Once your app is ready to be deployed there are a few things you should do.

Moving files

You can clone your repository onto your production server and then checkout the commit/tag you want to run. Then, run composer install. While this requires some knowledge about git and an existing install of git and composer this process will take care about library dependencies and file and folder permissions.

Be aware that when deploying via FTP you will at least have to fix file and folder permissions.

You can also use this deployment technique to setup a staging or demo-server (pre-production) and keep it in sync with your local environment.

Adjusting Configuration

You’ll want to make a few adjustments to your application’s configuration for a production environment. The value of debug is extremely important. Turning debug = false disables a number of development features that should never be exposed to the Internet at large. Disabling debug changes the following features:

  • Debug messages, created with pr(), debug() and dd() are disabled.

  • Core CakePHP caches duration are defaulted to 365 days, instead of 10 seconds as in development.

  • Error views are less informative, and display generic error messages instead of detailed error messages with stack traces.

  • PHP Warnings and Errors are not displayed.

In addition to the above, many plugins and application extensions use debug to modify their behavior.

You can check against an environment variable to set the debug level dynamically between environments. This will avoid deploying an application with debug true and also save yourself from having to change the debug level each time before deploying to a production environment.

For example, you can set an environment variable in your Apache configuration:


And then you can set the debug level dynamically in app_local.php:

$debug = (bool)getenv('CAKEPHP_DEBUG');

return [
    'debug' => $debug,

It is recommended that you put configuration that is shared across all of your application’s environments in config/app.php. For configuration that varies between environments either use config/app_local.php or environment variables.

Check Your Security

If you’re throwing your application out into the wild, it’s a good idea to make sure it doesn’t have any obvious leaks:

  • Ensure you are using the Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF) Middleware component or middleware.

  • You may want to enable the Security component. It can help prevent several types of form tampering and reduce the possibility of mass-assignment issues.

  • Ensure your models have the correct Validation rules enabled.

  • Check that only your webroot directory is publicly visible, and that your secrets (such as your app salt, and any security keys) are private and unique as well.

Set Document Root

Setting the document root correctly on your application is an important step to keeping your code secure and your application safer. CakePHP applications should have the document root set to the application’s webroot. This makes the application and configuration files inaccessible through a URL. Setting the document root is different for different webservers. See the URL Rewriting documentation for webserver specific information.

In all cases you will want to set the virtual host/domain’s document to be webroot/. This removes the possibility of files outside of the webroot directory being executed.

Improve Your Application’s Performance

Class loading can take a big share of your application’s processing time. In order to avoid this problem, it is recommended that you run this command in your production server once the application is deployed:

php composer.phar dumpautoload -o

Since handling static assets, such as images, JavaScript and CSS files of plugins, through the Dispatcher is incredibly inefficient, it is strongly recommended to symlink them for production. This can be done by using the plugin shell:

bin/cake plugin assets symlink

The above command will symlink the webroot directory of all loaded plugins to appropriate path in the app’s webroot directory.

If your filesystem doesn’t allow creating symlinks the directories will be copied instead of being symlinked. You can also explicitly copy the directories using:

bin/cake plugin assets copy

Deploying an update

On each deploy you’ll likely have a few tasks to co-ordinate on your web server. Some typical ones are:

  1. Install dependencies with composer install. Avoid using composer update when doing deploys as you could get unexpected versions of packages.

  2. Run database migrations with either the Migrations plugin or another tool.

  3. Clear model schema cache with bin/cake schema_cache clear. The Schema Cache Tool has more information on this command.