Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Joomla FTP Layer - permissions and solution

When using commercial hosting with CPanel interface with Joomla you can be stuck by problem with file permissions. Errors like these are common:
Warning: Failed to move file!
The problem occurs  when uploading and installing modules/templates in Joomla admin interface. There are a lot of advises out there that suggest you to do "chmod 777 somedir" to resolve this problem. This is BAD solution and should never be used. Here is explanation why is this happening and how can you fix it without changing permissions.

When you buy hosting you get username/password for CPanel and ftp account which are identical. Installing Joomla on such hosting is not a problem but when trying to install template/module in Joomla admin panel you can see the above error message.

When uploading and installing files from Joomla admin panel, uploaded file is set to different owner than your username for the hosting. Uploaded file is owned by user started the apache web server. On most linux distributions it is www, www-data, http and so on. So when uploaded with different user the file can't even be deleted by your account and you need to contact hosting administrator to delete it for you. What you need to do is to make Joomla upload file with your hosting username/password. This is done by enabling FTP layer in Joomla global configuration tab and filling it with the right data (user/pass/ftp root). This can be done on installation process of Joomla but it is disabled by default. If you don't do this the final process of writing configuration.php will fail and you need to save and upload it manually.

How to enable it manually. Lets assume that your Joomla installation at address If you login in CPanel you will see that your home directory is something like "/home/username/". Document root of the web server is /home/username/public_html and Joomla is installed in /home/username/public_html/joomla. Here is configuration.php for ftp layer:

public $ftp_host = ''; // change ftp ip address here
public $ftp_port = '21';
public $ftp_user = 'username';
public $ftp_pass = 'password';
public $ftp_root = 'public_html/joomla/';
public $ftp_enable = '1';

This should solve the problem with user mismatch when uploading modules/templates.
Other is hosting provider to support suPHP which is better solution to this problem.

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