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How to Fix the 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress

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Are you dealing with the 403 Forbidden error on your WordPress site?

403 Forbidden error is one of the most annoying errors that a WordPress website owner can encounter. It may stop you from accessing your WordPress admin area and/or specific pages on your website.

In this article, we will show you how to easily fix the 403 Forbidden error in WordPress.

Fixing 403 Forbidden error in WordPress

What Is the 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress?

The 403 Forbidden error code is shown when your server permissions don’t allow access to a specific page on your WordPress website.

This error is usually accompanied by the text:

403 Forbidden – You don’t have permission to access ‘/’ on this server.

Additionally, a 403 Forbidden error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

Here’s an example of what it looks like:

403 Forbidden status code shown on a WordPress site

There are different scenarios when you might see this error. For example:

You may also see ‘Access Denied’ instead of the full 403 Forbidden status. Alternatively, the message might say, ‘Access to was denied. You don’t have authorization to view this page.’

For more explanation about WordPress error codes, you can see our list of the most common WordPress errors and how to fix them.

Now that you know about the different types of 403 errors, let’s talk about their causes.

What Causes the 403 Forbidden Error in WordPress?

The 403 Forbidden error code appears when your server doesn’t permit access to a specific page. There are several causes that can make this happen.

One common cause for the 403 Forbidden error in WordPress is poorly configured security plugins. Many WordPress security plugins can block an IP address (or a whole range of IP addresses) if they believe them to be malicious.

Another possible cause could be a corrupt .htaccess file or incorrect file permissions on your server.

Your WordPress hosting company can sometimes make accidental changes to their server settings. This may result in a 403 Forbidden error on your site.

Having said that, let’s take a look at how to fix the 403 forbidden error in WordPress.

Note: Before you do anything, we recommend creating a complete WordPress backup of your website. You can check out our guide on how to back up your WordPress site.

If you are using an automatic WordPress backup plugin, then make sure that you have access to the latest backup before moving forward.

You can use these quick links if you want to skip to a specific method:

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If you prefer written instructions, then just continue reading.

Method 1: Deactivate Your Plugins Temporarily

The first thing you need to do is see if one of your WordPress plugins is causing the 403 forbidden error. To do this, you need to temporarily deactivate all WordPress plugins. This includes any security plugins that you may have installed on your site.

Bulk deactivate all WordPress plugins

If this resolves your problem, then this means one of the plugins on your website was causing this error.

You can figure out which plugin was causing the error by activating all your plugins one at a time until you reproduce the 403 Forbidden error. Then, you will need to delete the problem plugin and look for an alternative or contact the developers for support.

If this method doesn’t work, then just continue reading.

Method 2: Regenerate Your .htaccess File

Often, the 403 forbidden error is caused by a corrupt .htaccess file in your WordPress site. The good news is that fixing this file is quite easy.

First, you need to connect to your website using an FTP client like FileZilla or the File Manager app in cPanel.

Next, find the .htaccess file in the root folder of your WordPress site. See this guide if you can’t find the .htaccess file in Your WordPress folder.

You will need to download the .htaccess file to your computer so that you have a fresh backup of it. After that, simply delete the file from your server. Don’t worry, your WordPress will still be able to work.

Delete .htaccess file from your WordPress site

Now, try accessing your website. If the 403 forbidden error is resolved, then this means that your .htaccess file was corrupt.

You can generate a fresh .htaccess file by logging in to your WordPress admin area and going to the Settings » Permalinks page.

Regenerating .htaccess file in WordPress

Simply click on the ‘Save Changes’ button at the bottom of the page, and WordPress will generate a new .htaccess file.

Method 3: Correct Your File Permissions

If the other solutions have not fixed the 403 forbidden error on your site, then incorrect file permissions are the most likely cause.

All files stored on your website have file permissions. These file permissions control who can access the files and folders on your WordPress website.

Incorrect file permissions can cause the 403 forbidden error. They make your web server think that you do not have permission to access those files.

You can ask your WordPress hosting provider to check your website for correct file permissions. Some hosts are very supportive, so they won’t mind and will probably fix that for you.

Changing file permissions yourself can have serious consequences. If you do not feel confident doing it yourself, it’s best to ask a fellow WordPress website owner for help or hire a professional.

However, if you want to do it yourself, then here is how to check your file permissions.

Simply connect to your WordPress site using an FTP client. Navigate to the root folder containing all your WordPress files.

Checking file permissions

Click to select a folder, right-click it, and then select ‘File permissions’ from the menu.

Your FTP client will show you a file permissions dialog box like this:

Changing file permissions using FTP

All folders on your WordPress site should have a file permission of 744 or 755.

Meanwhile, all files on your WordPress site should have a file permission of 644 or 640.

You can set the file permission for the root folder to 744 or 755. You also need to check the box next to ‘Recurse into subdirectories’ and then check the option that says ‘apply to directories only’.

Simply click on the ‘OK’ button. Your FTP client will now start setting permissions for all subdirectories in that folder.

Once it is done, you need to repeat the process for all the files. This time, you will use file permission of 644 or 640, and don’t forget to select the ‘Recurse into subdirectories’ and Apply to files only’ options.

Click on the ‘OK’ button, and your FTP client will start setting file permissions for all the selected files.

Try accessing your website now and see if the 403 forbidden error has gone.

Method 4: Clear Your Cache and Cookies

Sometimes a simple fix can be the most effective. Clearing your browser cache and cookies, as well as your WordPress cache if you’re using a caching plugin, can resolve the 403 forbidden error.

Just like how your computer stores temporary files to speed up loading times, your browser also caches website data. If this data becomes corrupted, it might cause compatibility issues and lead to the 403 error.

Similarly, a corrupted cache generated by a plugin can also lead to the server misinterpreting requests.

Some caching plugins also offer advanced settings that allow you to restrict access to specific pages or user roles. If these settings are accidentally misconfigured, they could unintentionally block access to certain parts of your website.

To clear your browser cache, you can follow the instructions in our article on how to clear cache in major browsers.

If you’re using a WordPress caching plugin, you can read our guide on how to clear WordPress cache and consult the plugin’s documentation.

Method 5: Temporarily Disable CDN (Content Delivery Network)

If you’re using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to improve website performance, it’s possible that it might be interfering and causing the 403 forbidden error.

A CDN acts as a middleman between your website’s server and visitors, serving cached content from geographically distributed locations for faster loading times.

To see if your CDN is the culprit, you can disable your CDN temporarily. Then, test your website to see if the error disappears.

If disabling the CDN resolves the error, you’ll need to contact your CDN provider’s support team for further troubleshooting.

Method 6: Check for Malware

Malicious software can cause a variety of issues including the 403 forbidden error. It can interfere with file permissions, inject malicious code, or disrupt communication between your website and server.

To see if there’s malware on your website, we recommend scanning your website using a security plugin or a service offered by your WordPress hosting provider.

Many reputable security plugins offer malware-scanning features, and you can usually remove these malicious files in one click.

Learn More Ways to Solve Common WordPress Errors

Having other problems with WordPress? Perhaps one of these guides can help you solve the issue:

We hope this article helped you fix the 403 forbidden error in WordPress. You may also want to see our list of the most common block editor problems and must-have WordPress plugins to grow your website.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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163 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. Jiří Vaněk says

    I encountered the same error, and none of the suggested solutions helped. Eventually, I discovered that the problem was with the web hosting provider, who had applied protection using GEO-IP blocking on certain folders and functions. Specifically, it was the administration and XML-RPC. I had to request permission for certain countries since I was using a VPN to access the website. Sometimes, this error can also occur due to the protection implemented by the web service provider. Their reasoning was that this protection helps prevent brute force attacks.

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