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createfile – PHP create file for download without saving on server

Posted by: admin April 23, 2020 Leave a comment


Ultimate goal: I want to create a webpage where a user can enter information in forms. With that information I want to create a html file (below called test-download.html) by inserting the information given into a template and then force a download. Since I want to demonstrate this at an upcoming workshop where people will be using this at the “same time” I would like to not save the file on the server and just force the download.

So far: I have this in my html file (test.html):

<form action="test.php" method="post">
To file: <input type="text" name="tofile" />
<input type="submit" />

and this in my test.php:

$filename = 'test-download.html';
$htmlcode1 = "<HTML> \n <BODY>";
$htmlcode2 = "</BODY> \n <HTML>";
$somecontent = $htmlcode1.$_POST["tofile"].$htmlcode2;
!$handle = fopen($filename, 'w');
fwrite($handle, $somecontent);

header("Cache-Control: public");
header("Content-Description: File Transfer");
header("Content-Length: ". filesize("$filename").";");
header("Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=$filename");
header("Content-Type: application/octet-stream; "); 
header("Content-Transfer-Encoding: binary");



This overwrites the file test-download.html file and forces a download.

Question: How can I do this without messing with a file (the test-download.html) on the server?

How to&Answers:

Instead of saving it to a file, just echo it after you send the headers.


Realize that nearly every time a PHP script responds to a request, it’s “generating a file” that’s downloaded by the browser. Anything you echo, print, printf, or otherwise put out to standard output is the contents of that “file”.

All you have to do is tell the browser that the “file” should be handled differently — and the headers you’re outputting should already do that. Once the headers are sent, anything you print out becomes contents of the download.