Environment: Shared hosting, Apache.

Home directory: /home/someuser

Website at: /home/someuser/public_html/stuff

I've spent 2 days trying to get this to work, and realise that as soon as I'm answered it will be blindingly obvious, but I'm failing miserably right now.

I have created a directory in my public_html directory called private_files with a sub-directory called stuff. Both have access rights 755.

I have edited settings.php to include the line:

# $settings['file_private_path'] 
= '/home/someuser/public_html/private_files/stuff';

I have cleared all caches.

The file system configuration page shows:

Private file system path

Not set

What stunningly stupid mistake am I making? Why is what I'm doing wrong?

  • 3
    Is that the line in settings.php verbatim, or have you removed the comment char (#)?
    – Clive
    Aug 21, 2018 at 13:27
  • @Clive I told you it would be blindingly stupid -- after 2 days of trying I'd pretty well gone gaga (and I rarely do anything with PHP anyway -- it's all monkey see monkey do something stupid). If you want to construct an answer pointing out my idiot mistake, I'll accept it -- somebody else might fall into the same idiot trap. Aug 21, 2018 at 13:40
  • Don't beat yourself up over it. Every programmer ever has been through similar things. It's a right of passage. That's what makes the community so great - we can all look stupid to each other, and since we've all done it, we're all ok!
    – Jaypan
    Aug 21, 2018 at 21:52

1 Answer 1


In order for this question to be marked as answered, @Clive pointed out here that the problem was the leading # character, which made the 1st line a comment, meaning that the file_private_path was never set.

The correct line should be

$settings['file_private_path'] = '/home/someuser/public_html/private_files/stuff';

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