Redirect www to non www with .htaccess Apache rewrite rule

Thursday, 2nd July 2015

Reading Time: 2minutes
Sometimes it happens that some websites are indexed in Search Engines (Google, Yandex, Yahoo, Bing, Ask Jeeves etc.) with and you want to get rid of the www in the hostname in favour of just the hostname in terms of Apache .htaccess redirect. I knwo redirect www to non-www, might seem a bit weird as usually people want to redirect their website domain without www to point to www but there is a good reason for that weirdness, if you're a Christian and you dislike the fact that WWW is being red as Waw Waw Waw's or Vav / Vav Vav letters in Hebrew which represents in hebrew 666 or the mark of the beast prophecised in last book of Holy Bible (Revelation) written by saint John, the book is also called often Apocalypse.

Using Apache mod_rewrite's .htaccess is a good way to do the redirect especially if you're in a shared hosting, where you don't have direct access to edit Apache Virtualhost httpd.conf file but have only access to your user's home public_html directory via lets say FTP or SFTP.

To achieve the www to non-www domain URL redirect, just edit .htaccess with available hosting editor (in case if shell SSH access is available) or web interface or download the .htaccess via FTP / SFTP modify it and upload it back to server.

You need to include following mod_rewrite RewriteCond rules to .htaccess (preferrably somewhere near beginning of file):

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]

As .htaccess is being dynamically red by Apache's mod_rewrite module no Apache webserver restart is required and you should see immediately the affect, hopefully if the webhosting doesn't imply some caching with mod_cache or there is no some cache expiry setting preventing the new .htaccess to be properly redable by webserver.
Also in case of troubles make sure the new uploaded .htaccess file is properly readable e.g. has some permissions such as 755. Also in case if it doesn't immediately works out, make sure to clean up your browser cache and assure your browser is not configured to use some caching proxy host (be it visible or transparent).
Besides this would work and your Search Engines in future will hopefully stop indexing your site with WWW. in front of domain name, there is a downside of using .htaccess instead of including it straight into Apache's VirtualHost configuration is that this will cause a bit of degraded performance and add some milliseconds slowness to serve requests to your domain, thus if you're on your own dedicated server and have access to Apache configuration implement the www to non www hostname redirect directly using VirtualHost as explained in my prior article here


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