HT

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This article will help you understand some aspects and advantages of the .htaccess file you see when you run an Apache Web Server like ours.

Contents

What is a .htaccess file?

It is Apache's directory-level configuration file (as opposed to httpd.conf, which is the main server configuration file) that provides the governing rules of how the web server operates. When it is placed in a particular directory, the rules in it apply to that directory and all the subdirectories thereof.

Here is a good tutorial on the use and configuration of the .htaccess file.

What is a .htpasswd file?

The .htpasswd file is a file used to store usernames and passwords for protected areas of a website that use the .htaccess Protection.

Usage and Commands

Here are some examples as to how they can be used.

Change the Default Directory Index File

It can be used to change the default index file, which is normally index.html, index.ext... to anything else, like foo.ext or whatever name/extension you prefer. To do this, use:

DirectoryIndex foo.ext home.html home.php foo.php

Customizing Error Handling/Error Pages

If you have ever wondered how people change their 404, 500... error pages to something like lost.ext, then you will like this code in your .htaccess file:


ErrorDocument [Error Number] [Error Document]
Error Document 404 /404.html

Where [Error Number] is replaced with the error number, and [Error Document] is replaced with the path to the error document, which can be internal or external, as in:

http://www.anothersite.com/foo.ext or /foo.ext

Server-Generated URL Redirects

You moved or renamed a directory and you know people still have the old directory bookmarked so you want them to be redirected to the new directory, then you can use this code:

Redirect [Trigger] [New Destination]
Redirect /old http://www.url.com/new
Redirect /old /new

Limiting Access by Hostname/IP Address

Use this section of this article if you are interested in blocking access to a file/folder on your server:

<Files admin.cgi>
 order deny, allow
 deny from ALL 
 allow from 1.2.3.4 
</Files>
This example denies access to admin.cgi for everyone but the user of the IP Address referred in 1.2.3.4. You can also use this for a folder; in that case you would replace admin.cgi with the name of the folder. If you are interested in using the Hostname rather than the IP then use:
<Files admin.cgi>
 order deny, allow
 deny from ALL 
 allow from mymachine.networkdomain.com
</Files>

You can also use it for your whole network to have access to it alone. Example:

# IP Number
<Files admin.cgi>
 order deny, allow
 deny from ALL 
 allow from 192.168.123 
</Files>
# Hostname
<Files admin.cgi>
 order deny, allow
 deny from ALL 
 allow from .networkdomain.com
</Files>

Where 192.168.123 is your internal network IP and .networkdomain.com is your Hostname/Domain. You can also switch it to allow from ALL and deny from a list of IPs or Hostnames. Here is a practical example for advanced users:

<Files [/path/filename]>
 [Attributes to apply to file...]
</files>

Limiting Access by User

This part shows the .htaccess/.htpasswd user login system which uses cookies. It is only partly secure because the session does not expire until all open browsers are closed, so do not use it on a site section that needs fool-proof security. Here is the code:

AuthType Basic
AuthName "Restricted Access"
AuthUserFile /htpasswd/path/to/.htpasswd
Require valid-user
For this example, you place a .htpasswd file in the path (/htpasswd/path/to/). In the .htpasswd file will be:
[user]:[password]
Normally you have to encrypt the password but if you are using The Uniform Server, then you do not need to do that. You can also use this example to protect another directory by using just one .htaccess file:
<Directory /path/to/>
AuthType Basic
AuthName "Restricted Access"
AuthUserFile /htpasswd/path/to/.htpasswd
Require valid-user
</Directory>

If you want to do this for just specific files, then use:

<Files /path/to/file.ext>
AuthType Basic
AuthName "Restricted Access"
AuthUserFile /htpasswd/path/to/.htpasswd
Require valid-user
</Files>

The Require statement is used to list valid users or groups of users. If you just want one .htpasswd file but want multiple protected areas, then you can use:

Require user username1 username2 username3...

Or if you want to use it in groups then you can use:

AuthGroupFile /htgroups/path/to/.htgroups
Require group groupname1 groupname2 groupname3...

And in the .htgroups file would be:

Groupname1: username1 username2 username3 ...
Groupname2: username1 username4 username5 ....

As you can see, a username may be in as many groups as you like while others may be in only one.

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