403 Error SharePoint 2013



I recently got this 403 error when trying to access the homepage of a site collection related to one of my Web Applications (SharePoint 2013).  The error was NOT happening on the home page of my other web application’s site collection.  Symptoms and solutions include the following:-

1) Home page of site collection produces the above and so does accessing any other page at the same level (i.e. in the SitePages library of the SP 2013).  I was getting that error both as a normal user and the farm admin.

2) I created a new ASPX page within Site Pages using SP Designer, and was able to access that – but also noticed that subsequently I could access all other pages.  In fact further tests showed that my colleagues could access the site as normal if any one of them access the dummy ASPX page I just created first.  It takes just one access to this ASPX page to allow access to the site as normal.

3) Noticed that when we tried to create a new site collection – (typical team site) – the 403 error would be generated when trying to access the new site’s home page.

4) you will find that Google will lead you to a good blog article that points you in the direction of looking at permissions of the Bin folder within the site collection causing the issue.  We checked that and there were no issues.  But still this would not explain why our test in point (3) above had failed.

It is a Permissions Thing !!!!

All issues pointed to something going wrong with the permission levels as in the past I have seen this type of issue when Unique permissions have been granted to pages (or web parts on the page) but in this case there was no specific pattern.  So looking at the permissions from IIS by right clicking on the listed Sites entries the following was done:-

Click on the Edit Permissions, to bring up the dialog for the folder, and then click on the Security Tab, and  then the ‘Advanced’ button to view the permission levels given to the various groups.

After examining the settings we found there were slight differences on the permissions assigned to our problem site collection and the one that was not causing this 403 error on a separate web application.  However, we figured that any manual updates to these permissions could compromise the site collection.

What caused this issue ?

There could be different reasons why this error occurs if you read the various blogs, but in our case we were running a specific SharePoint 2013 patch, which meant that we also had to run the SharePoint Products Configuration wizard.  We had to run this wizard on the Web Front End, and the Web Application server (and in that order), testing the site collection access after the first run of the wizard caused no issues (i.e. after running wizard on the Web Front End server), but the errors did suddenly start to come up after the wizard  was run on the  Web Application Server.

Our Fix 

What fixed our problem was a re-run of the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard on both servers.  Suddenly we were able to access the sites without getting the 403 error.  There was a response on a Microsoft problem site regarding the re-run of the wizard based on this error – but with slightly different symptoms.  The explanation given was that sometimes permissions may not get set properly by the wizard (no reason given !!!).  I suspect the reason maybe to do with accessing sites while the wizard is running and certain aspects of its operations may not complete successfully due to user access of sites at the point when it tries to set permissions.



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