Using Acquia Cloud environment variables in your application

Acquia Cloud makes available a set of environment variables that you can use both in your application code and in Drush commands. These variables make it easier to write code that is responsive to the environment the code is running in. For example, you may have code that should run in your Production environment, but not in the Development or Staging environments.


Applications on Acquia Cloud have a special include statement in the settings.php file that is similar to the following:

if (file_exists('/var/www/site-php')) {
   require '/var/www/site-php/sitename/';

If you use environment variables in settings.php, references to the environment variables should be placed after the preceding include statement, to ensure that they take effect in each of the desired contexts.

In addition to the environment variables provided by Acquia Cloud, you can provide additional information to your application by creating custom environment variables in the Acquia Cloud interface, or by storing private information in the file system.

Available environment variables

Acquia Cloud includes the following environment variables:

Variable Format Description Values
AH_SITE_GROUP string Specifies the site name, which is also the Unix user.  
AH_SITE_ENVIRONMENT string Indicates an Acquia Cloud environment dev, test, prod
AH_PRODUCTION string Indicates whether this is a Production environment. (Not available in Acquia Cloud Site Factory) 1 for Production, undefined for non-Production
AH_NON_PRODUCTION string Indicates whether this is a non-Production environment 1 for non-Production, undefined for Production
AH_CURRENT_REGION string The Amazon Web Services region in which the web server processing the current request is running.  
AH_REALM string The realm in which the application is running. For configuration information, see Developing with Acquia Cloud.  
HTTP_X_REQUEST_ID string Every web request received by Acquia Cloud is assigned a unique request ID, which is set in the HTTP header X-Request-ID and is available in the HTTP_X_REQUEST_ID environment variable; for more information, see Using HTTP request IDs.  
PATH string If the environment is configured to use a specific version of PHP, that version of PHP is first in the path (for example, /usr/local/php7.1/bin).  
TEMP string The tmp directory at /mnt/tmp/[site].[env] for the environment. Use this, rather than /tmp, which is smaller and may fill up rapidly.  

Acquia Cloud Site Factory subscriber notes

Several examples from the preceding table require the following modifications to work with Acquia Cloud Site Factory:

  • The AH_SITE_ENVIRONMENT variable includes additional values for each environment, such as 01live or 01test.
  • Default domain names use instead of
  • The AH_PRODUCTION variable is not available.

Environment variables in .htaccess

You can also use environment variables in your .htaccess file. In the following example, we redirect HTTP requests to HTTPS only on the production environment, and not in the development or staging environments:

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteCond %{HTTP:X-Forwarded-Proto} !https
// Acquia Cloud Site Factory may require a different value for
// %{ENV:AH_SITE_ENVIRONMENT} depending on site configuration
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

For more information, see Redirecting visitor requests with the .htaccess file.

Faking your environment variables for local testing

There may be situations where you want to specify a particular Acquia Cloud environment variable during testing. In these situations, you can force the environment variable by making a change to your local settings.php file. The following example sets the AH_SITE_ENVIRONMENT variable to the dev environment:


This is used in situations such as overriding Solr core automatic connection switching.


For example, the following statement would let you switch code based on the environment:

if (isset($_ENV['AH_SITE_ENVIRONMENT'])) {
   switch ($_ENV['AH_SITE_ENVIRONMENT']) {
     case 'dev':
       // do something on dev
     case 'test':
       // do something on staging
     case 'prod':
       // do something on prod
       // Acquia Cloud Site Factory may require a different value depending
       // on site configuration
     case 'ra':
       // do something on ra - necessary if a
       // Remote Administration environment is present
    else {
    // do something for a non-Acquia-hosted application
    // (like a local dev install).
; }

To make Acquia Search read-only on your Development and Staging environments, so the search index doesn’t have duplicate copies of content:

// place this after the Acquia require line
if (!isset($_ENV['AH_SITE_ENVIRONMENT'])  ||
  'prod' != $_ENV['AH_SITE_ENVIRONMENT'])     {
   $conf['apachesolr_read_only'] = "1";

For another example, see Setting $base_url without breaking the Development and Staging environments.

Contact supportStill need assistance? Contact Acquia Support

Acquia: Think Ahead

53 State Street, 10th Floor
Boston, MA 02109
United States
Phone: 888-922-7842

Map: Google Maps
View other locations