How to Use index.php Instead of index.html in PHP

In today’s world, developers are putting their efforts into creating more engaging and interactive websites. Though the traditional index.html is a standard starting point for webpage development, index.php will be an ideal replacement. Through this tutorial, you will learn about index.php and index.html are and how they are different from each other, and why you can use index.php instead of index.html.

What is index.php?

The index.php is a file used for web development, which is usually located in the root folder of a cPanel website. This file serves as the homepage of the website and is commonly written in PHP. When you request the home page of a web application, the web server first looks for and executes this index.php file, and you can edit and rename the file at any time based on your desire.

What is index.html?

The index.html is a file made up of the word index as well as HTML and is widely used in websites to display all of a website’s pages, categories, or components on a single page. HTML is simply an extension for an index file, which indicates that the file is an HTML file containing HTML code or tags. When a website is visited by default, the index.html file is returned because it usually exists at the root path of the web page.

Difference Between index.php and index.html

Some differences between index.php and index.html are listed below.

  • Code Interpretation: When you use a file with the .php extension, the web server knows it should process and run the PHP code inside. While, if you use a file with the .html extension, the server considers this file as a regular file without any special code to execute.
  • Source Code Display: Only the HTML code is visible in the source code of the website that utilizes PHP. Because here, the PHP has the authority to decide what information to display, and the HTML will take care of the working.
  • Server and Browser Interaction: Prior to the page being given to the browser, the PHP script runs on the server. So, the browser only receives the final HTML content to display.

When to Use index.php Instead of index.html?

Whether you utilize index.php or index.html doesn’t really matter. You are free to choose from either. But index.php can be used instead of index.html due to the given reasons.

  • To make your site dynamic, just PHP (or similar server-side scripting language) is needed.
  • One approach is to simply create all the page PHP files, which is what I assume the majority of people do. This is due to the fact that an HTML file can be included in a PHP file and displayed exactly the same way. However, you cannot execute PHP queries from an HTML file, making it simple to always utilize PHP in case you decide to add various PHP scripts to it.
  • The Apache server requires a file with a .php extension by default in order to parse the PHP code contained inside.
  • You could discover that PHP helps you as a beginner by enabling you to create basic templates. For example, site header and footer inclusions may be prepared in one file and then included on all other pages.

How to Use index.php Instead of index.html

You can simply use index.php by renaming the index.html file or creating a new file with the index.php extension and adding your desired PHP code. After that, you can upload the index.php file on the web host.


The index.php is an ideal alternative to index.html for web development, as it provides the ability to include dynamic functionality through the use of PHP (server-side scripting). You can rename or create a new file with the index.php extension, and use the PHP code to enhance the performance of the websites.

About the author

Komal Batool Batool

I am passionate to research technologies and new ideas and that has brought me here to write for the LinuxHint. My major focus is to write on programming languages and computer science related topics.