The server looks for specifically named files as the first page of your website, also known as the index page. The default order of index file names our particular servers look through is index.htm, index.html, index.php, and finallydefault.htm. You can change the name of the index file your account looks for by altering the .htaccess file. Perhaps you want to have a specific custom name for your index file or maybe you are migrating from another host and the index page is named differently. This way your internal links will not be broken by renaming the index file.
What is an htacces file?
The .htaccess file is a hidden text file within your hosting account that can be very powerful. It is designed so that you can modify it to change the behavior of your website that normally would take higher access beyond your account. It acts as a liaison between your domain and the server and can perform many functions.
Learn more about htaccess
Changing your default index file via htaccess
- First, you will need to log into your cPanel to access the htaccess file.
- Find the Files category and click on the File Manager icon.
- A popup box will appear. For the primary domain, click on the Web Root radio button. For addon domains, click on the dropdown and find your desired addon domain name. Be sure the checkbox next to Show Hidden Files is checked. Click the Go button to enter the File Manager.
- You should now be in the root folder of the domain you chose. Look for the .htaccess file and right click on it. This brings up a menu. Find and click on the Edit option. If you get a popup box, simply find and click the Edit button in the lower right corner to continue to the editor.
- You are now in the htaccess editor. Paste the following code at the top of the page to configure your desired index page. In our example below, we decided to make the index page of our folders named first.html.
#Alternate default index page
You can also list more than one file in the configuration. The file will be read left to right and check for them in that order. In this example, we add index.htm, index.html, and index.php to the list. First the server will check for first.html, if it does not find a file with that name, it continues to index.htm and so on.
#Alternate default index pages
DirectoryIndex first.html index.htm index.html index.php
- Be sure to hit the Save Changes button in the upper right corner to save your new htaccess configuration.
Or you can download the .htaccess file manually and implement these changes if you have no cPanel access with your host. Click here to download an example .htaccess file which you can straight edit and use.