Error 404 is a standard HTTP response code in which the server can not find what is requested by the client. 404 error is at times confused with "server not found error" even though it is different. Servers are supposed to issue a response to a request when communicating through HTTP. 404 errors occur when servers can not generate this request. In 404 errors, the first four means that the client made an error for example by mistyping the URL. The zero means that there is a spelling mistake or a mistake in the arrangement of words. The last digit specifies the error encountered (404 Error pages.com, "404 Errors").
404 errors are always followed by a readable phrase which indicates the reason why the page could not be found as per the HTTP specification. 404 errors occur due to several reasons. The internet changes constantly; sometimes a web page can change while one is still looking at it. 404 errors can occur when the pages requested have either been deleted or moved. 404 errors can at times occur when the content which is requested is classified as illegal by the Internet Watch Foundation. They can also occur when a user tries to access websites which are censored by a particular government. Soft 404 errors are errors that are indicated by web servers in form of a standard web page which has a 200 Ok response code. Soft 404 errors can result to difficulties when there is an automated process to discover a broken link (404 Error pages.com, "404 Errors").
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There are several ways that a person can respond to 404 errors. The first way could be by retyping the URL. One should also investigate whether there is a broken link in the site been used. With this information one can easily correct mistakes made on the link and hence prevent 404 errors. For pages that get 404 errors frequently, the best option would be the creation of a redirect page with the help of the htaccess file and this automatically redirects the user from the old version of the page to the new one. Temporary and permanent redirects can be used to obtain old referrals from other sites and to direct the user to their intended information. In order to prevent 404 errors, if the site has pages which are constantly changed, then the user can use robots.txt file in order to block the search engines from putting them in their databases (404 Error pages.com, "404 Errors").
It is important for websites to customize 404 errors since there are so many errors associated with the standard error page. Customization allows the users to understand the message in plain English and in an apologetic manner. It also lists some of the common spelling mistakes made while accessing the site and advises users to retype the URL.
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