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How to fix 403 error on WhatsApp

Heres our step by step guide on how to fix Whatsapp error code 403.
Last Updated on February 22, 2024
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WhatsApp stands as the world’s premier messaging service, with a staggering user base of over 2 billion people across the globe. Despite its widespread popularity, some Android users encounter difficulties when attempting to use the app, with the error code 403 being a notably common issue. This error hampers communication and leads to frustration among its vast user community.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the root causes of the how to fix 403 error on WhatsApp dilemma, drawing insights from the Google support forums and various authoritative sources. We aim to provide a detailed exploration of this problem, including why it occurs and practical solutions to resolve it.

Understanding WhatsApp error code 403

WhatsApp error code 403 is an HTTP status code that signifies a lack of permissions to access a particular page or resource. This error primarily affects Android users and manifests when attempting to install or update WhatsApp from the Google Play Store.

It’s a signal from the web server to the browser—often Google Chrome in the context of Android devices—that the request has been understood but refuses to authorize it. Let’s delve deeper into the nuances of this error and its implications for WhatsApp users.

Causes of error code 403

  1. Internet Connection Issues: A shaky or unreliable internet connection can interrupt the browsing experience, leading to difficulties in downloading or updating apps, including WhatsApp.
  2. Google Account Conflicts: Problems associated with your Google account, such as sync errors or verification issues, may prevent the Play Store from allowing the download of WhatsApp, resulting in a 403 error.
  3. Permission and Privacy Settings: The 403 error may arise due to incorrect permission settings on your Android device. These settings regulate what data and features apps, including the Play Store, can access.
  4. Web Server Restrictions: Specific web server configurations or restrictions on certain domains might block access to the download URL, causing this error.
  5. For Linux/VPS Users: Explain basic chmod commands (e.g., chmod 755) could be needed – but caution users if they’re unsure.

Technical insights

  • HTTP Status Code: The 403 Forbidden error is part of the HTTP status code group, which communicates between web servers and browsers (e.g., Google Chrome) about the state of the requested page or resource.
  • Browsing and Permissions: When browsing the web or accessing online services, permissions play a crucial role in what content or resources a user can access. In the case of WhatsApp’s 403 error, it could mean that the server recognizes the request but refuses action due to a lack of permission.
  • Domains and Redirect Issues: Sometimes, the error may be related to issues with domain names or incorrect redirect settings on the server hosting the WhatsApp download file. This can prevent successful navigation to the intended download page.
  • Malware Considerations: Although less common, malware present on a device can modify browser settings or interfere with app installations, potentially leading to error 403.

Understanding the root cause of the WhatsApp error code 403 is essential for troubleshooting and resolving the issue. Whether it’s adjusting permissions, ensuring a stable internet connection, or resolving Google account issues, recognizing these factors is the first step towards fixing the error and restoring access to WhatsApp on Android devices.

Preparing to troubleshoot

Before diving into solutions for the 403 error in WhatsApp, it’s wise to take a few preparatory steps:

  • The Importance of Backups: Whenever you are making system-level changes that could fix a problem, accidental issues could arise and lead to data loss. Back up important WhatsApp media (photos, videos) before delving into more technical troubleshooting steps.
  • Tools and Environments: Understand that some solutions involve working with a command-line interface (Terminal on Mac or Linux) or modifying settings within a VPS (Virtual Private Server) environment. If these concepts are unfamiliar, focus on browser-based troubleshooting first or seek technical assistance.

Understanding the problem

The 403 Forbidden Error usually indicates permission issues. This means you may not have the correct authorization to access specific files on a server. When encountering this error on WhatsApp, it typically involves several possible causes:

  • Server-side File/Folder Permissions: The permissions for folders and files on the server housing your WhatsApp media might be set incorrectly (especially common for Linux and VPS setups).
  • Missing Index File: Web servers rely on a default file (index.html, index.php, etc.) to load a folder’s contents. If this file is incorrectly named or missing, a 403 error can occur.

To pinpoint the exact cause, take note of the details within the error message itself.  It might specify the problematic file and path.

How to fix WhatsApp error code 403

Resolving the WhatsApp error code 403 involves a series of steps aimed at addressing the underlying causes of this forbidden error message. Follow these detailed instructions to navigate through the process smoothly.



Ensure stable internet connection when downloading

A stable internet connection is fundamental when downloading or updating apps to prevent the error status code 403 from occurring.

  • Switch Internet Connection: If you’re using a mobile network and experiencing issues, consider switching to a Wi-Fi connection. Occasionally, the transition from one type of internet connection to another can significantly improve download stability.
  • Restart Your Router: For Wi-Fi users, restarting the router can help resolve any connectivity issues. Simply unplug the router, wait for a minute, and then plug it back in.
  • Clear Browsing Data: On devices where you use a browser to access the Play Store, clearing browsing data can resolve conflicts that might be contributing to the error. Go to your browser settings, find the “Clear browsing data” option, and select it to remove cookies and cached files.



Remove and re-add Google account

Sometimes, the forbidden error message can be linked to issues with your Google account. Removing and re-adding the account can refresh your connection to Google’s servers.

  • Remove Google Account: Go to your device’s Settings > Accounts > Google, select your account, and tap on “Remove account.”
  • Re-add Google Account: Restart your device after removing the account. Then, go back to Settings > Accounts > Add account > Google, and follow the prompts to re-add your account.



Make sure there is enough space on your phone

If the error persists, check the installation location. If the SD is full, then create enough space by deleting files, or changing the installation location.

Insufficient storage space can lead to an incorrect file being downloaded or an incomplete installation, triggering the 403 error.

  • Check Storage: Navigate to Settings > Storage to view your available space. If space is limited, consider removing unused apps, large media files, or moving data to the cloud.
  • Clear Data and Cache for Google Play Store: Sometimes, the Play Store itself can accumulate excess data that interferes with its operation. Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > See all apps > Google Play Store > Storage & cache, and then tap on “Clear storage” and “Clear cache.”

Additional tips

  • Adjust Folder and File Permissions: This is more technical and might require SSH access for advanced users. Ensure the directory and file permissions are set correctly. This step is generally more applicable to web servers but can be relevant for users with access to file system settings on their Android devices.
  • Backup Important Data: Always backup your important data before performing system adjustments or when planning to clear significant amounts of data.
  • Use a Plugin or Tool: For advanced users, certain plugins or tools designed for Android devices can help manage folder permissions or automate the process of clearing data and cache.

Following these steps should help you overcome the WhatsApp error code 403, allowing for a seamless installation or update of the app on your Android device. If the problem persists, consider reaching out to WhatsApp support or your device manufacturer for further assistance.

Resolving permission issues


On Android devices



File permissions management

  • Download a file manager app with permissions features (e.g., Solid Explorer, FX File Explorer).
  • Navigate to WhatsApp’s media folders (usually in “Internal Storage/WhatsApp/Media”)
  • Long-press on a file or folder and locate the “Properties” or “Permissions” option.
  • Ensure the correct permissions are set, typically allowing “Read” and “Write” for WhatsApp itself. However, proceed with caution to avoid breaking other app functions.



Clear Google Play Store cache and data

  • Go to Settings on your Android device and locate “Apps” or “Applications.”
  • Find the Google Play Store and tap on it.
  • Select “Storage” and then tap on “Clear Data” and “Clear Cache.” This can sometimes resolve issues relating to Google Play Store errors when downloading/updating WhatsApp.

On web servers (For WhatsApp web users)

Important: These steps assume you have administrator-level access to your web server. Incorrect permissions can severely impact your website. Proceed with caution or consult a system administrator.



Terminal commands (Linux/Mac)

  • Connect to your server using SSH.
  • Navigate to the directory containing WhatsApp media files.
  • Use the chmod command to set permissions. A common fix is chmod -R 755 directory_name (Read and Execute for owner, group, and others).
  • You may also need to adjust file ownership using chown. Consult server documentation for proper usage.



FTP client

  • Connect to your server using an FTP client like FileZilla.
  • Right-click files or folders and select “File Permissions.”
  • Set permissions, often “755” for directories and “644” for files, but verify based on your server setup.

Additional notes

  • Incorrect Permissions are Risky: Overly open permissions create security vulnerabilities. Change permissions only for the necessary WhatsApp-related files and directories.
  • Security Plugins: If you use WordPress or similar, some security plugins can interfere with file permissions. Temporarily disabling them during troubleshooting can help isolate the issue.

Final Thoughts

Addressing the 403 error on WhatsApp can typically be managed with a few practical steps, ensuring a swift resolution for most users. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you’re well-equipped with the knowledge of how to fix 403 error on WhatsApp, an issue that, while common, can be resolved through precise and thoughtful troubleshooting.

It’s important to remember that WhatsApp’s immense popularity means the app is utilized across a diverse range of Android devices, from high-end smartphones to the more budget-friendly Android tablets. This wide usage can sometimes lead to unique challenges, as the error might persist in certain cases due to device-specific issues or deeper problems like folder’s name misconfiguration, wireless connectivity hiccups, or a lingering Google Play Store error.

Revisiting the app’s homepage or the Google Play Store page might provide additional insights or updates that could resolve the issue. In instances where the issue persists, reaching out to official support is the next best step.

Bradley is a long time tech enthusiast and gamer, first picking up a controller at the age of 3. Nowadays, he enjoys finding the best deals and helping out fellow enthusiasts. When he's not at the co