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

If you have prior working experience with web servers, then you must have been familiar with the errors related to them. If not, then you will probably come across one of the most notorious and frustrating errors among them the 403 Forbidden Nginx Error.

When you encounter a 403 Forbidden Nginx Error, it will prevent you from accessing the resources you want to and it can be not easy to identify and fix it. So, whenever encounter this error, it’s important to address it promptly to avoid any potential data loss or website downtime.

It is also true that you will find it difficult to understand the exact cause of the 403 Forbidden error in nginx. It becomes even more difficult to fix it.

In this article, we are providing you with a comprehensive post on 403 Forbidden errors Nginx. Covering all the major topics such as What it means, How to fix it, and How you can prevent it from happening in the future.

Let us get started then!

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

As we have already mentioned earlier, one of the most common reasons that cause 403 Forbidden Nginx errors is the Incorrect configuration for the index file.

If you are not familiar with index files, let us make it simple for you. The index file is the file that Nginx serves to the client when the client requests the root URL of the website or directory.

This particular file has specified rules that control 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.

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

When you try to access a resource, the first thing you need to do is to check the File Permissions. It is because, if the file or directory doesn’t have the correct permissions, the Nginx will not be able to serve you.

To make sure everything is working great and the Nginx can serve specific files and resources to the clients. It is essential to have the correct read, write, and execute (RWX) permissions set on the entire path.

If you set the permissions incorrectly it will result in a 403 Forbidden Nginx Error.

To fix this particular issue, you need to change the directory permissions to 755 and the file permissions to 644. Plus, make sure that if you are running Nginx, it must have its own files.

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, make sure the firewall or proxy isn’t blocking it. You have to configure the settings to allow traffic, add exceptions, or adjust security settings when required. 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, 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 the web location

When you try to access a website or web resource, it is important to make sure that you are accessing the correct location on the web. It includes double-checking the URL or web address to make sure that the spellings are correct and accurate.

However, if you have entered the wrong or incorrect URL or web address, you might be redirected to a different location on the web. This can will result in errors and prevent you from accessing the desired resources.

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.

What is a 403 Forbidden Nginx Error?

The 403 Forbidden Nginx Error is an HTTP status code that is typically displayed to the user when a client i.e. your web browser attempts to access the web server without sufficient permissions.

In simple words, you can understand it as 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, you have learned What does 403 Forbidden Nginx Error mean? Let us talk about how Nginx Handle 403 Forbidden Errors.

When the Nginx web server encounters a 403 Forbidden error, it will typically show 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 check out some of the most common causes of 403 Forbidden Errors in Nginx. If you are able to identify the real cause, it will help you to proceed in the right direction to fixing it. These errors can be really frustrating to deal with and they always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times.

In addition, before we proceed further one thing you must make clear in your mind is that the error can be caused by the client side and not its is always the server being the culprit.

Server-side errors

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

TIP: Hosting your site on a WordPress hosting dedicated server is a reliable way to effortlessly eliminate server-side errors of any kind.

Client-side errors

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

Now, let us check them out in detail,

Incorrect file Permission

One of the most common reasons that trigger 403 Forbidden Nginx Error can be incorrect file permission. It happens when you don’t provide the necessary permissions to the server for accessing a file or directory.

This can be possibly due to the user has not the right authorization or permissions to access the file or the permissions are not set correctly.

Misconfigured Server Settings

If you have Nginx configuration files that have some issues present in them it can lead to a 403 Forbidden Nginx error.

On the other hand, even the issues in the Nginx configuration files can also trigger a 403 Forbidden NGinx Error. It could happen possibly if the configuration files are missing, incomplete, or incorrect settings. Such as if you have poorly configured your security settings it can prevent your access to certain resources.

This particular scenario often happens when you have recently made some changes to your Nginx configuration file or you have recently migrated to a new server.

Incorrect URL or Directory Structure

If you have an Incorrect URL or Directory structure it can also lead to a 403 Forbidden Nginx Error. It can happen when you are trying to access a resource that doesn’t exist or has been moved to a different location. Another reason can be if you have misconfigured the server, it can cause it to look in the wrong location for the resource.

Server and Firewall issues

The last reason that can cause a 403 Forbidden Nginx error, can be an issue with your server or Firewalls. For example, the server could be experiencing a spike in high traffic and aggressive firewall settings that could be blocking access to certain resources. If this is the case, it’s important to check your server logs and find out the root cause of the issue.


Encountering 403 Forbidden Nginx Error can be really frustrating but with the right guidance and approach, it can also be easily fixed.

As we mentioned earlier, this error can happen due to multiple reasons and does not allow you to access the requested resource.

So, whenever you come across this error, first you need to figure out what causing it. To make things a lot easier, if would be great if you check the error logs first and then continue with your 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 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *