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What is ASP Hosting?

With ASP hosting on a Windows-based server, you can run scripts using Microsoft’s Active Server Pages technology to create interactive pages, provide database access, and more.

Your web hosting provider uses an operating system (OS) to run their servers, just you run an OS on your personal computer. While Linux-run servers are the majority among web hosts, hosts with Windows-driven servers are becoming more common for some websites.

That’s due in no small part to the growing popularity of Microsoft’s Active Server Pages (ASP). Now in its third iteration, ASP is a scripting language you can use to create dynamic and interactive Web applications.

ASP was created to work with Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS). IIS is a built-in Windows component that handles web server and other Internet functions within the Windows operating system.

What is ASP?

ASP is a versatile server-side scripting language. It can be used to create interactive websites, code standalone applications, access databases (such as MySQL or Microsoft Access databases), combine HTML pages, or even to perform simple user customizations like displaying the local date and time for each visitor to a page.

It’s important to keep in mind that ASP, now also called “ASP Classic," should not be confused with its successor, ASP.NET, which was first released in 2002. ASP.NET has many of the same features as ASP, but incorporates a more stable foundation based on Microsoft’s .NET server technology.

Both ASP Classic and ASP.NET languages still remain popular, though. Several famous websites, including Yahoo Music and Newegg.com, run on ASP Classic, as well as Microsoft.com. Anytime you see a URL ending in “.asp", you’re seeing an ASP-generated web page. Many other pages rely on ASP as well, but use URL redirection to masks its use.

Microsoft has promised continued support for ASP for at least a decade following the release of Windows 8, giving developers and users alike plenty of time to make any necessary upgrades to and replacements on their proprietary and hosted systems, and upgrade to ASP.NET if they wish.

Advantages of ASP Hosting

ASP hosting is a good option if you need interactive web pages and applications that are powerful, yet easy to create and maintain, especially if you use other Microsoft products, such as Microsoft Office Suite, with your web content.

Because ASP is a server-side scripting language, it requires a web server to execute its tasks. The web server is provided by Microsoft’s IIS, so if your site relies on ASP for its content, you’ll need a Windows server hosting option.

If you use other Microsoft web-friendly products like Office and Exchange Server, integrating your web content with your communication and collaboration systems is a snap.

Choosing an ASP-ready Host

The vast majority of hosting service providers run their servers using UNIX or Linux-based operating systems, such as CentOS. While the reverse is true when it comes to personal computers, the lightweight, free, and open-source features of the Linux OS makes it an ideal choice for most web hosts to run their servers.

But Linux can’t do everything, and isn’t the ideal option for everyone. ASP-run websites can be a better depending on your website needs and preferences. And ASP can’t run on Linux—it requires a Windows-based server.

Windows-based servers are in the minority, and require more investment on the part of the hosting provider. For that reason, you can expect to pay a little more for hosting than you would for a comparable level of UNIX-based hosting.

But it’s worth the investment if you use Office and Exchange Server, or your site depends on Microsoft products or languages like Silverlight, Visual Studio or MS SQL (Microsoft’s proprietary version of the Structured Query Language used in database programming) for content distribution or data collection.

If you’re planning on running a website that relies on ASP, it’s a good idea to check with your potential web host to be sure they can support your website and provide all the options you need.

Related: ASP.NET, WindowsMSSQL

ASP Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a server side script?

    Server side scripts are programs that run on the web server and
    create the pages that visitors see. These usually involve
    interacting with one or more databases. Using server side scripts
    allows your website to offer up customized content to viewers.

  • What is ASP?

    ASP is a server side scripting language that allows website
    developers to use different languages in a consistent way to
    create a dynamic user experience.

  • What does ASP stand for?

    ASP is an acronym for Active Server Pages. There is ASP Classic,
    which is the old style of server side programs, and ASP.NET,
    which supersedes ASP Classic.

  • Is ASP a programming language?

    No. Both ASP Classic and ASP.NET are frameworks that allow (in
    theory) any language to be used. With ASP Classic, users are
    primarily limited to VBScript and versions of JavaScript and
    Perl. With ASP.NET, there are literally dozens of choices. The
    most popular is C#. However, VB.NET is also quite popular --
    especially for people who used to code ASP Classic, because
    VB.NET is very similar to VBScript. Other languages available in
    the ASP.NET framework include variants of Java, Ruby, Python,
    c++, PHP, and even Lisp.

  • So ASP Classic and ASP.NET are basically the same?

    Not exactly. Probably the biggest difference is that ASP Classic
    is interpreted. ASP.NET is compiled. That makes ASP.NET code a
    lot faster. On small websites, it probably doesn't matter. But on
    big websites, using ASP Classic is probably too slow. Also,
    because of this distinction, ASP.NET can support more complex
    languages with strong typing and object oriented functionality.

  • What is the difference between webpages with .asp and .aspx extensions?

    Webpages with .asp extensions are ASP Classic pages; webpages
    with .apsx (and a few others) are ASP.NET pages. But note that
    web servers can be set up to interpret any extension as any kind
    of content. For example, some sites are set up to interpret .html
    extensions as ASP for security reasons.

  • Are there special development tools for working with ASP?

    Yes! This is one of the best things about ASP. Microsoft has well
    integrated tools for developing, debugging, and managing
    versions.

  • Do I even need to do server side scripting?

    It depends upon what you want to do. Most people do not -- at
    least directly. If you are using a content management system
    (CMS), then you are using server side scripting. It is just that
    you don't have to do the programming. For example, if you use a
    blog, server side programs store what you write in a database and
    then serve it up in a proper format to your visitors. But even
    people who don't do much coding will occasionally find a use for
    it. Server side languages are helpful tools to have around.

  • Are there alternatives to ASP?

    Many. The primary alternatives are Java and PHP. But there are
    others. A lot of people are using Python and Ruby these days. And
    new systems are being developed right now because people have
    specialized needs. But if you are just starting out, PHP is your
    best alternative to ASP; they are similarly easy to learn.

  • Is ASP dependent upon a particular web server?

    ASP is normally used with the IIS server that runs on Microsoft
    Windows.

  • Is it hard to convert from ASP Classic to ASP.NET?

    It isn't usually necessary. But if you want to convert older code
    to ASP.NET for consistency and updating, it can be done easily.
    Microsoft provides detailed help.

  • If I use ASP will I be stuck using Windows servers forever?

    You probably will not be stuck using Windows servers. But it is best to
    assume that you will be. ASP.NET is a Microsoft product and you
    are best to stick with their native platform.

  • Will my ASP Classic pages eventually have to be rewritten?

    Not generally. If you use 3rd party components, you could find
    yourself in some trouble. But note that there are always issues
    when software is updated. This is perhaps more true with PHP than
    with ASP. And if you are deciding to use ASP now, you should be
    coding with ASP.NET and so shouldn't have to face this problem.

  • Does it cost more to use ASP?

    Yes. The extra cost is not because of ASP itself, but rather
    because it generally must be used with the IIS server that runs
    on the Windows platform, which requires more resources (computer
    power) to run. There are many variables, but in general, you can
    expect to pay roughly 20% more for an IIS server than for an
    Apache server. If you are purchasing a dedicated server, the
    price differential is even a bit larger than that.

  • Why would I want ASP over other scripting languages?

    There are two primary reasons why people choose to go with ASP. The first is that they are already heavily vested in ASP development. If your company has a large crew of people who are .NET masters, it may not make
    sense to invest in learning another development platform. The
    other primary reason to use ASP is if you want to interface with
    other Microsoft tools. This is especially true if you are using
    your website as an intranet to facilitate work within your
    organization.

  • Can ASP run on a Linux/Apache server?

    In theory. Sun used to offer ChiliSoft ASP which was an emulator
    of ASP Classic. It has been long since discontinued. There is
    currently an open source project called Mono, which is a .NET
    Framework tool set -- including a C# compiler. Part of Mono is
    mod_mono, a module for Apache web servers, which allows users to
    serve ASP. In most cases, you will have to have control of your
    web server and install mod_mono yourself. This would defeat the
    primary reason for running .NET on Apache: cost. And there are
    other issues such as reliability and compatibility. This is
    definitely only an option for power users. If you want to use
    ASP, you are best using an IIS server.

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