Why does one need to usermod to www-data

In many tutorials around the DO knowledge base you get a suggestion to first do

sudo usermod -aG www-data $USER

and then do

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/

In one of my older droplets all I did was simply

sudo chown -R $USER /var/www/

and never had any problems.

Am I missing something here?

Submit an answer

This textbox defaults to using Markdown to format your answer.

You can type !ref in this text area to quickly search our full set of tutorials, documentation & marketplace offerings and insert the link!

Sign In or Sign Up to Answer

These answers are provided by our Community. If you find them useful, show some love by clicking the heart. If you run into issues leave a comment, or add your own answer to help others.

Hi there @louigiverona,

This is needed as most web servers like Nginx and Apache run as the www-data user. So if the www-data user does not have write permissions to the document root, your website might not work as expected.

In some cases, if you have a static website that does not write files this is not needed.

You can find the user that your web server is running as with the ps aux command for example.

Another option is to change the user that the web server is running with and set it to your user instead. That way you will not use the www-data user but the one that you created. Of course, never set the web server to run as root as this is going to be a huge security concern.

Hope that this helps. Regards, Bobby