This article will help you make a login page even if you don’t know any programming. Obviously, when things have been oversimplified, there will be some ‘catches’, right? And yes there are.
The first assumption is that your site runs on the Apache web server. And second, the control panel through which the web site is administered has a “password protect directory” – most hosting packages offer this.
Note: Other web servers may have an equivalent feature. Please check with your web host provider for details.
Log in at the control panel and hunt for the “password protect directory” tool. If you can’t find it, contact the web host. By the way, as long as the site runs on Apache web server, you can still make a login section even without the convenient directory protect tool. This involves fiddling around with the .htaccess and .htpasswd files of the server software. Please refer the last section on this page for details.
The screenshots are presented in a slideshow below. These have been taken from the LunarPages web hosting control panel and might be different for you in which case I advice a dash of common sense.
Technically, you didn’t make a login page but rather create a protected area. The username and password fields will be presented to the visitors when they want to access the contents in this shielded section. The login information is requested through a small pop-up window displayed by the browser. The look and feel of this window depends entirely on the browser.
Open a browser window and go to the protected directory by typing in it’s full URL. You’ll get a small pop-up login window which asks for the login information. Enter the username and password (of any user) to access the contents in this folder.
Click “Top Secret Area” to access the protected folder I’ve created with the steps detailed above. I’ve added two users each having their own username/password combination.
The method detailed uses HTTP authentication – a cool techie term to impress your friends with. And as I mentioned before, it will work if your web site is on the Apache web server. FYI, almost half of the world’s web sites are running on Apache – check the Netcraft survey. With HTTP authentication you make a login page on your web site to protect the contents of an entire directory.
If you don’t have a Password Protect Directories option in the Control Panel don’t worry. The exact same functionality can be set up through Apache’s .htaccess and .htpasswd files.
The best part is that you don’t need to tinker around with the contents of these files. Simply use Htaccess Tools free service to create .htaccess and .htpasswd files. Check the Htpasswd generator on the web site.
The .htaccess file placed in the protected directory once you make the login window looks something like the one below:
AuthType Basic AuthName "REALM" AuthUserFile "PATH-TO-THE-PASSWD-FILE" require valid-user
REALM is the protected resource name – Secret Information in our example. It is displayed in the small login pop-up window. As mentioned before, the layout and ‘prettiness’ of this window depends solely on the web browser and you have no control over how it looks.
The PATH-TO-THE-PASSWD-FILE points to the location of the file that stores the username and passwords of users who can access the protected area. The file is, typically, tucked away in a safe directory on your web space. Though the file can be opened and viewed in a simple text editor, the actual password is encrypted.
So here were two ways to set up a login page/area on your web site both of which lead to the exact same result. One involved using the Password Protect Directories feature in the Control Panel while the other was a more “getting-your-hands-dirty” approach.
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