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What is a .htaccess File, The Concept and Care

Understanding the .htaccess file

The .htaccess file, specific to web servers that utilize Apache Web Server software, is a critical configuration file. Its primary function is to provide decentralized management of web server configuration. This might sound difficult, but it merely means you can set specific server settings for each directory on your site. You place the file in a directory, which influences that directory and all its subdirectories. This presents a significant advantage as it allows you to apply distinct settings to various parts of your website.

The Role of .htaccess in URL Rewriting

One of the most common applications of .htaccess is rewriting URLs. This process helps generate neat, easily understandable URLs, often called ‘pretty URLs.’ When considering ‘What is a .htaccess file,’ remember it’s instrumental in optimizing your site’s URL structure, aiding users and search engines.

Utilizing .htaccess for Password Protection

Apart from rewriting URLs, another use of the .htaccess file is setting up password protection for a directory. This implies that to access any content in that specific directory, users must input a username and password, ensuring an additional layer of security.

.htaccess for Redirects and Custom Error Pages

Have you ever wondered what a .htaccess file is good for regarding website management? Well, it’s also used to establish server-side redirects. For instance, if you relocate a webpage to a new URL, you can configure a redirect through the .htaccess. This ensures that requests for the old URL are seamlessly forwarded to the new URL. Moreover, .htaccess allows you to define custom error pages for a more user-friendly experience.

How .htaccess can Restrict Access

The scope of ‘What is a .htaccess file?’ extends to access restriction. It can block access to your site or specific directories based on the IP address or domain name. This comes in handy for barring access to undesirable or harmful entities.

File and Directory Protection with .htaccess

Lastly, the .htaccess file can control file and directory protection. It can deactivate directory listings and specify that the web server does not serve certain file types, further enhancing your site’s security.

The ‘.htaccess file’ is named as such, without a file extension. It’s hidden in Unix-based systems due to the period preceding the name. Remember to be cautious when altering .htaccess – a misstep can lead to website inaccessibility. Always back up your .htaccess file before making modifications.

Should You Edit the .htaccess Manually with WordPress Installation?

The short answer is, “You do not!” Especially if you follow our Complete SEO Guide Box from the beginning. The platform and its plugins do the job for you.

The long answer is that it depends on your knowledge of what it can do and how you can make your site unloadable. You can edit the file from the File Manager on your hosting service or through WordPress plugins. Yoast SEO WordPress plugin also has a tool to access the .htaccess file in the root directory and edit it.

The Placement of the Root .htaccess File

The path to the main .htaccess file is in:

"Your Domain" => public_html => select ".htaccess" => [Edit]

Getting to .htaccess File

You can use your hosting File Manager if it has one or a WordPress File Manager plugin.

Read more

You can read more about htaccess on the Apache Foundation HTTPD Tutorial and htaccess on the Apache Foundation Wiki.

Examples of .htaccess Content

We do not recommend adding any of these examples to the .htaccess file. If you need to read it, you will have an idea of what the code might look like.

301 Permanent Redirect from “yourdomain.com” to “http://www.yourdomain.com”

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourdomain.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301]


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