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How to Use Nginx

Created by: Sophie van Vrijberghe de Coningh

Modified on: Wed, 9 Jun, 2021 at 3:59 PM

One of the biggest differences between Hypernode and more traditional platforms is the use of Nginx (pronunciation: ‘Engine X’) over Apache. Nginx has much better performance than Apache, and allows us to serve your webshop to many more visitors than Apache would.


Magento Specific Nginx Configuration

As your Hypernode is designed from the ground up to host Magento, we’ve taken great care to tweak the Nginx server for optimal performance and usability. We’ve moved all the Magento specific settings we’ve learned over the years, and the ones that Magento Inc. suggests, and includes in its .htaccess file, into the main Nginx configuration. Then we added a layer of protection against malicious bots and hackers, and a modern, JSON based logging format.

Extending Nginx Configuration

Nginx does not use .htaccess files like Apache does. This means that configuration previously done in .htaccess files now has to be done in a different format, explained in the Nginx documentation.

Custom configuration to Nginx can be made by placing files in the /data/web/nginx directory inside your home directory.

Inclusion Order

The inclusion order of files in /data/web/nginx is as follows:

  • Files starting with http. will be included in the http {} context block
  • Files starting with server. will be included in the server {} context block
  • Files starting with staging. will be included in the staging {} context block
  • Files starting with public. will be included in the public {} context block

Nginx Config Reloader

On Hypernodes we run a small daemon called the nginx-config-reloader.

This very lightweight Python daemon listens for file changes in /data/web/nginx. If new configuration is added, or the existing configuration is changed, this daemon picks up on the changes, and copies all files to /etc/nginx/app.

When this is done, the daemon validates the Nginx configuration files for syntax correctness.

If the syntax is ok, the Nginx web service daemon will be reloaded. If the syntax is not ok, the errors will be written to /data/web/nginx/nginx_error_output and the Nginx service will not be reloaded to avoid crashes due to syntax errors.

This way an incorrect config will not take down your shop when the config reloads, but warns you instead. Additionally you can adjust your Nginx config without the need for root privileges.

A syntax error in your configuration is far from perfect, because when the Hypernode get’s rebooted, the Nginx service will not come up because of the syntax errors.


  • After changing your Nginx configuration, always check for config errors in /data/web/nginx/nginx_error_output
  • Your bash terminal will show a warning if the nginx_error_output file is present in /data/web/nginx
  • If your config is incorrect, fix the errors immediately to avoid a broken configuration on reboot.

Specific Configurations

Some typical scenarios are explained below:

More specific Nginx configurations can be found in the category page about Nginx.

Modern Logging

Instead of using the log format used by Apache, or NCSA webservers, we’ve opted to create our access logs in a powerful JSON format. The advantage of this format is that it makes the logs a lot easier to automatically parse, and a lot easier to expand when we want to add more information to them, without breaking existing tools. And speaking of tools, we’ve included a powerful log analyser on your Hypernode, called hypernode-parse-nginx-log, or pnl for short. For more information, see our article on logfiles.

Converting .htaccess Files to Nginx Configuration

When moving from a webserver that is running Apache, to a Hypernode, which is running Nginx, some adjustments are required to make sure your shop is functioning.

Where Apache uses .htaccess files per directory to instruct Apache, Nginx does not make use of them. As a result all configuration in .htaccess files should be converted to Nginx configuration.

Helper Tools to Convert Apache Configuration to Nginx Configuration

You can easily convert rewrites and other configuration from your .htaccess file to Nginx config by using a converter tool.

These tools are not completely accurate but can convert many statements from your .htaccess to Nginx configuration.

Additionally the Nginx website provides some rules of thumb as well.

Find All .htaccess Files and Add Denied Directories to the Nginx Config

To find .htaccess files that deny access to custom directories, use the following command:

find /data/web/public -type f -name .htaccess -exec grep -q 'Deny from all' {} \; -exec echo {} \;

This will list all .htaccess files that deny access. The ones from the Magento core are already blocked.

The locations that are not in the Magento core, should be denied access to using Nginx configuration:

location ~* "(/custom/location|/other/location|/third/custom/location)/?" {
    deny all;

Because Nginx does not use .htaccess files like Apache does, configuration previously done in .htaccess files now has to be done in a different format, explained in the Nginx documentation.

Generally you want rewrite rules if you have moved (parts of) your site to a different folder or URL.

The rewrite rules below should be added to a file called server.rewrites in the Nginx folder on your Hypernode server.

Internal rewrites

They are used when you want to rewrite within the same domain. For example, to rewrite all URLs in the format of /invoice/345232.pdf to /invoice.php?id=345232 you would use this rewrite line:

 rewrite ^/invoice/(\d+).pdf$ /invoice.php?id=$1 break;

This will handle the rewrite internally, so it is transparent for browsers and search engines.

External redirects

If you have moved content between domains, or want to signal (for example to search engines) that something has moved, you should use an external redirect.

For example, you want every URL starting with /fr to redirect to

 rewrite ^/fr/(.*)$$1 permanent;

This will also maintain subfolders and query strings (such as

If the move is only temporary, you should use redirect instead of permanent.

Sophie is the author of this solution article.

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