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Shared Hosting with Plesk

On many shared hosts you are not allowed to directly invoke node commands but you have to use the Plesk configuration panel instead. Unfortunately, Plesk does not allow the interactive execution of node scripts. Therefore we can't use Directus' init script and have to set up the project by our own.

Successful tests

This approach has successfully been tested with a webhosting offer from netcup.


1. Setup database

First, make sure that you've already created a database and a user for it. We will use MySQL in this guide. If you plan to use SQLite you can ignore this step.

2. Setup a project folder

Next you will need to create a project folder, we will be adding 4 files to this folder.

3. Add .env file

This file is used to configure Directus. Normally, the init script would create it for us. So now we have to do it manually. You can just copy it from another Directus installation or add the relevant variables using this help page: Environment Variables).

If you have not already a user in the database make sure to add a first user by adding the following two lines so that you can later login to Directus.


Choosing a Port

Since Plesk uses the Phusion Passenger application server to serve Node.js apps you do not need to worry about choosing a specific port. Just use an arbitrary number. To quote the Passenger docs:

When run in Passenger, the port number that you pass to listen() is irrelevant and has no effect. Passenger always makes the app listen on a random Unix domain socket.

4. Add package.json

Add Directus and your database connector as a dependency. To execute Directus' bootstrap command you also have to add a script entry for it.

	"scripts": {
		"bootstrap": "directus bootstrap"
	"dependencies": {
		"directus": "*",
		"mysql": "^2.18.1"

5. Add application startup file index.js

Instead of a start command, Plesk wants a startup file. So create a index.js with the following content:

var { startServer } = require('directus/server');


6. Add .npmrc

We need to make a small configuration for npm by creating a .npmrc file with the following content:


7. Add document_root folder

Lastly, we need to add a document_root folder inside our project-directory.

It's required by Plesk that the document root must be a subdirectory of the application root directory. The folder can stay empty.

Store document_root in a version control

To maintain the folder with version control (e.g., git), be sure to create an empty .gitignore file inside the folder.

8. Activate and configure node.js

In Plesk, choose your website and click "Node.js". You should then see a button "Enable Node.js" and click on it.

Now, change the "Document root" and "Application root" to the location of your project folder. "Application startup file" must point to the index.js file from the former step. The screen should now look like this:

Plesk Screenshot

You can now install the dependencies by clicking on the button "NPM install".

9. Bootstrap Directus

To set up the database tables (and the first user) for Directus, click on the button "Run script" and input bootstrap. You get the console output after the script has run through.

Current Issue of Argon2

You may run into an error of argon2 telling you that glibc is missing. If that's the case try adding and running this script entry to your package.json:

    "scripts" {
        "argon2-rebuild": "npm rebuild argon2 --build-from-source",

Afterwards try bootstrap again.

10. Clean up .env file

It is good security practice not to leave emails and passwords stored in plain text, so if you had to create login details through the .env file you should now remove those details from the file.

11. Test Directus Access

The Directus app should now work under your configured url. If not, try changing the application mode and wait a couple of seconds.

Using snapshots

On Plesk you can't directly run a npx command. To use the Directus snapshot feature, you'd need to add a script to your package.json. For snapshot creation you can find an example in the CLI docs: Date-based snapshots

To apply a snapshot you need a custom wrapper using the non-interactive version:

    "scripts" {
    	"apply-snapshot--noninteractive": "npx directus schema apply --yes ./snapshots/\"$npm_config_filename\"",

After that you can apply a snapshot by entering the following command to Plesk:

apply-snapshot--noninteractive --filename=[file.yaml]