How to fix 403 Forbidden Error on a WordPress Site

Posted on February 27th, 2023

WordPress is now becoming more powerful and robust. Everyone uses WordPress for personal and professional websites. When running a WordPress site, it is important to be aware of the various errors that can occur. These errors can come from simple ones that we can quickly fix. Then there are more serious ones that can cause your site to crash. Some of the most common WordPress errors include the white screen of death, database connection errors, Permission errors, File corruption and WordPress memory limit errors. While we can quickly fix most of these errors, they can signify a more severe problem.

In case you see errors on your WordPress site, or you want to learn how to take action to fix them as soon as possible. Then, you’re on the right page. Ignoring errors can lead to further issues, such as data loss or site crashes. Even having a lot of errors is not good for search engine rankings.

What is 403 Forbidden Error?

The definition of 403:Forbidden error is “The 403 (Forbidden) status code indicates that the server understood the request but refuses to authorise it.” it is defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). In simple words, The server who received your request understood, but it refused to authorise your request.

There are different HTTP Codes available, in case all the things are working correctly means it’s a 200 code. It doesn’t look frustrating, like 403 and 404. These errors are hard to locate and need to be clarified. The good thing is we can solve this problem by doing some tasks. Before that, let’s understand the 403:Forbidden error.

As per the definition, the server refuses to authorise your request. It means our website lacks permission or is facing file corruption. In this case, we have only two leading causes of error. So we can resolve this using certain types of methods. And yes, we also have different types of 403:Forbidden errors used by various technologies. Here, you can see the list.

  • 403 – Forbidden: Access is denied
  • Error 403 – Forbidden
  • Forbidden – You don’t have permission to access / on this server
  • 403 – Forbidden Error – You are not allowed to access this address
  • HTTP Error 403 – Forbidden – You do not have permission to access the document or program you requested
  • 403 Forbidden – Access to this resource on the server is denied
  • 403. That’s an error. Your client does not have permission to get URL / from this server
  • You are not authorised to view this page
  • It appears you don’t have permission to access this page.

Now we explained the ways to fix these errors. As we discussed, the types of 403:Forbidden error and its cause. So, someday if you find any, you can quickly select them yourself. It is always best to contact a professional. They will be able to help you improve the errors and prevent them from happening again in the future, but in case of an emergency, you must know the temporary solution.

Case 1: Incorrect File Permissions

The WordPress files and folders contain specific Read, Write and Execute permissions. So let’s understand the permissions and how we can apply them to specific folders. We will also learn how to use these particular permissions and the default permissions of the files and folders. Here, we explained all types of permissions.

  • Read: This permission will allow us to see/read the files and folder data. as a user, if you want to read the file and content of a folder, you will need this permission.
  • Write: The Write permission is here to give the authorisation to write or alter the file or folder. You can use this permission to change the file or folder content, like delete and update.
  • Execute: Each server file or script that can be executed will require this permission. This permission is mandatory to access the executable files, functions and commands.

In WordPress, we can indicate these permissions via 3-digit numbers. In case you worked on Linux, the Unix environment has this type of permission structure. These 3 numbers will provide the permissions of upon categories. In the case of error 403, Something may be messed with the file and folder permissions. Here you can see the ideal file and directory permissions for WordPress. You can understand them as 4 for Read, 2 for Write and 1 for Execute. We have to add the numbers to give permissions. As an example, 7 means complete and 4 means only reading permission.

  • Files: 664 or 640
  • Directory: 755 or 750
  • wp-config.php: 440 or 400

So, in this tutorial, we will learn how to change file permissions. We have certain types of files available which require the correct permissions. So we will do it using the FileZilla FTP tool, which is available for Windows and Linux. We have another article that explains the Installation and working of the FileZilla Free FTP tool. The FileZilla FTP Tool will work the same on different devices, as seen in the suggested tutorial.

So, let’s see how to navigate some files and how, as well as what to change. More than 2 files and folders are available within the list, which requires changing the permission. Follow the steps after connecting your website with any FTP tool.

Note: To connect your WordPress Website server space using FileZilla FTP Client, you will need your Hosting Provider credentials like Host Address, Username and Password. You can find them from your hosting provider dashboard panel. But if you can’t find it, you can contact your hosting service provider for the credentials.

Step 1: Open the FileZilla FTP Client Application on your system. Enter the Hosting IP Address, Username, Password and Port Number in the fields.

Step 2: Click the Quick Connect button to connect FileZilla to your WordPress website server space, as shown in the image below.

Step 3: Once you connect the FileZilla FTP Client to your WordPress website, It will show your server files on the right side of the screen.

Step 4: Now, locate your WordPress website directory and expand it using the “+” button. Then, click on the public_html folder, as seen in the image below.

Step 5: Here, it will show all the files and folders contained by the selected folder just below the hierarchy. In the publi_html folder, we need to find the wp-config.php file.

Step 6: Once you have found the file, right-click on the file and click on file permission which is the last option, as you can see in the image below.

Step 7: A dialogue box called Change File Attributes will pop up. Here, you can see a Numeric value filed at last with some specific number. As we learned, each file or WordPress comes with 640 file permission.

Step 8: So remove the value and enter the new value as “640”, then click on the OK button, as seen in the image below.

Step 9: After that, right-click on the public_html directory and click on file Attributes. See the below image as a reference.

Step 10: Again, a dialogue box will pop up with the same attributes with advanced features like Recurse into subdirectories, as seen in the images below.

Step 11: We must enter the permissions for other files in the directory. So, enter the correct file permissions in the numeric value field. Then, click on Recurse into subdirectories checkbox and mark it as enabled.

Step 12: Now, click on the Apply to files only radio button and the OK button, as seen in the image below.

You successfully learned how to give file and folder permissions for WordPress websites. In many cases, the site which offers a 403:Forbidden error can be resolved using this strategy. If not, follow the next tutorial, which will help you solve the error.

Case 2: Corrupted .htaccess file

A corrupt .htaccess file can also be a cause of the 403:Forbidden error. It’s a basic configuration file used by Apache Web Server. This file includes the website redirects and restrictions of access configurations, so it is an important file for the WordPress website. If the htaccess code is incorrect, your site might face issues and also, downtime. So, make sure all the configurations in this file is correct. If you think your site is facing an error due to corrupt .htaccess file, You can simply reset it with the default WordPress .htaccess and it should solve the issues on the site.

You can also modify your .htaccess file using WordPress plugins but this option is only good if you can still access the administration panel of your WordPress site.

# BEGIN WordPress
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
# END WordPress

Here is the default .htaccess file of WordPress. You can simply copy and paste it in the .htaccess file in your public_html directory. If you don’t know how to do it, follow the steps given below.

Step 1: Open the FileZilla FTP tool on your device, and enter all the credential details like Host Address, Username and Password in the fields.

Step 2: Then, Add 22 in the port field. 22 is a safe port number for SFTP(Secure File Transfer Protocol). Then, click on the Quickconnect button, as seen in the image below.

Step 3: You can see the Remote Space File Hierarchy on the right side of the screen. Click on the plus “+” icon to expand the hierarchy. Then, Locate and Click on the public_html directory.

Step 4: You can see all the files and folders from the selected directory below the hierarchy. In this directory, find the .htaccess file, as seen in the image below.

Step 5: Now, Right click on the .htaccess file and Click on Delete, as you can see in the image below.

Step 6: After deleting the corrupted .htaccess file. Right-click on the white background to open a menu. Then, click on Create a new file. You must create a file called .htaccess in this folder.

Step 7: Create a new file pop-up box will pop up with a file. Type “.htaccess” and click on the OK button, as seen in the image below.

Step 8: The FileZilla FTP Tool creates a file and uploads it to the WordPress server. You can see the “.htaccess” file has arrived. Right-Click on the .htaccess file and click on Edit, as seen in the image below.

Step 9: The “.htaccess” will open with the device’s default document editor software. Paste upon code into the file.

Step 10: Click on File Menu > Save or Press CTRL + S from the keyboard to save the file data, as seen in the image below.

Note: In case you can access your WordPress website’s Admin Area. Then, go to the Settings >> Permalinks tab option. Select the Post Name permalink and click on the Save Settings button. WordPress will automatically regenerate the .htaaccess file with default settings.

It is one of the easiest ways to solve the 403:Forbidden error. Many common issues can be solved using this technique. Still facing a problem, you must follow the third case. In this case, we explained how to solve the 403:Forbidden issue generated by any newly installed or specific plugin.

Case 3: Plugin or Theme Issue

In case you install a new plugin that may have some issues with compatibility. It often happens when working on a specific plugin on a live website. The website is instantly not accessible after you install a plugin or change any settings. Sometimes, it can be a reason for the 403:Forbidden error.

We will deactivate all the plugins using FTP Client Tool and then activate them one by one. We can find the specific plugin responsible for the error using this technique. You may activate all the plugins instead of the corrupted plugin if you already acknowledge the plugin. Follow the steps here, and we will use the same FileZilla FTP tool.

Step 1: Open the FileZilla FTP Client tool, and enter all the credentials like Hosting Address, Username and Password in the fields available on the top.

Step 2: Then, 22 in the port field and click on the Quickconnect button, as seen in the image below. Here you can also see connectivity logs just below the credentials panel.

Step 3: Below the Connectivity log, you can see a remote site hierarchy on the right side of the screen. Click on the “+” icon and locate to Website name >> public_html >> wp-content, then Click on the wp-content directory, as you can see in the image below.

Step 4: Now, you can see all the directories and files of the “wp-content” folder just below the hierarchy. Find and Right-Click on the plugin’s directory, then click on Rename option.

Step 5: Once we rename the plugin’s directory name, all the plugins will be disabled by default. Then, try to access your WordPress website and click on the Plugins option, as seen in the image below.

Step 6: Again, rename it as default and Refresh the page, and you will see all the plugins are again installed. One by one, you can activate them and check which plugin has the issues. See the below image as a reference.

This technique can solve the 403:Forbidden error. Now, whenever your website has this error, you already know what to try.


In this article, we learned about 403:Forbidden error and its types. Then we also understand the File Permission basics and change the permissions using the FileZilla FTP tool. FileZilla FTP Tool is a free and open-source tool. Then, in the second case, we resolve the error by deleting and regenerating the .htaccess file. And lastly, we also see how we can fix this error generated by a plugin. You must follow all the methods one by one. After following one tutorial, you must check the website. If the website is working, then don’t follow the other tutorials.

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