On a Wordpress site I have a password protected directory at the same level as Wordpress containing static content. Wordpress is installed in the root of the site:

https://example.com/ - Wordpress site

https://example.com/mydir/* - password protected files e.g. https://example.com/mydir/somefile.txt

After authenticating, the browser can download most of the files in there but there are some that are causing a 404 response. E.g.

https://example.com/mydir/foo.txt - OK

https://example.com/mydir/foo.LICENSE.txt - 404

Update 1: If I put the *.LICENSE.txt file in a non password protected dir I get the same result, so it's probably not related to that.

Update 2: Installed the Redirection plugin. It logs a 404 for that file, so it evidently is Wordpress related, rather than http server related.

Update 3: The 404 response is actually a secondary effect from a 403 reponse where the 404 is actually for the ErrorDocument. Specifying the 403 error document (in .htaccess) unmasks the 403 and the Redirect plugin no longer logs it.

Update 4: I have also tried this on a "lean" install of Wordpress that has no plugins, with the file in a non-protected subdir. Same 403 error.

How do I debug this?

  • Well, did those files like foo.LICENSE.txt really exist in your password-protected directory? If yes, then WordPress wouldn't 404 them since the path exists. If it's a virtual path, then yes maybe, WordPress would 404 the request.
    – Sally CJ
    Mar 3, 2023 at 2:42
  • How are you handling the authentication for the password-protected files? Is WordPress managing it, or .htaccess, or a custom script?
    – Pat J
    Mar 3, 2023 at 3:20
  • @SallyCJ Yes, the files exist. The issue appears to be caused by the .LICENSE.txt suffix as both *.txt and *.LICENSE are working.
    – glennr
    Mar 3, 2023 at 4:31
  • @PatJ Authentication is via .htaccess/.htpasswd and is managed by cPanel. I'm beginning to think it's not a Wordpress issue.
    – glennr
    Mar 3, 2023 at 4:34
  • 1
    @glennr how could that be possible, unless both the files truly exist in that folder? And if they do, it's even weirder, since - as I said, WordPress wouldn't 404 a file path that exists. Can you share the contents in your .htaccess file? (And a screenshot of the Redirection plugin's logs) (just "hide" sensitive details)
    – Sally CJ
    Mar 3, 2023 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


The issue was caused by some global cPanel Wordpress configuration, to which I don't have access, that blocks access to "sensitive" files, evidently based on the file name.

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