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Creating and Managing Directories in PHP: Essential Tips and Techniques

Creating and managing files and directories are fundamental tasks in web development. Programmatically checking for file or directory existence is essential in everyday coding, as well as the ability to create directories.

These are simple, yet critical functions that can be performed using PHP. In this article, we will discuss two main topics: Checking for file or directory existence and creating directories in PHP.

Checking for File or Directory Existence in PHP

Before performing an operation on a file or directory, you must first check whether the file or directory exists. Otherwise, you risk throwing an error, causing the program to crash.

In PHP, two essential functions are used to check for file or directory existence: file_exists() and is_dir(). The file_exists function checks whether a file exists within the specified path.

The syntax for the function is as follows:

if (file_exists(“filepath”)) {

//file exists


else {

//file does not exist


Here, filepath is the path where the file is located. The function returns a Boolean value indicating whether the file exists or not.

True if file exists, false otherwise. The is_dir function checks if a directory exists within a given path.

The syntax is similar to file_exists:

if (is_dir(“directory_path”)) {

//directory exists


else {

//directory does not exist


Here, the directory_path is the path where the directory is located. The function returns a Boolean value indicating whether the directory exists or not.

Creating Directories with mkdir() in PHP

Once we have checked whether a directory exists, the next step is to create it, when necessary. To create a directory in PHP, the mkdir() function is used.

The syntax for creating a directory using mkdir is:

mkdir( $directory_path, $permissions, $recursive );

where the $directory_path is the name of the directory to be created, $permissions represent the read/write rights for the newly created directory (integer value), and $recursive is a Boolean parameter indicating whether to create a parent directory if it doesn’t exist.

Basic Syntax and Parameter Values

In its simplest form, we can create a directory with mkdir() by providing its name. For example:


This will create a new directory named “new_directory” in the current directory.

We can also create a directory with specific permissions using the mkdir() function. mkdir(“directory_name”, 0755);

In the above example, a new directory named “directory_name” will be created with permissions set to 0755.

The permission value is an integer value, which specifies the read, write and execute permission for the created directory. For example, the value 0777 allows everyone to read, write, and execute the folder.

Checking for Existing Directories Before Creation

Before creating a directory, it’s essential to check if it already exists. Otherwise, you may accidentally overwrite all the valuable data within the folder.

Instead of throwing an error, PHP allows you to create a new directory, only if it doesn’t already exist. This can be done by checking whether the directory exists with is_dir() function, as we previously discussed.

If the directory doesn’t exist, we can create it with mkdir(). Here’s an example:

if (!is_dir(‘new_directory’)) {



Here, if the directory “new_directory” does not exist, the code will create it with mkdir().

Otherwise, nothing will happen.


In summary, creating or managing directories, and checking for file or directory existence are fundamental programming tasks that can be easily executed in PHP. The file_exists() and is_dir() functions are used to check if a file exists or a folder exists, respectively.

Using the mkdir() function, we can create new directories while also specifying the access permissions. It’s always advisable to check whether a directory already exists before creating it to avoid losing crucial files.

The tips and techniques highlighted in this article should prove handy in simplifying your PHP programming endeavors. In this article, we have covered two main topics for managing files and directories in PHP: checking for the existence of a file or directory with the help of file_exists() and is_dir() functions and creating directories with the mkdir() function.

We have also discussed how to ensure that we do not overwrite data by checking for the existence of a directory before creating it. This article emphasizes the importance of these functions in day-to-day coding and how they can simplify PHP programming endeavors.

Through the tips and techniques highlighted, you can minimize the risk of errors and crashes, leading to a more efficient and productive programming experience.

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