How to Fix a 403 Error and What It Means

Hamzah Fansyuri

How to Fix a 403 Error and What It Means
How to Fix a 403 Error and What It Means

A 403 error can be an irritating disruption to anyone’s day; depending on the impacted page, it may even result in frustrated website visitors and lost traffic and income. Suppose you (or a visitor to your site) receive an unexpected 403. In that case, it’s important to investigate the problem right away in case it’s an indication of a more significant problem with your website.

Since most websites are configured to limit directory surfing to safeguard critical data, you can see a 403 forbidden error while visiting a website directory or page with restricted permissions. However, in other circumstances, 403 errors might be a sign of compromise due to malware that is either malicious or ineffective or a website .htaccess file that is broken.

The various sorts of 403 prohibited errors, their potential causes, and detailed instructions on how to troubleshoot and fix these issues so that your website can resume operation are covered in this article.

  • How do 403 errors work?
  • What distinguishes 403 errors from other 4xx failures?
  • Why do 403 errors occur?
  • On my website, how can I fix a 403 error?
  • How do 403 errors work?

The client-side error HTTP 403 Forbidden indicates that the server has received and comprehended the request but is unable to authorize it.

An illustration of a website error code 403.

Typical 403 error message.

When a user lacks the required authorization to access a certain web page or resource on a web server, a 403 Forbidden: you don’t have permission to access this resource problem frequently happens. Instead of being a user-side issue, this error typically relates to the website itself.

There are many different types of 400 errors, but they all have the same meaning. Here are a few examples of 400 faults that your browser could display:

  • 403 Unauthorized
  • HTTP 403
  • Error 403: Unauthorized Access
  • Error 403
  • 403 Forbidden error
  • You don’t have authorization to access [directory] on this server, so access is forbidden.
  • Forbidden

These are a few of the numerous messages you might see when a 403 error occurs. Some websites even have their own unique 403 errors.

What distinguishes 403 errors from other 4xx failures?

We’ve detailed a few of the typical types of 4xx answers you can see on your site so you can distinguish between basic 400 failures and different kinds of client-side problems.

  • A 400 bad request error. This means that the client’s data or improperly formatted syntax prevented the server from processing the request.
  • Error code 401: Unauthorized. This indicates that the request has to be authenticated and that the client has either given false or inadequate access credentials.
  • Error 402: Payment is necessary. This error code, albeit not frequently used, indicates that payment is necessary in order to access the requested resource.
  • Error code 403: Forbidden. Even if they have been authenticated, the client does not have the right to access the requested resource.
  • Error code 404: Not Found. The most common reasons for this are that the URL is invalid or the requested resource has been deleted. The requested resource could not be located on the server.
  • Method not allowed, 405 error. The provided resource does not support the HTTP method used in the request.
  • Error code 406: Unacceptable. The server’s response cannot meet the conditions set by the client in the request headers.
  • Proxy authentication is necessary, 407 error. This status code, which is similar to a 401 error, signifies that the client must first authenticate with the proxy server before accessing the requested resource.
  • Timeout 408 error: Request. The client failed to submit a full request within the permitted time window, according to the server.
  • Error 409: Conflict. Because of a conflict with the resource’s existing condition, the requested operation could not be carried out.
  • Error 410: Gone. The server no longer has the requested resource, and it has been permanently deleted.
  • Error 411: Required length. The request for the specified resource must include a valid Content-Length header, according to the server.
  • The precondition failed, code 412. The server still needs to satisfy one or more of the preconditions that the client set in the request headers.

Except for a 400 error, the majority of client-side problems include explicit status responses that can help you identify the problem and fix it.

Why do 403 errors occur?

There are numerous causes of 403 Forbidden errors. The following are some of the most typical causes of a 403 error:

Most websites are configured to forbid directory browsing in order to protect critical information or prohibit access to restricted regions.

Incorrect file or folder permissions: If access to resources has been restricted by incorrectly setting or changing permissions, visitors may not be able to see the contents of the website.

Corrupt. htaccess file: 403 errors may appear after making modifications to the file or as a result of corrupted or incorrect settings in the.htaccess file.

Problems with WordPress plugins: A WordPress plugin that is maliciously infected, incorrectly configured, or incompatible with another plugin might result in 403 errors.

Missing index page: The index.html, index.php, default.asp, index.htm, and index.shtml files on the web server are not your website’s homepage.

Domain name points to a wrong IP address, which needs to be more accurate.

Infection with malware: Some malware infestations are infamous for resulting in 403 errors on hacked websites.

Users are prohibited from accessing specific portions of a website when they receive a 403 error, which may appear when they arrive at a webpage with a permission error or an empty website directory. Therefore, it is crucial to fix these mistakes as quickly as possible to guarantee a positive customer experience and preserve the website’s reputation.

On my website, how can I fix a 403 error?

Sometimes, the simplest remedies can address the most challenging issues, particularly when dealing with 403 errors on your website. Let’s start with the fundamentals and thoroughly examine each phase.

Until the problem is fixed, keep going in the order of events.

1. Check the address, then reload the page.

When you see a 403 error, you should first double-check the URL you’re attempting to access. An improper URL or incorrectly entered address is a frequent reason for 403 errors. Make sure the address is accurate and leads to the right resource. You might get a 403 error if the address points to a directory rather than a single web page since certain web servers might limit direct access to directories.

Try reloading the page (F5/Ctrl + F5) if that doesn’t work. Despite being straightforward, it frequently works to alleviate momentary problems. Your request was handled during a brief server outage, in which case simply refreshing the page might fix the issue.

2. the cache of your browser

By saving static resources like images, scripts, and stylesheets in your browser cache, you can reduce the time it takes for websites to load. However, occasionally, inconsistencies between a page’s cached and actual versions can happen, resulting in problems like the 403 Forbidden error.

Clear the cache in your browser to fix this problem. When you take this step, your browser will be compelled to download the most recent version of the website directly from the server.

Check the page once more to see whether the issue has been fixed after clearing your cache. By loading the URL with an extra variable, such as You can make sure you are not viewing a cached version of the website’s page. no-cache

3. change the permissions on your files and directories

The read, write, and execute access for each file and folder on the server hosting your website is controlled by specific file permissions. Each digit in the three-digit number representing these permissions denotes the level of permission for the owner, group, and others.

Sometimes, file permissions may be erroneously set or mistakenly updated, resulting in a 403 Forbidden error. You must make an FTP/SFTP connection to your server and check the file permissions on your website in order to fix this problem.

For a WordPress website, the recommended file permissions are:

: 644 or 640 files

755 or 750 in the directories

440 or 400 in wp-config.php

For your WordPress site’s file permissions, follow these steps:

Use an SFTP client to connect to your server.

Go to the root directory of your website (typically called www or public_html).

Choose File Permissions or Properties from the context menu when you find the files and folders that need their permissions changed.

If you need to update the rights, do so, and make sure to do so recursively if you’re changing folder permissions.

4. Do a software check for newly installed or updated versions.

Look into whether any recently upgraded or installed software on your website failed to upgrade or install. Check the vendor’s website for precise instructions on how to update your software.

Additionally, you should check your website for any brand-new or untested plugins or themes. If you discover anything unexpected, this can point to a compromised situation.

Continue your research to identify:

What is the unfamiliar component or software is

How long has it been set up on your website?

Whether it is true or not

Remove any components that appear suspicious and do a virus scan on your website.

Important information: Attackers frequently check for known vulnerabilities in obsolete and improperly maintained plugins, themes, and other components. Maintain the most recent security patches on your software at all times to reduce risk and defend against robotic attacks.

5. Examine your .htaccess file.

The Apache web server uses the .htaccess file as a configuration file to manage several parts of your website, including redirection, access controls, and performance enhancements. A 403 Forbidden error can be brought on by mistakes in the .htaccess file, such as erroneous syntax or inconsistencies in the rules. Allow/deny rules that are poorly configured are the most frequent cause of such issues. Some malware kinds are known to apply unwanted refuse rules to arbitrary folders.

It would help if you started from the level where you received the 403 error and looked for .htaccess files in every directory up to the root because .htaccess files can be placed in any directory, and their directives affect all subdirectories.

If you use cPanel, you can try the procedures below to solve the problem:

Visit the File Manager on your cPanel.

Find your .htaccess file by going to the public_html directory. If this problem only occurs for one directory, see if that directory has a.htaccess file.

In the cPanel file manager, right-click the file and choose Download a copy to backup.

You can right-click the file once more and choose Delete once you’ve made sure that your .htaccess file has a backup copy.

To determine if the 403 issue has been fixed, check your website. If your website is functioning as it should now, your .htaccess file is corrupted, and you must create a new one.

To create a new .htaccess file for your website, log into your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > Permalinks, and then click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

6. Turn off your plugins.

Your website may experience 403 Forbidden problems as a result of faulty or mismatched plugins. You must first deactivate all of your plugins before reactivating each one one at a time. After each activation, you must verify your website to determine if the error has returned.

The procedures below can help you troubleshoot your components if you are unable to enter your WordPress dashboard to deactivate your plugins:

Restore a copy of your website.

Use SFTP to connect to your server.

Go to the wp-content directory.

To deactivate all of the plugins on your site at once, rename the plugins folder to something like plugins-disabled.

Look for problems on your website. If the error no longer occurs, a plugin was probably the root of the problem.

Rename the folder back to plugins, then reactivate each plugin one at a time while inspecting your website after each one to identify the troublesome element.

Update or remove the plugin as necessary after the offender has been found.

7. Indefinitely turn off your CDN

If your assets (images, JavaScript, and CSS) are returning 403 errors, there may be a problem with your content delivery network (CDN). Due to incorrect setups or security restrictions, CDNs occasionally restrict access to specific resources.

Temporarily turn off the CDN and revisit your site to see whether it is the source of the issue. You can re-enable your CDN to continue taking advantage of its performance benefits after the problem has been fixed.

8. Check for configuration concerns with hotlink protection.

Hotlink security stops other websites from directly connecting to your files and utilizing your server’s bandwidth. Unauthorized requests often receive a 403 prohibited error when hotlink security is activated. Hotlink protection that has been configured incorrectly, however, can also deny valid requests and result in 403 errors.

Review your hotlink protection settings in your hosting control panel or CDN settings to fix the problem. Make sure that the protection is set up properly to block only unauthorized requests. Update the settings if necessary, then test your website once again to check if the issue has been fixed.

9. Switch off your VPN.

Some websites obstruct access from VPN users in order to stop the misuse or evasion of geographic limitations.

If you’re using a VPN, try turning it off and visiting the website directly or through another server your VPN service offers. Your VPN connection probably caused the 403 Forbidden issue. It goes away.

10. Check your website for viruses and security flaws.

Infected components or malware infected with .htaccess might occasionally cause 403 problems on your website. To rule out a compromise or infection as the error’s cause, you should do a thorough check of your website’s files and server.

11. Contact your hosting company

If none of the suggestions above helped you, you should ask your hosting company for help. In the event that the issue is with the server configuration or hosting infrastructure, they can assist you in identifying it, offer advice on how to fix it, and even take care of it themselves.


Although seeing a 403 error on your website might be annoying, it’s important to fix the problem right away to prevent losing important traffic and damaging your site’s reputation.

You’ll be well-equipped to eliminate these issues and get your site back on track if you have a firm understanding of the many types of 403 errors and their likely causes and adhere to the thorough troubleshooting techniques outlined in this piece. Additionally, make sure your website is constantly updated and protected against potential dangers.

You can consult our article on how to clean up a hacked website or get in touch with us for support if you’ve tried these troubleshooting procedures and believe that website malware is to blame. We’re always delighted to assist with cleaning up malware on a website.



Hamzah Fansyuri

I like reading and learning new things, especially about Blogging and Education and then applying them in my work

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