What is 401 Status code? How To Fix 401 Unauthorized – HTTP?

Have you ever noticed a login failure or 401 Unauthorized status code? 

Sometimes when we visit a website, it asks for our credentials and shows this status code. But what does the 401 code mean anyway? Let’s figure it out.

To put it simply, it means that we haven’t provided any valid authentication to the site, and you need proper authentication to access the content of this website.

Normally it is a user-side error but at times it can be caused by servers. Let’s roll down to learn more.

401 status code

401 Status code falls under the category of HTTP 4xx status codes which indicate client-side issues. Now, the argument is how to fix this HTTP code 401.

As I told you before, 401 Error means you need verification. It happens when requested resources are protected by server security and it necessarily asks for valid credentials to view a website.

This doesn’t mean it is only a client-side error, it can occur through the site’s server. DNS issues, restricted .htaccess files, and faulty plugins on the server are common reasons for this.

If you are the admin of that website and this error occurs through the server, it may be possible that you will no longer be able to log in to your WordPress dashboard. This could be exhausting and inconvenient for you as well as for your website visitors. 

Another reason for these types of errors can be the incorrectly entered credentials. But there are many other reasons that I have discussed below.

Also: See how you can create your own website and how much it’ll cost you.

Why Do We Get 401 Http Errors?

Whether this error has originated from the server side or the client side, you must be aware of all the reasons. This info could be helpful to prevent them.

  • Outdated Browser cache and cookies – This can happen because of the outdated cache and cookies in our browser,
  • Invalid credentials – This normally happens when we enter the wrong username and password. So double-check your credentials.
  • Misspelled URLs– A 401 error can also occur when the wrong URL has been entered. So be sure to double-check the URL, it may be the culprit.
  • DNS error– Sometimes inaccuracy in DNS causes 401 errors.
  • Expired sessions– one cause of such error can be expired sessions. Try to log out and log in again.
  • An issue in plugins– Error can be caused from the server- side. Newly updated or old plugins could be causing the issue.
  • Security Firewall Issue Firewall and WordPress security systems sometimes cause this error, as they identify some harmful activities.

How 401 Error Message Occurs On Web Pages?

  • HTTP 401 Error – Unauthorised
  • Access Denied
  • 401 Unauthorised
  • HTTP error 401

Now, I will show you different ways to troubleshoot 401 Unauthorized Error.

Related: 500 status code

How To Fix 401 Unauthorized Error

Before making any changes in server settings we will recommend you make a full backup of your database. After that, you can easily test these methods without being worried about any data loss.

Incorrect URLs

Incorrect URLs can result in a 401 Status Code. Try to write URLs manually or paste them with accuracy.

Reload the page

Sometimes simply reloading the page is enough to fix most issues, we recommend doing this before trying out the other fixes.

Outdated Browser Cache and Cookies 

You may know that browsers store information about the pages you visit, this stored info is called cache, and it makes loading speed faster when you visit a site again. 

It is possible that the cache may have some incorrect data which is causing the issue. So below we have provided steps to clear your Browser data.

For Google Chrome users

Step1– Open your browser,  use a short key – Ctrl+Shift+Delete or

Step 2- Click on the three dots

chrome extension-401 status code

Step 3- Go to Settings>Privacy and Security

Step 4- Click on Clear browsing data

chrome-more tools-clear browsing data

Step 5- Select the time range

clear data-chrome-401 status code error resolve

Refresh your tab.

Clear cache of the Firewall

Steps for clearing Cloudflare cache

Step 1- You have to access your dashboard 

Step 2- Search for an option, caching

Step 3- In caching, you will find the option to Purge Everything.

purge everything-cloudflare

Step 4- Click on Purge Everything 

purge all cache

This will lead to the slow loading of your website, temporarily.

In some of the servers, you have to contact the server team to clear the cache manually.

Step 6- Clear Data.

Disabling Plugins And Themes 

When a 401 error happens from the server side, you can’t access your dashboard so in this condition, you have to use FTP /cPanel.

By cPanel- 

Step 1- Login to your cPanel 

Step 2- Go to the file manager

cPanel-file manager

Step 3- Search public_html > wp-content > plugins 

wp-content in file manager

Step 4- Rename plugins as disabled_plugins

Step 5- Clicked on Rename

rename files-401 status code

Step 6- Refresh your tab.

By FTP –

You should know your FTP details. Most of the time hosting providers give you FTP details, When you purchase a hosting

You can use these methods to troubleshoot this error.

Step 1- Go to your cPanel

Step 2- Then Go to FTP account settings

Step 3- Search public_html > wp -content> plugins

Step 4- Rename plugins as disabled_plugins

Step 5- Refresh your tab.

If the error got fixed then start reactivating plugins one by one. If not then try other methods.

WWW-Authenticate Header

Do you know what a www Authenticate header is? The www Authenticate header is a response header that shows HTTP authentication methods that can be used to access some special resources.

This can help you to figure out the cause of the problems so that you can fix them.

Step1- Go to the page that is showing the 401 error 

Step 2- Open the developer console in  Chrome

Step 3- Right-click on the page and select Inspect or Press Ctrl+Shift+J 

inspect- chrome

Step 4- Now click on the Network tab and reload your page

chrome-developers tool

Step 5- A list of resources will appear. Select Status header

Step 6- Short the header that is showing a 401 error

Step 7- Select the entry and click on the Header section

www authenticate

Step 8- Check the www Authenticate header, under the response header.

It will show you specific details about the error and now you can take the necessary steps to fix it.

Analyze .htaccess file

Check your htaccess file as this type of error can be caused by directives sometimes. 

Steps to check –

Step 1- Go to your FTP/ file manager

Step 2- Look for the .htaccess file

Step 3- Select it and edit it.

Now you can see the coding 

Password-protected login details are given in the .htpasswd. It has a username and password

Step 4- Create a backup of this file, in case you need it

Step 5- As protection is not intended, delete the code from the htaccess file.

Step 6- Click on Save Changes.

DNS error

Sometimes 401 errors occur because of the DNS cache, so in this method, we will guide you on how to clear the DNS cache.

For Windows

We can clear your DNS history with the help of the Command prompt

Step 1- Go to Command Prompt

Step 2- Write a command ipconfig / displaydns

This will show your history 

dns clearing-ipconfig cmd

Step 3- Then type the command ipconfig /flushdns


Step 4- After the execution of the command, a message will appear “Successfully flushed DNS cache ”.

Step 5- Close your Command prompt

For MacOS

Step 1- Open the terminal

To know which version you are using : 

Click on Apple Icon > About this mac

Step 2- Select the terminal 

Step 3- Run the following command sudo Killall -HUP mDNSResponder

Step 4- Press Enter

Step 5- Refresh the tab, Try to visit the site again. Hope the issue got resolved.

Below we have provided different command forms for different versions-

  • Mac OS X Yosemite v10.10 and v10.10.3 

Sudo discoveryutil mdnsflushcache

  • Mac OS X Mavericks, Mountain Lion 

Sudo dscacheutil -flushcache

  • Mac OS X Yosemite and later

Sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder

  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Sudo dscacheutil -flushcache

Contact your Hosting Provider

If your issue persists even after trying all of the methods mentioned above, then you should contact the hosting provider for further assistance.

Sometimes hosting providers temporarily block your IP, if they find you are doing something wrong.

Some hosting provider gives 24/7 hours of live chat and technical services like Hostinger and Fastcomet.

Also: Things to keep in mind while choosing any server provider.

Frequently Asked Questions about HTTP Status 401

Difference between 401 and 403 HTTP error codes.

401 unauthorized Status code indicates that that request is not applied because of incorrect login credentials, which means valid authentication is needed whereas 403 status code indicates that the server understands the request but refuses to grant access.

What are the 5 categories of HTTP Status codes?

The 5 categories of HTTP Status Code are as follows-

1XX – It means Informational response
2XX– It shows that the request has been successful
3XX– These codes indicate Redirection 
4XX– This error indicates Client- error
5XX– This error indicates Server- error

What is the root cause of the 401 error?

This error occurs when the server does not authenticate your request due to a lack of valid credentials. It is a client-side error but it also happens on the server side.

Conclusion: Understanding and Fixing HTTP Code 401

Facing such type of can be annoying and challenging, as it requires a lot of time to investigate and resolve it. But we have to do it because it is related to our website’s security and protection.

In this guide, we have explained 401 unauthorized error, its causes, and ways to fix it. We hope it will help you! 

Have you experienced a 409 error? To know what it means and ways to fix it visit here.

About Author: Vishesh Gupta

blogger and creator of website cheapandbesthosting.com, Web Hosting Reviewer, SEO and Digital marketing expert
Blogger and Creator of cheapandbesthosting.com

Seasoned Professional with 15 years of experience in Sales and Marketing. Entrepreneur, Consultant and Blogger helping people earn through jobs and blogging. Experienced Hosting Reviewer who likes to collect detailed info about existing players and share it with my audience. Previously worked with leading Banks and Telecom Companies.

I completed my Masters in Management with specialization in Finance and Marketing.

Visit our Hosting Review and Blogging Guide for more interesting articles.

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