Background: My client needs a one-user bare-bones content management system, which should be capable to

  • Edit text-content in plain-text or in WYSIWYG-style
  • Possibly create new subpages
  • Update image gallery, ie. upload files
  • Delete previously uploaded files

No need for commenting or such interaction.


  • PHP
  • JavaScript
  • No database

Currently I'm planning to code it from scratch, since the functionalities are somewhat basic.

What is the best available authentication method for this lone content admin? Options that came to my mind first:

  1. .htaccess & .htpasswd based solution
  2. hard-coded, salted, encrypted PHP password with sessions.

While option 2 is definitely more elegant, I wish the option 1 would suffice. The username & password combo would be located outside the public_html / www -folder structure.

Real question: Is .htaccess & .htpasswd authentication sufficient? Is it adequate security-wise? What are the possible pitfalls? (Okay, logout is one rather major pitfall, since it's practically impossible to implement due to stateless HTTP/1.1 specification...)

Bonus question 1: What are the other good options that I didn't think of? Out of the box ideas are always welcome. Email-editing? Why not :-)

Bonus question 2: Are there similar databaseless CMSes readily available?

Please bear in mind there is no need for more users nor user-management. I'm not asking programming tips but rather concepts how it could be done.

The RFC 2617, which I found through Piers' link below, answers the most of my real question

1 Answer 1


If there's only one user, then some sort of HTTP authentication will be fine. I would suggest using Digest rather than Basic authentication. I know you weren't looking for programming tips, but you could probably save yourself a fair bit of time by reading this.

A couple of database-less CMSes are as follows:

  • (By stating I didn't need programming tips I wanted to stress that this is more Pro Webmasters question than a Stackoverflow question.) +1 for mentioning Digest. I found the PHP manual page useful and especially the RFC it points to (faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2617.html). The RFC explains some security concerns in an adequate detail, and answers most of my questions. Also thank you for database-less CMSes. They won't suit the project as good as homemade solution (of course), but they were interesting to look at. Commented Dec 8, 2010 at 14:55

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