How to Fix HTTP 403 Error

HTTP 403 error is an error that indicates to a user that their access to a requested resource is forbidden. You’ll usually see it written in the browser as “Error 403 – Forbidden”; some browsers also add the description “You don’t have the permission to access / on the server”.

Understanding The HTTP 403 Error

Browsing on the internet (or any other network) works via communication between the server and the client. Nothing automatically appears on your browser; instead, all you see is a result of the request-response cycle that goes on between the client and server.

First, the client makes a request (such as trying to access a web page); this request gets to the server, which sends back a response to the client.

Sometimes, the response sent back to the client has a body that the user can visibly see, such as a web page, and other times, the response doesn’t have a body. However, whether a response has a body or not, it always has a header.

A header is the part of a response that is usually invisible to the user but contains information from the server to the client that the browser can interpret.

The header of every server response has a status code; this is a three-digit code that passes across information about the state of a client’s request. The first digit in a status code is usually a pointer to what kind of response the server is sending back to the user; this is always a number from 1-5. Whenever the server responds with an error code that begins with 4, it signifies to the client that the error is a client-side error and not one caused by the server.

Since 4– errors are client-side errors, it means the client can often solve the issues on their end. Below is a guide on the cause of and how to fix HTTP Error 403.

Fixes For HTTP Error 403

Users can fix the 403 error in several ways; below are some fixes:

1. Check For URL Errors

Sometimes errors in the URL can lead to the server returning a 403 error; this is the case when your URL is trying to access a directory and not a website. Many developers configure their websites to disallow directory browsing because it leads to information disclosure. 

When a user requests a website and leaves “/” in front of the URL, the server automatically loads the index file. However, when there is no index file in the directory, the browser will display all the files and folders in the specified directory– known as directory browsing.

As a user, the solution is to remove the “/” of the URL and try to reaccess the website. As the website owner, configure directory browsing requests to be redirected to a specific page or create an index file in the directory.

2. Clear Website Cookies And Cache

When you visit a site often, your browser stores a cached copy so that the next time you visit the website, the site loads faster. Also, the browser saves your data usage on the site and login credentials on cookies. 

If your browser has a page cache with an error, but the website owner changed the link on the website, it could result in the 403 error. Also, if the authentication details saved on the cookies are no longer valid, it can lead to the 403 error.

To fix this, you would need to clear the cookies and cache on that site by following these steps:

  • Click the three dots at the top right of the Chrome window.
  • Select Settings.
  • Select Security and Privacy >> Cookies and other site data on the page that loads.
  • Scroll down and select See all cookies and site data.
  • You’ll find a search bar at the top-right corner; type the website’s name you’re having issues with there.
  • Click the bin logo you find on the right side of the website name to delete the site cookies.

3. Deactivate VPN Usage

Some websites do not allow users to access them using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). If the webserver can detect that the user has an active VPN connection, the server will return a 403 error.

If you get a 403 error while using a VPN, you should try connecting to the website without a VPN. If the website goes through without a VPN, you should try using a different server on your VPN or switch to a different VPN service altogether; if both options don’t work, you’ll have to use the website without a VPN. 

4. Contact Your Internet Service Provider

Frequently, when a popular website has a general issue, social media is an excellent place to find out about it. So, if you’ve tried every step and you don’t seem to be having any success, try to see if you’re the only one having the 403 error.

One other cause of the 403 error could be from your ISP; your public IP address or your entire ISP might be on the server’s blocklist. In such an instance, using a VPN is the solution.

5. Give It Some Time

Another cause of a 403 error is having too many requests from the same client IP. Some websites limit how many requests an IP can send within a given period; if the requests sent exceed the limit, it could lead to the 403 error.

Also, some servers cannot handle too many users; when the site reaches the limit of concurrent load, it can lead to a 403 error. The solution is to wait it out; eventually, the site should be up and running.

Read More: How to Fix HTTP Error 431

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