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A 403 Forbidden error is an HTTP status code that usually shows when the site you are trying to reach has a permissions error, ownership error, an empty web directory, or no index page.
If you see this error, it most likely is because the site owner has limited outside access to it, and you don't have permission to view it. This error can prompt several messages depending on your browser and will display in the browser window.
The most common of them include:
Additionally, if you're using Internet Explorer and see "The website declined to show this webpage," then you are getting a 403. You should see the error in the title bar.
It is also possible that you may need to log in to the site. While you would usually get a 401 error in this case, it may occasionally trigger a 403 instead. If the URL is correct and it's not a case of needing to log in, try clearing your cache and cookies.
To fix an HTTP error 403, look at the URL and ensure it is a proper URL directing you to a specific page. If it is trying to direct you to a directory or folder within site, you will usually get this error. Note that this is because most sites do not openly allow directory browsing.
Plugins: Fixing this error on WordPress sites can usually be done by adequately configuring your plugins, especially security plugins. If you have recently installed a new plugin, deactivate it and see the error goes away. If so, look at the settings to confirm a proper setup.
.htaccess: If it's not a plugin, the next possible cause to investigate is your .htaccess file. Note: Download a copy of it to have a backup, delete it from your site, and then reload the page. If the error goes away, there is a problem with your .htaccess file. You can try to fix this, or you can generate a new .htaccess file.
To generate a new .htaccess file in WordPress, from your WordPress dashboard menu on the left side of the screen, go to the Settings dropdown and click on the Permalinks link. Click on the Save button to create a new .htaccess file.
Permissions: There is also the possibility that it may be a problem with your permissions. To fix this, move to the File Manager in your cPanel dashboard and enter the public_html folder. To make sure your files have the following settings, right-click and select change permissions or click the Permissions tab to see what to and to change them if needed:
If you are receiving a 403 error and request an inquiry into the issue, please feel free to Open A Support Ticket with our technical department.
Written by Hostwinds Team / December 13, 2016