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Custom Error Pages Web Hosting Information

We've all seen the dreaded Error 404 message - the result of broken links and mistyped URLs. Some of the most common error messages are:

400 Bad Request
401 Unauthorized User
403 Access Forbidden
404 Page Not Found
406 Not Acceptable
500 Internal Server Error

These types of error messages can make visitors feel that your site either does not exist or is broken. This is not good!

Custom error pages overcome this problem by presenting pages that are more friendly and help users find the page they were looking for.

Some web hosts that support custom error pages provide an easy to use control panel to help create and manage customizable error pages.

For those web hosts that do not have an easy method to create and manage custom error pages, you still may be able to setup custom error pages using a .htaccess file.

Step 1:
Create a plain text file using a text editor such as Windows Notepad.

Step 2:
Add the following text...

<Files .htaccess>
order allow,deny
deny from all
ErrorDocument 404 /home/user/public_html/404.shtml


  1. The first 4 lines prevents people from viewing your .htaccess file.
  2. The last line tells Apache to redirect all 404 errors to the page /home/user/public_html/404.shtml

Step 3:
Save the file as a plain text file. Name the file ".htaccess"

Step 4:
Upload the .htaccess file in ASCII mode to your web space using an FTP application.

Step 5:
Create a 404.shtml page using your favorite web page creation software.


  1. Don't automatically redirect to the home page. This may annoy some visitors.
  2. Show a friendly error message. Use a more informal tone. "Oops! This page must have been deleted or moved."
  3. Include your site map on the error page.
  4. Include a method for visitors to easily contact you on the error page such as a contact form or chat script.
  5. Capture the referring page via the HTTP_REFERER server variable. Notify webmasters of these sites that the link is no longer valid.
  6. To prevent search engines from spiddering your error pages, add the following line between the <head> and </head> tags on the error page:


Step 6:
Upload the 404.html page to the same location as listed in your .htaccess file (/home/user/public_html/404.shtml)

Step 7:
Try it out. Go to a page on your site that does not exist.


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