Knowledge Base

'403 Forbidden' error message

This article describes why a "403 Forbidden" error message may occur, and how to resolve it.

Problem

When you try to access your site in a web browser, you receive a “403 Forbidden” error message.

Additionally, you may see entries in the error log similar to the following line:

[Wed May 22 08:29:35 2013] [crit] [client xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx] (13)Permission denied: /home/username/public_html/.htaccess pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable

Cause

This problem occurs when any of the following conditions is true:

  • There is no index file in the document root directory (for example, there is no index.html or index.php file in the public_html directory).
  • Permissions are set incorrectly for either the .htaccess file or the public_html directory:
    • The file permissions for the .htaccess file should be set to 644 (read and write permissions for the user, and read permissions for the group and world).
    • The permissions for the public_html directory should be set to 755 (read, write, and execute permissions for the user, and read and execute permissions for the group and world). When the “403 Forbidden” error occurs, this often indicates that the permissions for the public_html directory are set incorrectly to 644.

Resolution

First, make sure there is an index page in the document root directory.

Next, make sure the correct file permissions are set for the .htaccess file. To do this, type the following command at the command prompt:

chmod 644 ~/public_html/.htaccess

Lastly, make sure the correct file permissions are set for the public_html directory. To do this, type the following command at the command prompt:

chmod 755 ~/public_html
Alternatively, you can change file permissions by using the cPanel File Manager. For more information about how to use cPanel to change file permissions, please see this article.

More Information

For more information about file permissions, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filesystem_permissions#Traditional_Unix_permissions.