Troubleshooting WordPress 403 Server Error: Common Causes and Solutions

Welcome to my blog, fellow small business owners and WordPress enthusiasts! Today, we’re going to tackle a common issue that can be frustrating for website owners: the dreaded WordPress 403 Server Error. Don’t worry, though, because I’m here to guide you through the troubleshooting process and provide you with some common causes and solutions to get your website back up and running smoothly.

As a professional website designer specializing in WordPress solutions, I’ve encountered my fair share of 403 Server Errors. But fear not, for I’ve gathered all the necessary information and insights to help you overcome this hurdle. So let’s dive right into it and find out what causes this error and how we can fix it!

Understanding the WordPress 403 Server Error

Before we jump into troubleshooting, let’s take a moment to understand what the WordPress 403 Server Error actually means. This error occurs when the server refuses to fulfill your request for access to a specific page or resource on your website. It’s essentially a polite way of saying, "Sorry, you don’t have permission to access this."

Now, let’s explore some common causes of the WordPress 403 Server Error and the respective solutions:

1. Insufficient File Permissions

One of the most common causes of the 403 Server Error is insufficient file permissions. When certain files or directories on your website don’t have the correct permissions, the server denies access, resulting in the error. To fix this, you’ll need to adjust the file permissions using either an FTP client or your hosting provider’s file manager.

Here’s a handy table to show you the recommended file permissions for different WordPress files and directories:

File/Directory Recommended Permissions
wp-config.php 600
wp-admin/ 755
wp-includes/ 755
wp-content/ 755 or 775
.htaccess 644

Remember, always be cautious when modifying file permissions, as incorrect settings can leave your website vulnerable to attacks. If you’re unsure about the correct permissions, consult your hosting provider or an experienced developer.

2. Mod_security or Firewall Restrictions

Another potential cause of the 403 Server Error is mod_security or firewall restrictions. Mod_security is a module used by web servers to enhance security by scanning requests for suspicious activities. Sometimes, it can mistakenly flag legitimate requests, resulting in a 403 error.

If you suspect mod_security or firewall restrictions are causing the issue, you have a few options to resolve it:

  • Contact your hosting provider: They can check if mod_security or any other security measures are blocking your access and make the necessary adjustments.
  • Disable mod_security temporarily: If you have access to your server’s configuration files, you can disable mod_security temporarily to see if it resolves the issue. However, exercise caution as this may compromise your website’s security.

3. Incorrectly Configured .htaccess File

The .htaccess file is a powerful configuration file that can control various aspects of your website’s behavior. However, if it’s not configured correctly, it can lead to a 403 Server Error. Common errors include incorrect syntax or conflicting directives.

To troubleshoot this issue, you can follow these steps:

  1. Access your website’s root directory using an FTP client or your hosting provider’s file manager.
  2. Locate the .htaccess file and rename it to something like .htaccess_old.
  3. Refresh your website to see if the error is resolved. If it is, you’ll need to generate a new .htaccess file.

To generate a new .htaccess file, simply navigate to your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > Permalinks, and click the "Save Changes" button without making any modifications. This will regenerate the .htaccess file with the correct settings.

4. Plugin or Theme Conflict

In some cases, a plugin or theme conflict can trigger the 403 Server Error. When a plugin or theme is poorly coded or incompatible with other elements of your website, it can result in access restrictions.

To identify and resolve plugin or theme conflicts, follow these steps:

  1. Deactivate all plugins: Access your WordPress dashboard, go to the Plugins page, and select all plugins to deactivate them. Then, check if the error persists. If it disappears, reactivate the plugins one by one until you find the conflicting one.
  2. Switch to a default theme: Temporarily switch to a default WordPress theme (e.g., Twenty Twenty-One) to rule out any theme-related conflicts. If the error disappears, it indicates a conflict with your previous theme.

Once you’ve identified the problematic plugin or theme, you can reach out to the developer for support or consider finding an alternative that is compatible with your website.

5. IP Address Blocking

If you’re still encountering the 403 Server Error after going through the previous solutions, it’s possible that your IP address has been blocked by the server. This can happen if your IP address was flagged for suspicious activities, such as multiple failed login attempts.

To resolve this, you’ll need to contact your hosting provider and request them to unblock your IP address. Provide them with any necessary information they may require to verify your identity and ownership of the website.

Now that we’ve explored some common causes and solutions for the WordPress 403 Server Error, let’s address a few frequently asked questions.


Q1: Does the 403 Server Error affect my website’s SEO?

No, the 403 Server Error itself does not directly impact your website’s SEO. However, if the error persists for an extended period and prevents search engines from accessing important pages, it can indirectly affect your SEO rankings.

Q2: Can I prevent the 403 Server Error from happening in the future?

While it’s challenging to entirely prevent the 403 Server Error, you can minimize the chances of it occurring by following these best practices:

  • Regularly update WordPress core, themes, and plugins to ensure they are compatible with each other.
  • Use reputable themes and plugins from trusted sources.
  • Maintain proper file and directory permissions as recommended.
  • Implement a reliable security solution, such as a firewall, to protect your website.

Q3: Are there any plugins that can help with troubleshooting the 403 Server Error?

Yes, there are several plugins available that can assist you in troubleshooting and resolving the 403 Server Error. Some popular options include:

  • "WP Server Error" by Milan Dinić
  • "Server Error Blocker" by Mustafa Uysal

Always remember to research and read reviews before installing any new plugins on your website.


The WordPress 403 Server Error can be a frustrating roadblock, but armed with the knowledge and solutions provided in this article, you can troubleshoot and overcome it. Remember, patience and a systematic approach are key to resolving any website-related issue.

If you’re still unable to fix the error on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional website designer or your hosting provider for assistance. They have the expertise and resources to help you get your website back on track.

I hope this comprehensive guide has been helpful in demystifying the WordPress 403 Server Error. May your WordPress journey be error-free and filled with success!