How To Capture A Variable Domain Name In A Mod Rewrite Rule

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How To Capture A Variable Domain Name In A Mod Rewrite Rule

How To Capture A Variable Domain Name In A Mod Rewrite Rule

Check out the How To Capture A Variable Domain Name In A Mod Rewrite Rule here.

Overview of Mod Rewrite Rule

Mod Rewrite is a powerful module in Apache web servers that allows for URL rewriting and redirection. With Mod Rewrite, you can modify the way URLs are displayed to users and gain more control over your website’s structure. One common use case of Mod Rewrite is capturing a variable domain name in a rewrite rule. This article will provide an in-depth guide on how to achieve this.

Understanding Variable Domain Names

In the context of URL rewriting, variable domain names refer to domain names that can change dynamically. Instead of hardcoding a specific domain in the rewrite rule, you may want to capture any incoming domain name and redirect it accordingly. This flexibility is especially useful when you have multiple websites or subdomains pointing to the same server.

Setting Up the Rewrite Rule in .htaccess

Before we delve into capturing variable domain names, it’s essential to understand how to set up the rewrite rule in the .htaccess file. The .htaccess file is a configuration file that resides in the root directory of your website. It allows you to override certain server settings without modifying the main server configuration.

To set up a rewrite rule, you first need to enable the RewriteEngine in your .htaccess file. This can be done by adding the following line at the beginning of the file:

RewriteEngine On 

Once the RewriteEngine is enabled, you can proceed to define your rewrite rules using regular expressions.

Using Regular Expressions for Capturing Variable Domain Names

Regular expressions (regex) are powerful patterns used for matching and manipulating strings. In the case of capturing variable domain names, regex can be used to identify and extract the domain name from the incoming URL.

To capture a variable domain name, you need to create a capture group in your regex pattern. A capture group is defined by placing parentheses around the part of the pattern you want to extract. For example, to capture the domain name in the incoming URL, you can use the following regex pattern:

RewriteCond % ^([a-zA-Z0-9-]+)\.example\.com$ 

In this pattern, % is a server variable that represents the incoming domain name. The captured domain name will be stored in the capture group (([a-zA-Z0-9-]+)) and can be referenced using $1 in the rewrite rule.

How To Capture A Variable Domain Name In A Mod Rewrite Rule

Examples of Capturing Variable Domain Names in Mod Rewrite

Let’s look at a few examples to understand how to capture variable domain names in Mod Rewrite.

Example 1: Redirecting Subdomains to Different Pages

Suppose you have a website with multiple subdomains, and you want to redirect each subdomain to a specific page. Here’s how you can capture the subdomain and redirect it using Mod Rewrite:

RewriteEngine On RewriteCond % ^([a-zA-Z0-9-]+)\.example\.com$ RewriteRule ^$ [L,R=301] 

In this example, any incoming subdomain will be captured and appended to the URL For instance, if the user visits, they will be redirected to

Example 2: Redirecting All Domains to a Common Page

If you have multiple domains pointing to the same server and want to redirect all of them to a common page, you can capture the domain name and redirect accordingly. Here’s an example:

RewriteEngine On RewriteCond % ^([a-zA-Z0-9-]+\.[a-zA-Z0-9-]+\.[a-zA-Z0-9-]+)$ RewriteRule ^$ [L,R=301] 

In this example, any incoming domain name will be captured and appended to the URL For example, if the user visits, they will be redirected to

Handling Captured Domain Names in Rewrite Rule

Once you have captured the variable domain name, you can use it in your rewrite rule to redirect or rewrite the URL. The captured domain name can be referenced using the $1 variable.

Here’s an example of how you can use the captured domain name in a rewrite rule:

RewriteEngine On RewriteCond % ^([a-zA-Z0-9-]+)\.example\.com$ RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301] 

In this example, the incoming URL’s path is appended to the URL along with the captured domain name. For instance, if the user visits, they will be redirected to

How To Capture A Variable Domain Name In A Mod Rewrite Rule

Advanced Techniques for Capturing Variable Domain Names

Capturing variable domain names in Mod Rewrite opens up possibilities for advanced techniques. Here are a few examples:

  • Subdomain Extraction: Apart from capturing the whole subdomain, you can extract specific subdomains from the domain name using more complex regex patterns.

  • Domain Mapping: If you want to map specific domain names to different directories or virtual hosts, you can capture the domain name and rewrite the URL accordingly.

  • Domain-Based Conditional Redirects: You can apply conditional redirects based on particular domain names. For example, you can redirect requests from a specific domain to a maintenance page while allowing other domains to access the website normally.

Important Considerations and Best Practices

When working with variable domain names in Mod Rewrite, it’s crucial to keep a few considerations and best practices in mind:

  • Regex Optimization: Regular expressions can be complex and impact server performance if not optimized. Ensure your regex patterns are efficient and specific to avoid unnecessary processing overhead.

  • Testing and Debugging: Always test your rewrite rules thoroughly and monitor their behavior to ensure they work as intended. Use tools like the Apache error log to track any errors or issues.

  • Order of Rewrite Rules: The order of your rewrite rules and conditions matters. Make sure to place more specific rules before general ones to avoid conflicts and unintended redirects.

  • Backup and Recovery: Before making any changes to your .htaccess file, create a backup copy to revert to in case of any misconfigurations or unwanted results.

How To Capture A Variable Domain Name In A Mod Rewrite Rule

Troubleshooting and Debugging

Despite following best practices, troubleshooting and debugging may still be necessary when working with Mod Rewrite and capturing variable domain names. Here are a few tips to help you diagnose and address common issues:

  • Check .htaccess File Permission: Ensure that your .htaccess file has the correct permissions and is readable by the Apache server.

  • Inspect Server Configuration: Verify that the Apache server’s AllowOverride directive is properly set to allow the use of .htaccess files for rewriting.

  • Test Outputs: Use tools like mod_rewrite logging or RewriteLog directive to gain insights into the rewrite process and track any unexpected behavior.


Capturing variable domain names in a Mod Rewrite rule provides flexibility and control over URL redirection and rewriting. By leveraging regular expressions, you can extract dynamic domain names and use them in your rewrite rules to seamlessly redirect users and shape your website’s structure. Understanding the concepts and best practices outlined in this article will empower you to harness the full potential of Mod Rewrite in capturing variable domain names.

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