WordPress and “You do not have sufficient permissions to access this page.”

W LOGOUPDATE: It’s amazing the number of hits this page gets, where people get this (or a very similar) error and this has helped them. I’m very glad this helped, but I just want to add, this page is more than 3 years old now and although the logic is simple here, remember it is old and “things” may change (eg, plugin folder name, or how plugins are managed to name just two). I hope this helps you. Good luck

Years ago I hand-coded my first website, and sometimes I still do the odd bit of dabbling like that. But these days there are so many great content management systems (CMS) out there, that really, why bother. I use to use Druple, and I have nothing against that, but a while back now I migrated to WordPress…. All was fine until…

The other day I upgraded using their backend and I lost all permissions. Any guest could use the site as normal, there were no problems there, but I couldn’t login. It took a few days searching on the web (without luck) and eventually, I jumped back into cpanel, and phpmyadmin and started digging.

The solution was a lot simpler than what I had envisioned.

During the update process, one of the plugins caused havoc in the backend, and when trying to display the dashboard, the plugin was breaking privileges. First I had to work out, which plugin it was, and if in fact if it was a plugin that was the cause. As it turned out, it was, and this is how I found it:

1. created a new folder called “old_plugins” *
2. moved all the plugins from the “plugins” folder to the “old_plugins folder” *
3. logged in – sweet – I was allowed and all appears good
4. visit the plugins page (you will get a warning that your plugins have been deactivated since they can’t be found.
5. put the plugins back into their original directory *
6. reactivate each plugin until you find the faulty one. For me it was a google reader plugin for the dashboard, which I never used anyway – so it’s now gone!

Once you find the faulty plugin, you’ll get the permission error again, simply go back to your ftp or file manager (I just used cpanel) and move the faulty plugin out…

* You could probably have just renamed the plugins folder, visited the plugins page, re-renamed the plugins folder, and gone through the reactivation process that way, this is just the way I did it.

also (cross)-posted at wordpress.dav3.net

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    1. Mate I’m glad I helped. When it first happened I searched for days to no avail. It seems that noone “recently” was having this problem, or they weren’t documenting it. Everything I found was years old, on previous releases and the solutions didn’t apply.

      It’s comforting to know I wasn’t the only person this was happening to.

  1. I found that my multisite situation was resolved by renaming the plugins folder to old plugins, logging in via wp-admin and then renaming oldplugins to plugins again.

    I had installed a plugin called wp-sales-letter and when I had tried to network activate it, the site immediately disallowed my from seeing anything in the admin area.

    1. Yeah, after the fact I realised I did it the hard way. I really wasn’t sure what I was doing so I planned to incrementally install them back and reactivate them to see which one made it break. In the end I just did it in one go and then reactivated each one til I found it. From memory, I think the plugin for me that caused the problem was a google RSS reader in the dashboard.

  2. Super. Your instructions were extremely useful. For me, I knew exactly which plugin was the culprit, since immediately on install I got the error. After reading the post here, I figured simply deleting the folder containing that plugin would fix the problem and yes it did. I was able to log back to admin panel. Thank you so much. I know how frustrating it is when you get locked out of your own site.

    1. Which plugin was it? It would be good to know. Glad I could help. Took me a moment to work it out myself. Cheers

  3. Thanks Dave!!!

    Your solution worked for me as well. I had a strings of problems on the blog I run after the latest WP and plugins update and this was the last one I could not solve. I could log-in as admin onto the Dashboard but could not access Posts, Links, Pages and Comments while everything else worked and the site appeared normal. So after following your steps by moving the plugins out and back in and then reactivating those, everything is back to normal. I did not found which was the faulty plugin but maybe that’s because just a week ago I re-uploaded one-by-one and they all work as they should. However I realized when moving files around that I had numerous ‘out of place’ php files in my Plugin folder which might have ended up there because of faulty FTP upload, which I then removed.

    After weeks of trying to making the admin side of blog work again I was thinking that I would have to reinstall it from scratch but thanks to you that will not be necessary. Thanks again! :)


    1. Glad I could be of help. It annoyed me for days. Everytime I went to log in and I got the error message I just shut down in angst. Eventually, however, I needed the problem fixed. I’m glad it was easier than I had initially thought. As I’d posted earlier, this error message is similar to another “bug” of a few years back. It’s good to see we’re all on the ball here. Happy 2012!

  4. This is not working on 3.3.1 and it is beyond frustrating. Any other suggestions? I have tried removing plugins and themes. I can see the site, but have the Permission denied as an administrator.

    1. mate, sorry to hear that. I don’t really have anything new for you, just try and reverse whatever you installed and take it from there. If it was a blanket update, well I’m guessing that will be a bit harder. did you make a backup before updating? Sorry I can’t be of more help. I can only really suggest you jump onto the WordPress discussion forums and see what else others have experienced on later updates. I am a few updates behind myself at the moment. Good luck

  5. Thanks so much for the upbeat attitude. I have been through the Forum and after many hours and failures, continue to plug away. The consistent message is remove plugins, use default theme (twentyten). Awkward moment is that I can login. I can see the MY PROFILE from the home page, but all menus are non existent. This is after removing the plugin and leaving only the default theme in the new folders. Yes, I have a back-up of the original database. I noticed the tables have the _wp in the wp-config file in 3.3.1. I will try to restore WITHOUT the _wp table reference. Maybe this is the issue

  6. Thanks man. I owe you one! There is no solution on the forums so I may paste a link to this article there.
    Also this is the first time I’ve setup a wp network, but when I go to manage each sub directory site, ie. johndoe.mydomain.com in the wordpress dashboard, there is no place to add pages or posts etc. just Users, Settings, Plugins, Themes. And even they are not populated with the network enabled themes for instance.

    Any idea how to add pages etc?

    1. Welcome to the world of WordPress blogging. Pages and posts SHOULD be there,ale sure that you are actually in your subsite. ie the plugins and themes you can see, are these ALL the installed items or just the network enabled ones? It does sound like an odd problem, are pages available on any of the sites? Maybe there’s an individual setting for each of the sites you’re over looking. Good luck.

      1. Hi from Switzerland !

        I got the same problem just after installing the multisite version on 3.3.1.
        The network activation of the plugins created havoc.
        I tried everything which has been explained, but it did not work.
        I finally found out that it was the plugin W3-total-cache which was at the root of the problem.
        I deleted it’s folder + advanced-cache.php, db.php,objet-cache.php and w3-total-cache-config.php to, finally be able to login again.
        For a non-technician, this has been pretty scary, and must be what is called “learn the hard way”.
        Thanks to Dave to have oriented me in the right direction anyway.

  7. Thanks a lot, Dave!

    Your solution was right on the spot! Just updated from 3.3.1 to 3.3.2 and felt the blood in my veins run cold with the permission to access message! The culprit was a plugin named qtranslate.


  8. Anther +1.

    Thanks for the info. After a Hurricane Sandy required web servers to be relocated- and assigned new IP’s, I was determined that was the cause. Not the case.

    Your simple procedure for disabling plugins revealed the problem to be the MyRepono backup plugin. Not sure if its multisite related or what- but at least I know the problem and can deal with it from there.

    This is a tried and true debugging process… sometimes too easily forgotten! Thanks for putting me back on track. :)

  9. Thanks! Kept getting this err on a multisite I installed for a client. Did what you suggested and reactivated one at a time. Found problem in email optin plugin.

    Seems like your article is still one of the few that seems to addresses this issue clearly.

    Thanks again.

  10. Thanks a ton !! Thanks Thanks Thanks

    You won’t believe, you saved my lot hell of trouble. My 15 site Multi-site installation was broken and i had to re-install all of them.

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