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What is a 403 error? And how do you resolve it?

Find out what a 403 error is

Do you visit your website in your browser and get a 403 error? Don’t panic. A 403 error sounds like a significant status error, but you can fix it easily. In this article, you read what a 403 error is, what causes it and how to resolve the status code.

What is a 403 error?

A 403 error is called ‘403 forbidden’, ‘HTTP error 403’ or ‘403 status code’. It is an HTTP status code that occurs when the server on which the website resides refuses the request to load content.

Fact: You will see the 200 status code if your website loads correctly. It means the server loaded the page of the website successfully.

Types of 403 errors

There are different types of 403 errors. Below are the most common types:

  1. 403 forbidden

You can not access a website or page.

  1. 403 SSL Required

The server only allows secure website connections with an SSL certificate. You will not get access if you use an unsecured connection.

  1. 403 IP Blocked

The server only allows specific IP addresses. You will not get access via an unauthorised IP address.

  1. 403 HTTP Method Not Allowed

The server only allows specific HTTP methods. You won’t get access if you use an unauthorised method.

  1. 403 Invalid Credentials

You are trying to access it with unauthorised credentials.

  1. 403 User Agent Denied

You will not get access because you are using an outdated browser that is no longer supported.

The reasons for a 403 status code

A 403 status code can have several reasons. For example:

  • The absence of an index.html or index.php file;
  • Wrongly set permissions;
  • A misconfigured .htaccess file;
  • Denying access to certain content on purpose;
  • Plugins or extensions that are not compatible.

Resolving a 403 error

A 403 forbidden error sounds like a big mistake. But it isn’t. Fortunately, you can fix the error yourself in most cases. You’ll find how to fix the 403 errors for the above causes below.

A missing index.html or index.php file

An index.html or index.php file contains the main content of your website. When visitors visit your website, the file is automatically loaded as your site’s homepage. When the index.html or index.php file is missing, or there is an error in the name, a 403 error is generated.

The solution

The solution is to add an index.html or index.php file in your website’s ‘root’ (main directory). You add this file via an FTP programme such as FileZilla. You can use this manual to make a connection with FTP. In addition, check if the folder name contains no spelling mistakes and is written in lowercase letters. This can also cause a 403 error.

Wrongly set permissions

Every folder and file of your website has its permissions. With these permissions, you specify who can read, write and execute the folder or file. The permissions are expressed in 3 numbers, for example, 644 and 755 for WordPress websites

The solution

You solve this 403 error by using an FTP programme to give the permissions of the folders and files the correct numbers. Is it not working? Please get in touch with our customer service.

A misconfigured .htaccess file

Is your website running on an Apache server? If so, your site has a .htaccess file. This is a file with rules you can use to give commands to the server. For example, to block IP addresses, create redirects or modify error messages.

Good to know: At one.com your website runs on an Apache server.

Creating .htaccess for WordPress

You can fix the .htaccess file, but it isn’t easy. Instead, it is best to create a new .htaccess file. Do you use WordPress? Follow these steps to create a .htaccess file:

  1. Make a backup of your website.
  2. Delete the .htaccess file via FTP.
  3. Log in to your WordPress website.
  4. In the Dashboard, go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Permalinks’.
  5. Click ‘Save changes’.
  6. WordPress will now generate a new .htaccess file for you.

.htaccess created manually

Are you not using WordPress? You can create a .htaccess file manually. Here is how to do it:

  1. Open a programme like Notepad++.
  2. Save a blank file and name it ‘.htaccess’.
  3. Via FTP, upload the created .htaccess file to the root folder of your website.

Plugins or extensions that are not compatible

Finally, one or more plugins or extensions can cause a 403 error. For example, if they do not get along with each other or if 1 plugin or extension contains a bug. 

The solution

You can easily check which plugin or extension is causing the 403 error message by switching them off and on 1 by 1. You can do this via the backend environment of your website or an FTP programme. In the last case, rename the plugin or extension each time until you find the error. Have you found it? Remove the plugin of extension and look for an alternative. You can also contact the plugin or extension developer to find a solution.


You red this article about 403 errors. You have learnt what a 403 error is and what causes it. You’ve also read how to fix a 403 status code. A 403 error message sounds like a big mistake, but you can easily solve it with the above steps.

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