Home » Php » Include files from parent or other directory

Include files from parent or other directory

Posted by: admin November 29, 2017 Leave a comment


I’m needing to include a file from the parent directory, and other sub-directories, into a sub-directory. I’ve done it before by simply using include(‘/rootdirectory/file.php’); but now it won’t seem to work.

Just wondering how I can do this, thanks.

Here’s my exact line:


It’s giving me this error(the page still runs):

Warning: include(/forums/groups.php) [function.include]: failed to
open stream: No such file or directory in
C:\xampp\htdocs\forums\blog\posts.php on line

Warning: include() [function.include]: Failed opening
‘/forums/groups.php’ for inclusion
(include_path=’.;C:\xampp\php\PEAR’) in
C:\xampp\htdocs\forums\blog\posts.php on line 3


include() and its relatives take filesystem paths, not web paths relative to the document root. To get the parent directory, use ../


If you begin with a /, an absolute system file path will be used:

// Full absolute path...


Depends on where the file you are trying to include from is located.




If you wrote the following in index.php:
include('/rootdir/pages/file.php');it would error becuase it would try to get:

/someotherDir/rootdir/pages/file.php Which of course doesn’t exist…

So you would have to use include('../rootdir/pages/file.php');


Here’s something I wrote with that problem in mind:

function absolute_include($file)
         $file is the file url relative to the root of your site.
         Yourdomain.com/folder/file.inc would be passed as

         $folder_depth = substr_count($_SERVER["PHP_SELF"] , "/");

         if($folder_depth == false)
            $folder_depth = 1;

         include(str_repeat("../", $folder_depth - 1) . $file);

hope it helps.


Any path beginning with a slash will be an absolute path. From the root-folder of the server and not the root-folder of your document root. You can use ../ to go into the parent directory.


In laymans terms, and practicality, I see this as an old DOS trick/thing. Whoa! What was that? DOS? Never heard of it!

“..” backs you out of the current sub-directory one time to a higher folder/directory, and .. enter typed twice backs you out too 2 higher parent folders. Keep adding the “.. enter” back to back and you will soon find yourself at the top level of the directory.

As for Newbies to understand this better, consider this (in terms of the home PC or “C:\ drive” if you know what that means, rather than the web-servers/host “root directory” ). While your at it, Consider your website existing somewhere on your home PC’s hard drive, buried in some folder under the C:\ drive. Lastly, you can think of it as “..” is back one directory and “/” is forward one directory/folder.

If you are using the command prompt and are within the “myDocuments” folder of your PC you must back out of that folder to get closer to the higher directory “C:\” by typing the “../“.
If you wanted to access a file that is located in the widows directory while you are still in the myDocuments folder you would theoretically type ../windows; in reality of DOS command prompt you would simply type .., but I am setting you up for the web. The / redirects forward to another directory naturally.

Using “myDocuments” lets pretend that you created 2 folders within it called “PHP1” and “PHP2”, in such we now have the folders:

  • C:\myDocuments\PHP1
  • C:\myDocuments\PHP2

In PHP1 you place a file called index.php. and in PHP2 folder you placed a file called Found.php. it now becomes:

  • C:\myDocuments\PHP1\index.php
  • C:\myDocuments\PHP2\found.php

Inside the
C:\myDocuments\PHP1\index.php file you would need to edit and type something like:

<?php include ('../php2/found.php')?>

The ../ is positional thus it considers your current file location “C:\myDocuments\PHP1\index.php” and is a directive telling it to back out of PHP1 directory and enter or move forward into PHP2 directory to look for the Found.php file. But does it read it? See my thoughts on trouble shooting below.

Now! suppose you have 1 folder PHP1 and a sub-folder PHP2:

  • C:\myDocuments\PHP1\PHP2

you would simply reference/code

<?php include('/PHP2/found.php') ?>

as PHP2 exist as a sub-directory, below or within PHP1 directory.

If the above does not work it may have something to do with access/htaccess or permission to the directory or a typo. To enhance this…getting into trouble shooting…If the “found.php” file has errors/typo’s within it, it will crash upon rendering at the error, such could be the reason (require/require_once) that you are experiencing the illusion that it is not changing directories or accessing the file.
At last thought on the matter, you may need to instantiate your functions or references in order to use the included/require “whatever” by creating a new variable or object such as

$newObject = new nameobject("origianlThingy");

Remember, just because you are including/requiring something, sometimes means just that, it is included/required to run, but it might need to be recreated to make it active or access it. New will surely re-create an instance of it “if it is readable” and make it available within the current document while preserving the original. However you should reference the newly created variable $newObject in all instances….if its global.

To put this in perspective of some web host account; the web host is some whopping over sized hard-drive (like that on your PC) and your domain is nothing more than a folder they have assigned to you. Your folder is called the root. Inside that folder you can do anything you are allowed to do.
your “one of many ways” to move between directories/folders is to use the ../ however many times to back out of your current in reference to folder position you want to find.

In my drunken state I realize that I know too much to be sane, and not
enough to be insane!”


the root directory (in PHP) is the directory of the file that is pinged. For example, I go to http://localhost/directory/to/file/index.php, the root directory will be “/dictory/to/file”, since it’s the one that you’ve made a web request for.


I took inspiration from frank and I added something like this in my “settings.php” file that is then included in all pages when there is a link:


    $folder_depth = substr_count($_SERVER["PHP_SELF"] , "/");


    for ($i=1;$i<=($folder_depth-2);++$i){

        $slash= $slash."../";


in my header.php to be included in all pages:

a href= …. php echo $slash.’index.php’….

seems it works both on local and hosted environment….

(NOTE: I am an absolute beginner )