Oops! You blew up the Internet! (Page not found)

mydigibrand WordPress 1 Comment

Ever had this error, and find yourself scratching your head because your WordPress admin panel clearly shows that the page exists, is published and the page permalink is correct? This happened to me this morning, and I have to admit… it sent me into a bit of a panic mode. I mean, I’m a website developer, it happened on my company website, which I have potential clients visiting every day! I can’t have my own website throwing ‘Page not found’ errors!

Obviously, the first thing I checked was my pages, to make sure they existed and didn’t somehow get deleted. Since all the pages were there, I checked the page statuses, and they all showed as published. Lastly, I checked the permalinks on each page, and they were all what they were supposed to be. I hadn’t made any changes to my site in the past week, so then why were my pages not accessible?

The next logical step was to check my permalink settings in my WordPress configuration. WordPress.org defines permalinks as follows:

Permalinks are the permanent URLs to your individual weblog posts, as well as categories and other lists of weblog postings. A permalink is what another webloggger will use to link to your article (or section), or how you migh send a link to your story in an e-mail message.

In English, permalinks are simply what is typed in a browser address bar that directs site visitors to your specific content. When an address request hits your web server, your web application determines what to display based on that address. If your web application isn’t configured to properly interpret the requesting address, your web application gets confused and doesn’t know what to display. In WordPress, if you’re web application doesn’t know what to display, it will simply say:

Oops! You blew up the Internet! The page you are requesting cannot be found

By deduction, since my pages existed, were published, and had the proper permalinks… there must have been something wrong with my WordPress web application that was preventing it from interpreting and processing the permalink request. So, to check my permalink settings, I went to Settings->Permalinks in my WordPress admin panel.

My permalink settings were set to Custom Structure, with /%category%/%postname%/ added to the end of my domain name. This is exactly how it was supposed to be set, and so everything should have been working fine. However, I happen to know that there are processes that might corrupt your permalink settings, such as certain plugin updates. So to resolve my issue, I did the following:

  1. Made a mental note of my current permalink structure (including the custom setting).
  2. Chose a different permalink setting, and then clicked on the ‘Save Changes’ button.
  3. Once the changes were saved, I checked my web application, and all the pages were now coming up correctly. The reason for this is that by making the change, I forced a new permalink setting that replaced the corrupted old settings. However, now my website pages were using entirely different permalinks than how they were originally setup.
  4. I then went back into the permalink settings, and set it to the original setting that I made a note of in Step 1 of these instructions.

Viola! My permalink settings were restored to their original, working configuration, and all of my website pages now come up as requested!

Hope this helps anyone who has experienced sudden page error messages on their WordPress websites that were working fine the day before!

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