Why is my server redirecting URLs without a trailing slash to the server's IP address instead of keeping the domain

Posted March 17, 2021 1.7k views
ApacheWordPressLAMP StackDigitalOcean

I’ve set up a droplet for a WordPress site using the provided 1-Click installer. This installs the latest LAMP stack along with Wordpress. I also created a SSL certificate for my site using certbot. I’ve modified my HTTP virtual host file to always perform a redirect to HTTPS.

Everything works as expected except for this one strange behavior. If the trailing slash on the requested URL is not provided by the user, the server performs a 301 redirect to a URL which replaces my domain with the server’s IP address. For example, requesting forces a redirect to Since my SSL certificate is tied to my domain, it causes a big warning to appear in the browser. I’ve noticed this behavior will always happen regardless of the sub-directory (i.e. will also happen if trying to access

The ONLY exception I’ve noticed with this is when I created a /test directory in the root and created a simple index.html file to display “Hello World”. Trying to access worked as expected and added the trailing slash without a redirect.

I’ve tried countless things in the .htaccess files without luck. I’m not even confident these files will help. I’ve purposely put a line of garbage in them to see if they’re even active during this redirect and they’re not. The server won’t trigger an error unless I use a URL with a trailing slash. I’ve tried this experiment with the root .htaccess file as well as the one in my /forum directory. However, seeing as how my Hello World experiment was successful (without any .htaccess file), I’m really stumped!

Just for the full background, I already have a fully function site at “” with a shared hosting provider. I’m experimenting with a migration to DO using this droplet. I’m fiddling around with both sites in my browser, so I’m hoping this isn’t an issue with cookies.

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I’m fiddling around with both sites in my browser, so I’m hoping this isn’t an issue with cookies.

I would consider an issue around caching rather than cookies. Web content might be cached by your web browser, network devices (e.g. home router), internet proxies, CDN etc. It would be quite good explanation on why request to newly-created works fine. Imagine the scenario: you made some changes in Apache configuration and still got your web with IP in browser’s address bar. Then, you set up new site test, and it worked fine. So, your configuration changes brought expected result but you could see just cached content.
To mitigate caching issues, I usually use two different browsers. One of them is intended just for testing the changes in web server configuration and website look. I set up this browser to delete all content (cache, cookies, addresses) during its closing. Once I change something and want to check how it works, I close the browser and open it again for a new test.

Referring to .htaccess issue, I would double check if Apache configuration directive AllowOverride is set to ON in vhost configuration. This directive enables configuration with .htaccess file.

  • Looks like you were correct. I was using more than one browser before, but it seems it requires more than just clearing cookies for my particular sites. I tried Chrome “incognito” and it worked exactly as expected. I then cleared all of my cached data in my normal browser and it worked as expected also. Thanks for the help! I was about to start over from scratch!