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What it Is 401 Error and How to Fix It?

401 Unauthorized Error is an HTTP reaction rating code illustrating that an application made by the client has not been verified. A network 401 Error signifies that the resource is barred and needs authentication that the client did not provide.

Just like many HTTP feedback codes especially those that illustrate an error, diagnosing a server 401 unauthorized error  access can be challenging. There are more than 50 rating codes that illustrate the intricate relationship between; a web application, the client, a web server, and different third-party web services. Let’s have a comprehensive discussion about the 401 Unauthorized Error.

HTTP 401 Error Unauthorized

HTTP error 401.2 unauthorized indicates that you are not licensed to view a certain page as a result of invalid verification headers. This is triggered by the incorrect configuration of IIS (Internet Information Server). How do you determine that the error message 401.2 unauthorized log-on failed due to server configuration?

When you try to access a particular web page only to get a “You are not licensed to access this page” or “you have no permission to access this page or directory with the details you provided”. 401 Unauthorized Error may also occur because the verification method you used is either disabled or you are trying to use NTM via a proxy server.

How do you Solve this Problem?

Do so by activating at least one verification method. Here is how to go about it.

  1. Click the Start menu and click on Programs. Proceed to Administrative Tools and click on Internet Services Manager
  2. Below the Tree pane, access your preferred website
  3. Right-click on the website and click properties
  4. Click on the Directory Security Tab to access Anonymous access and verification control. Now click Edit
  5. Choose and apply at least one verification method

What does HTTP 401 Unauthorized Access Error Mean?

Do you encounter an HTTP error 401 unauthorized access is denied when you want to login on a website? The 401 Unauthorized Access Error is referred to as an HTML Error Code. It often occurs when you are browsing through the internet.

It indicates that you are restricted from accessing the desired page. The page can only load if you sign in using the right User ID and password. It reminds you to key in the accurate details required to access your website.

The server 401 unauthorized error access can also be all HTTP response rating codes that are classified in category 4xx. . Often, these are regarded as Client-Side error reactions. It means that a website user and the browser or connected hardware cannot access some vital steps ideal to obtain certain website content.

Apart from an incorrect username and password, there could be a connectivity error or a problem with your hardware configuration. While this is a client-side error, it can occur as a server error when validating authentication credentials.

401 Unauthorized Error

Variations of HTTP 401 Error

Error message 401.2 unauthorized logon is not standard. Remember, this error illustrates itself in various ways as seen below.

  • HTTP Error 401 – Unauthorized
  • Authorization required
  • Response: HTTTP_Unauthorized
  • 401 unauthorized

It is worth mentioning that the illustration of error 401 depends on the website, seeing that some website owners customize their pages.

What are the Reasons?

The Wrong URL: When you are attempting to gain access to a wrong URL and you receive an HTTP error 401 unauthorized access is denied alert.

The Wrong Login Credentials: If you key in an incorrect username and password you will realize that the remote server returned an error 401 Unauthorized.

DNS Error: Sometimes DNS lookup inaccuracy is responsible for the 401 error alert you receive on your browser. The website needs login details without notifying you to log in.

Attempting to Gain Access on a Website With No Login Details: When you need to access a section of the website where you need to log in securely, you are likely to get a 401 error message.

How to Fix a 401 Unauthorized Error?

There are various methods of solving this problem as seen below.

Method 1. Wrong URL

Confirm whether the URL you entered is correct. Many times, a wrong URL is responsible for a 401 error. Sometimes you may attempt to provide an incorrect URL or open a URL link that is only reserved for licensed users.

Always check to ensure the address you provide is valid. Some web servers offer security from unsuitable URLs. For instance, this can be through acquiring a directory file via URL to obtain data.

When this happens, you should type the right URL before reloading the page to fix the problem. Often, if we are trying to access a certain URL via the same address the link is likely to be wrong.

Method 2: Input the Right Login Details

If a 401 login appears after you login, this means you gave an invalid username or password. You will need to key in the right username and password to access a site. If you forgot your login details especially your password, you have to reset it through the website’s in-built Password Reset feature. This will allow you to pick a new password.

Resetting a password is easy especially if you registered the website using a valid email address. Many websites will send a confirmation email complete with your username and new password. In some cases, you may need to contact the website admin to reclaim access. Try to access the site once you obtain the right login details.

Method 3: Ensure You have Logged In

What happens when your URL is correct but you still cannot gain access to the website? In this case, chances would be high that you may not be logged in to the website. To fix this problem, check the website’s landing page and find the login link. Provide your login details and proceed to load the page.

In case you do not have login details, you will need to create a new account using a safe access link. Once your account is ready, accessing the site will be easy.

Method 4: Clear Cookies and Cache from Your Browser

A 401 error is an indication that the client lacks the authorization to complete the specific request. This could be due to corrupted or invalid cookies which trigger the wrong server verification. Cache on your browser stores local models of web resources and content.

Your active version could be clashing with the cached form of your desktop which triggers a 401 error. If this is the case you would need to clear your cookies and cache to eliminate this error. Do this by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Del.

Method 5: Getting Rid of Possible DNS Error

If a DNS error is responsible for the 401 error, you will need to flush it out to eradicate it. You will also need to conduct regular internet service maintenance. Here is how to go about flushing a DNS on Windows.

  • To launch the Run window press the window key and R together
  • Type the cmd command and click ok
  • A command display window will appear on the screen. Input the ipconfig /flushdns command and press enter
  • You will see a successfully flushed alert

Method 6: Disable Theme and Plugins Temporarily

Sometimes one of your themes or plugins could be responsible for the 401 error. If this is the case you would have to disable all your themes and plugins. To achieve this Open cPanel, click on File Manager, and rename the themes and plugins folders. If you are certain that your theme or plugin is responsible for the error then you would have to disable all the themes and plugins to fix the problem.

Method 7: Log Out and Login Again

Sometimes you will get a 401 error code even when you have followed the right procedure. If that is the case then the server could be responsible. An error can occur during website maintenance and this is why you should logout and login again. Doing so can clear away the error.

Method 8: Reload the Page

Did you know that the easiest quick fixes can be all you need to fix problems? In this case, all you will need to do is reload the website. Before doing so, first, delete your cookies and cache. This prevents your browser from loading potential problem pages from the internal storage.

Method 9: Seek Assistance from your Website operator?

Sometimes you may not understand the problem. In this case, you will need to contact your website operator. Often, their email is displayed on the site. Whether or not you are responsible for the error, your operator will help you fix the problem. Remember to provide comprehensive information about the system and the problem you are experiencing. This will help you get the best assistance.

The steps we have discussed here should help you get conversant with the HTML 401 error and the best way to solve it.

Some Other Ways of 401 Authentication Error

The 401 authentication error can also occur in various other forms as seen below.

  • 401.502: this error occurs when a certain client (sam IP) requests different times on a server and reaches the limit of the IP Restriction Concurrent.
  • 401.504: this error shows that the client’s hostname is in the banned IP restrictions list at the server-side.
  • 401.503: This error indicates that the client’s IP address is in the banned IP restriction list at the server side.
  • 401.501: This error indicates that the client has generated numerous requests. In simple terms, this means the client has reached the maximum request limit.
  • 401.3: This error indicates that the login failure is a result of the Access-control list (ACL) on the resource. It also indicates that authorization failure is due to the filter
  • 401.2: This error indicates that the login failure is a result of server configuration
  • 401.1: This error indicates that the login failure is due to specific reasons

401 Code References

  • Python3.5+ HTTP Status Constant http.HTTPStatus.UNAUTHORIZED
  • Python2 HTTP Status Constant httplib.UNAUTHORIZED
  • Go HTTP Status Constant http.StatusUnauthorized
  • Rails HTTP Status Symbol :unauthorized
  • Symfony HTTP Status Constant Response::HTTP_UNAUTHORIZED
  • Python3+ HTTP Status Constant http.client.UNAUTHORIZED


An HTTP 401 error shows that a client-side verification problem or your browser is having difficulties validating itself using your WordPress website’s server. Before you can start looking for any comprehensive troubleshooting, you may want to try the easy solutions first. Ensure you are using the proper URL and remember to clear your browser’s cookies and cache.

You may also want to determine any security features you could be using on the site. Further, you will want to consider server-level passwords you may have added such as a password via htpasswd and htaccess. If everything else fails, try to deactivate your themes and plugins temporarily.

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