Top 10 Fixes for 403 Forbidden Error

By Last Updated: February 10, 2024
error alert failure icon problem concept

Have you ever faced an Error 403 while browsing a website on your web browser, such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox? 403 Forbidden Error is a common issue. It happens when you try to access a website, but the server does not respond and the website or a web page does not open showing 403 on your screen.   

As a user, you can move ahead to access similar websites. However, 403 Forbidden Error is a serious issue for you if you own that website. It can be deflating and frustrating for you. And you need to fix the issue as soon as possible for you to keep your website visitors with you.   

What is a 403 Forbidden Error?

The 403 Forbidden Error code, a client-side issue, happens when a server comprehends the request, but refuses offering a website access. As it occurs, a user cannot access a particular website.  

403 Forbidden Error Variations

There are several variations for this 403 error code. Here are some common variations that you could come across while accessing websites on your web browser:

  • 403 – Forbidden
  • Forbidden   
  • Error 403 Forbidden
  • 403 Forbidden Error
  • 403 Forbidden nginx
  • HTTP Error 403 Forbidden 
  • 403
  • You have no permission to access this site
  • You are not authorized to access this site

What are the Causes of 403 Forbidden Error?

Here is a list of some probable causes of 403 Forbidden Error:

  • Missing index page
  • Incorrect IP address 
  • Folder permission and misconfigured file settings
  • Incorrect WordPress plugin
  • Corrupt .htaccess file
  • Malware scan
  • Empty website directory
  • New web page link 
  • Authentication failures
  • Content restrictions

Keep in mind some of the following fixes may not work for you based on your web technologies, hostings, and allied things. Here are some quick fixes for 403 Forbidden error:

Clear Cookies and Cache on Your Browser

Clear Cookies

Step 1: Go to the top right corner of your web browser and tap the three-dot icon

Step 2: Choose Settings

Step 3: Find Privacy & Security and move to Clear Browsing data

Step 4: Choose a time range (All Time), Cookies and Other Site Data, and then Cached Images and Files. 

Step 5: Touch the Clear Data option

Note – These steps can vary based on your web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, DuckDuckGo, Safari, etc.) Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.  

Disable CDN Temporarily 


Step 1: Go to Performance and CDN in the hPanel

Step 2: Locate the CDN station section

Step 3: Tap on Disable 

Carry out a malware Scan


Step 1: Go to Security and Malware Scanner on hPanel

Step 2: See the time for the last malware scan and the name of your hosting plan as it appears on your screen if you do not find malware

Step 3: Take the requisite action to fix them if there is a malware detection

Disable VPN Temporarily 


Step 1: Disconnect the existing VPN for a while

Step 2: Retry to access the website or web page

Step 3: Think about switching your VPN if it resolves the issue. Otherwise, call the representative of your VPN

Store the .htaccess File Again 

Step 1: Go to Files and File Manager on the hPanel

Step 2: Launch the public_html, find the .htaccess file. After that, right-click on the .htaccess file and choose Download for a backup on your system

Step 3: Go to your hasting account and remove the existing .htaccess file there

Step 4: Click on New File to build a new server configuration

Step 5: Name the file .htaccess without using any extensions

Step 6: Copy the following code to the new file and click on Save to save it 

                       # Enable URL Rewriting

           RewriteEngine On

           # Rewrite rule to redirect requests to index.php

           RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f

           RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d

           RewriteRule ^(.*)$ index.php?/$1 [L]

For WordPress websites, you need to:

Step 1: Go to the dashboard after signing into your WordPress Admin

Step 2: Choose Settings, and then Permalinks

Step 3: Tap on the Save Changes tab without making any modifications. It will create a new .htaccess file for your WordPress website

Disable WordPress Plugins 

Step 1: Go to WordPress and move to Security

Step 2: Find the Installed Plugins by scrolling down the options 

Step 3: Click on each plugin to disable all of them

Use an FTP or File Manager if you are unable to disable plugins manually. And for this, 

Step 1: Go to public_html and find the wp-content folder

Step 2: Find the plugins folder and change its name to disabled-plugins temporarily. It will make your folder unrecognizable on the web server due to deactivation of all plugins

Step 3: Now, try to access your website or web pages. A problematic plugin was the main issue if you do not see a 403 Forbidden error

Step 4: Make the folder go back to its original name to re-enable all plugins 

Step 5: Now, move to Plugins > Installed Plugins from the dashboard of your WordPress website and deactivate all plugins by clicking on each. Check if the issue is resolved as you deactivate a plugin. It will help you find out the faulty plugin. 

Step 6: Remove or update the faulty plugin to sort out the error

Reset Directory and File Permissions 

Step 1: Find Fix File Ownership by typing in the search bar on hPanel

Step 2: Tick the checkbox next to Confirm 

Step 3: Click on Execute. It will automatically assign the default permissions.   

Use an FTP client – FileZilla – to reset File and Directory permissions. For this, 

Step 1: Connect FileZilla to your website

Step 2: Choose File Attributes after right-clicking on the public_html directory

Step 3: Go to the Numeric Value field and enter 755. This action will allow you to read, execute, or write the directory or file. No one except for you can modify it.  

Step 4: Tap on OK after choosing Apply to Directories Only

Step 5: Repeat the step 2 and the step 3 after changing your directory permissions. Now, type 644 in the Numeric Value field and choose Apply to Files Only. It will allow your site users to read the content. 

Update Nameservers 

Step 1: After going to Domains, choose Manage, which is next to your domain

Step 2: Tap on the Change option in the section of Nameservers

Step 3: Click Save after picking the option like Use Hosting Nameservers

Upload an Index Page 

Step 1: Use a file manager or FTP client to access the directory of public_html 

Step 2: Create a New File and name it index.php or index.html under the root directory 

Step 3: In the root directory, access the .htaccess file. Copy and insert the code (Redirect /index.html /homepage.html) to redirect index.html or index.php to your current homepage.html with the original name of your home page

Step 4: Click on Save to save the changes

Edit File Ownership 

Step 1: Connect to the SSH server

Step 2: Look for the file ownership with the command – ls -l [file name]

Step 3: See the result that could be like this – -rwxrw-rw- 1 [owner][group] 22 Sep 22 10:00 filename.txt

Step 4: Pay special attention to group as well as owner sections and see whether it is matched with your hosting account’s username. Or, apply the chown Linux command to modify ownership. The command is – chown [owner][:group] [file name]

Note – I have kept some codes and commands similar to the ones I found on the reference websites. I have made no changes in those technical terms.