4 reasons for WordPress 403 error and how to fix them

4 reasons for WordPress 403 error and how to fix them

WordPress 403 error is a very common error that is caused due to the webserver denying access to the WordPress page users are trying to access.

The error messages that are commonly shown are – ‘403 Access Denied’, ‘403 Forbidden’, ‘You don’t have authorization to view this page’ etc.

WordPress 403 error can happen in different scenarios:

  1. When trying to access WordPress Admin dashboard at https://domain.com/wp-admin/ .
  2. Upon trying to login to WordPress website as a user.
  3. While installing a new WordPress website and trying to run http://www.domain.com/wp-admin/install.php during the process.
  4. During situations when you try randomly accessing any page in the WordPress website.

The page that gives WordPress 403 error may usually display the complete message – You don’t have permission to access ‘/’ on this server.

What causes WordPress 403 Error?

While 403 errors usually happen due to permission related issues, there are other causes such as certain plugin settings or security settings that cause this error.

In WordPress, 403 Error can happen due to various reasons, which we’ll discuss here.

1. Incorrect file permissions for the user

Every file and folder in the website requires proper access privilege for read, write and execution, for the site to work fine.

By default, the permissions for WordPress folders should be 755 and files should be 644. If the permissions are wrong, the site would end up giving 403 error.

2. Wrong entries in the .htaccess file

The .htaccess file inside a WordPress folder contains the rewrite rules that are required for the WordPress site and related links to work fine.

But, it may happen that the .htaccess file gets corrupted, and these rules no longer work fine. As a result, the website and related URLs may return 403 error.

3. Incompatible plugins

WordPress has a wide range of plugins available. Website owners have a tendency to install many plugins into their WordPress site without verifying its compatibility.

If the plugin you install in your website is incompatible with the WordPress installation, it may mess up the site and end up showing 403 error in the site.

4. Directory index settings

The ‘Directory Index’ directive of a webserver is used to set the list of files to look for, when the client requests an index of the directory in a website.

But if the webserver where the WordPress site is hosted doesn’t support ‘index.php’ in ‘Directory Index’, this 403 error would show up instead of the index page.

In addition to these reasons, some WordPress security plugins or server wide security policies can restrict valid users from connecting to the site and throw 403 errors.


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