Table of Contents
Have you encountered a 403 Forbidden Error on WordPress? The word “Forbidden” among other common WordPress errors, sets panic in so many website owners. They feel like they’ve lost control over their website.
The 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress is one of those unwelcome surprises that can strike any user at any time. It’s like being locked out of your own digital kingdom. This “Access Denied” error can disrupt your plans, halt your website updates, and even deter visitors from accessing your content. But the good news is that our WordPress developers have researched extensively to fix the 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress effectively.
That’s what I aim to cover in this blog. I’ll try to explain to you the ‘what’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ of the 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress easily.
So, without further ado, let’s start with the what.
What is 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress?
The 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress is an HTTP status code that indicates a client (typically a web browser) attempted to access a web page or resource on a WordPress site, but the server refused to fulfill the request.
Basically, this HTTP status code communicates a clear message: You don’t have permission to access the requested resource. Imagine this as a virtual “No Entry” sign posted by the server in response to your browser’s request.
In web terminology, we recognize this error as a clear distinction between authorization and authentication. While authentication verifies your identity (usually through a username and password), authorization checks whether your authenticated self has the green light to access a specific page or file.
What triggers the WordPress 403 Forbidden Error?
Now, onto the why. The WordPress 403 Forbidden Error can be triggered by several factors, each of which relates to issues with server permissions, security settings, or configuration errors. Here’s a detailed explanation of what can trigger this error:
Incorrect File or Directory Permissions: One of the most common causes is incorrect file or directory permissions on your server. If the server’s file permissions are set too restrictively, it may deny access to certain files or directories, leading to a 403 error.
Security Plugins and Firewalls: Security plugins or server-side firewalls designed to protect your WordPress site may mistakenly block legitimate requests, assuming they are suspicious or malicious. These plugins or firewalls might block IP addresses or specific URLs, causing a 403 error for legitimate users.
Incorrect URL Configuration: If your WordPress site’s URL structure is misconfigured, it can result in a 403 error. This can happen if there are issues with the .htaccess file, the permalink settings, or the server’s rewrite rules.
Server Configuration: Server misconfigurations, such as overly strict access control rules or security settings, can also lead to a 403 Forbidden Error.
Denial of Service (DoS) Protection: Some hosting providers employ DoS protection mechanisms that can inadvertently block legitimate requests if they detect an unusually high traffic volume from a single IP address. This can trigger a 403 error.
IP Blocking: In certain cases, either server administrators or security plugins may block specific IP addresses or IP ranges intentionally or unintentionally. If your IP is blocked, you’ll receive a 403 error when trying to access the WordPress website.
Authentication Failures: Repeated failed login attempts to restricted areas of your WordPress site, such as the admin dashboard, can trigger a temporary IP block and result in a 403 error. This is a security measure to prevent unauthorized access.
Resource Limitations: In shared hosting environments, resource limitations imposed by the hosting provider can cause a 403 error if your website exceeds its allocated resources.
To resolve the WordPress 403 Forbidden Error, you’ll need to investigate and address the specific cause. This often involves checking and adjusting file permissions, reviewing and configuring security plugins or firewalls, ensuring correct URL configurations, addressing server misconfigurations, and possibly contacting your hosting provider if necessary. The exact steps will depend on the root cause of the error.
How to solve 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress?
After you have deduced the trigger behind the WordPress 403 forbidden error, you can follow one of the solution strategies accordingly. Here, we have listed 9 ways to fix the 403 forbidden error in WordPress.
#1 Verify the .htaccess File
Here’s how you can solve 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress through the .htaccess configuration file:
Step 2: Once you’re inside your site’s root directory, look for a file named “.htaccess.” This file is crucial for configuring various aspects of your WordPress site, including permalinks and redirects.
Step 3: To check if the .htaccess file is causing the 403 error, you’ll want to rename it. Right-click on the file, select “Rename,” and change its name to something like “.htaccess_old” or anything you prefer. Essentially, renaming this file removes its influence temporarily.
Step 4: After renaming the .htaccess file, try accessing your WordPress website again. If the 403 Forbidden Error was caused by a misconfiguration or rule in the .htaccess file, your site may now load correctly without the error.
Step 5: When you visit your site after renaming the .htaccess file, WordPress will detect that the file is missing and automatically generate a new one with default settings. This new file will be free from any potential issues in the old .htaccess file.
Step 6: If your site works without the error after renaming the .htaccess file, you can consider reconfiguring it. You may need to update your permalink settings or any custom rules you had in the old .htaccess file.
Start by going to the WordPress admin dashboard, navigating to “Settings” → “Permalinks,” and saving your preferred permalink structure.
If the error reappears after renaming the .htaccess file, a WordPress plugin or theme may be modifying it. In that case, we’ll investigate the issue further.
#2 Rollback to a Running Version From Your Hosting Backup
Another constant resolution for almost every WordPress error is restoring the backup. It can be an excellent way to troubleshoot the 403 forbidden error. It tells you that your website was working fine a while ago, so you can restore that version and get rid of that error.
Before proceeding with a rollback, it’s essential to establish that your website was running without issues in the recent past. If you’ve recently made significant changes, such as updating themes and plugins, or making configuration modifications, and the 403 error occurred shortly after, a rollback can be a viable solution.
Here’s how you do it.
Step 1: Reach out to the support team of the hosting provider through their customer portal, chat, or ticket system. Inform them about the 403 Forbidden Error and your intention to roll back your website to a previous working version.
Step 2: When communicating with the WordPress hosting provider, be sure to specify the date or time frame when your website was known to be running correctly.
Step 3: Before proceeding with the rollback, it’s a good practice to create a backup of your current website if possible. You can use a WordPress backup plugin, such as UpdraftPlus or your hosting provider’s backup tools for this purpose.
Step 4: After the rollback is complete, visit your website to verify if the 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress has been resolved. If the error was caused by recent changes or misconfigurations, rolling back to a known working version should eliminate the issue.
Step 5: If your website is functioning correctly after the rollback, you can start reapplying the changes that you suspect might have triggered the 403 error. Do this one change at a time, and after each change, check your website to ensure it’s still working as expected.
This cautious approach helps you identify the specific cause of the error.
Step 6: To avoid future occurrences of the 403 Forbidden Error, take steps to ensure that changes to your website, such as theme and plugin updates, are thoroughly tested in a staging environment before implementing them to your live site.
Regularly backup your site and keep plugins, themes, and WordPress itself up to date to benefit from security patches and bug fixes. Make sure you communicate with your hosting provider and take precautions to minimize the risk of data loss during the rollback process.
#3 Reset File and Directory Permissions
File and directory permissions control who can access, modify, or execute files and folders on your server. In a WordPress context, these permissions are critical for ensuring that the web server can serve your site’s content correctly.
The 403 forbidden error caused by incorrect file permissions can be resolved as mentioned below.
Step 1: To reset file and directory permissions, you’ll need to access your site’s root directory using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or your WordPress hosting provider’s file manager.
Step 2: Identify which files or directories may have incorrect file permissions that are causing the 403 error.
Common permissions for directories are 755, while files should typically have permissions set to 644.
Step 3: Use your FTP client or file manager to reset permissions for directories that might be causing the issue. Right-click on a directory, select “File Permissions” or “File Attributes” and set it to 755. Make sure to apply these changes recursively to all subdirectories if prompted.
Step 4: Similarly, reset permissions for individual files that might be problematic. Right-click on a file, select “File Permissions” or “Change Permissions,” and set it to 644.
Step 5: After resetting permissions, visit your WordPress site to check if the 403 Forbidden Error has been resolved. If incorrect permissions were indeed the cause, your site should load without issues.
If resetting permissions doesn’t resolve the issue, you may want to double-check specific directories or files that are known to be sensitive, such as the wp-config.php file. This file should typically have permissions set to 600.
To prevent future 403 errors related to the file permission, avoid changing it or the ownership settings without a clear understanding of their implications. Be cautious when using plugins or scripts that modify permissions, and regularly update your WordPress core, themes, and plugins to benefit from security enhancements and bug fixes.
#4 Disable WordPress Plugins
Deactivating the plugins is one of the best ways to solve 403 forbidden error in WordPress. Let’s see how this process goes.
Step 1: Log into your WordPress admin dashboard with your website credentials.
Step 2: Once you’re logged in, go to the “Plugins” section located in the left-hand sidebar of your WordPress dashboard. This is where you can manage and deactivate plugins.
Step 3: Tick the checkbox at the top to select all plugins or manually select each one. Then, choose “Deactivate” from the “Bulk Actions” dropdown menu and click the “Apply” button.
After deactivating all plugins, visit your website to see if the 403 Forbidden Error has been resolved. If it has, it means that one or more of your plugins were likely causing the issue.
Step 4: Now, to identify the specific plugin causing the error, reactivate your plugins one at a time, and after each activation, check your website. This process helps you pinpoint the problematic plugin.
Let’s say you have identified that the problem behind the 403 forbidden error is a plugin conflict. Then you will have three options:
- Check for Plugin Updates: Outdated plugins can sometimes cause compatibility issues. Ensure that the problematic plugin is up to date. If not, update it and check if the error is resolved.
- Look for Alternatives: If the plugin causing the error is not essential or if you find it consistently problematic, consider looking for alternative plugins that serve the same purpose.
- Contact the Plugin Developer: If the plugin is critical to your website but it’s causing the 403 error, get in touch with the plugin’s developer or support team. They may be able to provide guidance on how to solve 403 forbidden error in WordPress or release a fix for the same.
You can also opt for our WordPress plugin development services. Our experts will analyze the plugin and try to improve it to solve 403 forbidden error in WordPress.
If you want to prevent the 403 error due to a plugin conflict, make sure you install the WordPress plugins only from trusted sources, regularly update them, and keep the number of plugins installed on the website to as minimum as possible.
#5 Upload an Index Page
An index page, often called “index.php”, serves as the default landing page for a directory on a web server. So when someone accesses a directory without specifying a particular file in the URL (e.g., “www.yourwebsite.com/my-directory/”), the server looks for an index page to display.
Here’s how you can fix the 403 forbidden error in WordPress by uploading an index page.
Step 1: Access your WordPress root directory through an FTP client or host’s file manager.
Step 2: Now, either use an existing index page (from a previous backup or template) or create a new one using a text or code editor like Notepad or Visual Studio Code. The index page should be saved as “index.php”.
Step 3: Use the FTP client or host file manager to locate the directory where you’re encountering the 403 Forbidden Error (it could be the root directory or a particular subdirectory). Then, upload the index page to that directory.
If there’s already an index file in that directory, consider replacing it with the new one.
Step 4: After uploading the index page, visit your website and check if the 403 Forbidden Error has been resolved. If it hasn’t, maybe the issue is related to the .htaccess misconfigurations or security settings.
Regularly check your WordPress website’s directory structure to ensure that essential index pages are in place, especially if you’ve made changes to your server or site structure. And be cautious when altering server configurations or directory permissions. These changes tend to directly impact how your index page functions.
#6 Edit File Ownership
File ownership of WordPress websites refers to the user and group associated with files and directories on your server. Correct file ownership is crucial for proper server operation and can impact who can access, modify, or execute those files and directories.
Step 1: First, identify which files or directories may have incorrect ownership settings that are causing the 403 error. Common files to check include the core WordPress files, such as “index.php” and “wp-config.php,” as well as directories like the “wp-content” folder.
Step 2: To edit file ownership, access your WordPress site’s root directory using FTP or hosting’s file manager.
Step 3: Check the ownership settings (they may vary depending on the server configuration). Make sure the user and group ownership match the user under which the web server (like Apache or Nginx) runs.
You can often find this information in your hosting account details or by contacting your hosting provider’s support.
Step 4: Locate the files or directories with incorrect ownership settings. Right-click on the file or directory. Then select “File Permissions” or “Change Permissions”. Then, look for an option to change the owner or group.
Check your server configurations and change the owner and group to the correct values.
Step 5: After editing file ownership settings, visit your website to check if the 403 Forbidden Error has been resolved.
This method should solve 403 forbidden error in WordPress if the issue was caused by the file ownership settings. But if this 403 error persists, I recommend you hire dedicated WordPress developers. They have the skills and resources to take care of this issue effectively.
#7 Verify the A Record
An A record, or Address record, is a DNS record type that maps a domain name to an IP address. In the context of a 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress, verifying the A record involves ensuring that your domain name correctly points to the IP address of your web server.
Here’s how you can try and fix the 403 forbidden error in WordPress by verifying the A record.
Step 1: First off, access your domain registrar’s control panel, where you manage the DNS settings.
Step 2: Inside the DNS settings, locate the section labeled “DNS Management”, “DNS Settings”, or maybe something similar.
Step 3: Review the A record associated with your domain name and see if the record points to the correct IP of your web server. (the correct IP can be obtained from the host provider’s account.)
Step 4: If the A record is incorrect or outdated, you’ll need to update it. Edit the A record to ensure it reflects the correct IP address of your web server. But be careful when making these changes. Incorrect DNS settings can disrupt your website’s accessibility.
Note: DNS changes may take some time to propagate across the internet. This propagation time can vary, but it typically ranges from a few minutes to 48 hours. During this period, users might still experience the 403 error if their DNS caches haven’t been updated.
Step 5: After updating the A record or verifying its correctness, visit your website to check if the 403 Forbidden Error has been resolved. If the DNS records are accurate, your domain should correctly point to your web server, allowing visitors to access your site.
In some cases, users might still encounter the 403 error due to cached DNS information on their devices or internet service providers. So, I advise you to clear the DNS cache or wait for the cache to expire naturally.
Make sure you regularly review your DNS settings and keep them up to date, especially if you make changes to your hosting environment or domain registration. Timely updates and accurate DNS records help ensure seamless access to your WordPress site.
#8 Scan for Malware
As you may already know, malware can harm, exploit, or compromise computer systems, including websites. It can also lead to issues like the 403 Forbidden Error. But don’t worry; you can take care of it via the following process:
Step 2: Perform a full site scan using the tool or plugin. That involves inspecting all files, directories, and database entries on your website for any signs of malware or suspicious activity.
Step 3: After the scan is complete, review the detailed report by the tool to identify any detected malware or potential security issues.
Step 4: If the scan identifies malware or suspicious files, take action to remove or quarantine them. Most malware scanning tools offer options to clean infected files automatically or guide you through the process of manual removal.
Step 5: After removing the malware, make sure to implement additional WordPress security techniques to prevent future infections.
That includes regularly updating the WordPress core, plugins, and themes, strengthening the login credentials, limiting login attempts, installing firewall, and more.
Step 6: Now, test your WordPress website again to see if it has fixed the 403 forbidden error.
If the malware scan doesn’t resolve the 403 error, or if you’re unsure about dealing with the malware yourself, consider seeking assistance from a WordPress development company. Their expertise with website security optimization can help solve 403 forbidden error in WordPress.
#9 Clear Your Web History/Cache
This quick fix is for the website owners as well as the users. When you use a browser for WordPress development, it stores a cache of the web pages, images, and other resources from your website. The purpose is to speed up subsequent visits to those websites by loading cached content instead of downloading everything again.
Step 1: Access the browser settings and look for an option to clear your browsing history. This action will remove records of websites you’ve visited, cookies, and cached content.
You can typically select the time range for which you want to clear history (e.g., the last hour, day, week, or all history).
Step 2: After clearing your browser’s history and cache, close and reopen your web browser to ensure that the changes take effect.
Step 3: Once your browser is reopened, visit your WordPress site to check if the 403 Forbidden Error has been resolved.
Step 4: If you’re still encountering the error after clearing your browser cache, try accessing your site in “Incognito” mode (Google Chrome) or “Private Browsing” mode (Firefox). This mode doesn’t use cached data, allowing you to see the website as a first-time visitor.
You may also try to clear the WordPress cache to solve 403 forbidden error in WordPress effectively.
I recommend you encourage your website visitors to periodically clear their browser cache if they encounter issues on your site. Additionally, optimize your WordPress site’s caching settings to ensure that cached content is updated regularly.
I understand it can be a little challenging to keep up with these solutions to 403 forbidden error in WordPress. So, if you are uncomfortable with some of the more technical fixes to this 403 error, I suggest you opt for our WordPress website maintenance packages. With these packages, our experts will help resolve any error that may occur on your website and maintain it with security and performance as the prime focus.
FAQs on How to Solve 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress
Although the 403 “Forbidden” error in WordPress may cause a moment of panic amongst the website owners, with the right approach and troubleshooting steps, you can resolve it pretty quickly.
So we have listed 9 ways to solve 403 forbidden error in WordPress:
- Check the .htaccess File
- Rollback to a Running Version From Your Hosting Backup
- Reset File and Directory Permissions
- Disable WordPress Plugins
- Upload an Index Page
- Edit File Ownership
- Verify the A Record
- Scan for Malware
- Clear Your Web History/Cache
Follow these fixes accurately, and you will be able to solve the 403 error quite easily. If you have any more queries or need help with this error, contact our experts today!