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My company inherited a Drupal 7 site that may not have been properly set up. For example I recently noticed that under Configuration, File System, the "Public file system path" and the "Private file system path" have the same path:

sites/default/files

I'm just wondering what the repercussions might be if I suddenly changed the private files to

sites/default/files/private

Is it too late for this, since there might be sensitive private files already there that can't just be moved because they're registered in the database? I haven't looked too closely at the files yet.

Thanks

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The private files path should always be outside the webroot directory since users can directly access all those files through just adding /sites/default/files/private/.. to your URL. Private files means that they are delivered through Drupal to add some access permissions.

What you should do now:

  1. Backup your databse and put your site into maintenance.
  2. Go to your files_managed table and find all files stored as private files.
  3. Move those files to a new directory outside your webroot.
  4. Change your private files path to the new path and test if everything is working.
  • Your suggestion looks like a good one. Thanks for the answer. Private and Public folders need to be separated and to do that requires redefining them in the db and moving private files to a new location. I'm now wondering, if adding a /private folder below the /files folder would be an option, as long as permissions and htaccess are set correctly. – P Tocco Mar 21 '17 at 13:54
  • I would not recommend that. All files in the sites folder should be known to Drupal as public files. – schlicki Mar 22 '17 at 5:20

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