What Is A 401 Error Code? (How To Fix It On WordPress)

What Is A 401 Error Code? (How To Fix It On WordPress)
  • 8 min read

It’s a busy world. We’re all extremely busy. When was the last time you looked up from the screen? Did you see the donut truck giving out free samples? No? Perhaps next time.

Sometimes we need those little moments that break our train of thought in order to look up and see where we are. Enter the Error Code. Most people hate them, fair enough, but there may be a hidden silver lining — like how they protect our websites.

Studies show that around 30,000 websites are hacked each day.

BTW – Were you looking for information about the “Error Establishing a Database Connection”? That information is right here: 5 Ways How To Fix Error Establishing A Database Connection In WordPress

So what is a 401 error code?

The 401 error code is one of many HTTP status codes. A 401 error means you can try accessing the resource again using the correct credentials. It’s not the end of the world.

What does a 401 error code look like?

A 401 is often a temporary problem, unlike an HTTP 403 error in which you’re expressly forbidden to access the page you’re hoping to reach.

For example, if directory protection is set up for a website or for a subdirectory of a website, the browser is told via the WWW-Authenticate header line when the URL is called up whether and how you can identify yourself. 

Most of the time the website asks for a login name and a password, which you can enter in a window of the browser. If you have valid credentials, the website will display after that. Otherwise, access is denied and the server returns an Error 401.

What is the Difference Between 401 and 403 Errors?

The 401 error is very similar to the 403 error. The difference is that with a 401, authentication is usually possible.

Difference between 401 and 403 error codes

Authorization Required: A 401 error means that you are not authorized to access the page because you didn’t provide the right credentials, or there was another problem when authenticating your access.

Access Forbidden: A 403 error means that you are denied access to the page or resource.

What is the Cause of a 401 Error Message?

Possible reasons for the occurrence of a 401 error are varied:

  • Invalid link/incorrect URL
  • Incorrect login data
  • DNS error
  • Access to a password-protected website without valid identification
  • Directory protection
  • Locked web hosting

7 Ways You Can Fix 401 Error Codes in Your WordPress Website

Often 401 error codes can be fixed by simply hitting the refresh button. If refreshing your page doesn’t work, try the following:

401 Error Fix #1. Check the URL for errors.

You may be experiencing a 401 error code because you entered the URL incorrectly or the login URL has been changed. Perhaps you clicked on an outdated link saved in your web browser. 

In cases where a page no longer exists, the server may display a 401 error code instead of a 404 code. Check the URL for spelling errors. You can also use a search engine to find the correct URL of the web page you want to access.

Hot Tip: Dead links can seriously impact the user experience and SEO of your site. However, finding and checking links can be a tedious chore. The Broken Link Checker plugin automatically scans your site and points you straight to any dead links. It even generates reports and you can set scheduled scans for regular checking.

401 Error Fix #2. Clear the browser cache and cookies

Using your browser’s cache, you can improve the overall browsing experience by reducing website loading time. For this purpose, browsers store local copies of the content you visit most often. Your browser’s cache can sometimes overlap with the live version of your application, resulting in a 404 error code.

Simply clear the browser’s cache to fix this error.

Similar to cache, there are HTTP cookies, which are basically tiny pieces of stored data. Invalid and/or corrupted cookies can cause an authentication error. Delete the cookies and try to open the page again.

401 Error Fix #3. Switch your WordPress theme

It may be that your theme has thrown the 401 error. Switch to a standard WordPress theme and look at the website to see if the error still appears.

401 Error Fix #4. Disable your WordPress plugins

Since WordPress plugins can change the way your website works, they are a typical cause of 401 error code on WordPress.

In the case of WordPress security plugins, sometimes the plugin intends to do this. For example, some plugins will lock your login page if the plugin suspects that you are being attacked. This can trigger the 401 error code when you try to open your login page. Or the firewall in a plugin could be causing the problem.

In this case, you can contact the plugin’s support to understand the issue once you have identified the problem by disabling the plugin.

In other cases, it may be an unintentional compatibility issue.

To find out which plugin is causing the 401 error code, disable all plugins on your site and reactivate them one by one. If the error occurs only after installing a new plugin, disable the plugin first.

“The average website is attacked 44 times every day. How does that make you feel? A bit uneasy, right? Using a WordPress security plugin to protect your website can help put your mind at ease and keep things safe.”


401 Error Fix #5. Remove password protection at the server level.

If you use htaccess/htpasswd to protect parts of your WordPress site with an additional username/password, disable this additional password protection.

Many web hosts also provide you with a tool that allows you to control such passwords from cPanel. Look for a tool with the name:

  • Protect directories with password
  • Directory Privacy

401 Error Fix #6. Clear your DNS

In rare cases, DNS errors can cause the server to display a 401 error code in your browser. To fix this, you will need to clear your DNS. Although this is a fairly uncommon cause, it is quite easy to fix.

For Windows users:

  • Log into your computer as an administrator
  • Open a search window
  • Type CMD.exe in the search box to open the command prompt
  • Type this little code into the CMD interface: “ipconfig/flushdns”

For macOS users:

  • Open the Command Terminal
  • Type this code into the terminal interface: “sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder”

401 Error Fix #7. Sit back and eat a donut!

Some WordPress hosting companies temporarily block your IP address if they think you’re doing something malicious like intentionally entering wrong passwords. In this case, you can wait until the problem is fixed, as sometimes your site is blocked only for a short period of time.

In addition, many WordPress websites require regular downtime for maintenance. If someone else’s site is experiencing a 401 error, they may be performing maintenance or construction work on the backend that is causing temporary login issues. Give the administrators some time and log in a few minutes later.

Hot- Tip: Rocket’s hosting packages are protected by CFE WAF regulations. Thanks to our enterprise-level WordPress security configurations, your websites are always online and always safe from cyber attacks.. We automatically qualify traffic coming onto your websites and block bad traffic. If we see something malicious going on, we will also block bad traffic. Our security is always on!

401 Error Codes are Not the End of the World

Take time to sit back and smell the coffee. Often solutions occur without us interfering. Stuff happens. The web is a busy place. 401 errors keep us aware of what’s happening on our websites, but they also give us a few minutes to look up from our screen for that donut truck.

HTTP status codes: what other status codes do I need to know?

When your browser requests data, a hypertext transfer protocol is started – Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or HTTP for short. The HTTP status code is the server’s response to the client — for example, the browser. It tells whether the request was successful or whether an error occurred.

The respective HTTP code always consists of a three-digit number and a short explanation of the response. HTTP codes are broken out into five types:

1xx – Informative Responses

HTTP status codes from 100 to 199 provide information about the status of the processing that triggered the request.

2xx – Successful Responses

If processing is completed correctly, the client informs about it by means of codes from 200 to 299.

3xx – Redirections

Redirection codes appear when the requested content is not accessible through the usual address but has been moved to another one. This is indicated by codes from 300 to 399.

4xx – Client Error

Status codes from 400 to 499 occur when there are incorrect requests to the client.

5xx – Server Error

If the server does not respond or other errors can be traced back to it, codes from 500 to 599 are used.

HTTP status codes are a really important part of successful search engine optimization too. In addition to HTTP error codes, however, there are also very useful HTTP codes. These include, for example, the 301 redirect, which is important for SEO as well as link strength and avoids duplicate content. Setting a 301 redirect is a good way to resolve that 404 page not found problem.

Hot Tip: If you don’t want to touch your .htaccess file in order to add 301 redirects, you can use a plugin. Redirection allows you to easily detect, manage, and solve these issues. It will pick up where you have 404 errors and allow you to create 301 redirects. This will ensure that you still get the full ranking juice from the redirected page.

HTTP 400 status codes: what is an error code again?

The Client Error Response status codes are used in situations in which the error seems to have been caused by the client. Because isn’t that sometimes the case? The server should include an entity containing an explanation of the error situation, and whether it’s temporary or permanent.

The best-known HTTP status code is the error message “404 – not found” or “404 – page not available,” which is displayed when the requested page is not available.

404 error codes

A 404 page not found is a great opportunity to offer a helping hand to your visitor. Don’t give them a generic page. They’re not happy landing here, so give them something to smile about: a contact form, a percent discount, a joke, a list of most recently visited pages, or perhaps even a how-to video – or even a discount code.

See the funniest 404 page right here: https://visitsteve.com/404.html. Your 404 page is an opportunity! Don’t blow it.

WordPress offers Broken Link Checker plugins, so you don’t need to check on a regular basis. You can also check for broken links here: https://ahrefs.com/broken-link-checker

“It’s natural to have a few 404 errors here and there, and Google knows this. It’s always a good idea to create a custom 404 page with links to other resources on your site so that your visitors don’t get cranky and leave.”


Don’t let error codes scrub the launch of your next sale. Let Rocket show you what the fastest WordPress hosting REALLY means!

Our team of experts is standing by. Most website owners have switched hosting providers multiple times over the history of their site. We’re confident that you won’t look back once you make the switch to Rocket.net. 

New call-to-action

The best customer support 24/7, super fast speed, ease of use, and access to top tools and industry-leading resources should always come standard. We’re revolutionizing the way your WordPress site gets served up to the world, and we look forward to partnering with you in growing your business.