Redirecting Websites

Last updated: January 12, 2023
Audience: All UW

Choose Your Method

There are two primary ways of redirecting users to the location of your new website: server-based and browser-based. Both options offer various benefits and drawbacks, and individual site owners can choose which solution to use for their website.


Server-based redirects use simple directives in local .htaccess files that tell the web server that the content has changed locations and to immediately redirect the user to a new site. UW-IT recommends using this method.


  • Instant: The server immediately sends the redirect upon connection to the site.
  • Search Engine Friendly: Search Engines recognize and process HTTP 301 redirects, and quickly update your links with the new location.
  • Wildcard Matching: One line can handle a redirect for all pages on a site.
  • Don’t Need to Remove Old Files: Old files don’t need to be immediately deleted.
  • More Flexible: Server-based redirects are extremely flexible, and a large amount of documentation exists online.


  • No User Warning: Redirects are instant, and there is no means of notifying users of the URL change before transfer.
  • Requires .htaccess access: The UW Uniform Access systems allow access to .htaccess files, but other web hosts on campus may not.


Setting up server-based redirect


Browser-based redirects use a HTML header that tells the browser to redirect to a new location. This method allows a site administrator to optionally specify a waiting period before redirect and to leave a message announcing the URL change.


  • Allows for Message before Redirect: By specifying a time before redirect, an administrator can leave a message for users to update their bookmarks and links before redirect.


  • Requires removal of all files: Requires removal of all files in web publishing in order for redirect to work properly.


Setting up browser-based redirect

Other Choices

Looking for URL Forwarding or Masking instead?