Hypertext Access file Getting started with Hypertext Access file

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An .htaccess file controls how Apache interacts with your site. When an .htaccess file is placed in your domain’s directory (usually root directory), the file is detected and executed by Apache.

An .htaccess file is commonly used for the following:

  • Denying specific IPs to your site
  • Password protecting your site
  • Rewriting URLs
  • Custom error pages
  • Compressing and Caching Files
  • General Security and Hack Prevention


Various Apache releases

VersionCurrent versionRelease

Custom Error Pages

.htaccess can be used to set a custom error pages that matches the theme of your website instead of seeing a white error page with black techno-babble when users end up on at a page with an error server response code. The error page can be any browser parseable file, including (But not limited to) .html, .php, .asp, .txt, .xml.

Examples for almost all common error response codes:

#Client Errors

ErrorDocument 400 /mycool400page.html    # Bad Request
ErrorDocument 401 /mycool401page.html    # Unauthorized
ErrorDocument 402 /mycool402page.html    # Payment Required
ErrorDocument 403 /mycool403page.html    # Forbidden
ErrorDocument 404 /mycool404page.html    # Page Not Found

#Server Errors

ErrorDocument 500 /mycool500page.html    # Internal Server Error
ErrorDocument 501 /mycool501page.html    # Not Implemented
ErrorDocument 502 /mycool502page.html    # Bad Gateway
ErrorDocument 503 /mycool503page.html    # Service Unavailable
ErrorDocument 504 /mycool504page.html    # Gateway Timeout
ErrorDocument 505 /mycool505page.html    # Internal Server Error

It is always good practice to include Error Documents for the most common error responses, 400, 403, 404, and 500, as these errors are able to occur on all browsers.

the 500 error is one of the most notorious errors as it occurs if anything fails while loading the page to send, most commonly server html preprocessing failures from things like PHP, ASP, and other html preprocessors. It is good practice while testing to set the 500 page to display the error that occurred, rather then an unspecific 500 error page.

To enable the 500 error page to write a specific error see one of the following based on what html preprocessor you are using: php asp

Setting Server Timezone

There are many time zones around the world, it is important to make sure your server is set to the right one. This is done in .htaccess by using:

SetEnv TZ America/Indianapolis

A few example of possible other time zones:

America/Los_Angeles - Pacific Time 
Pacific/Honolulu - Hawaii

Just make sure you use SetEnv in front of your selected time zone.

Setting up .htaccess

.htaccess files (or "distributed configuration files") provide a way to make configuration changes on a per-directory basis. A file, containing one or more configuration directives, is placed in a particular document directory, and the directives apply to that directory, and all subdirectories thereof.

An .htaccess file controls how Apache interacts with your site. It is used to alter the requests and modify default behavior without needing to alter the core server configuration files.

Setting up .htaccess is as simple as opening a notepad and saving it as .htaccess . Generally, this file will placed on the root directory of your website files, but you can use it under multiple different directories. This is especially useful if you're looking to password protect specific directories.

Enabling .htaccess

Sometimes even a single error in your httpd.conf or .htacces s file will result in a temporary meltdown of the server, and users will see 500 - Internal Server Error page. So, make sure to always make a backup of your httpd.conf and .htaccess files before you make a change.

<Directory "/var/www">
    AllowOverride All

.htaccess files are normally enabled by default. This is controlled by AllowOverride directive in the httpd.conf file. This directive can only be placed inside of a <Directory> section.

Beside All there are numerous other values that limit configuration of only certain contexts. Some of them are:

  • None - Completely disable .htaccess .
  • AuthConfig - Authorization directives such as those dealing with Basic Authentication.
  • FileInfo - Directives that deal with setting Headers, Error Documents, Cookies, URL Rewriting, and more.
  • Indexes - Default directory listing customizations.
  • Limit - Control access to pages in a number of different ways.
  • Options - Similar access to Indexes but includes even more values such as ExecCGI, FollowSymLinks, Includes and more.
# Only allow .htaccess files to override Authorization and Indexes
AllowOverride AuthConfig Indexes

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