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How to Fix a 404 Error in WordPress Posts

404 error

WordPress is a very useful tool when it comes to developing content. Unfortunately, sometimes things can happen or settings change to cause a post to throw out a 404 error. This doesn’t necessarily mean the post was deleted, though.

Changes in settings or modification of files can cause a post to disappear. Unless it was permanently deleted from WordPress, you just need to get it to show up again.

On the upside, at least visitors can see your cool custom 404 screen if you have one. These are nice because you can edit them to give the visitor a bit of insight as to what the issue is and give them hope that you’re fixing the problem.

This is just one of a few common WordPress errors you may come up against at some point. Even though WordPress is a reliable and stable system, nothing in the digital world is 100 percent perfect.

In this tutorial, we’re going to show you a few solutions to recovering a post that is displaying a 404 screen. These are simple fixes and should be able to get your website working normally again.

Fixing the 404 Error in a WordPress Post

When a post shows a 404 screen stating the file cannot be found, it can be caused by several things. You may have to troubleshoot the problem a little before you can get to the exact root of the issue.

Before you continue, it doesn’t hurt to make sure the post is still in existence. Go to the posts area of your WordPress admin panel and search for the “missing” document. If you find the post in question and it has been published, then you can continue looking for the solution.

Here are a few things you can check to fix the problem.

WordPress gives users the ability to change how permalinks are set up on the website. Some will even refer to these as “pretty” links. At any rate, changes to the rewrite code could have altered how permalinks are functioning on your site.

To fix this problem:

Step 1: Go to the settings are of your WordPress dashboard.

settings area

Step 2: Click on the link for “Permalinks” in the settings group.

permalinks

Step 3: Click the “Save changes” button on the bottom left.

save button

No other adjustments need to be made. Just clicking on the save button will cause WordPress to update the permalinks settings and dump the rewrite rules for the site.

This solution is one of the most common fixes for this problem.

Solution 2: Changing the .htaccess File

The rewrite rules for your website are stored in the .htaccess file in the root folder of your web host. If the first solution did not fix your problem, you may need to change the permission of this file.

There are two ways this can be done easily: through FTP or cPanel.

To Modify Permissions through FileZilla FTP:

File transfer protocol, or FTP, can be quite a useful tool. Free applications such as FileZilla make modifications and troubleshooting much easier. To change the permission of .htaccess:

Step 1: Log into your FTP account and connect to your webhost.

connect via ftp

Step 2: Locate the .htaccess file in your root folder. It will be in the same location as the wp-content subdirectory.

htaccess file

Step 3: Right-click the .htaccess file and click on “Permissions.”

htaccess permissions

Step 4: Change the number of the permission to 666 and save it. This makes the file writeable.

change number of permissions

Step 5: Go back to WordPress and try clicking the save button in permalinks again.

permalinks again

Step 6: Change the number of the permissions back to 660 before shutting down your FTP connection.

change number of permissions again

To Modify Permissions Using cPanel

There are a lot of tools built into the cPanel platform. Among these, you have access to a file manager. This system allows you to make a variety of changes including changing permissions to files. To use this method:

Step 1: Log into your cPanel dashboard.

cpanel login

Step 2: Scroll down and click on the “File Manager” icon. If a new window appears asking which domain you wish to edit, use the drop down window to select the website you’re trying to fix. Otherwise, the file manager will simply load your root folder.

manager icon

Step 3: Find the .htaccess folder for your website and right-click it.

find htaccess

NOTE: You may have to enable “show hidden files” in the settings of your file manager. The newest versions of cPanel may have hidden files turned off by default.

Step 4: In the properties window, find “Change Permissions” and click the control.

change permissions

Step 5: In the permission window that appears, change the number of the file to 666.

file permission number

Step 6: Click “Change Permissions” at the bottom.

permissions change

Step 7: Go back to your WordPress permalinks settings and click the save button again.

Step 8: Like before, don’t forget to change the settings of .htaccess back to their default number.

permission settings

Solution 3: Manually Code .htaccess for Changes

manually change code

If the above solutions do not work, you may have to make changes to your .htaccess file manually. Access the .htaccess file again whether through FTP or cPanel. This time, you want to edit the file.

Add the following code to .htaccess:

# BEGIN WordPress
<ifmodule mod_rewrite.c=”mod_rewrite.c”>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</ifmodule>
# END WordPress

You may already have something similar in .htaccess. You can simply replace the old code between the “# BEGIN WordPress” and “# End WordPress” with the module coding.

This will reset the rewrite capabilities of WordPress and should solve the 404 error on your posts.

Solution 4: Is it a Plugin Issue?

plugin issue

Although it doesn’t happen very often, plugins can do some strange things in WordPress. If you have a plugin that is breaking a particular part of the site, you may want to check by disabling it.

You can disable these through the admin panel by going into the “Plugins” area and clicking deactivate on the most recent. If you’re unsure which one, you can disable all of them and see if that fixes the problem.

If your 404 screen disappears after disabling all of the plugins, activate each until you come across the one that is causing the error. At that point, you can check its settings to make sure it’s configured correctly. Otherwise, you may need to remove it and look for a similar tool that won’t break your site.

WordPress is usually quite efficient when it comes to tracking links. The system will keep old methods of links saved while incorporating new ones. This means that changing the appearance of how permalinks are created will not result in lost links.

For example, let’s say you started your site using the “Month and name” scheme for creating URLs of your posts. A few months later, you decide on a custom structure for permalinks to help organization. Your original posts from the beginning will retain their structure even though the new content you create is under the custom design.

This prevents search engines, social media and general backlinks from losing their connection to your website. It would be highly unlikely that changing the link appearance would result in the 404 problem.

Usually, it’s modifications to the permalinks that cause WordPress to throw a 404 screen. Tools such as Yoast SEO and others have the ability to modify these, and sometimes conflicting plugins can cause issues. Before you panic about a missing webpage, troubleshoot with the above steps. A lot of the time, it’s a simple fix that can get your site running again.

What kind of problems have you come across in WordPress? Have you customized your site to the point of it breaking?

Author: Chris Racicot

Chris is the Support Manager at GreenGeeks and has been with the company since 2010. He has a passion for gaming, scripting and WordPress. When he’s not enjoying his sleep, he’s working on his guitar skills and fiddling with 3d printing.

Updated on March 6, 2017

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Comments

  1. I do not have permalinks on my wordpress.com settings. What can I do?

    1. Hi Art,

      Permalinks are only available on self-hosted WordPress blogs, such as those hosted by GreenGeeks. You can learn more by going to our WordPress Hosting page.

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