Why You’re Seeing 403 Errors and How to Fix Them

The 403 forbidden error message is similar to the “Do Not Disturb” sign hotel guests place on their doors. It means that you don’t have access to view a webpage, and the site host won’t let you in.

This error message can be annoying when you need to access a site’s content. Fortunately, you can solve this problem quickly and easily when it arises.

What Is a 403 Forbidden Error Message?

A 403 forbidden error is a HTTP status code that notifies you that the resource or page you want to gain access to has been blocked. Essentially, a 403 forbidden error is a “you can’t go in there” warning.

Websites display the error message in line with their code as the error is displayed from the server, and as such, it may vary. You may see the error messages in the following ways:

  • 403 Forbidden
  • HTTP 403 Permission Required
  • 403 – Forbidden Error
  • 403 – Forbidden: Access is denied.
  • Forbidden You don’t have permission to access / on this server

What Are the Possible Causes of 403 Forbidden Error Messages?

Different websites report 403 forbidden errors for diverse reasons and in diverse ways. Here are the most common reasons this happens:

1. Content Access Is Limited to Subscribed Members

You may be unable to access a website because its owner has privatized the content. They could do this for any reason. For instance, some hotels, bars, or gyms are membership-access only, so only subscribers can access the websites. It is also possible that the site is undergoing changes the owner does not want to reveal yet.

2. Only Authorised Members Can Access Content

Certain facilities are only accessible to a select few; a typical example of this is a school library. Usually, you would need your school ID card to access a school library and maybe a library card to borrow books. In the same vein, websites can limit their access to specific users.

3. Website Content Is Limited to Specific Locations

Geo-blocking is a tactic used by content providers to limit access to their content based on location. Many websites function this way, and you can only access them if you live within a specific location. A common example of a service that does this is Netflix.

You may wonder how the website can identify your location; your internet protocol (IP) address works like an address. It is possible for someone or a service to pinpoint your specific location from your IP address.

4. Multiple Failed Login Attempts From an IP Address

A website might block an IP address when there are too many failed login attempts from an IP address. Websites usually take this precaution to avoid spam and unwanted posts from the IP address.

5. Some Other Causes of 403 Forbidden Error

Another reason you may run into a 403 forbidden error is a misconfiguration from the server’s end. This happens in various forms, including the following:

  • Missing index files
  • Misconfigured plugins
  • Wrong permission for the site’s files and folders
  • The site’s domain not pointing to the correct server
  • Conflict between folders and website pages with identical names

How to Fix a 403 Error Message

403 errors stem from different causes, so fixing them also requires different approaches. We’ll start with general quick fixes for this error before narrowing it down to more specific solutions.

1. Reload the Page

It’s no new thing to hear of websites being incorrectly configured. Usually, the website will be inaccessible for the duration of the misconfiguration.

Once the issue has been resolved, the site will be accessible to everyone again. It would be best if you try this solution first because it is the fastest and least complicated way to troubleshoot a 403 error message.

2. Clear Browser and Cookies Cache

Sometimes you may see a 403 error message on a webpage with cached files or cookies on your browser. This may happen when the website has been tweaked, or the saved cached data in your browser is outdated.

This prevents your browser from visualizing the webpage the way it should–resulting in a 403 forbidden access message. Clearing your cache and cookies and then reloading the page can help solve a 403 error.

Screenshot of a 403 Not Allowed error

3. Use Another Network

There is a possibility that a website has intentionally blocked access from a specified range of IP addresses or locations, and your IP address could be among the blocked ones. Try opening the site from a different network or use a VPN redirecting to another country. If you gain access to the site with the new network, either your network or country has been blocked.

4. Check the Site URL

Typographical errors can occur anywhere, even on a website you’ve visited many times before. Checking that you have the right URL by retyping it can solve your 403 forbidden error message.

Another reason to check your URL is to ensure you are referring to a webpage, not a directory, as most websites disallow directory browsing. Directory browsing occurs when you access a website’s files and folders instead of a webpage.

5. Contact the Website

A person making a call on iPhone

403 error messages are sometimes a mistake. This means everyone, no matter their location or what internet service provider they use, receives an error message every time they attempt to access the website.

In most cases, the website doesn’t know this is happening. You can contact the site to inform them of the problem, so they can rectify it.

6. Contact Your Internet Service Provider

Another method you can employ to solve this issue is reaching out to your internet service provider. It is advisable for you to do this when you are confident that other people can access the website, especially people in the same location as you.

7. Check Back Later

If you’re certain that you have the right URL and are not the only one experiencing this problem, you have to take a step back and check later. The website owners will be notified about the situation from your complaints and those of others, and the issue will likely be sorted out.

403 Forbidden Errors Shouldn’t Ruin Your Browsing Experience

403 error messages can be annoying, and depending on the resource you’re trying to access, they can rain on your internet parade. You may be worried about whether you’re facing a general problem or the problem is specific to you.

However, make sure to stay calm and try one of the numerous methods listed here to troubleshoot the error. And if you’re faced with a 404 error, there are other tips to resolve the issue.

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