There are two directories in which we can create and store our virtual host configuration files. Both of them are located inside
/etc/nginx directory. The name of those two directories are
But why do we need two directories to store our virtual host files? Actually, we will store our virtual host files in the sites-available directory only. Then, we will create a symlink of the virtual host file that we want to activate from sites-available to sites-enabled directory.
Nginx will only include files stored inside the sites-enabled directory in the main Nginx configuration. The main benefit we get from this directory structure is, we can create many virtual host files on our server but we can enable them as per our requirements.
For example, Let’s say that there is one website called example.com on our server. We have two virtual host files for this domain name in our sites-available directory. The first virtual host file points to the actual document root in which we have stored our website files. Another virtual host points to the maintenance document root with minimal settings.
Now, whenever we want to put our website on maintenance mode, we can remove the symlink of the main virtual host file from the sites-enabled directory and create a symlink of maintenance virtual host file inside the sites-enabled directory. It’s just a quick example to explain to you why there are two directories to store our virtual host files.
Create Nginx Virtual Hosts
Now, we will create virtual host files to host multiple sites with multiple domains on a single server. In this guide, we will create the simplest virtual host files in which you can understand all the basic directives that are required in a virtual host configuration file.
However, you can learn more directives from Nginx official documentation for advanced configurations. So, let’s assume that we want to host two websites on our Nginx server. The domain names are example1.com and example2.com. And we also want to make sure that our websites are accessible with www. prefix.
To create a virtual host file inside the sites-available directory, execute the following command.
sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/example1.com
Now, paste the following content in your virtual host file.
server_name example1.com www.example1.com;
Enable/Disable Site or Virtual Hosts in Nginx
Apache provides a command that creates a symlink of our virtual host stored in sites-available to the sites-enabled directory. However, Nginx is a lightweight server. It does not have any in-built command that we can use to create symlinks automatically. So, we have to create symlinks of our multiple sites manually. Let’s first learn how to enable sites in Nginx.
ENABLE SITE IN NGINX
To enable a specific virtual host file, we have to use
ln command to create a symlink. A symlink is kind of a shortcut to the original file. It means that you can edit your virtual host file inside
sites-available directory and the changes will be applied in
sites-enabled directory too.
Let’s create a symlink of one of our example site from sites-available directory to sites-enabled directory. Execute the following command to perform this task.
$ ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/example1.com /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/example1.com
Just creating a symlink will not enable the website. We also have to restart the Nginx server to apply the changes. Execute the following command to restart the Nginx server.
sudo service nginx restart
Now let’s see how to disable site in Nginx.
DISABLE SITE IN NGINX
To disable a site in Nginx, we just have to remove the symlink we had created while enabling the virtual host file. We can use the regular
rm command to remove the symlink. For example, to disable our example1.com site, we just have to execute the following command.
sudo rm -rf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/example1.com
To apply the changes that we have made, we have to restart the Nginx server. Again, execute the following command to restart the Nginx server to apply the changes.
sudo service nginx restart
So, this is how you can enable and disable sites on Nginx.