An .htaccess file controls how Apache interacts with your site. When an .htaccess file is placed in your domain’s directory, the .htaccess file is detected and executed by the Apache web server.
An .htaccess file is commonly used for the following:
- Denying specific IPs to your site
- Password protecting your site with an .htaccess file
- Redirecting specific pages
- Rewriting URLs
- Custom error pages
Using an .htaccess file on your website is unlikely to cause any problems. However, it is possible for errors to occur if the rules entered into the file are incorrect which may cause your site to suddenly display a 500 error. If something like this occurs, you can comment out the rules/lines you have just added by placing a ‘#’ in front of each line. Repeat this until you find the line causing the error.
Creating an .htaccess file on your DreamHost web server
You can create an .htaccess directly on your web server using an FTP client or SSH. View the following articles for instructions on how to use either option to create the file:
- Creating and editing a file via FTP (easier for beginners)
- Creating and editing a file via SSH (for advanced users)
If you're using an FTP client, make sure it has been configured to show hidden files. This is necessary since the .htaccess file begins with a period.
Make sure that when you create the .htaccess file you do NOT add a file extension. This file should only be titled .htaccess with no extension.
What permissions should the file have?
644 permissions are usually fine for an .htaccess file. When you create the file on the server, it should already have these permissions set, so there is most likely nothing to change.
Where to put your .htaccess file?
Generally, you put the .htaccess file in your website's main directory. However, the location ultimately depends on what you're attempting to do with the .htaccess file.
The .htaccess file can control behavior for every directory under the folder it resides in. For this reason it can also be in your user's home directory. Again, it depends on what you're using the .htaccess file for.
Do I need to reload my server or website after creating my .htaccess file?
Your .htaccess file (and any changes that you make to it) should be reflected on the live site immediately. You do not need to reload your site's Apache service, although external caching services such as Cloudflare might need their caches flushed.