403 Forbidden Errors: How to Fix Them in Nginx Web Servers

Are you seeing a 403 Forbidden error on your Nginx web server? Don’t worry, it’s a common issue and can usually be fixed with a few simple steps. This error typically means that the server permissions are not allowing access to a specific page or resource. By adjusting the configuration files and permissions, you can quickly resolve this issue and get your website up and running again.

Fixing 403 Forbidden Errors in Nginx Web Servers Tutorial

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to understand that this tutorial will guide you through the process of identifying and correcting the issues that lead to a 403 Forbidden error on an Nginx web server. This will involve editing configuration files and changing directory permissions.

Step 1: Check the Nginx Configuration File

The first step is to check the Nginx configuration file for any errors or misconfigurations.

After opening the Nginx configuration file, look for any incorrect settings related to the directory or file that is showing the 403 error. Make sure that the root directive points to the correct directory and that the index directive includes the correct default file.

Step 2: Check Directory Permissions

Next, you’ll need to check the permissions of the directory where the file or resource is located.

Ensure that the directory has the correct permissions set, allowing the Nginx user to read and access the files. The permissions should generally be set to 755 for directories and 644 for files.

Step 3: Check File Permissions

Similarly, check the permissions of the file that is showing the error.

If the file permissions are set incorrectly, the server will not be able to serve the file to users. Adjust the permissions as needed to allow proper access.

Step 4: Check for SELinux Context

If you are running SELinux, ensure that the correct context is set for the Nginx web directory.

SELinux can sometimes cause permission issues that result in a 403 error. Use the chcon command to modify the context if necessary.

Step 5: Restart Nginx

After making the necessary changes, restart the Nginx service to apply the new configurations.

Use the systemctl restart nginx or service nginx restart command to restart the server. This will ensure that all your changes take effect.

After completing these steps, the 403 Forbidden error should be resolved. Your website should now be accessible to users, and you can continue to manage your Nginx server with the confidence that your permissions and configurations are set up correctly.

Tips for Fixing 403 Forbidden Errors in Nginx Web Servers

  • Always back up your configuration files before making changes, in case you need to revert to the original settings.
  • If you’re not familiar with command-line text editors, consider using a GUI-based text editor to modify your configuration files.
  • Pay attention to the Nginx error log, located in /var/log/nginx/error.log, as it can provide specific details about the cause of the 403 error.
  • Ensure that the user running the Nginx process has the proper ownership of the web directory and files.
  • After changing permissions, use the ls -l command to verify that they have been set correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a 403 Forbidden error?

A 403 Forbidden error is an HTTP status code that indicates that the server understands the request but refuses to authorize it. This often means there is an issue with permissions or configurations.

How do I check the Nginx error log?

To check the Nginx error log, use the command cat /var/log/nginx/error.log or tail -f /var/log/nginx/error.log to view the most recent entries.

Can file ownership cause a 403 error?

Yes, if the files or directories are not owned by the user running the Nginx process, it can lead to a 403 Forbidden error.

Do I need to restart Nginx after making changes?

Yes, you should always restart the Nginx service after making changes to the configuration files or permissions to apply the changes.

What does SELinux have to do with a 403 error?

If you are using SELinux, it applies its own set of policies that can restrict access to files and directories, potentially causing a 403 error if not configured correctly.


  1. Check the Nginx configuration file for errors.
  2. Check directory permissions and ensure they are set to 755.
  3. Check file permissions and ensure they are set to 644.
  4. Check the SELinux context if applicable.
  5. Restart the Nginx service to apply changes.


Fixing a 403 Forbidden error on an Nginx web server is a straightforward process that involves checking and correcting configuration files and permissions. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can quickly diagnose and resolve the issue, ensuring that your website remains accessible to your users. Remember, it’s essential to back up your configurations before making changes and to check the error logs for specific details about the error. With a little bit of patience and attention to detail, you’ll have your Nginx server running smoothly again in no time. If you continue to experience issues or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to seek out additional resources or consult with a web server expert.