The beauty of WordPress is that you can go as far down the rabbit hole as you want. If you have zero technical knowledge, you have the same relative abilities as an experienced professional coder right at your fingertips. Although sometimes it helps to understand what you are doing when you need to dig into WordPress’ backend to fix permission errors.

Simply put, if your permissions are wrong, you won’t be able to access certain files or folders. In fact, it would be more correct to say that the server does not allow anyone to access these files. The workaround is to dig in, make some changes, and quit.

How to Harden WordPress and Fix Permission Errors

In the next few minutes, we’ll take a look in WordPress to fix permission errors. More importantly, we’ll give you everything you need to do it well.

What are “permissions” (and why are they needed)

The elevator tone of permissions is that they protect your files and folders from unauthorized access. To complicate things further, every file and folder has a certain permission level. If a client such as a browser tries to open or otherwise use the file, the server will check to see if it has the correct permissions to do so.

If the client checks out, the server pings the file to the browser as part of the HTTP request. Conversely, if the client doesn’t have the correct permissions, you’ll get an error.

In most cases, you won’t get permission errors. This is because the system’s job is to restrict access to only those who need the file or folder. If you don’t have file permissions, your WordPress site, as well as your server, could be in real trouble with malicious attacks.

What do you need to help WordPress fix permission errors

How to Harden WordPress and Fix Permission Errors

The good news is that you don’t need a lot to re-harden WordPress and fix permission errors. In fact, all you need is one tool: a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) client. There are a few of these on the market, but three are our favorites.

For starters, FileZilla is the standard tool for accessing your site via SFTP, although Cyberduck has just as many usability and features:

Panic’s Transmit is a great tool if you want an advanced SFTP solution that also does a lot of other things for you:

This can help connect to WordPress and fix permission errors, push and pull data from cloud storage, and more.

No matter which SFTP tool you choose, before you open the hood of your website, you also need to check that the following are in place:

Administrative access to your server. In short, if you get a permission error while trying to fix a permission error, you’re in trouble!

Learn how to use SFTP, although you don’t need advanced skills here – enough to access your server and edit file settings. Of course, there are many ways to use SFTP on your WordPress server.

Also, while understanding how file permissions work with WordPress is useful and will speed up the time it takes to fix, it’s not necessary right now. This article will show you which settings to change and how, and in order to fix the bug, you don’t need to know the gory details.

We also recommend that you make an up-to-date and clean backup of your website in case you make changes that don’t work the way you want. If you “tank” your website, you’ll be happy to have a fresh backup exist.

How to Harden WordPress and Fix Permission Errors

A permission error occurs when you wish to install a theme or plugin. Because WordPress cannot access the file, you need help with it.

We will do this in four steps:

Login to your server using SFTP.

Make sure the file has the correct permissions.

See if your folder also has the correct permissions.

Check if a bunch of specific files have a unique permission set.


Like any velvet rope outside the club – if your name isn’t recorded, you won’t get in. WordPress has its own VIP section – your site’s server – which is denied if the browser or user doesn’t have the correct permissions to access the files inside.

Throughout the course of this post, we’ve been in the background of WordPress to fix permission errors and get broken sites up and running again. The best way is to use SFTP as the steps involved take no time. You just need to make sure the files and folders have specific permission settings and your website will be back to normal.

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