then “Clear Browsing Data”.

Tick everything you wish to delete and click to confirm. Reboot your browser and try your site again.

3. Reset your permalink settings

Your website’s permalink structure sets full, permanent URLs for each of your pages and posts. A problem with these settings could be causing you and your visitors to hit dead ends.

Log into WordPress and head to “Settings” then “Permalinks”:

Then, scroll to the bottom of the new page that appears, and click “Save Changes.”

Clicking this button resets your permalink structure and flushes the rewrite rules, controlled by an important file called .htaccess. We recommend clicking the Save Changes button twice to ensure everything goes through. If it doesn’t work the first time, try changing the permalink structure to “Plain”.

4. Disable your plugins and themes one by one

There’s a chance that poorly coded plugins and themes are affecting your permalinks.

To remove them from suspicion, you need to turn each of your plugins on and off individually, and change your theme.

To start, head to “Plugins” in WordPress.

On the next screen, click the “Bulk actions” box. Select “Deactivate,” then “Apply.” This switches off all your plugins.

Reaccess your website’s homepage in a different tab or window. If there’s no longer an error, that means one of the plugins is the culprit, and you need to narrow down which one.

So, head back to the plugins list and “Activate” them using the bulk actions menu.

The slow route to narrowing down faulty plugins is deactivating them individually and checking your website each time. You can do this by clicking “Deactivate” under the name of each plugin in the list.

Once your plugins are in the clear, check your WordPress theme. You can do this simply by switching to a default theme. Head to “Appearance” and then “Themes” to open the theme browser.

Search for a free, default, official theme such as “Twenty-Twenty Three.” Open it up and “Activate” it, then access your site again. If there are no errors with the new theme, you know the old setup was to blame.

5. Check you haven’t deleted any pages

Some 404 errors pop up simply because pages no longer exist, but links still point to them. Could it be you deleted a page or post by accident?

The quickest way to spot if you’ve deleted a specific page is to look in the trash. Here, WordPress stores deleted content for up to 30 days before erasing it forever.

Look for trashed pages by heading to “Pages,” then “All Pages,” or “Posts,” then “All Posts.” Under each section, there’s a button marked “Trash.”

If you can see the deleted web page or post in the trash list, click “Restore” to return it to its original location.

If you deleted a page more than 30 days ago, you need to restore a backup. Skip forward to step nine!

More technical fixes to try next

These next few fixes require a little more time and effort, and in some cases, might need you to call in support from experts such as WordPress developers. Skip ahead and contact StateWP if you’d prefer to have a dev help you!

6. Restore your .htaccess file

If adjusting your permalinks settings in the WordPress dashboard hasn’t helped, you need to restore the .htaccess file in your WordPress installation. Let’s assume you’re using FileZilla.

Once logged in, select “Server” from the top toolbar. Then, choose “Force showing hidden files” in the dropdown menu. This forces .htaccess to appear – you should see it among other files such as wp-content or wp-admin.

Head to your root folder, usually “public_html,” and look for .htaccess. Once you find it, right-click and download the file.

Now, head to WordPress’s .htaccess resource page for developers. This web page hosts a list of different code lines for various versions of WordPress.

Select and copy the code from that page for the version that suits your needs. For example, if you’re just running a basic WordPress site with no extra sites attached, copy over the code for “Basic WP”.

Open the downloaded copy of .htaccess and paste the code from the resource page over the top of what’s in the file. Save it.

You can now upload the new .htaccess to public_html with FileZilla and check if the WordPress 404 error is cleared.

7. Set up a 301 redirect

A 301 redirect ensures broken links point towards the intended content. It’s a great way to fix one or two 404s that pop up.

That said, it’s not necessarily the best option if your whole site’s affected, simply because it becomes a messy, time-consuming process. It works well for individual 404s, not so much when you’ve got a WordPress 404 error on all pages.

For this process, we recommend using a redirection plugin such as 301 Redirects, which helps you point all available URLs to the right places.

Once installed, the plugin appears under “Settings” in your WordPress admin dashboard. The main “Redirect Rules” tab lets you enter the old URL address in the “from” section on the left and the target “to” address on the right. Be sure to “Save” once you’ve entered all the replacement URLs you need.

If you’re unsure of the active URLs on your WordPress site, you can use another plugin – Show All Pages URL List – that gives you a comprehensive breakdown of all your site’s links.

8. Update the WordPress URL in your database

If you receive a message like “The requested URL was not found on this server”, you must ensure your WordPress database contains the right details.

Database confusion can occur when you move your website to a new host, so it is always worth checking after you migrate.

To check your database’s credentials, you need to access a tool called PHPMyAdmin. You can usually open it through your host’s user dashboard. For example, with WP Engine’s user portal, itr’s accessible through a link on the “Sites” page:

In PHPMyAdmin, go to the name of your database (if it’s the only site you run, there shouldn’t be other options) and select “wp-options.”

From this PHP file, check the URL associated with your site and pages. If any are incorrect or need to be updated, edit them to the correct destinations and save them.

9. Roll back to a previous backup

If you save backups through your host, start by restoring a save point through its user portal. Here’s the process through WP Engine to demonstrate.

Once you’re logged into WP Engine, head to “Sites” and select the website you want to roll back.

Then, choose the backup you want to restore, click the ellipsis, and select “Restore”:

Choose the website where you’d like to restore the save point to and select “Restore with database” to ensure all your files reappear. Click “Restore” to complete the process.

If you use a plugin such as UpdraftPlus to save backups, you need to access it via your WordPress admin dashboard and reload a save point.

With UpdraftPlus as an example, select “UpdraftPlus Backups” from the Settings menu and click “Restore” next to the save point you’d like to reload from.

If this still doesn’t solve the problem, the error could be server-side. Contact your web server host or a WordPress developer to find out more.

Call in the cavalry

We’re at a point where it’s usually best to ask for expert help with some of the most complex and time-consuming fixes. Don’t be afraid to contact a developer for advice!

10. Check for local server errors

If you run your WordPress site on your own local server, you might need to log into your chosen server management platform (such as XAMPP) and examine your Apache settings under “Apache httpd.”

However, given that this process is complex and delicate (and it’s certainly not worth risking your site’s health for a few quick tweaks), we advise you to contact a WordPress developer.

It’s quicker to do so, and it’s much less painless.

11. Contact a WordPress developer for help

Many of the fixes above are quick and easy, but that doesn’t mean you have time to try them or dredge through forums to troubleshoot. What’s more, if you’re worried about creating more problems than you’re solving, reaching out to an experienced WordPress developer is a good idea.

The dev team at StateWP has years of collective experience in fixing all common WordPress errors and faults – no matter their size or complexity.

As a StateWP partner, you can log into Proto, our user dashboard, and raise a service request with our team.

WordPress 404 Error submission via Proto dashboard

Let us know what errors you’re experiencing and what you’ve tried so far to fix the fault. Our team gets right on the case and provides you with a fix within a day of you reaching out. Contact StateWP to find out more.

Fix Your WordPress 404 Error and Get Back on Track

Even if you struggle with just one dead end, WordPress 404 errors are always annoying. The sooner your site’s linked back up and running again, the sooner you can continue welcoming new business.

Thankfully, 404s are easy enough to reverse with a few quick checks and clicks through WordPress. That said, it’s completely reasonable to ask a seasoned WordPress developer to lend a helping hand in fixing your site’s functionality.


End WordPress woes by registering with StateWP and line up 24/7 support for 404 errors, maintenance issues, and everything in between.

In the meantime, be sure to clue up on how to maintain a WordPress site with our layman’s guide.

And, if you’ve yet to decide which host to migrate to, check out our guide to migrating WordPress sites and get moved in a flash.

WordPress 404 Error FAQs

Let’s close up with some commonly asked questions about how to find 404 errors in WordPress and fix them.

How does WordPress handle 404?
WordPress automatically offers a simple 404.php page if a link is broken or your visitors reach a dead end. In most cases, you must diagnose and fix 404 problems yourself – and you can’t wait for people to always report 404 errors after clicking WordPress links. Take a look at our guide for more 404 tips.
How do I fix a 404 server error in WordPress?
  1. Refresh your WordPress website
  2. Delete your browser cookies and cache
  3. Reset permalink settings
  4. Turn your WordPress plugins on and off or change your theme
  5. Check for deleted content
  6. Reinstall .htaccess
  7. Set up 301 directs
  8. Change your database details
  9. Load a backup
  10. Check and edit your local server settings
  11. Call an expert for help
How do I track 404 errors in WordPress?
  1. Install a 404 management plugin, such as Redirection
  2. Activate the plugin while logged into WordPress
  3. Head to the plugin’s main page in the dashboard
  4. Select “404s”
  5. Any 404 errors currently occurring appear in this list

Learn more about managing 404 errors and redirections from our guide above.

How do I get rid of soft 404 errors in WordPress?
  1. Replace a deleted page with a custom 404 page to update Google’s crawlers
  2. Refresh or rewrite content at the affected link (without creating fluff)
  3. Set up a 301 redirect with a plugin (learn more from our guide)
  4. Edit tags for the page so Google reindexes it properly
How do you create custom 404 error pages in WordPress?
  1. Download a 404 page editor plugin such as Elementor or WordPress’s full site editing mode
  2. Use the plugin to create a new template and design your page with a clear message
  3. Save the template and apply the message to any potential links visitors might still find with dead ends
  4. Save your work and reload your website, specifically checking pages that bring up 404 errors