You may have visited a web page that pops up a dialog box similar to this one:
If you don’t know the username and password to enter, then you can’t access the page or site – it’s “password protected”. It’s sometimes handy to be able to password protect your pages like this – for example:
- You’re building a new site, but you only want yourself (and maybe a select few) to be able to view the work-in-progress.
- You have an area of your site that you never want the general public to have access to – for example, your web stats or private pages.
- You have some paid (subscription) content on your site that only subscribers should be able to access.
Apache lets you password protect individual files, folders, or your entire site fairly easily. Read on to find out how it’s done.
How it works
To add password protection to your pages, you need to do the following two things:
- Create a text file on your server that will store your username and password.
- Create a special file called
.htaccessin the folder you want to protect.
Creating the password file
The first step is to create a simple text file that will store your username and password, separated by a colon (
:). The small catch is that the password must be encrypted. Luckily, there are many free web-based utilities that will encrypt the password for you. Try one of these:
- 4WebHelp’s online .htpasswd encryption tool
- Alterlinks .htaccess password generator
- htmlite’s htpasswd encryption page
Simply enter your desired username and password in one of these pages and submit the form. You’ll get back a string similar to the following:
Now, open up your favourite text editor (e.g. Notepad or TextEdit), then copy and paste the username/password string into the editor. Save the file and call it
Next, upload this file to your website. Make sure you place it outside the Web root of your site if possible, as you don’t want just anyone to be able to view the file! For example, place it above your
htdocs folder. (Having said this, Apache is often set up by default to block web-based access to files beginning with
.ht. Better safe than sorry though!)
If you can’t place your
.htpasswd file outside your Web root, name it something that’s not easily guessable – for example,
.htxuymwp – so that people won’t be able to find it easily. (In addition, it helps to start the filename with
.ht; as mentioned earlier, Apache usually blocks access to files starting with
Alternative: Creating the password file using
If you have SSH access to your web server (or you’re running Apache on a local machine), you can encrypt your password and add it to your password file in one go by using the
htpasswd utility that comes with Apache. Simply SSH to your server or open up a terminal window on your local machine, cd to the folder where you want to create your password file, and type:
htpasswd -c .htpasswd fred
(where fred is the username you want to use). You’ll be prompted to enter and retype your password, then the
.htpasswd file will be created for you.
Now that you have created and uploaded your password file, you need to tell Apache to use it to protect your page(s) or site. This is what your
.htaccess file will do.
Open your text editor again, create a new file, and save it as
Protecting a folder
To password protect a folder on your site, you need to put the following code in your
AuthUserFile /full/path/to/.htpasswd AuthType Basic AuthName "My Secret Folder" Require valid-user
/full/path/to/.htpasswd should be the full path to the
.htpasswd file that you uploaded earlier. The full path is the path to the file from the Web server’s volume root – for example,
C:\wwwroot\username\.htpasswd. (If you’re not sure of the full path to your site or home directory, ask your Web hosting company for this info.)
.htaccess file will password protect all files in the folder that it is placed in, and all sub-folders under that folder too. So if you wanted to password protect your entire site, you would place the
.htaccess file in your Web root folder.
Protecting a file
To password protect just a single file in a folder, use the following
AuthUserFile /full/path/to/.htpasswd AuthType Basic AuthName "My Secret Page" <Files "mypage.html"> Require valid-user </Files>
Once you’ve created your
.htaccess file, upload it to your website, placing it in the folder (or folder containing the file) that you want to protect.
Testing it out
Now use your Web browser to visit the folder or file that you’ve protected. You should see a password dialog like the one shown at the start of this tutorial. Type in the username and (unencrypted) password that you chose earlier, and you should be given access to your folder or file!
(By the way: with this type of password protection, you continue to have access to the password protected stuff until you restart your browser.)
If you can’t access your stuff and the dialog keeps popping up, check that you entered the username and password correctly. If it still doesn’t work, check the path to your
.htpasswd file on the server – make sure the path specified in the
AuthUserFile directive is correct. Also make sure that both the
.htaccess files are readable by the Web server user (
chmod 644 should do the trick for UNIX/Linux/FreeBSD servers).
If the password protection isn’t working (i.e. you can still access your stuff without needing to enter a username/password), check that you uploaded your
.htaccess file to the right folder. Also check that your web server supports
.htaccess password protection (it needs to be an Apache server, and your server admin needs to have enabled the
AuthConfig override for your site).
Password protecting more stuff
- If you want to password protect other folders (that aren’t under the currently protected folder), simply copy your
.htaccessfile to the new folder to be protected.
- To password protect more than one file in the same folder, just create more
<Files></Files>blocks within the same
.htaccessfile – for example:
AuthUserFile /full/path/to/.htpasswd AuthType Basic AuthName "My Secret Page" <Files "mypage.html"> Require valid-user </Files> <Files "myotherpage.html"> Require valid-user </Files>
Adding more usernames and passwords
You’re not restricted to just one username/password. If you want to add other usernames and passwords, simply repeat the “Creating the password file” procedure above, but add each new username/password line to your existing
.htpasswd file, e.g.:
Alternatively, if you’re using
htpasswd to create your passwords, as described earlier, then you can add extra users with the command:
htpasswd .htpasswd linda
linda is the username you want to add). Make sure you don’t include the
-c option when adding additional users, or
htpasswd will attempt to create a new password file!
For full information on Apache’s
mod_auth module (the module that does password protection, amongst other things), see the Apache