How to use the .htaccess File?

How to use the .htaccess File

When you need to optimise your website and user experience, the .htaccess file can actually be useful. It can also help with SEO by making sure your site is crawlable, indexable, and loads rapidly. Let’s look more closely on how.htaccess files work, how to use it

What is the .htaccess File?

The .htaccess file is a plain text file that is used to set several parts of your website, such as redirects, IP management, and so on. Each file is in a directory on your server and provides configurations for that directory of your site.

If you put the.htaccess file in your website’s root directory, the file’s settings will apply to all of your site’s URLs.

How to use .htaccess File

.htaccess files are commonly used by developers to customise how your website loads and appears. To continue, make sure your website’s.htaccess file is active.

Manually allowing a .htaccess file to override your current website configurations should be an option in your server settings. Then you’ll need to do the following to create or change a.htaccess file:

  • Make use of a simple text editor.
  • Create a programme in the Apache programming language.
  • Save the file as “.htaccess” and close it.
  • Using an FTP client, upload your files to your website.

When Should You Use a.htaccess File

If you don’t have any programming or coding skills, hire someone to assist you or look for other ways to configure your website’s servers. Try these options if you want to use your.htaccess file to configure the following:

1. Custom 404 Error Page

A customized 404 Error page can look more professional and give a better user experience if and when your website displays a 404 error. You must first create a webpage and then upload the following code to your.htaccess file:

ErrorDocument 404 /error/404pagenotfound.html

Most CMS(Content Management System) platforms allow you to customise your 404 page through your website’s theme. To update the page without affecting your theme file, you may need to know a little coding.

The majority of WordPress themes include a 404 page. Open the 404 error template file in a text editor (it’s commonly named “404.php”). You can then change the text of the 404 error message.

2. Redirecting URLs

The process of redirecting URLs includes transferring one URL to another, usually because the previous one is no longer active or useful. When visitors and crawlers arrive at the old URL, the redirect takes them to the new one.

Depending on what you need to redirect, you can use .htaccess in a variety of ways. If you’re redirecting your domain to another domain, for example, you’ll add the following to your .htaccess file:

Redirect 301 "/post" ""

If you only want to redirect one URL to another on the same domain, meanwhile, you’ll use a different code:

Redirect 301 "/old-url.php" "/new-url.php"

3. IP Addresses Allow or Deny

To enable IP addresses, change the behaviour to allow only a few specific IP addresses while blocking the rest.

Add this code to your .htaccess file in the directories you want to limit access to to control certain IP addresses:

Require all granted
Require not ip

If you need to block more than one IP address, use “Require not:” to add extra lines.

Require not ip
Require not ip

By using the domain name rather than the IP address, you can block domains from accessing your website:

Require not host

4. Make HTTPS the default instead of HTTP.

HTTPS secures communications between the browser and your website. Whether your website contains sensitive information or not, HTTPS is the preferred method of data loading.

You can force their browser to always use the SSL certificate to ensure that all visitors load your website securely over HTTPS.

As long as the RewriteEngine module is enabled, you can force HTTPS with your.htaccess file. You must then enter the following code:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.(.*)$ [OR,NC]
RewriteCond %{https} off
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301,L] 

If you use WordPress, you can use a free plugin such as Really Simple SSL.

If you’re comfortable editing and writing code, editing your .htaccess file can be beneficial. Even minor.htaccess file errors can cause internal server problems, rendering your website inaccessible. If you are not comfortable editing the file for your website, consider hiring a professional or experimenting with alternatives.