3 Ways To Fix ‘403 Forbidden Request Forbidden By Administrative Rules’

Oct 21, 2020

3 Ways To Fix ‘403 Forbidden Request Forbidden By Administrative Rules’

Oct 21, 2020

Forbidden from accessing your own WordPress website?

It’s frustrating and most of the time, you’ll find yourself trying out a number of solutions that don’t work. This is because the causes and solutions for the 403 error differ based on various circumstances.

In the meantime, your visitors see a broken website and you may find yourself locked out of your website. 

Don’t worry. In this guide we’ll show you how to detect and fix the ‘403 forbidden request forbidden by administrative rules.’

Why Are You Seeing ‘403 Forbidden Request Forbidden By Administrative Rules’?

403 Forbidden Request error is one of many HTTP codes that indicate server or website problems. For example, there are HTTP 500 Internal Server Error and 404 Errors. Each code means something different.

So what is the 403 forbidden request error? It means that, when you are trying to access a page, you don’t have permission to access to do so. In more technical terms, it means your web server understands your request but refuses to serve you the page because it recognizes you as unauthorized.

But it’s your website, so why wouldn’t you have access?

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Your web host has set up access permissions. Certain actions can trigger these permission settings. For instance, if you’ve logged in from multiple tabs on your browser, or if you’ve logged in too many times within a short span of time, your web host may have set up an automated system to flag this kind of activity as suspicious, since it could be a hacker or a bad bot. This will block your IP address and you will see a 403 error code.
  1. There may be a misconfiguration in your WordPress files.

In both cases, fixing the issue is easy, if you have clear instructions on how to do it. That’s what we give you in the next section. 

PRO TIP: With the 403 Forbidden Request Error, it’s likely that the error appears only for you, while it may be fine for your visitors. Enter your site’s URL on downforeveryoneorjustme.com. You can see if your site is working as expected for your visitors or not.

How To Get Your WordPress Site Back To Normal Immediately? 

There are a few tricks you can try to overcome the 403 Forbidden Request Error before you begin troubleshooting the problem:

1. Refresh the page 

It seems so simple but, in most cases, it works. So the first step we recommend you take is to refresh your page. You can use the F5 key on your keyboard to refresh your browser’s page or hit the Refresh button.

Refresh the Page

2. Clear your cache 

The next step we recommend trying is to delete your browser cookies and cache. 

You can do this under the Settings tab in your browser. Under Clear History or Clear Browsing Data, make sure you select Cache and Cookies.

Clear your Browser Cache
Clear Cache on Chome

In case you’re using a caching plugin on your WordPress site, we suggest you clear your cache from the plugin as well.

This will sign you out of any accounts you’re logged into. It will also clear any saved data and give you a fresh start. 

Now visit your WordPress site to see if the 403 Forbidden Request has disappeared. Follow our guide on how to clear your cache for more detailed information.

3. Try a different browser 

This error can stem from conflict between different tabs or an issue with your browser’s settings. Try accessing the same URL using a different browser. You can use various browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, or Qwant.

4. Restore your backup 

If you have a backup copy of your WordPress site, we recommend that you restore your backup. This is another step that will most likely work in resolving the ‘403 forbidden request forbidden by administrative rules’ immediately. 

If you have a plugin like BlogVault installed on your site, you can restore your backup

from BlogVault’s independent dashboard. If you rely on your web host for backups, you can restore your backup from your web hosting account.

If this works, you would still need to understand what went wrong. You can do so by troubleshooting with the measures we’ve mentioned below.

5. Contact web host 

Check with your web host if the error is from their end. If it’s an issue with a recent update to their server’s or their permissions, they’ll fix it for you. 

If they come back to you saying it’s fine on their end, then you can follow the measures we’ve detailed below to fix the error on your WordPress site.

How To Fix The Error ‘403 Forbidden Request Forbidden By Administrative Rules’ 

CAUTION: Some of these steps require technical know-how. We strongly recommend taking a backup of your WordPress site before attempting to fix the error. If you have access to wp-admin, install a reliable backup plugin like BlogVault which will automatically take a backup for you. If you don’t have access to wp-admin, check with your host if they provide backups or follow our guide on manually backing up your website.

There are three ways you can fix the 403 error and we’ve listed them down in order of the most likely to work first.

1. Disable your .htaccess file

2. Disable your plugins

3. Check your WordPress file permissions

You can carry out all three measures easily using cPanel in your web hosting account. But if you’re using a managed WordPress host like FlyWheel or Kinsta, you won’t have access to cPanel. In these cases, you can use FTP or File Transfer Protocol. 

We’ve detailed the measures for both cPanel and FTP below.

1. Using cPanel to Troubleshoot 403 Forbidden Request Error

A. Disable .htaccess file

Working with WordPress for over a decade, we’ve come across the 403 error a multitude of times.

In most cases, the error lies in the .htaccess file. So this is the first place to start. 

Before you delete or disable this file, we must caution you that the .htaccess file is a sensitive file and is very critical to the functioning of your website. 

So download a copy of the .htaccess file before you make any changes. 

Step 1: To access the .htaccess file, log into your web hosting account. Go to cPanel > File Manager, and open a folder called public_html. 

Access Public HTML Folder

Step 2: Inside the public_html folder, you should see three other folders called wp-admin, wp-content, and wp-includes along with files like index.php and wp-config.php. You can also find the .htaccess file. In case you don’t see it, go to Settings and select Show Hidden Files. This will reveal the .htaccess file.

Show hidden files .htaccess

Step 3: Select and download the .htaccess file as a backup copy. 

Step 4: Next, select and delete the .htaccess file.

Now access your website and see if the forbidden error message has been resolved. If it has, then it’s an issue with your .htaccess file. 

To generate a new .htaccess file, login to your wp-admin dashboard. Go to Settings > Permalinks and simply click on Save Changes. This will automatically generate a new .htaccess file for you. 

You may be interested in learning more about the .htaccess file.

B. Check file permissions

Every file and folder on your WordPress site has a set of permissions. This determines who can access these files and who can make changes. 

There are three permission settings:

  1. Read – The user can only view the data and contents of a file or folder
  1. Write – The user can make modifications, add or delete files
  1. Execute – The user can run and execute files and perform functions and commands.

If these permissions are incorrectly configured, it could cause a number of errors including the 403 Forbidden Request. 

To fix your WordPress file permissions, follow these steps:

Step 1: Go to cPanel > File Manager, and open a folder called public_html. 

Access the Public HTML Folder

Step 2: Now, manually checking the file permissions for each file and folder would be exhausting. Instead, you can view your file permissions collectively first. 

Inside the public_html folder, you’ll see the last column displays the file permissions which is a 3-digit number:

Check for WordPress File and Folder Permissions

WordPress recommends the following file permissions:

  • Files – 644 or 640
  • Directories – 755 or 750

If you see that these permissions are incorrect, you can fix it by selecting the file or folder and then choosing Permissions.

Permissions in cpanel

A box will open up with the permission settings which is a three-digit code:

WP file permission

Next, you need to apply permissions to your WordPress files. Make sure you stick to the recommended file permissions, which are 644 or 640 for WordPress files and 755 or 750 for directories or folders.

You can learn more about permission settings in our in depth guide to WordPress File Permissions.

C. Disable plugins

Plugins offer cool functions and can enhance the performance and appearance of your site. But many times, a plugin can become incompatible with the WordPress core. This can happen especially if you haven’t updated your plugins for a while. 

Step 1: Log into your hosting account and go to cPanel > File Manager. 

Step 2: Open public_html and open the wp-contents folder.

Step 3: Find the folder called Plugins and rename it to Plugins_Disable.

Access the Plugins Folder in WP-Contents

Step 4: Now check if your website to see if the 403 error has been resolved. If it’s a plugin issue, then we recommend that you log into wp-admin. 

Step 5: Next, activate your plugins one at a time. Each time you activate a plugin, reload your site to check if the error comes back. This will help you determine which plugin is causing the error.

You might need to update the plugin to fix the issue or contact the plugin developer to get the problem resolved. In case it’s a nulled plugin, we advise you to delete it from your site immediately and opt for a trusted alternative from the WordPress repository.

One of these steps should resolve the 403 Forbidden Request Error on your website. In case, you’re still facing the error, we’ve detailed a few options that you can use to get further help in a later section.

2. Using FTP to Troubleshoot 403 Forbidden Request Error

FTP or File Transfer Protocol is a network protocol used to transfer files from client to server, using a folder system. You can use it to connect with your web server to access your WordPress files and folders. 

To use FTP, follow these steps:

1. You need to download an FTP client like FileZilla

2. Once you install FileZilla, you need to enter your FTP credentials.

FTP credentials on FileZilla

These credentials ensure only authorized users have access to your WordPress files and folders. You can get your FTP credentials from your web hosting account. Follow our guide on Finding FTP credentials for more details.

3. Once you enter the right credentials and click on Quickconnect, FileZilla will establish a connection with your web server. You’ll see four panels and on the right panel, folders will populate. 

4. The left panel is your local computer and the right panel is your website’s directory. From the right panel, select the public_html folder.

Now you’re ready to troubleshoot the 403 Forbidden Request error on your site. 

A. Disable your .htaccess file

Step 1: Inside the public_html folder, you can find the .htaccess file. In case you don’t see it, go to Server and select Force showing hidden files. This will reveal the .htaccess file.

Click on Force Showing Hidden Files

Step 2: Select the .htaccess file, right-click and download it. This will serve as a backup copy. 

Step 3: Next, right-click and delete the .htaccess file.

Now access your website and see if the error has been resolved. If it has, then it’s an issue with your .htaccess file. 

Next, you need to generate a new .htaccess file. Login to your wp-admin dashboard and go to Settings > Permalinks. Here, click on Save Changes. You don’t need to do anything more. A new .htaccess file will automatically be generated.

If you want to learn more about .htaccess, follow our guide to the .htaccess file.

B. Check file permissions

Your WordPress files are protected with permission settings that dictate which users have access to read files, make changes, and execute commands on your site. 

There are three file permission settings in WordPress:

  1. Read – The user can only view the data and contents of a file or folder
  1. Write – The user can make modifications, add or delete files
  1. Execute – The user can run and execute files and perform functions and commands

These permissions are represented by a 3-digit number.

If these permissions are incorrectly configured, it could cause a number of errors including the 403 Forbidden Request. To fix your WordPress file permissions, follow these steps:

Step 1: Inside the public_html, you can see the file permissions displayed for every file and folder.

Check for WordPress File and Folder Permissions

Step 2: We recommend looking over your file permissions to see if they are set correctly.

The recommended WordPress File Permissions are:

  • Files – 644 or 640
  • Directories – 755 or 750

Step 3: If you see that these permissions are incorrect, you can fix it by selecting the file or folder and then choosing Permissions.

Fix WordPress Permissions

A box will open up with the permission settings:

Change WordPress Permissions

Step 5: Next, you need to apply permissions to your WordPress files. Make sure you stick to the recommended file permissions which are 644 or 640 for WordPress files and 755 or 750 for directories or folders.

In FTP, you have the option to reset the permissions for all files and all folders. Set the file permission value and then select Recurse into subdirectories. Here, you can choose Apply to files only and Apply to directories only according to the permission you’re setting.

If you want to know more about permission settings and their meaning, refer to our in depth guide to WordPress File Permissions.

C. Disable plugins

On occasion, plugins can cause problems on your site if they become incompatible with the WordPress core or cause a conflict with your theme. If you haven’t updated your plugins in a while, it’s likely that a plugin is causing the error. You need to disable your plugins folder.

Step 1: Open public_html and open the wp-contents folder.

Step 2: Find the folder called Plugins and rename it to Plugins_Disable.

Access the Plugins Folder

Step 3: Now check if your website to see if the 403 error has been resolved. If it’s a plugin issue, then we recommend that you log into wp-admin. 

Next, activate your plugins one at a time. Each time you activate a plugin, reload your site to check if the error comes back. This will help you determine which plugin is causing the error.

You might need to update the plugin to fix the issue or contact the plugin developer to get the problem resolved. In case it’s a nulled plugin, we advise you to delete it from your site immediately and opt for a trusted alternative from the WordPress repository.

We’re confident that one of these measures has worked in resolving the 403 Forbidden Request error on your site. Your site should be back to normal now. 

PRO TIP: Always take backups of your WordPress site to be prepared for situations like these. It’s advisable to use a reliable backup plugin like BlogVault that provides you with an independent dashboard. This way, even if you lose access to your wp-admin panel, you can still access your backup and restore your site. 

Bonus Tips: 403 Forbidden Request Still Appears

In the rare occasion that you’re still seeing the 403 Forbidden Request on your WordPress site, here’s what you can do:

  1. Post your query on the WordPress Support Forum – WordPress has a Support Forum where fellow WordPress users post questions and help solve each other’s problems. Developers also answer queries and provide support for their themes and plugins. You can post details about the issue you’re facing and someone will help you figure it out.
  1. Check other popular forums – There are also a number of other forums you can try to ask for help such as Reddit, Quora, and StackExchange. Post the details of your problem and the solutions you’ve already tried.

What Next?

403 Forbidden Request is only one of the errors that can appear on your site. There’s a long list of HTTP errors that can appear on your WordPress site. 

Each error has a bunch of different solutions. However, if you take regular backups of your WordPress site, you can be prepared for any error. 

A backup acts as your safety net in such situations and it enables you to get your site back to normal in no time. 

Bear in mind to use a plugin like BlogVault that has an independent dashboard. When things go wrong, you can restore your backup, even if you don’t have access to your wp-admin.

Backup Your Site With BlogVault’s Backup Plugin

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