We’re all used to seeing the occasional error code pop up when browsing websites, either due to poor maintenance or temporary server issues. Error 1020 is a particularly frustrating one for users, as it not only denies them access to a particular page, but often to an entire website. This problem is unique to the Cloudflare CDN, and can be a nightmare for developers and site admins.
While error 1020 is debilitating for users, it can usually be attributed to one of a few root causes, most of which are easily identifiable. Below is our quick guide to error 1020: what it is, what causes it, and the steps you can take to resolve the issue before escalating it to Cloudflare support.
What is error 1020 on a website?
Error 1020 is an access denied error, similar to a 403 Forbidden error. In the Cloudflare CDN, it’s a way of deliberately denying access to a website for certain users. Seeing error 1020 as a visitor means that you have violated one of the site’s Firewall Rules (whether intentionally or otherwise). These rules could limit traffic based on any number of different factors, from your location (such as US news sites banning traffic from the EU to avoid GDPR issues), to bad requests, to your specific IP address being blocked.
Seeing error 1020 means that – short of using a VPN or other workaround – you will be completely unable to access that website.
Seeing error 1020 means that – short of using a VPN or other workaround – you will be completely unable to access that website. This becomes a huge issue if error 1020 is not applied properly and the scope of the Firewall Rules accidentally includes people who are not supposed to be banned from browsing the site, which is obviously a major impediment to users, and one that can turn them away from your site permanently. This makes fixing error 1020 a matter of real urgency for developers.
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4 ways to fix an error 1020 on a website
Error 1020 can result from a number of problems, both client-side and server-side. Here are some of the things you should check in order to troubleshoot the issue:
1 Check your Cloudflare settings
Before assuming that your users are at fault, it’s worth checking whether your own house is in order. You can see which rules are causing error 1020 by following these steps in your domain’s Cloudflare dashboard:
- Click Firewall
- Click Overview
- Look for the Activity Log under Firewall Events
- Check the Service column to see which rules have been broken
- Use the Edit Columns button to view more parameters
Once you’ve determined which particular rule (if any) is causing users to encounter error 1020, you can choose to edit your Firewall Rules in the dashboard by following these steps:
- Click Firewall
- Click Firewall Rules
- Look for the rule which is causing error 1020
- Click the wrench icon to edit the rule, or
- Toggle the switch next to the rule from On to Off.
2 Check cookie settings
If you’re only receiving reports about error 1020 sporadically and from a limited number of users, it may be due to browser configuration problems. One of these may be that cookies are not enabled. Cloudflare uses temporary cookies such as “__cf_bm” to track users, in order to ensure that they are not bots. If the browser doesn’t allow these protective cookies, the user may encounter the 1020 error.
Most browsers automatically allow cookies to be stored, but things like privacy plugins and Incognito or Private Browsing modes can block them. It’s worth helping the user to find the cookie settings options for their particular browser to identify whether cookies are turned on, and disable any privacy or similar ad-blocking plugins/addons to help troubleshoot the issue.
3 Clear cookies and cache
Occasionally, old cookies and files can cause users to mistakenly be identified as bots, or put them in contravention of another firewall rule, such as having browsed to the website previously from a banned location. In this case, the user may benefit from clearing their browser cache and cookies.
Ensure that they clear the entire time range, and not just the past hour, week etc. If this fails, you may wish to direct them to use another browser, in order to definitively state whether the issue is with their browser or not. An easier way to test this may be to use a mobile device if they are on a computer; or vice versa.
4 Contact Cloudflare support
If none of the above methods have worked, you may have to go to the top, and contact Cloudflare for support. Response times may vary depending on the package you’ve purchased through them – but, given that an error 1020 problem is a serious impediment to business, time is of the essence.
So, if none of the above steps help to resolve your issue, waste no time in requesting the help you need, and making sure your site gets back online for all users.
One error, many solutions
Error 1020 is an intimidating one to deal with based on the potential repercussions, but from a development standpoint it’s far from insurmountable. By following the simple steps outlined above, you should be able to pin the root cause down to one of a few common issues – and if not, Cloudflare support should be ready and able to help.