How to Troubleshoot and Fix WordPress Posts Returning 404 Error

If you are a WordPress user, you might have encountered the dreaded “404 Not Found” error message when trying to access a post on your website. This error can be frustrating and confusing, especially if you are not familiar with the technical aspects of WordPress. However, there is no need to panic. In this article, we will discuss the causes of WordPress posts returning 404 errors and provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to troubleshoot and fix the issue.

Explanation of WordPress Posts 404 Error

The “404 Not Found” error message indicates that the server could not find the requested file or resource. In the case of WordPress, this error occurs when you try to access a post that does not exist or has been moved. It can also occur if there is a problem with the rewrite rules in your .htaccess file.

When you encounter a WordPress posts 404 error, you can still access your admin area and see your website on the front end. However, when you click on a post, you will see the “404 Not Found” error message instead of the post content.

Importance of Troubleshooting and Fixing the Error

Fixing the WordPress posts returning 404 error is important for several reasons. First, it helps to improve the user experience on your website. Visitors who encounter 404 errors when trying to access your content are likely to leave your website and never return.

Secondly, fixing the error can help to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). When search engines encounter 404 errors on your website, they may assume that your website is not well-maintained or that your content is not relevant. This can negatively impact your website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Causes of WordPress Posts 404 Error

There are several reasons why WordPress posts may return a 404 error. Understanding the causes can help you to troubleshoot and fix the issue more effectively.

Permalink Structure Issues

The most common cause of WordPress posts returning 404 errors is permalink structure issues. Permalinks are the permanent URLs for your posts, pages, and other content on your website. If there is a problem with your permalink structure, WordPress may not be able to locate the post you are trying to access.

Plugin or Theme Conflicts

Another common cause of WordPress posts 404 error is conflicts with plugins or themes. If you recently installed a new plugin or theme, or updated an existing one, it could be causing conflicts with your website’s existing code. This can result in 404 errors when trying to access certain posts.

Corrupted .htaccess File

The .htaccess file is a configuration file used by WordPress to control the server’s behavior. If this file becomes corrupted or damaged, it can cause issues with your website’s rewrite rules, leading to 404 errors.

Database Errors

In some cases, database errors can also cause WordPress posts to return 404 errors. This can occur if the database becomes corrupted or if there are issues with the database connection.

How to Troubleshoot WordPress Posts 404 Error

Before you can fix the WordPress posts returning 404 error, you need to identify the underlying cause. Here are some troubleshooting steps you can take:

Check Permalink Settings

The first step in troubleshooting WordPress posts 404 error is to check your permalink settings. To do this, go to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard and click on the “Save Changes” button. This will flush the rewrite rules and may fix the issue.

Deactivate Plugins and Switch Themes

If the permalink settings are not the issue, try deactivating all plugins and switching to a default WordPress theme, such as Twenty Twenty-One. If this fixes the issue, you can reactivate your plugins and theme one by one to identify the conflicting plugin or theme.

Regenerate .htaccess File

If the above steps do not work, you can try regenerating your .htaccess file. To do this, go to Settings > Permalinks and click on the “Save Changes” button again. This will regenerate the .htaccess file with the correct rewriterules. If you still encounter the issue, you may need to manually edit the .htaccess file.

Repair and Optimize Database

If none of the above steps resolve the issue, you may need to repair and optimize your database. You can use a plugin like WP-DBManager to perform this task.

How to Fix WordPress Posts 404 Error

Once you have identified the cause of the WordPress posts returning 404 error, you can take the appropriate steps to fix the issue:

Update Permalink Settings

If permalink settings are the issue, simply go to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard and click on the “Save Changes” button to update your permalink settings and flush the rewrite rules.

Activate Compatible Plugins and Themes

If a plugin or theme conflict is causing the issue, deactivate the conflicting plugin or theme and look for an alternative that is compatible with your website.

Manually Edit .htaccess File

If you need to manually edit your .htaccess file, connect to your server using an FTP client or the File Manager app in your WordPress hosting dashboard. Locate the .htaccess file, which is typically found in the same location as the /wp-content/ and /wp-includes/ folders. Edit the file to ensure it contains the correct rewrite rules for your website.

Restore Database from Backup

If a database error is causing the issue, you may need to restore your database from a backup. Contact your hosting provider for assistance with this process.

Tips for Preventing WordPress Posts 404 Error

Here are some tips to help you prevent WordPress posts returning 404 errors in the future:

Regularly Update WordPress, Themes, and Plugins

Maintaining your WordPress website by regularly updating your WordPress core, themes, and plugins can help to prevent issues like 404 errors. Updates often include bug fixes and performance improvements that can help to keep your website running smoothly.

Use a Reliable Hosting Provider

Choosing a reliable hosting provider is essential for maintaininga stable and well-performing WordPress website. A good hosting provider will offer features like regular backups, automatic updates, and strong security measures to help prevent issues like 404 errors.

Keep Backups of Your Website

Regularly backing up your website is essential for protecting your data and ensuring that you can quickly recover from issues like 404 errors. Most reliable hosting providers offer automatic backups as part of their hosting packages. You can also use plugins like UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy to create and manage backups of your website.


WordPress posts returning 404 errors can be frustrating and negatively impact your website’s user experience and search engine rankings. However, with a proper understanding of the causes of these errors and a systematic approach to troubleshooting and fixing them, you can quickly resolve the issue and get your website back on track.

Remember to regularly update your WordPress core, themes, and plugins, choose a reliable hosting provider, and maintain regular backups of your website to minimize the risk of encountering 404 errors in the future. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your WordPress website remains accessible and optimized forboth users and search engines.

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