Modify docroot to improve security

In a standard installation with an Apache web server, Magento is installed to the default web root: /var/www/html/magento2. Within the magento2 folder are:

  • /pub/
  • /setup/
  • /var/
  • other folders

The Magento app is served from /var/www/html/magento2/pub. The rest of the Magento file system is vulnerable because it is accessible from a browser. Setting the webroot to the pub/ directory prevents site visitors from accessing the Web Setup Wizard and other sensitive areas of the Magento file system from a browser.

This topic describes how to change the Apache docroot on an existing Magento instance to serve files from the Magento pub/ directory, which is more secure.

If you’re accustomed to using the Web Setup Wizard during development, be aware that you will not be able to access it when serving files from the pub/ directory.

A note about nginx

If you are using nginx and the nginx.conf.sample file included in the Magento installation directory, you are probably already serving files from the pub/ directory.

When used in your server block that defines your site, the nginx.conf.sample configuration overrides your server’s docroot settings to serve files from Magento’s pub/ directory. For example, see the last line in the following configuration:

    # /etc/nginx/sites-available/magento

    upstream fastcgi_backend {
         server  unix:/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock;

     server {

              listen 80;
              set $MAGE_ROOT /var/www/html/magento2ce;
              include /var/www/html/magento2ce/nginx.conf.sample;

Before you begin

To complete this tutorial, you will need access to a working Magento installation running on a LAMP stack:

  • Linux
  • Apache (2.2+)
  • MySQL (5.6+)
  • PHP (7.1.3+ or 7.2)
  • Magento (2.0+)

Refer to Prerequisites and the Installation Guide for more information.

1. Edit your server configuration

The name and location of your virtual host file depends on which version of Apache you are running. This example shows the name and location of the virtual host file on Apache v2.4.

  1. Log in to your Magento server.
  2. Edit your virtual host file:
        vim /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf
  3. Add the path to your Magento pub/ directory to the DocumentRoot directive:

    <VirtualHost *:80>
            ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
            DocumentRoot /var/www/html/magento2ce/pub
            ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
            CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined
            <Directory "/var/www/html">
                        AllowOverride all
  4. Restart Apache:
        systemctl restart apache2  

    2. Update your base URL

If you appended a directory name to your server’s hostname or IP address to create the base URL when you installed Magento (for example, you’ll need to remove it.

Replace with your server’s hostname.

  1. Log in to the Magento database:

    mysql -u <user> -p
  2. Specify the Magento database you created when you installed Magento:

    use <database-name>
  3. Update the base URL:

    UPDATE core_config_data SET value='' WHERE path='web/unsecure/base_url';

3. Switch modes

Magento modes, which include production and developer, are designed to improve security and make development easier. As the names suggest, you should switch to developer mode when extending or customizing Magento and switch to production mode when running Magento in a live environment.

Switching between modes is an important step in verifying that your server configuration is working properly. You can switch between modes using the Magento CLI tool:

  1. Go to your Magento installation directory.
  2. Switch to production mode.
        bin/magento deploy:mode:set production
        bin/magento cache:flush
  3. Refresh your browser and verify that the storefront displays properly.
  4. Switch to developer mode.
        bin/magento deploy:mode:set developer
        bin/magento cache:flush
  5. Refresh your browser and verify that the storefront displays properly.

4. Verify the storefront

Go to the storefront in a web browser to verify that everything is working.

  1. Open a web browser and enter your server’s hostname or IP address in the address bar. For example,

    The following figure shows a sample storefront page. If it displays as follows, your installation was a success!

    Magento storefront which verifies a successful installation

    Refer to the troubleshooting section if the page displays a 404 (Not Found) or fails to load other assets like images, CSS, and JS.

  2. Try accessing the Magento directory for the Web Setup Wizard from a browser. Append “setup/” to your server’s hostname or IP address in the address bar:

    If you see a 404 or the “Access denied” message, you’ve successfully restricted access to the Magento file system.

    Access denied

Congratulations! You’re finished.