Knowledgebase: Cpanel
What is this .htaccess file?
Posted by Serhiy Hryva on 31 January 2011 06:36 PM
An htaccess file is a simple ASCII text file, such as you would create through a text editor like NotePad or SimpleText.

  • .htaccess is the file extension. It is not file.htaccess or somepage.htaccess, it is simply named .htaccess

In order to create the file, open up a text editor and save an empty page as .htaccess (or type in one character, as some editors will not let you save an empty page). Chances are that your editor will append its default file extension to the name (ex: for Notepad it would call the file .htaccess.txt). You need to remove the .txt (or other) file extension. You can do this by right clicking on the file and renaming it by removing anything that doesn't say .htaccess. You can also rename it via telnet or your ftp program, and you should be familiar enough with one of those so as not to need explaining.

htaccess files must be uploaded as ASCII mode, not BINARY. You may need to CHMOD the htaccess file to 644 or (RW-R--R--). This makes the file usable by the server, but prevents it from being read by a browser, which can seriously compromise your security. (For example, if you have password protected directories, if a browser can read the htaccess file, then they can get the location of the authentication file and then reverse engineer the list to get full access to any portion that you previously had protected. There are different ways to prevent this, one being to place all your authentication files above the root directory so that they are not www accessible, and the other is through an htaccess series of commands that prevents itself from being accessed by a browser, more on that later)

Most commands in htaccess are meant to be placed on one line only, so if you use a text editor that uses word-wrap, make sure it is disabled or it might throw in a few characters that annoy Apache to no end, although Apache is typically very forgiving of malformed content in an htaccess file.

htaccess is an Unix/Apache thing, not an Windows/NT thing. There are similar capabilities for NT servers.

htaccess files affect the directory they are placed in and all sub-directories, that is an htaccess file located in your root directory (yoursite.com) would affect yoursite.com/content, yoursite.com/content/contents, etc. It is important to note that this can be prevented (if, for example, you did not want certain htaccess commands to affect a specific directory) by placing a new htaccess file within the directory you don't want affected with certain changes, and removing the specific command(s) from the new htaccess file that you do not want affecting this directory. In short, the nearest htaccess file to the current directory is treated as the htaccess file. If the nearest htaccess file is your global htaccess located in your root, then it affects every single directory in your entire site. For more information try searching google for htaccess.

htaccess can be confusing and if configured wrong can really mess up your site. But here are some good sites with tutorials and code generators to get you started:

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