Directives in the configuration files may apply to the
entire server, or they may be restricted to apply only to particular
directories, files, hosts, or URLs. This document describes how to
use configuration section containers or
to change the scope of other configuration directives.
There are two basic types of containers. Most containers are
evaluated for each request. The enclosed directives are applied only
for those requests that match the containers. The
<IfModule> containers, on the
other hand, are evaluated only at server startup and restart. If
their conditions are true at startup, then the enclosed directives
will apply to all requests. If the conditions are not true, the
enclosed directives will be ignored.
encloses directives that will only be applied if an appropriate
parameter is defined on the
httpd command line. For example,
with the following configuration, all requests will be redirected
to another site only if the server is started using
Redirect / http://otherserver.example.com/
directive is very similar, except it encloses directives that will
only be applied if a particular module is available in the server.
The module must either be statically compiled in the server, or it
must be dynamically compiled and its
LoadModule line must be earlier in the
configuration file. This directive should only be used if you need
your configuration file to work whether or not certain modules are
installed. It should not be used to enclose directives that you want
to work all the time, because it can suppress useful error messages
about missing modules.
In the following example, the
MimeMagicFiles directive will be
applied only if
mod_mime_magic is available.
can apply negative conditions by preceding their test with "!".
Also, these sections can be nested to achieve more complex
The most commonly used configuration section containers are the
ones that change the configuration of particular places in the
filesystem or webspace. First, it is important to understand the
difference between the two. The filesystem is the view of your disks
as seen by your operating system. For example, in a default install,
Apache resides at
/usr/local/apache2 in the Unix
"c:/Program Files/Apache Group/Apache2" in
the Windows filesystem. (Note that forward slashes should always be
used as the path separator in Apache, even for Windows.) In contrast,
the webspace is the view of your site as delivered by the web server
and seen by the client. So the path
/dir/ in the
webspace corresponds to the path
/usr/local/apache2/htdocs/dir/ in the filesystem of a
default Apache install on Unix. The webspace need not map directly to
the filesystem, since webpages may be generated dynamically
from databases or other locations.
directives, along with their regex counterparts, apply directives to
parts of the filesystem. Directives enclosed in a
<Directory> section apply to
the named filesystem directory and all subdirectories of that
directory. The same effect can be obtained using .htaccess files. For example, in the
following configuration, directory indexes will be enabled for the
/var/web/dir1 directory and all subdirectories.
Directives enclosed in a
<Files> section apply to any file with
the specified name, regardless of what directory it lies in.
So for example, the following configuration directives will,
when placed in the main section of the configuration file,
deny access to any file named
of where it is found.
Deny from all
To address files found in a particular part of the filesystem, the
can be combined. For example, the following configuration will deny
/var/web/dir1/subdir3/private.html, and any other instance
private.html found under the
Deny from all
directive and its regex counterpart, on the other hand, change the
configuration for content in the webspace. For example, the following
configuration prevents access to any URL-path that begins in /private.
In particular, it will apply to requests for
http://yoursite.example.com/private/dir/file.html as well
as any other requests starting with the
Deny from all
directive need not have anything to do with the filesystem.
For example, the following example shows how to map a particular
URL to an internal Apache handler provided by
No file called
server-status needs to exist in the
directives can each use shell-style wildcard characters as in
fnmatch from the C standard library. The character "*"
matches any sequence of characters, "?" matches any single character,
and "[seq]" matches any character in seq. The "/"
character will not be matched by any wildcard; it must be specified
If even more flexible matching is required, each
container has a regular-expression (regex) counterpart
<LocationMatch> that allow
to be used in choosing the matches. But see the section below on
configuration merging to find out how using regex sections will change
how directives are applied.
A non-regex wildcard section that changes the configuration of
all user directories could look as follows:
Using regex sections, we can deny access to many types of image files
Deny from all
Choosing between filesystem containers and webspace containers is
actually quite easy. When applying directives to objects that reside
in the filesystem always use
<Files>. When applying directives to objects
that do not reside in the filesystem (such as a webpage generated from
a database), use
It is important to never use
<Location> when trying to restrict
access to objects in the filesystem. This is because many
different webspace locations (URLs) could map to the same filesystem
location, allowing your restrictions to be circumvented.
For example, consider the following configuration:
Deny from all
This works fine if the request is for
http://yoursite.example.com/dir/. But what if you are on
a case-insensitive filesystem? Then your restriction could be easily
circumvented by requesting
<Directory> directive, in
contrast, will apply to any content served from that location,
regardless of how it is called. (An exception is filesystem links.
The same directory can be placed in more than one part of the
filesystem using symbolic links. The
<Directory> directive will follow the symbolic
link without resetting the pathname. Therefore, for the highest level
of security, symbolic links should be disabled with the appropriate
If you are, perhaps, thinking that none of this applies to you
because you use a case-sensitive filesystem, remember that there are
many other ways to map multiple webspace locations to the same
filesystem location. Therefore you should always use the filesystem
containers when you can. There is, however, one exception to this
rule. Putting configuration restrictions in a
/> section is perfectly safe because this section will apply
to all requests regardless of the specific URL.
container encloses directives that apply to specific hosts.
This is useful when serving multiple hosts from the same machine
with a different configuration for each. For more information,
see the Virtual Host Documentation.
containers apply enclosed configuration directives only
to sites accessed through
mod_proxy's proxy server
that match the specified URL. For example, the following configuration
will prevent the proxy server from being used to access the
Deny from all
The configuration sections are applied in a very particular order.
Since this can have important effects on how configuration directives
are interpreted, it is important to understand how this works.
The order of merging is:
<Directory> (except regular expressions)
.htaccess done simultaneously (with
.htaccess, if allowed, overriding
<LocationMatch> done simultaneously
<Directory>, each group is processed in
the order that they appear in the configuration files.
<Directory> (group 1 above)
is processed in the order shortest directory component to longest.
So for example,
<Directory /var/web/dir> will
be processed before
/var/web/dir/subdir>. If multiple
<Directory> sections apply
to the same directory they are processed in the configuration file
order. Configurations included via the
Include directive will be treated as if
they were inside the including file at the location of the
are applied after the corresponding sections outside
the virtual host definition. This allows virtual hosts to
override the main server configuration.
Later sections override earlier ones.
There is actually a
sequence performed just before the name translation phase
are used to map URLs to filenames). The results of this
sequence are completely thrown away after the translation has
Below is an artificial example to show the order of
merging. Assuming they all apply to the request, the directives in
this example will be applied in the order A > B > C > D >
For a more concrete example, consider the following. Regardless of
any access restrictions placed in
<Directory> sections, the
<Location> section will be
evaluated last and will allow unrestricted access to the server. In
other words, order of merging is important, so be careful!
Allow from all
# Woops! This <Directory> section will have no effect
Allow from all
Deny from badguy.example.com