301 redirect or 404 Not found?

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Yellow Belt
Hello everyone,

If you have some old pages that you have removed from your site.
what'd you do?
Below I copied from other site.

404 Not Found Response:
  • Properly Defines the result - a missing page.
  • Validates
  • Shows up in logs so you can fix it.
  • Does not pass on PR or link weight.
  • No duplication issues.
200 OK (or 302, or 301) Response
  • Tricks the search engine into thinking all is well.
  • Does not validate, but won't break your site.
  • Does not show up as an error - harder to find.
  • Passes on PR to final page.
  • Can result in a duplication penalty.
301 can cause duplication penalty? should I leave it 404?
or leave it 404 and using metarefresh to redirect to another page?
below I copied from other site :)

The Metarefresh Problem

In some cases, people will create a custom error page that displays the error, then "helpfully" uses a metarefresh to forward the visitor to the site map, home page or some other page.
The problem with this is that each search engine treats metarefreshes differently. Yahoo, for example, treats a metarefresh of 0 as a 301, and anything larger as a 302. Most of the time, this works great. But in the case of a 404 error page with a metarefresh- what is it being treated as?
The other search engines vary widely in how they handle these. I believe that since the URL is sent to the search engine by the server as 404;http://www.mysite.com it would normally attempt to treat the page as a 404, and not look at the metarefresh, but I'm not certain if that's the case, since the metarefresh overrides the initial 200 OK for other pages in order to create the effect of a 302. There is no standardized method of dealing with this from a search engine perspective.
Bottom line, don't use a metarefresh on an error page. If the page used to exist but is somewhere else, then that's a legitimate redirect, not an error.
I recommend avoiding metarefreshes on 404 error pages if you are hoping for 404 behaviour (i.e. avoiding duplication issues).
You could use a javascript refresh/forward with no issues, however, since search engines do not execute those.
Currently I do 301 redirect all my old pages to my main page
but now.. I am not sure if it is a good way to put 301 redirect.
what do you think?
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