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404 Not Found Nginx: A Comprehensive Troubleshooting Guide

The “404 Not Found” error is a common HTTP status code encountered by web users when accessing websites or specific resources. When using Nginx as a web server, encountering this error can frustrate website administrators and visitors.

However, understanding the causes, troubleshooting, and resolving this issue is essential for maintaining a smooth user experience.

Let’s dive in and explore the world of “404 Not Found” errors in Nginx, empowering you to become proficient in resolving this issue and optimizing your web server’s performance.

Table of Contents

What is 404 Not Found Nginx?

The 404 Not Found Nginx error in Nginx is an HTTP status code that indicates that the requested resource could not be found on the server. It is a client-side error, meaning that the issue typically lies with the request made by the client (usually a web browser) rather than with the server itself.

When a user or client requests an Nginx web server for a specific URL or resource, the server attempts to locate and retrieve that resource. However, if the server cannot find the requested resource, it responds with a “404 Not Found” status code.

What is 404 Not Found Nginx?

The 404 Not Found Nginx error message is commonly displayed as an error page informing the user that the requested resource is unavailable. This can occur due to various reasons, such as a mistyped URL, a deleted or moved file, or configuration issues on the server.

Impact of the Error 404 Not Found Nginx

The 404 Not Found Nginx error can impact users and website owners. Here are some of the key impacts:

  • User experience: When users encounter a “404 Not Found” error, it can be frustrating and confusing. They may have been expecting to find specific content or access a particular page, but instead, they are presented with an error page. This can lead to a negative user experience, potentially resulting in user dissatisfaction or abandonment of the website.

  • Loss of engagement and conversions: If users cannot access the desired content or complete important actions due to the 404 Not Found Nginx error, it can hinder their engagement with the website. Users may leave the site without achieving their intended goals, resulting in missed opportunities for the website owner.

  • SEO and search engine rankings: Search engines crawl and index web pages to determine their relevance and ranking in search results. If search engines encounter multiple “404 Not Found” errors when crawling a website, it can signal poor user experience and content quality. Consequently, search engines may lower the website’s ranking, reducing its visibility in search results and potentially decreasing organic traffic.

  • Broken links and backlinks: “404 Not Found” errors often occur when broken links are on a website. If internal links within a website are broken, it can disrupt the navigation and user flow. Moreover, if external websites have linked to pages that no longer exist, those backlinks become ineffective, potentially impacting referral traffic and SEO efforts.

  • Reputation and trust: Consistently encountering Nginx 404 Not Found errors on a website can negatively impact the reputation and trustworthiness of the site. Users may perceive it as unreliable or outdated if they consistently encounter broken links or missing content. Building and maintaining user trust is crucial for establishing a positive online presence.

The 404 Not Found Nginx error can affect a website's reputation and trustworthiness

5 Common Causes of the 404 Not Found Error in Nginx

The 404 Not Found Nginx can occur due to various reasons. Here are five common causes:

1. Incorrect URL or Typo

The most straightforward cause of the Nginx 404 Not Found error is a mistyped or incorrect URL. Users or developers may accidentally enter a URL with typos or provide an incorrect path to the desired resource.

Nginx relies on the accuracy of the URL to locate and serve the requested content. Even a minor typo, such as a misspelled directory name or a case-sensitive mismatch, can result in a “404 Not Found” error.

2. Deleted or Moved Files

When a file or page previously accessible at a specific URL gets deleted or moved to a different location on the server, subsequent requests for that URL will trigger the 404 Not Found Nginx error. This can happen when website content is reorganized, pages are redesigned, or files are intentionally removed.

3. Server Configuration Issues

Misconfigurations in the Nginx server settings or the Nginx configuration file can lead to the 404 Not Found Nginx error. For example, if the server is not configured correctly to handle specific file types or extensions, Nginx may fail to locate the requested resource and return a “404 Not Found” response.

Server configuration issues can occur when there are mistakes or oversights in the Nginx configuration file (usually named nginx.conf) or in specific server blocks that define the behavior for different URLs or virtual hosts.

Incorrect configuration directives, such as specifying an incorrect root directory or not setting up the appropriate rules for handling certain file types, can result in the server’s inability to locate the requested resource.

4. Missing or Inaccessible Files

Another common cause of the 404 Not Found Nginx error is when the requested file or resource is missing from the designated location on the server, or the server does not have the necessary permissions to access the file.

This can happen if files are accidentally deleted, moved without updating the corresponding URLs, or if permission-related issues prevent the server from accessing the resource.

[A missing or inaccessible file is the cause of the 404 Not Found Nginx error

5. Proxy or Backend Server Issues

Nginx often acts as a reverse proxy or load balancer, forwarding client requests to backend servers to retrieve the requested resources.

In some cases, the Nginx 404 Not Found error may occur if the backend server is not properly configured or encounters its own “404 Not Found” error, which is then passed back to Nginx and subsequently to the client.

Step-by-Step Guide for Fixing 404 Not Found Nginx Error

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you fix 404 Not Found Nginx:

1. Verify the URL

Double-check the URL you are accessing to ensure it is correct. Look for any typos, missing or extra characters, and ensure the URL structure matches the expected format. Even a minor mistake can lead to a “404 Not Found” error.

2. Check for File or Page Existence

Confirm that the file or page you are trying to access actually exists on the server. Verify its location, file name, and extension. Use file explorers or command line tools to navigate to the file’s directory and check if it is present.

3. Review Nginx Configuration

Examine the Nginx configuration file (usually named nginx.conf) to ensure it is properly configured. Pay attention to the server blocks and location directives that handle requests for specific URLs. Verify that the root directory, index files, and other relevant settings are accurate.

4. Check File Permissions

Ensure that the file or directory you are trying to access has the correct permissions set. Nginx requires read permissions to access files. Use the ‘ls -l’ command (on Linux/Unix systems) to check the file or directory’s permissions. Adjust the permissions using the ‘chmod’ command if necessary.

5. Restart Nginx

After making any changes to the configuration or file permissions, restart the Nginx server to apply the updates. On Linux/Unix systems, you can use the command ‘sudo service nginx restart’ or ‘sudo systemctl restart nginx’ to restart the server.

6. Check Error Logs

If the “404 Not Found” error persists, examine the Nginx error logs for more details. The error logs, usually located in the /var/log/nginx/ directory, can provide valuable information about the specific request that resulted in the error. Look for any relevant error messages or clues pointing to the underlying cause.

Check Error Logs

7. Set Up Redirects

If the requested resource has been moved or renamed, you can set up redirects to ensure users are directed to the correct location. Use the Nginx configuration file’s ‘return’ or ‘rewrite’ directives to create the necessary redirects. For example, you can use ‘return 301’ to perform a permanent redirect.

8. Customize Error Pages

Enhance the user experience by creating a custom error page for the “404 Not Found” error. Customize the error page to provide relevant information and suggestions for users to navigate to other sections of your website. Edit the Nginx configuration file to specify the path to the custom error page.

9. Test and Monitor

After implementing the fixes, thoroughly test different URLs to ensure the “404 Not Found” error no longer occurs. Check both the previously problematic URLs and other pages on your website.

Monitor your website regularly to catch any issues or broken links that may lead to future errors. Consider using automated monitoring tools to receive alerts about any “404 Not Found” errors.

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Best Practices for Preventing the 404 Not Found Error Nginx

To prevent the occurrence of the “404 Not Found” error in Nginx, you can follow these best practices:

1. Consistent URL Structure

Maintain a consistent and logical URL structure for your website. Use descriptive and meaningful URLs that accurately represent the content or purpose of the resource.

This makes it easier for users to understand and remember the URLs, reducing the chances of encountering a “404 Not Found” error due to incorrect or mistyped URLs.

2. Proper Error Handling

Implement proper error handling in Nginx to effectively manage and handle errors, including the 404 Not Found Nginx error. Configure custom error pages that are visually consistent with your website’s design and provide relevant information to users.

Customize these pages with helpful messages, suggestions for alternative resources, and links to important sections of your website.

3. URL Redirection

When you move or rename a resource on your website, set up URL redirection to automatically redirect users from the old URL to the new location. This helps maintain the continuity of user experience and prevents them from encountering a “404 Not Found” error when accessing outdated URLs.

Use permanent (301) redirects for permanently moved resources, and temporary (302) redirects for resources that have temporarily changed location.

4. Regular Content Audit

Regularly audit your website’s content to identify outdated or irrelevant pages or files. Remove any unnecessary or obsolete resources that are no longer needed. Update internal links and sitemaps whenever changes are made to your website’s structure or content.

This ensures that all links on your website lead to existing and accessible resources, reducing the likelihood of encountering a “404 Not Found” error.

Regular content audit to prevent 404 Not Found Nginx error

5. Error Logging and Monitoring

Enable error logging in Nginx to record and monitor any “404 Not Found” errors on your website. Regularly review the error logs to identify any patterns or recurring errors.

Analyze the logs to understand the cause of the errors and take necessary actions to rectify them. Implement monitoring tools that provide real-time alerts for any “404 Not Found” errors, allowing you to promptly address them and prevent further occurrences.

6. Proper File and Directory Management

Maintain proper file and directory management on your server to ensure Nginx can access the required files. Avoid deleting or moving files without updating relevant URLs or implementing proper redirects.

When changing your website’s structure or file locations, update internal links and ensure the necessary redirects are in place. Additionally, regularly review and adjust file permissions to ensure Nginx has access rights to serve the files.

7. Test Environment

Set up a separate test environment that closely mirrors your production environment.

Before making any changes to your live website or server configuration, thoroughly test them in the test environment to identify potential issues, including “404 Not Found” errors. This lets you fix any problems before they impact the live website and ensures a smoother user experience.

8. Continuous Monitoring and Maintenance

Regularly monitor your website for broken links, outdated resources, or other issues that may lead to a “404 Not Found” error.

Conduct periodic checks to ensure that all URLs and resources are accessible. Implement a comprehensive monitoring system that detects and reports any “404 Not Found” errors in real-time, allowing you to address them promptly and efficiently.


Understanding and effectively troubleshooting the 404 Not Found Nginx error is crucial for maintaining a smooth and user-friendly web experience.

Remember, the “404 Not Found” error is not just a technical issue; it has an impact on the perception of your website’s reliability and professionalism.

So, embrace the knowledge and insights gained from this comprehensive troubleshooting guide, and let it serve as your go-to resource whenever you encounter the “404 Not Found” error in Nginx. With this knowledge in hand, you have the power to effectively resolve the error, ensure seamless navigation, and maintain a high-performing website.

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Hello, I'm the Chief Technology Officer of Mageplaza, and I am thrilled to share my story with you. My deep love and passion for technology have fueled my journey as a professional coder and an ultra-marathon runner. Over the past decade, I have accumulated extensive experience and honed my expertise in PHP development.
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