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An Introduction To .htaccess
Rapyd Team avatar
Written by Rapyd Team
Updated over a week ago

The .htaccess file is an important configuration file utilized by web servers that controls the directory it is placed in and all the subdirectories beneath it. It's a powerful tool, allowing administrators to manage redirects, password protect directories, enable or disable additional functionalities and features, and much more.

The following will be covered for this topic:

What is .htaccess?

The .htaccess file is a configuration file for use on web servers running the Web Server software. The name '.htaccess' stands for Hypertext Access, and these files are used to configure and override the server's global settings for the directory they are in and its subdirectories. They are particularly useful on shared hosting environments where users may not have access to the main server configuration files.

How .htaccess Works

When an HTTP request is made, the server will check for .htaccess files in each directory of the path, starting from the root and moving to the directory being accessed. It reads each .htaccess file in order and applies the configuration settings.

Uses of .htaccess

  • URL Rewriting & Redirection

The .htaccess file is widely used to rewrite URLs, allowing you to redirect URLs to new locations. This can be useful in a variety of situations, such as maintaining SEO ranking while changing page addresses, or enforcing the use of HTTPS.

  • Password Protection

htaccess can be used to password-protect directories on your website, creating a layer of access security.

  • Custom Error Page

You can use .htaccess to set up custom error pages, such as 404 Not Found pages.

  • Prevent Directory Browsing

By default, when the server receives a request for a directory, it will return a list of files in that directory. You can use .htaccess to turn this feature off and prevent users from browsing your directories.

  • Enable or disable additional functionalities

Enable or disable server features such as server-side includes or CGI execution.

Creating and Editing a .htaccess file

To create a .htaccess file, you can use a plain text editor. Remember that the file must be saved with the name '.htaccess'—it doesn't require a traditional filename.

Once the file is created, it can be uploaded to the server using an FTP client, or directly in the file manager of your hosting control panel.

Be cautious when editing your .htaccess file as mistakes can lead to server errors. Always keep a backup of the current .htaccess file before making any changes.

Basic .htaccess Commands

  • Deny from all: This command denies access to the directory from all IP addresses.

  • Allow from all: This command allows access to the directory from all IP addresses.

  • ErrorDocument 404 /404.html: This command redirects users to a custom 404 error page.

  • Redirect/oldpage.html This command redirects users from oldpage.html to newpage.html.


The .htaccess file is a powerful tool, providing a wide range of functionality that can enhance your website’s security, efficiency, and user experience. Its capabilities extend to URL rewriting, redirects, security enhancements, error page customization, and more.

However, this power comes with a certain level of complexity, and misuse can result in site errors. Therefore, it's crucial to understand .htaccess files fully before attempting to edit them or create new ones.

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