It can be very frustrating to receive a 401 error on your WordPress website. Reloading the page could occasionally be helpful.
Consequently, what does a 401 Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) response code mean?
This error may be brought on by a browser issue, but in a few uncommon circumstances, it might also be a server-side issue.
The good news is that 401 error codes are frequently simple to resolve. In fact, if you can locate the error’s cause, you might be able to resolve the issue on your own.
Learn the reasons why 401 errors occur as well as how to fix and avoid them by reading on.
What is a 401 error?
This error message may appear when you try to access a website using an invalid URL, a username or password that isn’t correct, or an out-of-date browser cache.
Most of the time, repairing client-side errors can quickly fix the problem. In other instances, the problem might be server-side, where the web server denies a client’s attempts to access a requested resource even though those attempts are legitimate.
This could be the result of willful modifications a user made to the server or an unintentional error during the authentication process.
When you run into this issue, an error message will appear in your browser. The 401 error appears under various titles on various platforms. Examples of what you might see are as follows:
- 401 authorization required.
- 401 unauthorized error.
- Error 401 unauthorized.
- HTTP error 401 – unauthorized.
- HTTP 401.
- Access denied.
Here, the error code itself—not the text variations around it—is what matters most. No matter what your browser shows you, the error code lets you know what the issue is. It’s also essential to finding a solution.
Typical reasons for 401 errors on ASP.NET websites
Let’s take a closer look at the possible causes of the 401 error code on your ASP.NET website before discussing possible fixes.
1. Incorrect URLs
Typos happen to everyone occasionally. Incorrectly entering a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) can result in issues ranging from 401 errors to misdirection.
How about if the URL is accurate? You might be trying to access an old page that has been moved or deleted.
In either scenario, the client tries to access the resource you want via an illegal or invalid path, and the server may reject your request.
2. Expired cache and cookies
Cookies “remember” your device and browser by “remembering” the HTTP cookies that your browser uses to store browser data in your memory. A quick browsing experience depends on cookies and the browser cache.
Today’s cookies also save your level of authentication. As a result, you won’t need to log in each time you access a website or social media platform. Browser cookies make sure the server sends you information based on your authorization level while keeping your online session active.
You might get a 401 Unauthorized error due to improper authentication if your cookies expire or if your cache is corrupted or cleared.
3. Firewall and plugin configurations
Instances of trying to access specific pages may result in 401 errors if you’ve recently installed a firewall or new plugin on your ASP.NET website.
For instance, even if you have administrator access, some security tools may completely take over your website and limit access to particular pages.
Any login attempts might be interpreted as malicious activity by the tools because it runs diagnostics on your website to improve it. This might result in a 401 error page appearing on your website.
4. Protected URLs
At the server level, access to particular URLs may be strictly controlled or managed. These restricted resources are only accessible to authorized personnel. In this situation, accessing the URL from an unauthorized web browser might result in a 401 error.
Troubleshooting 401 errors
A 401 error is frequently a client-side rather than a server-side problem, as we have already discussed. As a result, fixing it is frequently simple. Here are some options you could try:
1. Verify the URL
Verifying that the URL being used is valid or correct is one of the simplest solutions for a 401 error. Servers reject attempts to access a website from invalid or incorrect URLs in order to secure it.
Be sure to spell check the URL first. Verify that your target URL contains the proper extension, hyphens, and special characters. You should now be able to access the website without any issues if everything looks good.
Check to see if the page address has changed since your last access if you are still receiving a 401 error. It could have been relocated or removed. Find the page you want to access by going back to the homepage. This is a common way to discover the correct link.
2. Check your login credentials
You should also double-check your login information. This error can appear on a page when you try to access a website with an incorrect username or password. Make sure your authentication credentials are up to date and that you are using the username and password appropriately.
You can try to reset or recover the password if you’ve forgotten it.
3. Clear and reload the browser cache and cookies
The majority of contemporary browsers, as was mentioned above, save your authentication status in cookies and the website’s cache. In this manner, you can always continue where you left off.
Since most page files are temporarily stored in your device’s memory to maintain the status of your logins, the cache also aids in accelerating browsing.
A 401 error is frequently generated when trying to access a web app with expired cookies.
Clearing all cookies from the problematic website and refreshing the page are simple fixes for this. You can also reload the page and clear your browsing history. This might entail starting a fresh session.
You can also delete all cache files and make room for new files and logins by clearing the cache. Often, doing so resolves 401 unauthorized access errors.
Depending on your browser, there are different ways to clear cookies.
4. Check for DNS changes
Changes to your domain name server (DNS) can result in 401 errors, although they are less common than other issues. Your device typically has DNS records to aid in matching URLs to IP addresses.
You might need to flush your DNS cache if it contains outdated or invalid URLs and IP addresses.
Using the command line, you can force your device to refresh and authenticate the URLs as well as clear the DNS cache.
Run the ipconfig/flushdns command from the Windows command prompt. Windows will indicate that the DNS cache has been flushed by displaying a message.
Run the Mac’s sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder command.
5. Disable passwords on pages
It may be possible to fix this error code by disabling password protection on some of your website’s pages.
6. Check the WWW-Authenticate header response
It could be a more serious server-side issue if none of these troubleshooting techniques worked.
Check the WWW-Authenticate header on your website as the next step. Access to administrators is necessary for this.
A WWW-Authenticate header field with at least one challenge is sent to the target resource when a server generates a 401 response. A browser must frequently pass this header’s fixed authentication process in order to access the desired page.
You can find the issue and resolve it by comprehending the response and the needed authentication strategy.
To access the WWW-Authenticate header:
- Open the problematic page in your browser. If you’re using Google Chrome, right-click the page and select inspect. Click Shift + Control + C to open the browser console on Firefox.
- Select the entry with the 401 error message under the network tab.
- Click the headers tab. Under the WWW-Authenticate entry in the response headers section, find the server’s authentication method that allows access to the webpage.
Once you’ve accessed this page, you can identify the error and learn how to fix the authentication issue.
7. Contact your host
If you’ve tried everything but it hasn’t worked, you can ask your hosting company for assistance. The technical support staff of your host can investigate your website and assist you in troubleshooting 401 and other HTTP errors.
Although a 401 HTTP response code can be inconvenient, once you comprehend how it functions, you can fix the problem on your own.
You might be using an incorrect URL or login information; you can fix those problems from your browser. You might also need to log back into your website after clearing the cache, cookies, and history from your browser. Try the more involved steps on this list if these don’t resolve the issue.
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