5 Essential Features You Should Look For In A Web Hosting Service

    November 18, 2003

  • Password protected directories
  • CGI (Common Gateway Interface)
  • SSI (Server Side Includes)
  • Cron
  • Password protected Directories

    Password protected directories are useful if you want to maintain a membershipsite or download area for your products. This can be done by two methods.

    Basic Authentication:This is also called ‘Basic HTTP Authentication’.Here you have to keep ‘.htaccess’ file in the directory which you want to protect.This protection can be done by logging in to your control panel and clicking on the icon or text link which says ‘Password Protection’.So this method is usually carried by the server.

    When a user wants to view the web pages in that password protected folder, a pop-up box comes up asking username and password.

    Using Cookie method:This is usually carried by CGI scripts that are installed on your cgi-bin.Some of the CGI scripts also uses ‘Basic Authentication.

    The script puts cookie on the users computer which logs the user sessions.By this method of password protection you can good control on how users can access your private site.

    For example:

  • Number of times a user can access your site
  • Number of days of access like a month or three months etc,
  • Users can assign their passwords and user names
  • Users can edit their profile
  • You can ban certain users etc.
  • CGI (Common Gateway Interface)

    CGI is an abbreviation for ‘Common Gateway Interface’. CGI adds a lot of interactivity to your web site.

    Common Gateway Interface specifies a set of standards how a web user can run programs that are located on a web server from their computer, how a web server communicates with the software program(CGI program) that resides on it and how this software talks back to the web server. Any kind of software can be a CGI program if it handles input and output according to CGI standards.

    CGI scripts are commonly written in a programming language called Perl (Practical Extraction and Reporting Language). But can also be written in C+, C++, Java, Visualbasic etc.

    CGI scripts can be used to process a simple form to maintaining a membership area.There are many scripts online, which can be used to automate your website.

    What can you do with CGI?

  • Form proccessing
  • Autoresponders
  • Mailing list managers
  • Order taking, Order proccessing
  • Steamline your downloads
  • Protecting your private folders
  • Easy maintanence of the website
  • Tracking your advertisements
  • Maintaining an affiliate site
  • Counters, classifieds, link directories…There is no end to this list.

    MySQL is an open source, relational database management system which can be used in conjunction with scripting languages like perl, php etc.

    SQL is not a pogramming language.It is a ‘Stuctured Query Language’ that is used to send queries(commands) to your database manager to store, alter and retrieve information from your database.

    You have to insert this ‘query strings(commands or queries) in the cgi program to execute them.

    Why is database system is superior than Flat file data storage?

    For small sites flat files are OK to store the data.But big sites like amazon.com or Microsoft, they need some thing that store large amount of data.Here the sql database comes in.

    Once the data amount has reached certain point, the performance of the flat files certainly lessens.For example, you have a big subscribers base like 50,000 it is difficult to manage with flat file method.You need a fast and reliable system that can hold so much data with out losing the performance.

    PHP which was on the web since 1995, is an abbreviation for ‘Personal Home Pages’.Now almost 6 million web sites are using php for managing their web pages, databases and discussion boards etc.

    Php and Mysql provides a good hold on database management.It is normally put to use as an html-embedded scripting language for use on the web.

    SSI (Server Side Includes)

    SSI is including a piece of information by server in to the web pages before they are presented to the browser.

    Lets elaborate this a little further.The user requests a document from server.Server looks for the document and its extention.If it is html or htm extention server simply presents the document to the web browser.If the requested file ended with a ‘ shtml ‘ extention then it searches the documents html code for any instructions.It follows the instructions and attaches an extra information in to the document and presents to the browser.

    SSI-What for?

  • run cgi scripts
  • include environment variables
  • display the time
  • include a file
  • It is easy update the entire site if you use SSI to include in your pages.

    Cron is an automatic task machine.You will use it on your Unix or Linux operating systems.

    What it will do for you?

    If you want to send tour email cources to your subscribers at 11.30 night, you will set the cron job on your server.And your cron manager sends the one email every day at 11.30 until all the emails will be finished.

    If you want to send them on Sundays, you can schedule it with your cron.

    You can schedule it to delete your website members with expired accounts.

    You can schedule it to recieve an update on your subscribers from your mailing list manager.

    You can check your links on other websites in link exchange programms.More on cron here.

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    Radhika Venkata
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