What is the Best Way of Storing Credentials (Access Tokens) in PHP?

When building a PHP application, it is common to use access tokens to secure access to certain resources. These access tokens are sensitive information and must be stored securely to prevent unauthorized access. Here are some of the best practices for storing credentials (access tokens) in PHP.

1. Using Environment Variables

One of the most secure ways of storing credentials in PHP is to use environment variables. Environment variables are stored outside of your code base and can only be accessed by the server. You can set these variables in your server’s configuration files or use a tool like dotenv to manage them.


$token = getenv("ACCESS_TOKEN");

2. Using a Configuration File

Another way of storing credentials in PHP is to use a configuration file. You can store your access tokens in a separate file and exclude it from version control. The configuration file should be readable only by the web server user.


// config.php

return [
    'token' => 'your_access_token'

// in your code
$config = require_once 'config.php';
$token = $config['token'];

3. Using a Database

If your PHP application requires access to multiple tokens, you can store them in a database. This method allows you to store and manage multiple tokens in a centralized location.


$pdo = new PDO('mysql:host=localhost;dbname=database_name', 'username', 'password');
$query = $pdo->prepare("SELECT token FROM tokens WHERE name = :name");
$query->execute(['name' => 'access_token']);
$token = $query->fetchColumn();

These are the most common methods for storing credentials in PHP. Choose the method that best suits your needs, depending on the requirements of your project. Regardless of the method you choose, it’s important to make sure that your access tokens are stored securely to prevent unauthorized access.

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