How to Turn Off (Disable) Road Runner’s 404 Hijacking/Interception


Sometime on February 26th, I noticed my ISP, Road Runner (Time Warner cable) started hijacking or intercepting bad DNS requests. In non-geek speak, it means when I typed in some web address that wasn’t registered, instead of seeing my browser’s default 404 page I saw this:

road runner 404 hijack page

I’ve said in the past, when Kevin Ham did the same thing for any .cm address, that it was a brilliant idea from a business perspective. And, I think Road Runner / Time Warner cable is smart to do it with us here as well. It’s going to generate them some big bucks thanks to their partnership with Yahoo for the ads you’ll be clicking on. But, for some reason, I really hate their page. It honestly sucks.

So, I turned it off. I disabled it.

If you have the same issue and don’t like it, you can disable that setting too. Here’s how. Go to http://ww23.rr.com/prefs.php and choose “Disable” for the option labeled “Web Address Error Redirect Service: This preference allows you to opt in or out of Road Runner’s non-existing domain landing service.” Then click the “Save” button.

Voila. Done.

UPDATE: According to Jed, who commented below, Time Warner has modified this process…

TW seems to have changed the path to the options page. Just go to this link, http://ww23.rr.com/index.php, then click on the “Opt out of this service” link on the right to get to your preferences page.

UPDATE: Now, according to Jay, who also commented below, the urls mentioned in this post are no longer working. If you find working urls, please feel free to let us know so we can update this post for the betterment of all humanity (who uses RR/Time Warner). Thanks.

Thanks so much for the new info Jed. You’re awesome.


Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

59 Comments on "How to Turn Off (Disable) Road Runner’s 404 Hijacking/Interception"

  1. ThePete says:

    Thanks for this post, Nate!

    You’re right–it’s a great strategy for making more money. However, I have issues with a company I’m already paying throwing ads in my face so they can make more money off of me. It’s like buying a movie ticket and then having to sit through 10 minutes of commercials you’ve seen on TV before you get to the trailers. Not as bad, but not dissimilar.

    So, thanks for passing this tip on–I’ll be sure to reblog it, linking back here, of course. :)

    Where did you find out about opting out?

  2. nate says:

    No problem Pete. I found out about it via my all knowing, always on connection to the wide world of intrawebs. Ok, so it was Slashdot.

  3. I knew the more than double increased speeds (for both uploads and downloads) would have a catch!

    It’s good that they’re letting people turn it off…but I doubt a majority of people will.

  4. ThePete says:

    Double increased speeds?? Daniel, I’m happy for you, but I’m experiencing slower downloads and even slower-than-usual uploads. :(

  5. I Googled ‘Road Runner 404’ specifically to find the answer you’ve just provided me with. Thank you! It is a smart move on Time Warner’s part but I can’t help but feel like they’re being slimy bastards at the same time. Disabled!

  6. nate says:

    Brenda, thanks for letting me know how you found me. That’s really important for me to know. I see it’s important to you, being an SEO person also.

    Glad I could be helpful. Cheers!

  7. TW employee says:

    I work at TW and think it’s hugely annoying, though of course I understand why they’re (um, we’re) doing it. I’ve disabled it thanks to your tip and will be passing it along!

  8. TW employee says:

    PS I also googled, using: “Road Runner can’t find website error.” Hooray for SEO!

  9. Chris says:

    It’s a fine model to get some additional revenue, but that page was coming up, very frequently, when I tried to go to perfectly valid websites. That page loaded for me when I tried to go to http://www.amazon.com and http://www.downloadsquad.com.

    At that point, it goes from a reasonable way to display ads, to a potentially dishonest way to drive traffic and interrupt service. I’d hope it was just their DNS servers being flaky, but then I have to wonder why I’m giving them $50 of my money every month.

  10. glowdark says:

    I keep disabling it…. it keeps turning on.
    Any one know how to KEEP it OFF?
    ‘call Road Runner and their tech-s ‘know nothing’
    Thanks

  11. nate says:

    I haven’t seen that problem, nor a solution Glowdark. Sorry. Do let us know if you find something that works though.

  12. Chris says:

    Glowdark,

    One solution would be to start using an alternative DNS, instead of the one RoadRunner provides. OpenDNS is one option I believe (I haven’t set one up myself yet)

    Check out their site for more information: http://www.opendns.com/homenetwork/solutions

  13. nate says:

    Great idea Chris. Well played. ;)

  14. glowdark says:

    Thanks for the suggestion. Maybe I should have mentioned I have 3 computers on the same cable internet access but only one of the computers has this issue occur. They are all Win XP Pro same virus software etc…. So for it to happen on only one of them puzzles me. I have even tried different ports on router …(101,102…)
    NOTE: I never loaded the software they-roadrunner gave me

  15. nate says:

    Then the problem most likely is that you have the DNS information cached in your machine.

    It would be a good idea to flush the local DNS cache so we are starting with a clean sheet.

    To do this simply enter: ipconfig /flushdns in a command prompt. You will then get the following window appear confirming the flush,

  16. Katie says:

    I have RoadRunner and found this thing to be horribly annoying, as it flagrantly violates the HTTP standard (and screwed up one of my Python scripts in the process). Thanks much for the tip!

    Disabled!

  17. nate says:

    My pleasure Katie. Glad I could help.

  18. Chris says:

    Thanks Nate–didn’t even think about disabling that feature :)

  19. Fernando says:

    That was good, I really needed to disable that, it creeped me out.

  20. Entrepreneur says:

    I’ve checked a few blogs that had articles about this problem with Road Runner hijacking 404 errors and any of the links to disable in your preferences are no longer working.

    Does anybody know how to get rid of this once and for all without requiring opendns?

  21. Jed says:

    TW seems to have changed the path to the options page. Just go to this link, http://ww23.rr.com/index.php, then click on the “Opt out of this service” link on the right to get to your preferences page.

  22. nate says:

    Jed, thanks for the update. I’ve updated the post with your instructions… You’re awesome!

  23. John says:

    San Diego RR — See Glowdark’s comment above

    Some months ago I was experiencing more and more delays on page switches with my link-clicks in normal surfing. From other indications, it was clear that it was my ISP (RR) inserting the delays and not the destination servers.

    I switched to “Open DNS” (google it – it’s free, no downloads, simple) by following their simple instructions (for WinXP, in my case, but instructions for all types) and by-passed the Road Runner domain name server altogether (It’s not necessary to use RRs domain name server).

    Since then, my links and switches have been lightning fast and there, is of course, no problems with RR’s domain “landing service” or their lame DNS at all.

    Now that the words getting out, you all will probably crowd it up and drag it down but, what the hey, I’ve learned a lot from you too – happy surfing.

    BTW, RR service in SD is seriously deteriorating over the last several months with slower download speeds, more and more drop outs during the day, and a several hour outage last Sunday.

  24. jay says:

    Thanks for the ipconfig/flushdns recommendation by Nate. This road runner shit hihacked my home page settings and even when I changed it back it wouldnt let me get back to my preferred home page when launching IE. What a piece of #$%^&*(, . took an HOUR out of my day the Mother #$%^&*,

    FYI the url sites at the beginning of this blog no longer work.

    I HATE Road RUNNER and if I ever met the F##K who scripted this execution He/She whould need a dentist

  25. nate says:

    Hmm.. if anyone finds out what the new urls are (if they do have new urls), please say so and I’ll update the post.

    Thanks for letting us know Jay.

  26. Grim says:

    now you just have to go to http://ww23.rr.com/index.php and on the very top, to the right of the yahoo logo, it says “Why am I here?” click that and then the description will pop up, and in that click preferences.

  27. Taximes says:

    Nice, I’ve hated that page for awhile now but didn’t realize it could be disabled.

  28. bigghands says:

    Geez, where do I start. I went thru the same issues with browser redirection to the ISP (cash cow) Search page so many times I can’t count.

    Earthlink does it !
    Verizon does it !
    Road Runner does it !
    and yes….
    Freakin’ OpenDNS does the same damn thing !

    Simple solution. (learned thru very, very, much intelligent searching). Use alternative free DNS servers (they are available, believe it or not) You can spend hours and hours scouring the net like I did….or just input the fastest free ones I found:

    Level 3 DNS Servers:

    4.2.2.1
    4.2.2.2
    4.2.2.3
    4.2.2.4
    4.2.2.5
    4.2.2.6

    Just do a quick search on google on how to manually change your DNS Server settings to any two of the previous settings above (if I can do it, it aint that hard !).

    If this helps just one person not have to deal with Road Runner BS, than it was worth it.

    Cheers !

    bigghands

  29. Jade says:

    thank you SO MUCH!! i just got road runner a few weeks ago and that was driving me crazy!! plus i was so used to just typing in urls without .com because my old isp automatically added it so i would get that non-existing page 90% of the time. the prefs fixed both of those problems!!

  30. Anonymous says:

    Actually, you dont need a secret link. At the bottom of the redirect page there is an “opt in or out of this service” link that takes you directly to the page.

    see http://naterocks.com/2008/04/17/opt-out-of-the-new-roadrunner-web-error-redirection-service/

  31. ozc says:

    Jade you can get .com by pressing ctrl+enter after you typed the site name.
    shift+enter gives you .net
    I forget the .org shortcut… Either way RR can kiss it.

  32. Jeff says:

    I’m having the same problem Chris did last March. It’s happening even when I type in perfectly fine urls. INCLUDING when I simply type something into my firefox google search bar. I really hate to think Time Warner is taking advantage but I have also noticed them downgrading certain elements of my cable service and have already suggested to friends they are trying to cut costs. Times are tough, but bad service is a certain road to demise.

  33. Javier Rodriguez says:

    This link worked for me:

    http://ww23.rr.com/index.php?view=prefs

  34. Alanna says:

    None of the links provided worked for me, however, the “Opt in or out of this service” link all the way at the bottom right did.

    Thank you, Jed and Anonymous! And thank you Nate for posting this to get the comments. Drives me crazy!

  35. Joey2250 says:

    The correct address for RoadRunner’s Preferences is

    http://ww23.rr.com/index.php?view=prefs

    verified working as of 2/19/10

  36. knoid says:

    I was over at a friend’s house and was annoyed by the RR search page coming up when I typo’ed a URL. I plugged “disable roadrunner search page on dns failure” into Google and your page was top of the list.

    Thanks for the information – the link posted by the last few users (http://ww23.rr.com/index.php?view=prefs) worked very nicely indeed!

  37. ShariLee says:

    Thank you so much. That RR search page has been bothering me for awhile now.

  38. Emma says:

    So, I’ve changed my preferences on the opt-in/out page about four times now. It keeps resetting itself to “enabled” within a few days. Anyone else having the same issue?

  39. Ray says:

    Those RoadRunner Preferences only store your settings in a cookie on your machine, so if you “opt-out” and then clear your cookies, you will have to set them again.

    Even if you “opt-out”, RR is still tracking your every move on the Internet.

    You can thank your government for making this legal, even when it is done behind your back.

  40. Ty says:

    Emma,

    Same problem–I’m also a mac user. I keep having to disable and it keeps resetting itself. So frustrating–so many lost URLs…

  41. jeremy says:

    When you hit their hijacked page, scroll down. On the lower right is an “opt in or out of this service link.”

  42. It doesn’t matter how many times you opt-out, if you restart your computer or delete your cookies, the Hijack of your DNS will re-occur/come back.

    That’s because the brilliant minds at TW know that keeping a cookie on your system for eternity is highly unlikely. And they bank on this. Did I mention they bank on this? They make thousands off of us users with their monetized search page.

    Oh what’s that, you clicked one of the suggested search results? Cha-Ching.

  43. Len says:

    This is surely a terrible business practice and merits a more vocal response from consumers.I would not mind receiving a portion of my paid fees back since my purchase of the service was unwittingly being subsidized by third parities. At the very least we as consumers should be fully informed of the facts when we first enter a contract for the service. As far as I am concerned this is a legal tort and merits a remedy. Does anyone know if there is a basis for initiating a class-action lawsuit here?

  44. marzekiel says:

    I have disabled this several times. I simplydoesn’t work. Huntersville Web Design is correct that disable seems to disappear with a reboot.

    I just get POd at TW / Brighthouse. Sadly, they’re the only cable game in town. I’m desperate for Verizon FIOS but that ain’t happening.

    If only I could turn off the “they shouldn’t inconvenience me” to “everyone has to make an extra buck” but I haven’t evolved to that high a level.

    Can Firefox or something else BLOCK this hijack?

  45. I took the advice of one poster, and repaired my connection to clear DNS cache. This fixed it once I had change the parameter on the provided link.

    -Tres

  46. enkido says:

    To opt out or change preferences go to very bottom of page (center of screen in gray). Click on Disable button on next screen. Reload your brower.

    I’m sure we’ll have to keep doing this for a few months/years but at least its a temporary solution from the creepy RR/TW monster.

  47. matt says:

    i got the prefs on this page and was able to disable this feature.

    http://dnssearch2.rr.com/prefs.php

    hope it works for you all. I was not pleased that they snuck that in on me.

  48. Jeff says:

    A solution I use to avoid 404 high-jacking is Google’s Public DNS.

    http://code.google.com/speed/public-dns/docs/using.html

  49. adam says:

    As of Jan 2, 2012 using this address will take you directly to the page where you can select “Disable” – http://ww23.rr.com/index.php?view=prefs

    I do not know how RR tracks this – is it by modem ID, IP address, or what? if it is by IP address then you will have to “Disable” everytime your computer gets assigned a different IP. Per my testing it is not due to Cookies.

    Someone mentioned using Google’s Public DNS. I would strongly disagree. Google already gathers enough data on everyone that it is foolish to also give them a complete record of your entire internet activities.

  50. Mary says:

    I sent an email to “report abuse” telling them that I am paying $$ for their service and that I want to
    opt out of their ads. I also told them it is an invasion of my privacy. This is what they said:
    “Dear Road Runner Subscriber,
    Thank you for contacting Road Runner Abuse. Your feedback is extremely important
    to us as we are always striving to improve our services.
    In order to provide the best possible High-Speed Internet service and offer new
    products at no cost, we have a limited amount of advertising on the Road Runner Webmail website. This advertising is often hosted and screened by third-parties to ensure all industry standards for Internet advertising are upheld.
    We do our best to always provide first rate products and offers that our subscribers may find useful so we can continue to offer free products such as our webmail, security suite,
    parental controls, radio and games.
    Unfortunately, there is presently no way to opt out of the advertisement in Road
    Runner Webmail.”

    Thank you for taking the time to contact Road Runner.

    – Road Runner Abuse [MAS]

  51. JC says:

    It goes deeper than turning it off with TWC or using a different DNS…. What brought me here is that I was at a customer’s house helping with their new Cable Modem and it hadn’t been activated so it redirected to that stupid ap_index page… I left to straighten it out at the local office because their call center was backed up and stopped by somewhere else that has DSL and it won’t let go… it wont stop… I can only get certain sites to come up, anything that doesn’t have a specific page attached to it eg http://www.yahoo.com, will come back as this and subsequently give a page not found error because that particular site doen’t host a /ap_index page… this should be considered viral activity as it is maliciously redirecting my web requests even after I’ve left their domain entirely. I’m thinking of sueing them for lost use to be quite honest.

  52. Aaron says:

    this is the new address, http://www.dnsrsearch.com/prefs.php
    it’s actually easy to find and kind of prominent on the new site which is nice of them

  53. J W says:

    The AP_index error is due to cached browsing history, not due to anything TWC does. I fix this problem several times a week, whether swapping a TWC modem for another TWC modem, or going to/from a customer owned modem. Every time without fail, clearing browsing history (without preserving favorites when its IE), closing the browser, restarting the browser, voila customer is once again able to browse whichever website was giving the ap_index error, whether it’s Google, Yahoo, or Facebook.

  54. matteosaeed says:

    Found a new solution just so you would know, incase, if someone popped here looking for that

    go to dnsrsearch.com
    then preference, then disable “Inactive”

  55. Bruce says:

    As of Dec 2015, Time Warner is ignoring your settings to DNS redirect service. It has been doing this for about 6 months as of Dec 2015. I have mine set to Disable/inactive, and it still redirects. I am going to explore options, I suspect I will have to manually assign a DNS server and put a block on ‘www.dnsresearch.com’ on my router.

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