The .htaccess file is a control file located in your webservers directory. This file is a very powerful file that can control access to certain files, restrict access to files, forward people in the event of errors, and many more useful features for webmasters!
One of the most embarrassing things for a webmaster is to have a website with dead links, bad URLs, and error messages when the user surfs through your website. Using the .htaccess file you can help reduce how noticeable those errors are by quickly moving the user to a correct working location. This method of course doesn’t correct the underlying problem with your website, however it does help to keep your website looking more professional.
Common error codes that you want to try to hide from the user:
400 – Bad Request
401 – Authorization Required
403 – Forbidden
404 – Page Not Found
500 – Internal Server Error
501 – Not Implemented
The biggest and most common error by far is the 404 Error (Page not found), but all of these can be embarrassing and troublesome to webmasters. If an error occurs on your website you don’t want to lose that user. You may not be able to provide them with a link to the page they wanted, but you might get another chance if you redirect them to another page within your website.
Syntax for .htaccess file:
ErrorDocument ### index.php — Example of format
ErrorDocument 404 /index.php — Working example
In the second example, should a user request a page that no longer exists on your website, they will automatically have the index.php file loaded. This can be done for all of the error codes listed above and will help to hide and glaring mistakes in your website.
As I mentioned before, this is not a fix action for your website, but simply a mask. It’s very important to review your website logs and look for error codes. The goal is to have a good working website afterall!