I can not enable the private folder getting the warning as below:

Warning: file_exists(): Unable to find the wrapper "private" - 
did you forget to enable it when you configured PHP? in file_save_htaccess() 
(line 365 of core/includes/file.inc).

It's Drupal 8.6.12, multisite config, other sites use private folders.

How can I fix it ?

  • What action are you taking to get that error message?
    – Clive
    Mar 15, 2019 at 13:36
  • 1
    The error might be a bit misleading by the way: it's Drupal that provides the private stream wrapper, not PHP itself, so the problem is in the site config rather than PHP config
    – Clive
    Mar 15, 2019 at 13:39
  • Just admin access like /admin/config
    – Paul Paku
    Mar 15, 2019 at 14:38

2 Answers 2


Here are the necessary steps:

  1. Create a directory on the server. This is typically done via SSH. For instance assuming Apache under Ubuntu, the following command can be used: sudo -u www-data mkdir -p /var/www/html/web/sites/default/files/private
  2. Tell Drupal about your directory by editing your settings.php file. You need to have a line like the following:

     $settings['file_private_path'] = '/var/www/html/web/sites/default/files/private';
  3. Important: clear the Drupal cache, for example with drush cr or by going to the page /admin/config/development/performance in your browser.

  4. In the browser's address bar, go to /admin/config/media/file-system. You should see "Private local files" in the "Default download method" option. If not, then please visit the /admin/reports/status page to see any error messages. Make sure that PHP can write in the directory. Often, for this to work, the directory has to be writable for the www-data user.

For more documentation, go to https://www.drupal.org/docs/8/core/modules/file/overview#private-file-system.

  • 6
    Clearing cache is very important. If you don't clear cache the private file system method will not become available.
    – anoopjohn
    Nov 1, 2019 at 20:35
  • @anoopjohn: I didn't even think about doing this or why it would be necessary but this fixed the problem!
    – uberhacker
    Jan 17 at 22:27

From the link posted in the answer above it specifically states NOT to put the Private folder within docroot:

"add the url path to your private directory. It must exist outside of your web root directory and be an absolute path, for example /var/www/html/example.org/private with web root in/var/www/html/example.org/web or /home/username/example.org/private with web root in /home/username/example.org/web. So it should look like:

$settings['file_private_path'] = $app_root . '/../private'; "

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