I've changed the master page on a publish site collection. When I browsed back to the start site to check the new master page the browser just returned a 404 error, telling me that the page could not be found.

But when I open the site collection with the SharePoint Designer very thing seems to be ok and in its place. All pages are as expected in the page library. Within the Designer I could even open the pages for editing.

So does anyone has an idea why the browser cannot find and open the pages?


To clarify my problem I should say, that also switching back to the default master page doesn't bring back the site. I still get a 404 response. So the problem shouldn't be directly related to my custom master page.

3 Answers 3


I've seen similar behaviour when the links to one of the css files in the head section of the masterpage is incorrect. The page will load in designer ok but via the browser it throws an error as it can't find one of the files it needs. Best way to check is view source of the page and then just paste each link for the css files in (and same for JS if you are using the customjs link) and check you can access them.


Do you get the 404 on all pages in your rootweb? Do you get 404's when navigation to pages in the layouts folder? In other words: what's the scope of the problem?

If its all non layouts pages in the rootweb, change the masterpage in a subweb to use an OOTB one (I hope you did not introduce new ContentPlaceHolders in your custom master page). If the pages in that subsite start working, I guess we can safely say it is indeed caused by (something in) the master page.

If you think it's something IN the masterpage, start by stripping out 95% of it's contents until you have almost nothing left. If it then works, you can add bit by bit back into the master page until it breaks.

If it's not the masterpage then we need some more context info and forget about the masterpage - it might have been a coincedence that the problem started appearing when you changed your masterpage - you might have done something else around the same time that causes the 404's.


It is probably a missing resource (CSS, JS file reference etc) on your page. You should be able to find out which one from the ULS logs (12\Logs).

You should also check to see if you get the same behaviour for all users, or just certain users [e.g. it works for your site owner, but not your anonymous users].

Hope this helps,


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