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Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) is an extension to the HTTP protocol which allows users to collaboratively edit and manage files on remote web servers. The World Wide Web, as conceived by Tim Berners-Lee, was always intended to be a readable and writable medium. However, as the web grew it became a largely read-only medium. WebDAV has emerged as a way to restore that functionality.

Enabling WebDAV in the panel

  1. Navigate to the (Panel > 'Goodies' > 'Htaccess/WebDAV') page.
    01 WebDAV.fw.png
  2. In the list of domains, click the site on which you wish to enable WebDAV.
    01 Password Protecting Directories.fw.png
  3. Click the Set up a New Directory button to continue.
    The WebDAV configuration page opens
    03 WebDAV.fw.png
  4. Enter the following:
    • Directory name: The subdirectory you want to use for WebDAV. If this directory doesn't exist, then it's created automatically.
    • Password-protect this dir?: You should check this box for security purposes.
    • Enable WebDAV on this dir?: Check this box.
    • Directory "name": When you navigate to the WebDAV directory, a popup box opens allowing you to log in. This text is what appears in that box.
    • User accounts for this area: Add a user followed by its password. View the Passwords article for instructions on how to create a safe password.
    • Forbid linking to files in this dir?: Check this box if you'd like certain file types to be forbidden.
    • Forbidden file extensions: Add the forbidden extensions here.
    • Domains that may still link: Add domains that will not be forbidden from accessing this content.
  5. Click the Configure This Directory button to save.
    A confirmation box confirms that WebDAV is being configured:
    04 WebDAV.fw.png
Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note: If you have a lot of directories you wish to enable WebDAV on, you must add users for each directory separately via the panel. Also, users have access to the entire directory once created. See below for finer grained access.


If you'd like to access your WebDAV directory over a secure connection, you must purchase an SSL certificate. Visit the following article for further details:

User access

The DreamHost panel allows you to specify which users have access to a WebDAV-enabled directory. However, by default, each user has full access to all files in the entire directory. This may not be an issue with a very simple WebDAV directory, but as the WebDAV directory grows in users, certain problems may arise. For example:

  • There is no file-level security.
– Users can potentially overwrite edits by another user and even delete another users's file.
– Any files intended to be private are viewable by all users of the folder.
  • User management cannot be done automatically (e.g., no adding users via PHP scripts).

The best solution is to specify access levels (Access-Control-Lists) on a per-folder (or maybe even per-file) basis. As the the user count grows, you can then manage the users and passwords list automatically using scripts.

This can be done by creating/editing an .htaccess file placed in every folder where you want to make an exception.


WebDAV and mod_rewrite

Certain software such as WordPress and Joomla put rewrite directives in your site’s base directory, even when installed to a subdirectory. This could possibly interfere with WebDAV access. If so, modify the base .htaccess as follows. Before each RewriteRule add:

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !/webdavdir
where webdavdir is the directory you want WebDAV access to. For multiple directories, put them in parentheses separated by pipes, like so:
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !/(webdavdir1|webdavdir2|webdavdir3)

Editing files normally pre-processed by the web server

One problem with WebDAV is that it does not allow you to edit the source of server processed files, including PHP, shtml, Perl, and so on. This is because it uses the same command to "GET" the file as your web browser. The webserver has no way of knowing to not process the PHP file and give you the output instead of the source code.

Adding this line to your .htaccess file disables all processing:

SetHandler default-handler

This forces .php files to show their source, including any passwords you have coded in. You will need to change the permissions on your .htaccess file to edit it. Any changes made to this file will be overwritten if you make any changes in the panel to your htaccess/webdav options.

You could also append .txt to the end of any file to force it to read as a normal text file. For example, change test.php to test.php.txt.

Enabling WebDAV on an entire domain, not just a sub-folder

Creating the WebDAV directory in your DreamHost panel does not allow you to apply WebDAV to an entire domain – it only works on the specific subdirectory. However, using an .htaccess file, you can make it so WebDAV works when visiting the site's URL without the subdirectory.

Dh-kb-note-icon.fw.png Note: WebDAV uses it's own .htaccess and .htpassword file which are controlled by the WebDAV interface and may not always be visible. This may cause "abnormal" behavior in certain instances, such as creating a WebDAV directory off of your domain's root directory (e.g., http://example.com/webdav/). It is suggested that if you're creating a WebDAV directory, you ensure that the target WebDAV (as well as it's parent) are reasonably isolated from your main site.

  1. Visit the (Panel > 'Goodies' > 'Htaccess/WebDAV') page to set up a directory with WebDAV enabled.
    • For the rest of these steps, it's assumed that the directory is called "site".
  2. If you already have any data or directories you want to include in the new WebDAV site, connect to your new WebDAV share and upload them. The URL of your WebDAV share should be something like http://example.com/site/.
    • Don't worry about modifying the links within your pages – they will still work exactly the same way they currently do.
    The remaining steps help you create an .htaccess file so that rewrite requests to http://example.com use the data stored in http://example.com/site/:
  3. In the main folder for your domain, create a file called ".htaccess". Make sure you include the period at the start.
  4. Put the following text into the file:
     RewriteEngine on
     RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !site/
     RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /site/$1
  5. If you have directories that you don't want to be under WebDAV control, add additional RewriteCond lines like the one for "sites". For example, if you don't want the directory "scripts" to be rewritten, then add the following:
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !scripts/

When you now visit http://example.com/ you should actually be sent the data from http://example.com/site/, but your URLs will look exactly the same as they did before.

See also