WP Engine will no longer support .htaccess with release of PHP 7.4

The popular WordPress hosting platform, WP Engine, is removing the ability to use .htaccess files when sites upgrade to PHP 7.4. They claim the deprecation results in a performance increase of up to 10%, and they are providing .htaccess alternatives.

WP Engine

The Austin, TX based WordPress hosting platform, WP Engine, is readying the release of PHP 7.4 for its users. When it’s released, their customers may be surprised when they find out that they can no longer use .htaccess files.

An .htaccess file is used on web servers to configure certain directives. Directives have different purposes. For example, a directive could be used to deny access to certain files or to password protect a section of a site. The most commonly used directive is a redirect, which can send visitors to a different URL if the location of the original content has changed or is no longer available.

The .htaccess file is also used by WordPress to function properly. WordPress uses [the] file to manipulate how Apache serves files from its root directory, and subdirectories thereof. Most notably, WP modifies this file to be able to handle pretty permalinks. With the removal of .htaccess, WP Engine stated the default WordPress rewrites will be handled by [them] directly from the Apache server level.

WP Engine provided a list of alternative methods for webmasters that currently use custom directives in .htaccess. In several cases, WP Engine’s platform already manages the directive, making an entry in .htaccess redundant. In situations where its platform doesn’t manage a directive, they recommend handling it with PHP code.

The move to deprecate .htaccess is somewhat akin to Apple removing the stereo jack from iPhones. It’s something that most webmasters are familiar with using, and its removal will likely be met with protest. However, the reality is that it isn’t needed, there are equivalent alternatives, and sites will perform faster without it.

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Jon is the founder and Managing Editor of Coywolf. He has over 25 years of experience in web development, SaaS, internet strategy, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship. Follow @henshaw