In this article we’ll be telling you how to make a PHP redirect using the header() function, which is generally for redirecting users to other pages, and a few alternatives to PHP redirect. Using the header() function, however, is a bit dangerous if certain precautions aren’t taken, that’s why we’ll also be showing you a few alternatives which are much more flexible.
Using the header() function
To do a PHP redirect, just use the following function after replacing “URL” by the URL you wish to redirect to:
Since you wish the redirect to happen before any HTML or PHP or any other code runs, this function should be put at the top of the page, before any kind of declaration like <!DOCTYPE>, or anything else.
Die() or exit()
We’re not done yet. Normal users will get redirected but crawlers and bots would ignore the header, making the older page accessible to them. So you can’t depend on the security offered by the header() function. One way of securing it could be using die() or exit() after the header() so that the redirect is shut down if it’s being ignored. Use the following command to do so:
header("Location: .$URL.php"); die();
The problem with relative URLs
RFC 7231 is a great way to use absolute and relative URL redirects but it’s always good to be extra cautious while using the latter. There’s a chance that your redirects would just straight up break if you use a website builder because some collect and rename PHP pages. We’re sorry for not being able to provide you with any solution for this, there just isn’t one at this moment.
The problem with status codes
So we all know the problem with the HTTP 302 code, i.e., if PHP’s location operator returns it, many times web browsers don’t perform a real redirect and instead use the GET command, and you don’t want that to happen. But this is precisely what standard PHP redirects do. Therefore, it’s wise that you specify the code returned. Now, the options left are HTTP 301 and HTTP 303. Using HTTP 301 can be a little problematic because a permanent redirect is indicated while HTTP 303 causes indexing problems. However, HTTP 303 can be used until there’s no other solution.
Understanding what’s in the manuals
It’s really important that you know what you’re doing. We’d recommend reading the PHP manual and the W3C documentation before publishing PHP redirects. This would help you in understanding the best ways to do it. It’s also a good idea to check the list of common network vulnerabilities and protect your website against them.
While PHP redirects are really fast to execute and also contribute in improving website speed, they still have their issues, as pointed out above. And if using a PHP redirect doesn’t make sense to you, here are some alternatives with the cost of slow execution.
Using the <meta> element
One way to do this is using the HTML <meta> element. The working of this is fairly simple. It’ll redirect from within the HTML portion of the page.
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0;url=yournewpage.php">
Using multiple PHP redirects
Using multiple PHP redirects can be a problem because first of all, this would affect the performance of your website. The thing is those different web hosts might not be equal and you’re sending your users on “not direct” routes. Another problem is that without your knowledge, data from your users might be getting sent to the page that you’re redirecting from. So, if you’re in a similar situation, it might be better to work on the structure of your website.
We hope we’re able to help you in making safe PHP redirects with the above information.
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