An alternative name for site urls, your WordPress permalinks are an important part of your WordPress site. Without permalinks, your WordPress site can’t reference your urls or locate your website files. 

This is why WordPress permalinks not working is a problem that needs immediate attention or you risk losing site visitors over a ‘404 page not found’ error.

Read on to learn how to fix this common WordPress error.

What causes WordPress permalinks to stop working?

There are different reasons why your WordPress permalinks may stop working. If you’re lucky, it might be something so simple that you only need access to your dashboard to fix the issue. And if not, one solution below should work for you.

1. Reset your permalinks 

The easiest and most common solution is to reset your WordPress permalinks via your WordPress dashboard

  • Go to your WordPress Dashboard. 
  • Click on Settings and then Permalinks.
  • Select a new alternative permalinks structure
  • Save Changes. 
  • Change the permalink structure back to your standard structure and save.

permalinks settings

If you are using a cache plugin on your site, empty the site cache. For SEO purposes, the ‘post name’ structure is the best structure.

2. Disable plugins 

Sometimes it could be your installed plugins that are messing with your WordPress permalinks. If so, disable your plugins and check if the permalinks are fixed one at a time. Especially the recently installed or updated ones. 

  • Go to your WordPress dashboard
  • Click on Plugins and go to installed Plugins.
  • Deactivate all the plugins and check if the permalinks are working properly
  • If they are, activate the plugins one at a time while checking for the plugin that causes the problem after each activation. 

Plugin deactivate

3. Fix htaccess file misconfiguration

The htaccess is a basic server configuration file you can use to make sure your WordPress site pages load with www or not. It is responsible for secure https settings and other server elements that make sure a site is set up correctly. 

If plugins corrupt your htaccess file, your WordPress permalinks may stop working properly. You have to fix it through your WordPress server, which you can access through Cpanel or a FTP client.

  • Access server via CPanel or FTP Client
  • Look for and click the file manager 
  • In the file manager look for the root directory name public_html
  • Inside your root directory locate the htaccess file
  • Download the htaccess file and keep it safe
  • Delete the htaccess file

htaccess file

WordPress sites need a htaccess file to function properly so you will have to make a new one after deleting the old one. 

  • Click the new file button on the upper menu
  • Name the file htaccess and insert the code below 
  • Press Create to save your changes.

If you had any special indications on your original file, you will have to annually add them to the new htaccess file code.

# BEGIN WordPress

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>

RewriteEngine On

RewriteBase /

RewriteRule ^index.php$ - [L]

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d

RewriteRule . /index.php [L]


# END WordPress

Once you're done with this part, go to your WordPress dashboard, click on setting > permalinks and save changes at the bottom of the page.

If all else fails

If the above solutions did not work for your Permalinks problem we are always available to help with more insightful introspection. Get in touch with us through our WordPress emergency fix.

John Hooley
President, Steward

John is a graduate of 10,000 Small Businesses, a certified Customer Acquisition Specialist, and a Zend Certified Engineer. He speaks and writes on connecting digital strategy to association goals. Outside of work he's an avid traveler, climber, diver, and a burgeoning sailor. He also volunteers with Rotary and Big Brothers Big Sisters.