March 13, 2008

DotNetNuke Host Settings Explained

Following the high popularity of my previous article about the DNN Scheduler I thought I would follow up with this article explaining DotNetNuke Host settings.  This article will give an overview of each section of the host settings.  Some areas might be highlighted in future articles to provide more detail regarding specific configuration options that are of high importance to site administrators.


Host Settings

This section of your site is provided mostly to serve as an information point.  You can see which version of DNN you are currently on, the .NET framework version, ASP.NET worker process account name, and path information.  Additionally the Host GUID is provided, this GUID is something that SOME third-party modules require for licensing requirements.

The only important item to note here is the "Check for Upgrades" option.  This option will check for upgrades to DNN and any modules every time you view the module definitions page as well as DNN in the control bar.  I typically turn this option off as it helps reduce overhead and also removes the annoying images.

Host Details

Host Settings

This section of settings allows you to set host information, you can select the host portal and set host title, url, and e-mail.  The host information is used for the Host token that can be placed in a site skin.  Additionally the host e-mail account is used to send e-mail notifications to new portal registrations and a few other various e-mail notifications.


Host Settings

This section allows you to specify site level appearance changes.  The most important item to note here is the "Show Copyright Credits?" option.  This is typically a very important item to uncheck as otherwise your site broadcasts heavily that it is a DotNetNuke site and it can impact your Search Engine Placement.  The other options allow you to change high level defaults for skins and containers..

The host skin is the skin that is applied to the host pages, the host container is the container applied to host containers.  The same respective rules apply to admin skin and container selection.

Payment Settings

Host Settings

This section allows you to configure the payment gateway for portal creations.  I do not use any of this functionality so I will not go into any detail as I am not 100% sure of the proper configuration.

Authentication Settings

Host Settings

This section was added in DNN 4.6.0 and later versions and serves as the primary location for enabling/disabling authentication providers.  You are presented a listing of all installed authentication providers, you are allowed to enable or disable any of them.  It is important to note two items regarding these settings; first be sure that you do NOT accidentally disable the DNN login system unless you have another one working, if you disable it, you MIGHT be locked out of your site.  Secondly, enabling a specific authentication provider on this page might not be the only step required to enable the authentication.  You might need to configure the provider via the "Admin" -> "Authentication" menu option.

Additionally you will find an "Install New Authentication System" option that allows you to install a new authentication provider.  In another blog article I go through the detailed process for installing a new provider.

Friendly Url Settings

Host Settings

This section is where you can create additional Friendly URL settings.  You can setup splash pages, or specific landing pages here if you want.  For example to create a page called MyHomeTest.aspx in a site and redirect that to a specific tab you can click on "Add New Rule" to add a new rule, you would then provide .*MyHomeText.aspx as the match, and then you could provide ~/Default.aspx?tabid=yourtabid for the replace with.  This will setup a simple redirect.

This is a very powerful function, however the expressions are easy to mis-construct, so use caution when working with these options if you are not familiar with Regular Expressions as it is possible to lock yourself out of a site if you configure this incorrectly.

Request Filter Settings

This section is where you can setup request filters to block or redirect users.  I have a detailed blog article on this functionality already called "Using the DotNetNuke Request Filter".  This is another items that you MUST be sure to be familiar with before you make changes.  You can use this functionality to ban users, or to handle 301 redirects for moved pages. (ASP.NET handled pages)

Proxy Settings

Host Settings

This section is only heeded if your website sits in a location where external communications will require the use of a proxy.  These configuration items are typically not modified.

SMTP Server Settings

Host Settings

These settings are the most often overlooked or misunderstood from all of my dealings with DotNetNuke users.  The SMTP settings here apply to ALL outgoing mail that is sent from the DNN system, using standard DNN processes.  You must supply your host SMTP information here for e-mail communications to be successful.  If you must specify a username and password to login to your SMTP be sure that you change the "SMTP Authentication" setting, if you provide a username and password, but still leave the setting at Anonymous you will NOT be able to send e-mail.

You can use the "Test" link to send a test message, but do not forget to save the settings before exiting the page!

Performance & Compression Settings

Host Settings

These settings can be the best or worst parts of a DotNetNuke site, with proper configuration in this section you can optimize the peformance of DNN to meet your needs.  However a mis-step in the configuration of these options can bring your entire site down.  Due to the complexity of these settings a separate follow-up article will be created to discuss my "best practices" advice relating to the caching settings for a DotNetNuke site.  Look for this article in the next few weeks.

Other Settings

Host Settings

This section is another often overlooked portion of DNN but the long term performance of your site can be greatly improved with proper configurations in this section.  Basic settings include the ability to disable Ajax (4.7.0 and later) as well as settings for Site Log storage and Site Log buffer.  Due to performance and other considerations, I personally recommend a host setting of 0 for the Site Log History.  This disables the site log and prevents a potentially critical filling of database tables.

You can turn users online on in this area as well.  Users online is disabled by default to provide the best performance possible. 

File extensions are set here that are allowed when uploading files using the File manager and URL control systems.  This is a very helpful setting as depending on the type of site you run you might need to modify this setting as well.

Scheduler Method is in my opinion one of the most important settings.  By default the "Request" method is used to start the scheduler which involves checking the system on each request to see if a scheduled task is needed.  This in my experience leads to some performance penalty.  I prefer the "Timer" method which creates a separate thread that will trigger any needed processes.

The Event Log Buffer is another item that helps with performance, rather than inserting records immediately to the Event Log the buffer will allow them to queue up and be written on a regular basis, this helps speed up Login and other processes on highly active sites.


I hope that this has served as a good overview of the "Host Settings" provided by DotNetNuke.  If you have any comments please share them below.  If you need technical assistance please visit the forums on this site.

tags: DNN, Tutorials
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