Autoindexing, Indexes, and Directories

Your personal website should contain an "index file" in the public_html directory as the entry point. The webservers that serve user pages from AFS are configured to give you several choices of what the index file is named:

The following list of options will be displayed each time time your webpage is accessed. (`

  1. index.html The primary index file is public_html/index.html
  2. index.php If the primary doesn't exist, then public_html (a PHP script) is used
  3. index.htm If neither of the above exist, then public_html/index.htm (shorter file name extension) file is used
  4. If none of these apply, then an error message like this is displayed.

This will occur each time time your webpage is accessed ( given your UCID).

Any subdirectories of your default website should also have index files; for instance, public_html/somedir should have a corresponding public_html/somedir/index.html (MS Windows users please see note below).

Prior to January 2007, the systems were configured to handle unindexed directories by "autoindexing" them. Instead of showing an error, a listing of the files in the directory was displayed. Here is an example of an autoindexed directory. While autoindexing has many good uses, the practice of autoindexing by default makes it too easy for people to accidentally reveal private data and passwords, as shown in the example.

One of the good uses of autoindexing is for distribution of datafiles for research or classwork. You can request that autoindexing be turned on for any reason for a specific directory, either by sending mail to or the IST Service Desk. Please include the URL, or the complete path to the directory(ies) in question with your request.


Last Updated: August 30, 2019