Server side functionality refers to the ability of servers to execute programs that output onto web pages. They are scripts that reside on web servers and allow you to run interactive websites. For example, if you had a database of user names and passwords of all your website users, the program that offers the login authentication will be based on your server and not located on the website page. Almost every complex site such as membership and e-commerce ones will necessarily require server side functionality.
If you are offering such a site or any one that requires that such a program be run, you will need a web host which offers server side functionality. The server side functionality reduces the burden of web pages in most cases and enables sites to provide dynamic information to their users. It also reduces the size of web pages and resultantly makes sites load faster.
Many common Internet functionalities such as email and password management, polls, photo rating services, mailing lists, require server side functionality.
Your web host must provide the common functionalities used by almost every web page on the internet. At the minimum, your host must offer you a CGI-BIN. This important server side script allows you to run interactive scripts such as guestbook and contact forms.
* Figure 2. Server side functionality as shown in cPanel
Figure 2 shows part of a website management tool that controls the server side functionality of a web server.
Another server side functionality will be the ability of your site to run ASP (Active Server Pages). This technology from Microsoft enables you to display dynamic pages. For example if you had a website that displayed search results according to the criteria specified by the user, then you will need the ASP functionality. Moreso, if your site was predominantly created with MS FrontPage, you will obviously need ASP. If you have a file in your website with the extension .asp, then you need a host with ASP capabilities.
PHP is another widely used script. PHP also generates dynamic content but its usage spans almost every known activity on the net. From membership sites to user authentication to online forms, PHP has been used in all of these. If you have files with .php extensions, you must have a host that provides this script via their server. MySQL is an easy to use database that runs on servers. You will need this script to manage any type of database you have especially if you are not using a proprietary database such as MS SQL or Oracle. Infact, it is free and will easily integrate into any web page with ease. MYSQL goes with phpMyAdmin, a console which helps you to manage your database via a graphical user interface.
Your host must provide you with server side functionality to enable you get more from your website. You will have ease of management, be able to apply universal changes to your site and incorporate more interactivity into your website.