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If you need to upload files to your hosting account, you will need to know to which directory to upload them. The specific directory you will upload them to will depend on whether you are working with the main domain, an addon domain, or a sub domain. In this guide, we discuss how to determine which folder to work with.

Finding the Document Root

A domain's document root, also known as the home folder, is the main folder that contains all of the files for either a domain or a subdomain.

Main Domain
The document root for your main domain name is your public_html folder. This means when someone visits your main domain, the server returns files that are located in the public_html folder.

The document root for a subdomain is a bit different. If your subdomain is http://store.example.com, then the document root folder would be public_html/store.

Addon Domains
Addon domain document roots are very similar to subdomains. If there is an addon domain on your account, the main folder is also under the public_html folder. For example, if you have an addon domain named http://example2.com on your account, the document root would be public_html/example2.com. Below is a charted explanation as well.

Default document root structure

The path to the specific folder within your account will differ depending on whether it is the main domain, a subdomain, or an addon domain. Below is a quick table guide to help you understand how they work.

Domain typeURL pathFile Structure
Main domainhttp://example.compublic_html
Addon domainhttp://example2.compublic_html/example2.com

How do I find the document root of an addon / sub domain?

If you are unsure of the document root folder for an addon or a subdomain because you did not go with the defaults, you can find it by using the following steps.

Finding an addon document root

  1. Log into cPanel
  2. Click the Addon domains icon
  3. You will see a list of addon domains configured in your account, the document root will be listed here.

Finding a sub domain's document root

  1. Log into cPanel
  2. Click the sub domains icon
  3. You will see a list of addon domains configured in your account, the document root will be listed here.

What file loads first?

If no particular file is specified, the directory index file will be the first file the server loads from a folder. For example, if you type in example.com/contact_us.php, the server will return the contact_us.php page. If you type in simply example.com, the server will load the directory's index file. The server looks for these specific files in the following order:

  1. index.htm
  2. index.html
  3. index.php

If the server does not find any of these files, it will display a default screen with a list of the files in the folder as shown to the right. This can be a security risk so you always want to ensure that a file will be served instead.

Can I change the directory index file?

Some website design applications will name the home page something other than the standard index.htm, index.html or index.php. For example, the application may name your homepage Welcome.html, Home.html, or even something. If your application does this, you will need to modify your .htaccess file and set your Directory Index setting to match that of website's first page.

How do I change the directory index?

To change your directory index, edit your .htaccess file and add the following line:

DirectoryIndex some-file.html

For example:
Let's assume that the homepage for your website is named Welcome.html. We need to update the .htaccess file so that the server knows to load Welcome.html first, instead of index.htm. Open (or create) the .htaccess file in your domain's document root and add the following line:

DirectoryIndex Welcome.html

Yes, it is that easy! Please note that the server is case sensitive, so be sure to use the proper case. For example, Welcome.html is different than welcome.html.

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Related Questions

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Question: Can't find index.html - "Website Coming Soon"

2013-01-28 9:17 pm
You say in this article to delete InMotion's index.html file and we shouldn't see the "Website Coming Soon" page. I can't find that file. Where is it located?
16,266 Points
2013-01-28 9:20 pm
Hello Tmgiles6,

If your account is fairly recent you will NOT see the INDEX.HTML file. They have removed it and only the default.html file exists now. If you place any type of index file into the public_html folder, it will automatically become the primary index file.

This article was written for older accounts that have the INDEX.HTML file within the public_html folder. Our apologies for any confusion. I will update the article with a note shortly.

If you have any further questions, please contact technical support or leave a comment at the bottom of the page.


Arnel C.
2013-02-20 4:38 am
This article was written for older accounts that have the INDEX.HTML file within the public_html folder. Our apologies for any confusion. I will update the article with a note shortly.

Gulf Safety Equips Trading LLC
16,266 Points
2014-05-05 2:04 pm
Hello Gulf Safety,

Thanks or the comment. As per my earlier reply, some of the older accounts may have an index file, but any newly purchased account starts with a "default.htm". The article above refers to a "document root" which is set to PUBLIC_HTML by default. However, this can be changed as per our article: Changing the document root.

If you have any questions, let me know.
Arnel C.

Question: Can I change the document root?

n/a Points
2014-06-02 9:55 am

Can I change my document root?

8,322 Points
2014-06-02 10:17 am
Hello Ben,

Thank you for your comment. While it is not common, there are ways to change your document root; here is a link to our full guide.

If you are on a shared server, you would have to submit a ticket, and request that Live Support make the change for you.

If you have a VPS or Dedicated server, you can make the change with Root access.

Changing a primary domain's doc root is NEVER RECOMMENDED by InMotion Hosting. cPanel restores packages based on default settings and miss document root changes. So if the account is moved, the accounts with the doc root change may break.

If you have any further questions, feel free to post them below.
Thank you,

n/a Points
2014-06-04 4:18 pm

In the past there was the option of uploading multiple images. It is no longer there. This is a huge inconvenience. Even if I were to upload them through ftp, there is no folder for the photo albums to place them in. This is one of my main uses for sharing religion and family events. Can the team make it so that at least through ftp, we can upload into album folders?

9,968 Points
2014-06-04 4:31 pm
Hello Jag,

You can use FTP to upload multiple images at once to the server.

For instance, on your desktop if you created a folder called my_images, and then inside that folder created another 3 folders called religion, family, and photos and then started placing images that fit into each of those categories into those folders. You could then simply connect with FTP to the server and upload the my_images folder from your desktop to the /public_html directory on the server.

You would then be able to access those images from your website, for instance if your website was example.com you would access those uploaded images at:


Or you can just create the folders directly on the server via FTP that you'd like to move images into and upload multiple images that way too.

Please let us know if you have any further questions at all!

- Jacob
n/a Points
2014-08-01 3:45 am

How to ftp to my root directory?  I'm learning web development and I would like to know how to move my files/pictures to the root directory so people can see my webpage.  Also, would you please tell me if inmotion server support C++ script?

Thank you,

17,456 Points
2014-08-01 8:52 am
Hello Binh,

The root folder for your primary domain name is public_html. The root folder for any addon domain would be named after the domain and under the public_html folder. For example, if you had an addon domain for example.com the root folder would be public_html/example.com

As for the C++ scripts, they cannot run in the default server setup, but can be set up if you have root access on a VPS or Dedicated server.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M

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