The PHP.INI file, the core configuration file for PHP based software development, specifies what should happen to a supported software development, or website, on a default global basis – from how to send emails to specifying the maximum size of data passed through a form submission.
Many of the entries contained within the PHP.INI can be over-ridden on a specific website basis however the master file itself is always the fall back so it is important to understand what configuration options are set and to know when they are changed. Due to the sensitive nature of this file it is usually tucked away, safely, behind the scenes on your webserver so you would have to specifically request it from your hosting provider or software developer.
The PHP.INI file is usually read when the server starts up however there are versions that can be read each time a web site request is made. Understanding the contents, and the specified default values, of the items contained within the PHP.INI file is particularly useful if trying to track down a problem with the functionality of the website or application.
As this master file could be used as a fall back for a number of website developments (if your website is run from a shared server as is usually common) it is likely that changes may be made to this configuration file based on the requirements of other clients. These changes could have an impact upon your site and, because this file is often only read during web server start-up, any issue, caused by changed made to it, may not be highlighted until some point in the future.
Three steps you should take for a PHP based web development to ensure you are kept in the loop regarding configuration changes are:
- Ask your software developer and/or hosting provider for a copy of the current PHP.INI in use
- Request a copy of the change control procedure relating specifically to PHP.INI
- Ask to be kept informed of any planned changes to the PHP.INI file
If your provider is reluctant to provide this information you can assure them that requests for this information is part of your internal quality procedures and that you do not intend to make any changes – the document is purely for quality of service purposes.