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How to enable and disable PHP error message settings in an .htaccess file

This article describes how to enable and disable PHP error messages by using the display_errors directive in an .htaccess file.

The information in this article only applies to certain types of hosting accounts. To determine whether or not the information below applies to your account, please see this article.

This article assumes that you have already set up a custom .htaccess file. If you have not already set up a custom .htaccess file, please read this article first.

Error messages and the display_errors directive

By default, PHP displays error messages in a user's web browser. This feature is very useful when you are initially developing and debugging your website. However, when website development is complete, displaying error messages can be a security risk. Error messages can reveal information about your website, such as path information and variables, that should be kept private.

The display_errors directive controls whether or not PHP displays error messages in users' web browsers. To set the display_errors directive, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your account using SSH.
  2. Use a text editor to modify the .htaccess file as follows:
    • To prevent PHP from displaying error messages, add the following line:
      php_flag display_errors Off
    • To allow PHP to display error messages, add the following line:

      php_flag display_errors On
  3. Save the changes to the .htaccess file and exit the text editor.
  4. To verify that the new setting is active, create a PHP test file that contains the following code in the same directory where the .htaccess file is located:
    <?php phpinfo(); ?>
  5. Load the test file in your web browser, and then search for the name of the directive. The Local Value column should display the new setting that you specified in the .htaccess file.

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