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PHP has a feature that allows you to prepend a file at every request. This prepend file is the equivalent of having it include()ed at the top of every single PHP script on your site. It’s is done through a directive that is set either in php.ini or .htaccess. The directive is called auto_prepend_file. It’s also evil if you don’t know about its existence.

In a .htaccess file, you can use this directive to define a specific file that will be auto-prepended, in a directory:

php_value auto_prepend_file "prepend.php"

You can also use this directive to deactivate auto-prepending in a directory or root:

php_value auto_prepend_file none

Note: Use the special value “none“, as explained in the documentation of auto_prepend_file:

The special value none disables auto-prepending.

Note: You can set php_values in .htaccess only where PHP is run as an Apache module.

When I first encountered this issue, I blamed my text editor for byte order marks (BOM). So, I found a neat script that searches for BOM files inside your root and recursively throughout the folders:

// Detect BOM sequence in a folder recursively
define('STR_BOM', "\xEF\xBB\xBF");
$file = null;
$directory = getcwd();

$rit = new RecursiveIteratorIterator(new RecursiveDirectoryIterator($directory), RecursiveIteratorIterator::CHILD_FIRST);
try {
    foreach ($rit as $file) {
        if ($file->isFile()) {
            $path_parts = pathinfo($file->getRealPath());

            if ('php' == $path_parts['extension']) {
                $object = new SplFileObject($file->getRealPath());

                if (false !== strpos($object->getCurrentLine(), STR_BOM)) {
                    print $file->getRealPath()."\n";
} catch (Exception $e) {
    die ('Exception caught: '. $e->getMessage());

This piece of code is going into my upcoming plugin, WordPress Perfect Plugin. Heh, that’s a spoiler!

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