How to fix external pages with 403 HTTP status code

Sometimes, users may see a message in their web browser indicating that they have encountered a 403 HTTP error. The HTTP 403 error is just one of many possible responses when trying to access a website. The ‘403 Forbidden‘ error implies that you do not have permission to see the requested URL. 

But why can’t users see it? And how can you get to the page you want to see? 

There are many reasons for an HTTP status code 403, so the answers to these questions will vary from case to case. That can make fixing the error complex even if the solution is simple. This article explains what a 403 forbidden error means, how to figure out the problem and the easiest way to fix It.

Let’s get started!

What does a 403 forbidden error mean?

When a user attempts to visit a URL that is restricted, an HTTP server will return the status code “403 Forbidden” to the user’s browser as an error message. It indicates that the page you were trying to reach is inaccessible for one of two reasons: 

  • There has been a removal or limitation of access permissions on the client’s side.
  • There has been an accidental misconfiguration of the web server.

Until the situation changes the page will remain inaccessible to users. 

What a 403 HTTP status code looks like

A user can feel really jilted when they receive a message saying they “are not permitted to utilize the server.” Thankfully, the issue is one you can resolve.

There is no standard mechanism in which servers report 403 Forbidden errors. Some web servers alter the HTTP 403 Forbidden message to reflect their own policies. Examples of how the error message appears on different servers are below:

  • Forbidden
  • HTTP 403
  • HTTP 403.14-Forbidden
  • HTTP Error 403-Forbidden
  • 403 Forbidden
  • Error 403
  • Forbidden: You don’t have permission to access (directory) on this server
  • Error 403-Forbidden

How to fix pages with a 403 HTTP status code

There could be a number of factors at play when a 403 HTTP error displays. Follow the four steps below to investigate the matter and determine the best solution for making web pages accessible. 

Allow Directory Browsing

Verify that you’re using both the web page file and its extension. A simple directory is insufficient. Directory browsing issues are the most common cause of the 403 error. A lot of sites aren’t set up to allow it.

Therefore, the error message will appear if you try to offer a folder rather than a specific page. If you are the owner of an unreachable website, you can fix it by allowing directory browsing on your web server. 

Clear the cache in your browser

If the desired page has been visited recently and then cached it could cause issues. A cache cleaning may be the only thing that’s needed to eliminate the 403 error on your server.

Accessing the site via login

You should sign onto the site if doing so is suitable. This error message may simply indicate that you lack the necessary permissions to visit the page in question. A 401 error is typically displayed when a website requests access that requires users to log in.

Erase the cookie history from your browser

You’ll need to do this if you’ve tried logging in before and been unsuccessful. But first, check to see if your browser accepts cookies. The 403 error also warns that cookies may be necessary for full access.

Going through the four steps above will clear up many 403 HTTP errors. It also helps to use an auditing tool like evisio to look for hidden issues that you haven’t come across yet.

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