How to Fix 403 Forbidden NGINX Error? A Step-By-Step Guide

If you have experience working with web servers, then you know that certain situations can lead to errors. One of the most frustrating errors that you may encounter is a 403 Forbidden Nginx Error.

Encountering a 403 Forbidden Nginx Error can prevent you from accessing the resources you need, and it can be a challenge to diagnose and fix. If you happen to encounter this error, it’s important to address it promptly to avoid any potential data loss or website downtime.

It can be difficult to understand what’s causing a 403 Forbidden error in Nginx, and even more challenging to figure out how to resolve it.

However, there’s no need to worry – in this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about 403 Forbidden errors in Nginx. We’ll provide comprehensive information on what these errors are, how to fix them, and how to prevent them from occurring in the future.

Let us get started then!

What is a 403 Forbidden Nginx Error?

The 403 Forbidden Nginx Error is a status code that is typically triggered and displayed to the user when a client, usually a web browser, attempts to access web server resources without sufficient permissions.

In simple terms, this means that the server has denied the request made by the client, and the client is not permitted to access the requested resource.

Read: 🚩 How to Fix WordPress 403 Forbidden Error? [9 Quick Fixes]

Understanding the Basics of HTTP Status Codes

To really understand the 403 Forbidden Nginx error, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of HTTP status codes. These are three-digit numbers that indicate the status of the request-response cycle between the client and the server.

There are five main categories of HTTP status codes, ranging from informational (100-199) to server errors (500-599). To learn more, you can check out our dedicated blog by clicking on the link below:

Read: 🚩 A Complete Guide to Understanding HTTP Status Codes

How Does Nginx Handle 403 Forbidden Errors?

Now that we know what a 403 Forbidden Nginx error is, let’s talk about how Nginx handles it. When Nginx encounters a 403 Forbidden error, it will typically display a simple message to the user that says “403 Forbidden” or “Access Denied.” This message is generated by the server and can be customized by the website owner if desired.

What are the common Causes of 403 Forbidden Nginx Error?

Let’s take a closer look at the common causes of 403 Forbidden Errors in Nginx. Identifying the culprit can help you proceed with fixing the issue accordingly. These errors can be a real hassle to deal with and they always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times.

Additionally, before we proceed further, it is important to clarify that, this error can be caused by either the client side or the server side. It is not always the case that the server is the culprit.

Server-side errors

  • Incorrect file Permissions
  • Misconfigured Server Settings
  • URL or directory structure
  • Server and Firewall issue

Client-side errors

  • Server and Firewall issues
  • Browser issues
  • Accessing the wrong web location

Now, let us check them out in detail,

Incorrect file Permissions

Incorrect file permissions can be a common issue that leads to a 403 Forbidden Nginx error. This can happen when the server doesn’t have the necessary permissions to access a file or directory. It could be that the server user doesn’t have the right ownership or group permissions to access the file, or that the file permissions themselves are set incorrectly.

Misconfigured Server Settings

Issues with the Nginx configuration files can also lead to a 403 Forbidden Nginx error. This could happen if the configuration files are missing, incomplete, or have incorrect settings, such as security settings that prevent access to certain resources. This is often the case if you have recently made changes to your Nginx configuration or if you have recently migrated to a new server.

Incorrect URL or Directory Structure

Another cause of a 403 Forbidden Nginx error is related to problems with the URL or directory structure. This could happen if the user is trying to access a resource that no longer exists or has been moved to a different location. It could also be due to a misconfiguration of the server that causes it to look in the wrong location for the resource.

Server and Firewall issues

Finally, server and firewall issues can sometimes cause a 403 Forbidden Nginx error. For instance, the server could be experiencing high traffic volumes, leading to errors or it could be due to firewall settings that block access to certain resources. In such cases, it’s important to check the server logs to determine the root cause of the issue.

How to Fix 403 Forbidden Nginx Error on Your Site?

If you’re experiencing a 403 Forbidden error in Nginx, there are several steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue. Let us chem them out one by one.

Here is the list of troubleshooting methods:

1. Incorrect configuration for the index file

One of the most common reasons that cause 403 Forbidden Nginx errors is the incorrect configuration for the index file.

The index file is the file that Nginx serves to the client when the client requests the root URL of a website or directory. This file follows specific rules that determine which index file to load and in what order. By default, Nginx looks for files named “index.html”, “index.htm”, “index.php”, or “index.cgi” to serve as the index file.

So, you need to define index files into the location directive as shown below:

location / {
index index.html index.htm index.html inde.php;

If none of the mentioned files are found in the directory, the Nginx will return a 403 forbidden error.

2. Check File Permissions

The first thing you should check is the file permissions for the resource you are trying to access. If the file or directory doesn’t have the correct permissions, Nginx won’t be able to serve it to you.

To ensure that Nginx can serve specific files and resources to clients, it is necessary to have the appropriate read, write, and execute (RWX) permissions on the entire path. If the permissions are incorrect, it can result in a 403 Forbidden Nginx error.

To fix this issue, you have to change the directory Permissions to 755 and change the file Permissions to 644. In addition to it make sure if you are running Nginx must own the files as well.

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data *
sudo chmod 755 {dir}
sudo chmod 644 {files}

3. Verify Nginx configuration

The Nginx configuration file can contain errors that cause the 403 Forbidden Nginx error. To check the configuration file, run the command:

sudo nginx -t

This command tests the configuration file and reports any errors. If there are errors, fix them before restarting Nginx.

4. Restart Nginx

If you have made any changes to the Nginx configuration file, you need to restart Nginx to apply the changes. Use the command following command to restart Nginx.

sudo systemctl restart nginx

5. Check for IP-based restrictions

Nginx can block requests from certain IP addresses. To check if your IP address is being blocked, use the command

sudo tail -f /var/log/nginx/error.log

This command shows the Nginx error log in real-time. If your IP address is being blocked, you can add it to the “allow” list in the Nginx configuration file. For example,

location / {
deny all;

6. Check Your Firewalls and Proxy

To access a web resource, ensure the firewall or proxy isn’t blocking it. Configure settings to allow traffic, add exceptions, or adjust security settings as needed. This way, users can access the resources they need without any restrictions.

7. Clear your Browser’s Cache

Clearing the browser cache can fix a 403 Forbidden Nginx error caused by an outdated or corrupted cache. It forces the browser to download fresh resources from the website, resolving the issue.

If this error is triggered due to a cache-related issue, clearing your browser’s cookies and cache memory can help. Here are the steps you can follow:

Note: Since Chrome has a major Browser market share, here we will be using Chrome for this tutorial.

Step 1: Depending on your browser, navigate to the settings menu. In Google Chrome, you can click on the three vertical dots in the upper right corner of the window.

Step 2: Select “More tools” and Click on “Clear browsing data“.

Clear browsing data on Chrome
Clear browsing data on Chrome

Step 3: A pop-up window will open on which, you can select all three options under the “Basic” section as shown in the picture below. These options are “Browsing history“, “Cookies and other site data“, and “Cached images and files“.

Step 4: Click on “Clear data” to initiate the process.

Clearing data in Google Chrome
Clearing data in Google Chrome

8. Check web location

When attempting to access a website or web resource, it’s essential to ensure that you are accessing the correct location on the web. This can involve double-checking the URL or web address to ensure that it is spelled correctly and accurately reflects the desired resource.

If the URL or web address is incorrect, You may be directed to a different location on the web, which can result in errors or prevent us from accessing the desired resource altogether

9. Contact the website admin

If none of the above solutions work, contact the website administrator to see if there are any server-side issues that are causing the error. The website administrator may be able to provide more information about the cause of the error and how to fix it.

How to prevent 403 Forbidden Nginx Error?

The best way to deal with 403 Forbidden Nginx errors is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Some of the best ways to do this include,

  • Using access controls and authentication
  • Setting appropriate file and directory permissions
  • Implementing SSL/TLS certificates
  • Monitoring Server health and performance
  • Staying up to date with Nginx Updates and patches.


Encountering a 403 Forbidden Nginx error can be frustrating, but with the right approach, it can be easily fixed. This error can happen due to numerous reasons, but they all mean the same thing – that you have been denied access to the resource you requested.

So whenever you encounter this error, try to understand what’s causing it first. To make things easier, it would be great if you check the error logs first before attempting any troubleshooting methods.

Read: 🚩 You can also read our complete guide on How to access and set up WordPress error logs?

If you have any queries or would like to add any valuable points to it, please do let us know in the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I fix 403 Forbidden Nginx?

Here is the list of complete troubleshooting methods:
1. Incorrect configuration for the index file
2. Check File Permissions
3. Verify Nginx configuration
4. Restart Nginx
5. Check for IP-based restrictions
6. Check Your Firewalls and Proxy
7. Clear your Browser’s Cache
8. Check the web location
9. Contact the website admin

What is error 403 in nginx?

Error 403 in Nginx refers to a “Forbidden” error, which occurs when a user attempts to access a web page or resource that they do not have permission to access. This can happen due to various reasons, such as an incorrect file or directory permissions, IP blocking, or authentication issues.

What causes 403 Forbidden?

The 403 Forbidden can happen due to a variety of reasons, some of the most common causes are listed below:
1. Incorrect File Permissions
2. No Index file or Empty Folder

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