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What does HTTP Error 403 - Forbidden mean?

What does HTTP Error 403 - Forbidden mean?

The HTTP error 403 – Forbidden means that access to the file or folder you are trying to open has been denied, either on purpose or due to a misconfiguration.

Watch our short video how to fix this error or read on the article:

The Error Log in Site Tools can help you in troubleshooting such problems. It is a list of the latest error messages generated by your website. In this list you will find information about each error including:

  • The date and time of the error.
  • Description of the error.
  • Information about which folder or file is possibly generating the error.

Here are some examples of the most common problems that can produce a 403 Forbidden error:

[Thu Apr 19 01:46:56 2017] [error] [client] client denied by server configuration:

The error above may be logged when your IP is blocked by a rule in the website’s .htaccess file. To resolve the problem, you need to open that file and look for lines like:

deny from

This rule denies access from a particular IP. In case you see your own IP address there instead of, this would mean you are blocked. There are multiple ways to find your IP address. Perhaps the most convenient one is an online tool such as this one.

deny from all

This rule denies access from all IPs.

When the line is deleted from the file, you should be able to access the website again. To edit the .htaccess file, use the File Manager in your Site Tools.

[Thu Apr 19 02:13:24 2017] [error] [client] Directory index forbidden by rule: /home/user/public_html/

Each website has a main file called an index file that can be named index.php, index.html, etc, depending on the programming language used for making your website. That file is used to serve the front end content of your website to its visitors. On SiteGround’s servers, if a visitor tries to access a folder on your account without an index file (or without any website content), this would end in a 403 Forbidden error.

This would mean that your website was either never uploaded in the correct folder on your hosting account, or that your site’s index file (and potentially other files) have been removed.

In the first situation, you would need to upload the site’s content in the correct directory. This would be the public_html for your main website.

If your site’s files are missing, restoring would be the only option. SiteGround backs up shared and Cloud hosting accounts daily. More information on our backup solutions is available here.

[Mon May 29 11:35:24.995854 2017] [core:error] [pid 14434] (13)Permission denied: 
[client] AH00132: file permissions deny server access:

Error messages like this are logged when the permissions of the file or folder you are trying to access are too restrictive. To resolve the problem you need to modify the permissions of the files to 644 and for the folders to 755. You can modify the files and folders permissions via SSH, FTP, or using the File Manager tool in Site Tools.

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