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Configuring PHP for Errors

Errors in PHP act as a built-in feedback mechanism, ensuring that developers address issues early, maintain high code quality, and deliver reliable and secure applications. As a developer, you have two options for viewing errors.

When working with PHP or many other programming environments, understanding how errors are viewed is essential. Errors can either be displayed directly on the screen or logged to a file.

Where to View Errors

Displaying errors on the screen offers immediate feedback, which is invaluable during the development phase. It helps developers rapidly identify, debug, and rectify issues. However, there's a caveat: displaying errors can expose sensitive information, such as database credentials or internal application logic. This exposure poses a potential security risk, especially in a production environment where end users or malicious actors might see these details.

On the other hand, logging errors means recording them in a separate file for later review. This method is particularly suited for production environments. While the application is in use, any errors that arise get quietly logged without disrupting the user experience or revealing potentially sensitive details.

Developers can then periodically review these logs to diagnose and fix issues. It's crucial, though, to monitor these logs regularly. They can grow in size and consume significant disk space over time. Additionally, even though they're safer than displaying errors, these log files still need to be secured, as they might contain sensitive information.

Overall, the choice between displaying and logging errors is context-driven. The development phase benefits from the immediacy of displayed errors, while the production environment requires discretion and ongoing record-keeping of logged errors.

Configuring Errors

The php.ini file is essentially the "control panel" for PHP. When PHP starts up, it looks at this file to determine how it should behave. Among many other things, php.ini determines how PHP should handle errors.

For beginners, understanding php.ini in the context of errors is akin to setting preferences on how you'd like to be informed about mistakes as you code.

  • Do you want immediate feedback in the browser?
  • Should PHP jot down the error in a diary for you to review later? And what kind of mistakes do you want to be told about?

Adjusting these settings in php.ini helps tailor the error feedback to your preferences and needs.

In the realm of error handling, there are several important settings within the php.ini file:


Controls whether errors should be displayed directly in the browser or kept hidden. You can use the following values:

  • On: Errors will be shown directly in the browser.
  • Off: Errors won't be displayed.
display_errors = On


Decides if errors should be written to a log file. You can use the following values:

  • On: Errors will be logged to a file.
  • Off: Errors won't be logged.
log_errors = On


Specifies the location of the error log file where errors should be recorded when log_errors is set to On. You can use the following values:

  • Path to the log file.
error_log = "/path/to/your/error.log"


Determines which types of errors should be reported and handled. You can use the following values:

  • Combination of different error constants, like E_ALL, E_NOTICE, E_WARNING, etc.
error_reporting = E_ALL

Key Takeaways

  • The php.ini settings allow developers to customize error handling based on specific needs and preferences.
  • display_errors: Controls whether errors are shown directly in the browser.
  • log_errors: Decides if errors are logged to a file.
  • error_log: Specifies the path to the error log file where logged errors are stored.
  • error_reporting: Sets the types of errors to report. Configured using constants like E_ALL, E_NOTICE, E_WARNING, etc.
  • In a development environment, it's helpful to display errors for immediate feedback (display_errors = On). In production, it's safer to log errors without displaying them to users (display_errors = Off and log_errors = On).
  • Regularly check error logs in production to catch, diagnose, and address issues.


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