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Search Engines: 404 Errors: Page Not Found

It's not there!

You used a search engine. The hits list produced a link that looks perfect for your needs, but you click on it and you get a Page Not Found message and/or a 404 Error page. These are tips on what to do if this happens.

If a site is down permanently, and/or is old, you may be able to find it using the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive.

What is a URL?

Overview of a URL by Computer

URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) are the web addresses that can be seen in your browser's address bar. These are based on the following format:

protocol://site name.domain/directory/subdirectory/filename.filetype extension

Where the protocol is generally hypertext transfer protocol (http), the site name is the name of the site, the domain name is generally one of the top level domains like .edu., .com, .org, .gov, etc.

  • All URLs must have protocol://site name.domain, as in
    •    or the site may be part of a larger site, as in
  • There may be a directory, as in
  • There may be directories, subdirectories and a file name, as in

If a URL with a directory, subdirectory or file name results in an error message, delete the URL from right to left to the next slash (/) to see if you can find a link to the file you want, for example:

Cached Web Pages

The cached copy is a snapshot of the page as it existed on the day the search engine indexed it. Bing, Google and Yahoo! provide a 'cached' copy of most of the webpages they index.

Bing's and Google's cached copies are available by mousing over the area to the right of the listed site on the hits list, then clicking on Cached on the right:

Yahoo's cached copy is available here:

Cached copies provide the date the snapshot was taken and also highlight the words/phrases of the search: