Deny direct file download from webserver by URL


I have a website where users can login and are identified by sessions and $user[id]. They can upload files. Files are stores in htdocs/uploads. Every file data is stored in a table to have a link between filename, location and user_id. On some places on my website i give the possibility to download the file by: <a href="' . $row['path'] . '" target="_blank" download>Download file</a>.

Behind $row['path'] a URL like is given. If the user know this URL path he can download the file also without login or identification by entering the URL into a browser. I want to avoid this. How can i ensure, that only files can be downloaded from htdocs/uploads by click on such a download link on my website.

=> I am not able to create a folder outside htdocs
=> I have tried to change the folder permissions but w/o success
=> My website is basically made in PHP, a solution in PHP is prefered.

Any idea/help available? Thank you!


You will need to go down the route of making PHP serve the file for you. This will ensure that you can validate user credentials before serving the file.

See examples on here. This will explain how to serve files from PHP using header(). This answer also outlines some of the key concepts.

Once you’ve done this, you can deny direct access to these files using htaccess rules. This will ensure users can only access the files via the php endpoints, and those endpoints can perform validation of the user’s credentials.

Answered By – Polymer

This Answer collected from stackoverflow, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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