ExpressionEngine Docs

Post-Installation Best Practices

Increasing Security

ExpressionEngine’s system files and directories are typically safe from direct HTTP access on a properly configured server.

However, for increased security, we recommend that the system folder either be renamed or moved entirely above the public web root folder (commonly named public_html or referred to as simply “webroot”) and that admin.php be renamed as well. This document describes the renaming process.

Renaming the System Directory

This is an easily followed procedure that makes it difficult for the location of your system folder to be known.

  1. FTP to your server and change the name of the system folder to something else that is not easily guessed. For example, let’s say you’ve renamed it to dazzle.
  2. Open index.php and admin.php (both found in your site’s root) and update the name of the system directory in both files:
$system_path = './dazzle';

Moving the System Directory Above Webroot

Tip: System Directory Above Webroot

This is a more advanced procedure that provides even better security, but is not supported in all environments.

  1. FTP to your server and move the entire system folder above webroot, but still within your user’s account folder.
  2. Open index.php and admin.php (both found in your site’s root) and update the relative path to the system directory in both files. Here’s an example:


Your folder structure looked like:

└── public_html
    ├── admin.php
    ├── index.php
    ├── images
    ├── system
    └── themes

And the paths in index.php and admin.php having:

$system_path = './system';


Now your your folder structure looks like:

├── public_html
|   ├── admin.php
|   ├── index.php
|   ├── images
│   └── themes
└── system

And the path in index.php and admin.php now have:

$system_path = '../system';

Note the extra period, indicating that the system folder is now one level up, above webroot where it cannot be directly accessed from a web browser.

Note: There may also be some areas in the Control Panel where you will need to update the server path. For example:

Renaming admin.php

In the same way that we’ve renamed the system folder (or moved it above webroot entirely) it is recommended that you rename admin.php to something less obvious as well.

  1. FTP to your server and change the name of the admin.php file to something else that is not easily guessed. For example, let’s say you’ve renamed it to razzle.php.

  2. Visit Settings --> URL and Path Settings and update the Control Panel URL setting. Alternatively you can open system/user/config/config.php (or whatever you have renamed the system folder to) and update the URL using the cp_url override:

    $config['cp_url'] = "";

Removing index.php from your URLs

The index.php appears in your URLs because it is the file responsible for processing all ExpressionEngine requests. Consider the following URL:

The template_group/template segments are simply information passed to index.php and do not refer to actual files or folders in the server’s filesystem.

Many servers support a technique called URL rewriting, which allows you to hide the index.php portion of the URL, but still process the request normally. Rewriting URLs requires UNIX-based hosting and Apache 2.x or later with mod_rewrite installed and enabled.

1. Create an .htaccess file

Using your FTP client, create a new file named .htaccess (including the leading dot) in the same folder as your site’s main index.php file.

Note: Files beginning with a dot are hidden by default on some operating systems, including Mac OS X. Ensure your FTP client is set to show all files, including hidden ones.

Then add the following code to this newly created .htaccess file.

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteBase /

    # Removes index.php from ExpressionEngine URLs
    RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^GET.*index\.php [NC]
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !/system/.* [NC]
    RewriteRule (.*?)index\.php/*(.*) /$1$2 [R=301,NE,L]

    # Directs all EE web requests through the site index file
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /index.php/$1 [L]


2. Update General Configuration

In the Control Panel, go to Settings --> URL and Path Settings, set Website index page to blank (empty), and click Submit.

3. Test

Test your site’s links to ensure they are working correctly with index.php removed.

Note: If using Multiple Site Manager, you can repeat the above steps for each site, assuming each site has its own web root.

Some common problems include links returning 404s, a “No Input File Specified” error, or all links returning the same content. This can often be the case with hosts (such as GoDaddy) that require you to force query strings. If this happens, follow the exception above for hosts that force query strings.

If you encounter a problem, you can rename .htaccess to something else (it only takes effect when it is named .htaccess) and set Name of your site’s index page in the CP back to index.php.