Set Apache Password Protected Directories With .htaccess File

I am a new Linux server sysadmin. How do I protect a directory in Apache web-server on a Linux operating systems?

There are many ways you can password protect directories under an Apache web server. This is important to keep your file privates from both unauthorized users and search engines (when you do not want to get your data indexed). In this tutorial you will see the basics of password protecting a directory on your server. You can use any one of the following method:[donotprint]
Tutorial details
Difficulty Easy (rss)
Root privileges Yes
Requirements None
Time N/A
[/donotprint]

  1. Putting authentication directives in a <Directory> section, in your main server configuration httpd.conf file, is the preferred way to implement this kind of authentication.
  2. If you do not have access to Apache httpd.conf file (for example shared hosting) then with the help of file called .htaccess you can create password protect directories. .htaccess file provide a way to make configuration changes on a per-directory basis.

In order to create apache password protected directories you need:

  • Password file
  • And Directory name which you would like to password protect (/var/www/docs)

Step # 1: Make sure Apache is configured to use .htaccess file

You need to have AllowOverride AuthConfig directive in httpd.conf file in order for these directives to have any effect. Look for DocumentRoot Directory entry. In this example, our DocumentRoot directory is set to /var/www. Therefore, my entry in httpd.conf looks like as follows:

<Directory /var/www>
Options Indexes Includes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
AllowOverride AuthConfig
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
</Directory>

Save the file and restart Apache
If you are using Red Hat /Fedora Linux:

# service httpd restart

If you are using Debian Linux:

# /etc/init.d/apache-perl restart

Step # 2: Create a password file with htpasswd

htpasswd command is used to create and update the flat-files (text file) used to store usernames and password for basic authentication of Apache users. General syntax:
htpasswd -c password-file username

Where,

  • -c : Create the password-file. If password-file already exists, it is rewritten and truncated.
  • username : The username to create or update in password-file. If username does not exist in this file, an entry is added. If it does exist, the password is changed.

Create directory outside apache document root, so that only Apache can access password file. The password-file should be placed somewhere not accessible from the web. This is so that people cannot download the password file:

# mkdir -p /home/secure/

Add new user called vivek

# htpasswd -c /home/secure/apasswords vivek

Make sure /home/secure/apasswords file is readable by Apache web server. If Apache cannot read your password file, it will not authenticate you. You need to setup a correct permission using chown command. Usually apache use www-data user. Use the following command to find out Apache username. If you are using Debian Linux use pache2.conf, type the following command:
# grep -e '^User' /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

Output:

www-data

Now allow apache user www-data to read our password file:
# chown www-data:www-data /home/secure/apasswords
# chmod 0660 /home/secure/apasswords

If you are using RedHat and Fedora core, type the following commands :
# grep -e '^User' /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf

Output:

apache

Now allow apache user apache to read our password file:
# chown apache:apache /home/secure/apasswords
# chmod 0660 /home/secure/apasswords

Now our user vivek is added but you need to configure the Apache web server to request a password and tell the server which users are allowed access. Let us assume you have directory called /var/www/docs and you would like to protect it with a password.

Create a directory /var/www/docs if it does not exist:
# mkdir -p /var/www/docs

Create .htaccess file using text editor:
# cd /var/www/docs
# vi .htaccess

Add following text:

AuthType Basic
AuthName "Restricted Access"
AuthUserFile /home/secure/apasswords
Require user vivek

Save file and exit to shell prompt.

Step # 3: Test your configuration

Fire your browser type url http://yourdomain.com/docs/ or http://localhost/docs/ or http://ip-address/docs


When prompted for username and password please supply username vivek and password. You can add following lines to any file <Diretory> entry in httpd.conf file:

AuthType Basic
AuthName "Restricted Access"
AuthUserFile /home/secure/apasswords
Require user vivek

To change or setup new user use htpasswd command again.

Troubleshooting

If password is not accepted or if you want to troubleshoot authentication related problems, open and see apache access.log/error.log files:

Fedora/CentOS/RHEL Linux log file location:
# tail -f /var/log/httpd/access_log
# tail -f /var/log/httpd/error_log

Ubuntu/Debian Linux Apache 2 log file location:
# tail -f /var/log/apache2/access.log
# tail -f /var/log/apache2/error.log

See also:
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36 comments… add one
  • Ritesh Jul 21, 2011 @ 11:15

    Awesome article. Saved hours for me !

  • Savio Sebastian Apr 25, 2012 @ 6:30

    Thanks a lot! :) worked like a charm for me!

    Didn’t have to change the user privileges for the file though.

  • Usama Akkad May 18, 2012 @ 18:43

    You can add option “s” to make the password using SHA instead of the default crypt which only allow eight (8) characters long passwords.
    The command becomes:

    # htpasswd -cs /home/secure/apasswords vivek

    You will notice that the file now has {SHA} in password line.

    If you want too add user to already created file, remove the c options

  • Philip Jul 30, 2012 @ 3:34

    How do I add additional users? Every time I try it tells me it works but then I can’t use the new credentials to log in.

  • Iosif Nov 29, 2012 @ 16:47

    For some reason I don’t seem to be able to make it work. I have made all the settings, in cPanel I can see that the folder is password protected and I have a username but when I access the folder via http, it returns a 404 error. Why is that?

  • Altaf Jan 5, 2013 @ 12:34

    Vivek, It worked the first try!!!
    Thank You very much

  • varun kumar Dec 6, 2013 @ 7:29

    hi team,

    i have setup apache password protect but not able to login with user which i have crteated

    plz help

  • Bahaddou Mohammed Mar 31, 2014 @ 17:28

    Thanks man that’s was very helpful ^^thanks a gain

  • ram rockzz Aug 14, 2014 @ 12:39

    Thanks this tips are very used to me, its all are working in my box and saved my time also.

  • akhil Oct 17, 2014 @ 7:48

    very helpful..worked fynn…thanks alot.. :)

  • Harry Dec 9, 2014 @ 10:41

    Hi Vivek,

    I followed all the steps.. Now when I open apache link, it is asking username and password, if I enter the username and password, it does not take it.. Just keep asking..

    Please help me..

    Thanks

  • Rainer Nov 20, 2015 @ 18:35

    very helpful!! really good stuff about security!!!

  • Vinay Gupta Jul 15, 2016 @ 8:23

    can we block specific user from perticular ip address in apache?
    how can we do that?

    Thanks & Regards
    Vinay Gupta

  • NewtownGuy Nov 21, 2016 @ 21:31

    How do I get different user names and passwords for different sub-directories ? I have multiple sites arranged like this: /site1, /site2, and so on. The problems are: (1) Once my computer logs into one of these sites, additional browser sessions on my computer can access any of the other sites without having to login, (2) Once I have connected to multiple of these sites, logging out from any one of them logs me out from all of them. I need them all to be independent of one another.

    • NewtownGuy Nov 21, 2016 @ 21:32

      Some of my text was left out. All of these sites are on the same server and have the same document root.

    • NewtownGuy Nov 21, 2016 @ 21:36

      I cannot get the username and password page shown above, the one in docs, to display. Is there another location ?

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