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How To Fix 403 Error After Upgrading to Apache2.4 on Ubuntu Server

Ubuntu 19

Upgrading your server software is a routine part of maintaining a secure and efficient system. However, it can sometimes lead to unexpected issues. One common problem you might encounter after upgrading to Apache2.4 on an Ubuntu server is a 403 Forbidden error. This error indicates that the server understood the request, but it refuses to authorize it. In this article, we will guide you through the process of resolving this issue.

Quick Answer

To fix a 403 error after upgrading to Apache2.4 on Ubuntu Server, you need to check your configuration files, update your Virtual Host directives, ensure proper file permissions, verify the DocumentRoot setting, check for directory listing, and restart Apache.

Understanding the 403 Error

Before we dive into the solution, it’s important to understand what a 403 error is. This HTTP status code is returned when the server understands the request but refuses to authorize it. This can occur for several reasons, but in the context of an Apache2.4 upgrade, it’s often due to changes in configuration files, permissions, or syntax.

Step 1: Check Your Configuration Files

After upgrading to Apache2.4, the first thing you should do is check your configuration files. Apache 2.4 has some changes in syntax and file locations compared to previous versions. For instance, the configuration files that were previously in /etc/apache2/conf.d should now be moved to /etc/apache2/conf-available. Also, files in /etc/apache2/sites-available now require a .conf extension.

Step 2: Update Your Virtual Host Directives

Next, you’ll need to update your Virtual Host directives. If you have allow and deny directives in your Virtual Host configuration, you need to replace them with the new Require directive. This change is necessary for compatibility with Apache 2.4.

For example, if you previously had:

Order allow,deny
Allow from all

You should replace it with:

Require all granted

Step 3: Check File Permissions

It’s also important to ensure that the user running the web server has proper read permissions on the files and directories. On Ubuntu, this user is typically www-data. You can use the ls -l command to check the permissions and ownership of the files.

ls -l /path/to/your/files

In this command, /path/to/your/files should be replaced with the actual path to your files.

Step 4: Verify DocumentRoot Setting

Your httpd.conf (or apache2.conf) file should have a DocumentRoot setting that points to the correct directory where your web pages are located. If this setting is incorrect, it can lead to a 403 error.

You can check this setting with the following command:

grep -i 'DocumentRoot' /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf

This command searches for the term ‘DocumentRoot’ in the specified file and prints any matching lines.

Step 5: Check for Directory Listing

If the web server is not able to find an index file, it may try to do a directory listing, which could result in a 403 error. Make sure that you have an appropriate index.html or index.htm file in the DocumentRoot directory.

Step 6: Restart Apache

After making any changes to the configuration files, remember to restart the Apache server for the changes to take effect. You can use the command sudo apache2ctl restart to restart Apache.


Upgrading to Apache2.4 on your Ubuntu server can sometimes result in a 403 error. However, by following the steps outlined in this article, you should be able to resolve this issue. Always remember to back up your configuration files before making any changes, and don’t hesitate to seek help from the Apache community if you encounter any difficulties.

What is Apache2.4?

Apache2.4 is a version of the Apache HTTP Server, which is a widely used web server software. It is designed to provide a secure and efficient platform for hosting websites and serving web content.

How can I check the version of Apache installed on my Ubuntu server?

To check the version of Apache installed on your Ubuntu server, you can use the command apache2 -v in the terminal. This will display the version number of Apache.

Can I upgrade directly from Apache 2.2 to Apache 2.4?

Yes, it is possible to upgrade directly from Apache 2.2 to Apache 2.4. However, it is recommended to thoroughly test the compatibility of your existing configuration and web applications with Apache 2.4 before proceeding with the upgrade.

How can I revert back to Apache 2.2 if I encounter issues after upgrading to Apache 2.4?

If you encounter issues after upgrading to Apache 2.4 and want to revert back to Apache 2.2, you can uninstall Apache 2.4 and reinstall Apache 2.2 using the package manager of your Ubuntu server. However, it is advisable to seek assistance from a qualified professional or the Apache community to address the issues before considering reverting the upgrade.

Where can I find more information and resources about Apache?

The Apache Software Foundation’s website ( is a valuable resource for information, documentation, and community support related to Apache. Additionally, the Apache users mailing list ( is a great place to seek help and discuss any specific issues you may encounter.

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