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Redirecting a page - silent, temporary or permanent?

To 301 or not to 301 ... that is the question. Whether 'tis better to quietly redirect your users to a new page through mod_rewrite, or to instruct them to look elsewhere - Darren Shakespeare - 2003 ;-)

In all seriousness - what should you do when someone arrives at your web site looking for a URL that doesn't exist? You could simply send back a "not found" message through the HTTP response - type 404 - but there are other alternatives.

• You could use mod_rewrite to silently transfer their request to a different URL that does exist

• You could reply with a status code 302 (or 303 or 307) telling the browser that the resource is temporarily to be found elsewhere

• You could reply with a status code 301 - a permanent move, again telling the browser to re-request from elsewhere.

Which would you use in what circumstances?

* The archive pages of this blog each have their own URL, but in practise there isn't a full directory of files - one for each page - on the server. We use mod_rewrite to silently transfer the requests. And we do it silently because we do not want to change what's in the URL bar, nor to give the user any thought of changing to a different URL.

Example from .htaccess:
RewriteRule ^(.*)\.htm dvrt.php?sharename=$1&%{QUERY_STRING}

* We use a permanent move where people (or automata) used a URL on our wiki which includes extra "/" characters ... you'll find that if you call up http://www.wellho.net/share/the/pizza.html you'll be redirected to http://www.wellho.net/share/deep.html - and that will change in your browser bar too.

Example from .htaccess:
RewriteRule (.*)/(.*)\.htm /share/deep.html [R=301,L]

The difference between permanent and temporary moves is that the browser remembers a permanent move and should ask for the new location on the following visit; but in the case of a temporary move it will remember the original setting and try that on the following occasion.

See [here] for status code listing (at wikiPedia).
(written 2010-08-03, updated 2010-10-08)

 
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  [1954] mod_rewrite for newcomers - (2008-12-20)
  [1939] mod_proxy_ajp and mod_proxy_balancer examples - (2008-12-13)
  [1778] Pointing all the web pages in a directory at a database - (2008-08-30)
  [1767] mod_proxy and mod_proxy_ajp - httpd - (2008-08-22)
  [1762] WEB-INF (Tomcat) and .htaccess (httpd) - (2008-08-20)
  [1707] Configuring Apache httpd - (2008-07-12)
  [1636] What to do if the Home Page is missing - (2008-05-08)
  [1619] User and Group settings for Apache httpd web server - (2008-04-22)
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  [2728] Redirecting a home page using mod_rewrite - (2010-04-17)
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  [1006] Apache httpd and Apache Tomcat together tips - (2006-12-24)


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Melksham Area Board meeting of last week
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Ambassador or Anorak?
Redirecting a page - silent, temporary or permanent?
Groupsave tickets - 3 or 4 train tickets for the price of 2
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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