Troubleshooting HTTP 404s with NGINX and PHP

6 minute read | By Anthony Salemo

This post will cover why you may see HTTP 404’s with PHP “Blessed Images” and NGINX under certain circumstances


This post is used as an encapsulation of other blog posts aimed to troubleshoot or explain HTTP 404’s seen with PHP “Blessed Images” and NGINX more directly.

When using PHP “Blessed Images” on App Service Linux running 8.x - this uses NGINX. There may be certain circumanstances in which “404s” appear - this typically falls into the three below categories:

  • A 404 due actual missing content or an unmapped endpoint (eg., file not found, Controller is not mapped to the endpoint/path name, etc.)
  • A 404 due to a HTTP 500
  • A 404 due to site root misconfiguration

NOTE These scenarios can happen on PHP applications running with Web Apps for Containers as well - the resolution to these may be diffirent, but the concepts are the same

A 404 due to a HTTP 500:

NGINX may show a 404 while application logging indicates a HTTP 5xx was actually returned.

Ultimately, this is due to the fact that the error_page directive in NGINX’s default.conf returns a non existent /50x.html when HTTP 5xx’s are returned.

error_page   500 502 503 504  /50x.html;
location = /50x.html {
   root   /html/;

This is called out in this public blog post - PHP configuration: Customizing NGINX’s error page handling - which includes other ways to pass the “real” error through to the client - or ways to configure the error_page directive.

When an application returns a HTTP 5xx, typically, that configured error page by NGINX would be returned to the user - however, since that doesn’t exist - it is actually returned as a HTTP 404 to the user.


It is important to confirm and understand if the 404’s we’re seeing from NGINX is actually due to an application-level issue or not - this can be confirmed by enabling App Service Logging and then reviewing application logs. A common example may be:

  • An application encountering an error, but a non-fatal one, on startup - eg., a missing APP_KEY with Laravel
  • A request made to the site - app logic returns a 500

If App Service Logging is enabled - but debug mode is not enabled - the logging may only just show this - and not anything like a error/callstack written to stdout/err:

(Laravel - without debug mode) -  21/Jun/2023:16:56:15 +0000 "GET /index.php" 500

(Laravel - with debug mode)

[2023-12-01 18:42:59] local.ERROR: No application encryption key has been specified. {"exception":"[object] (Illuminate\\Encryption\\MissingAppKeyException(code: 0): No application encryption key has been specified. at /home/site/wwwroot/vendor/laravel/framework/src/Illuminate/Encryption/EncryptionServiceProvider.php:101)

NOTE: Laravel stores logs in /home/site/wwwroot/strorage - if you don’t see them logged in default_docker.log - check this log location instead

If this is the case, you should enable debug mode/logging - this may also depend entirely on the application and framework used (if any).

  • Laravel: See configuration:
    • Set APP_DEBUG as an App Setting to true
  • Yii: See debug mode
    • Set YII_DEBUG as an App Setting to true

If the application is configured to write to stdout/err - this should now appear in default_docker.log.

A 404 due to a missing file or unmapped route:

If it’s determined the 404 is truly just due to a missing file (eg., static files like images, .js, etc.) ensure these files actually exist on the file system. Sometimes, if these files are in locations not directly relative to the file requesting it - and the function referencing it has a relative value instead of absolute - this could cause a “file not found” issue.

There are more rare occurrences of a file being in use - such as having an open handle by another process - and it trying to be operated on (eg., CRUD) - which may throw back the equivalent of file not found (or access denied).

For .js files that may be apart of Front-Ends, like using Vue, React, Angular, or others (being served as production builds to PHP - eg., Laravel and Yii, etc.) - ensure these are on the file system. If not, then the frontends for these may not be built during deployment. Check if npm run build or yarn run build is expected to be ran - or if the production build folder is set in a .gitignore.

For 404’s due to endpoints not mapped to controllers - check the source code to ensure these endpoints actually exist in their codebase. This will also depend on the framework used (if any). If a framework is not used, then ensure the relevant .php file requested exists on the file system. This should be tested locally prior to deployment.

404 due to misconfiguration:

HTTP 404’s can come back from NGINX if site root does not match where the application root is. This is defined in the default.conf file under sites-available with the root directive.

A common theme is with frameworks again - such as Laravel and Yii - where the application is served out of /public/ or /web/ - which would equate to /home/site/wwwwroot/public or /home/site/wwwroot/web - whereas NGINX’s default root is /home/site/wwwroot.

The below blog posts cover how to update NGINX to properly set root for applications that don’t serve directly from wwwroot: