A .htaccess file (hypertext access) is a configuration document that controls how a server functions and runs.
Only a few web servers support the .htaccess file, including sites running on Apache. However, the file plays a significant role in keeping your site accessible.
WordPress software adds a directories list to a web server upon every WP installation on a hosting account. Core directories range from wp-admin, which stores administrative files, to the wp-content directory, which houses plugins and themes.
They all keep your pages up and running. WordPress also comes with the .htaccess file. This configuration is accessible through the FTP client or hosting control panel. When you host several sites, your web server will also have several .htaccess files.
Benefits Of .htaccess Files
.htaccess files are essential WordPress files that can enable or disable website features hosted on the server. By default, these files manage redirects and permalink structures. Also, many WP plugins use .htaccess files to operate, including most caching and security plugins. These plugins rewrite and modify the .htaccess files to perform their functions.
Made to full use, .htaccess files can execute several configuration modifications on a per-directory basis. Sophisticated modifications include:
- Setting up redirects – Setting a 302 redirect to your temporary domain or a 301 redirect to move all HTTP traffic to your HTTPS site.
- Rewriting a URL – Creating an SEO-friendly URL to increase search engine crawlability and indexability.
- Enabling hotlink protection – Preventing hotlinking from your site and protecting bandwidth usage.
- Altering access restriction – Whitelisting or blacklisting specific IP addresses from your site; making certain types of files inaccessible; or completely restricting site access.
- Serving customized error pages – Customizing messages that appear on your “404 error not found” pages.
- Password-protect directories – Commanding that every directory requires a valid user by setting up a password and creating a .htpasswd file.