Are You Getting a 403 (Forbidden) From Windows Azure Storage Services?

April 23, 2013 — 7 Comments


If your development computer isn’t set to the correct date / time and you are working with Windows Azure you might end up like this guy! I know I did!

Recently I tried to shift back the clock on my developer computer so that I could test a caching mechanism.

After setting the clock back one day, I was unable to connect to Windows Azure services like Blob Storage Service, Queue Storage Service and Table Storage Service. I constantly got HTTP Status Code 403 Forbidden.

I logged into the Windows Azure Management Portal and saw that everything was as it should. I checked the Windows Azure Service Dashboard to see if any services were down… I even check that my storage keys had not been regenerated.

I fired up fiddler and got nothing more than I already knew… then it came to me, whenever http calls are made, the client sends a timestamp to the server and whenever the client and the server are out of sync, calls are often refused. So I set my clock back to the right time and the problem went away.

All in all, this was my fault, I tried to fool the system and I got caught.

Everything boils down to the fact that the Authentication for the Windows Azure Storage Services accept request timestamps who’s date times that are within 15 minutes of the services’ current time.

All authenticated requests must include the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) timestamp for the request. You can specify the timestamp either in the x-ms-date header, or in the standard HTTP/HTTPS Date header. If both headers are specified on the request, the value of x-ms-date is used as the request’s time of creation.

The storage services ensure that a request is no older than 15 minutes by the time it reaches the service. This guards against certain security attacks, including replay attacks. When this check fails, the server returns response code 403 (Forbidden).

7 responses to Are You Getting a 403 (Forbidden) From Windows Azure Storage Services?


    Good to know! Now I need to remember that. Thanks :)



    Thanks a bunch for posting this, knocked me back for an hour or two.



    Nice one! I was having an issue syncing KeePass with Azure Storage using the KeeCloud plugin. It kept bringing up “403” or just a generic error. And really didn’t see why (was working fine on other machines).

    After reading the first sentence of your post, I realised my dual boot with Linux and Windows caused windows time to be 2 hours behind.

    After changing it back, I could use the storage again. So obvious now :)

    It’s probably this issue with dual boot:

    Thank you and thank google, for making you the first hit ;-)



    Add: if for any reason you remove the Referer header from your browser requests, you will get an “Error 403 – This web app is stopped” too.



    Thank you so much for this. I was stuck for hours trying to figure out why I was getting this error message. You saved me lots of time and frustration!



    I have the correct time in my development system.
    It was working fine earlier – but in a different system. In that system there was a difference with the actual time when I created the TableStorage. Recently I changed my system and from then I am getting this issue.
    Kindly help me how to resolve this.


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