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What is phpList Hosting?

PhpList is a software package for the management of mailing lists. It owes much of its popularity to the fact that it is written in PHP and uses a standard MySQL database. In addition, it is open-source, published under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Whether you run an e-commerce site, a B2B site, or just blog about a certain subject, keeping in touch with readers and customers is an important step in making your site successful. This is especially true of niche sites and businesses that do not rely on regular traffic. Once someone leaves your site, there's no guarantee they'll ever come back.

However, email marketing hopes to overcome this problem by giving you the ability to reach out to customers long after they first used your services. This may prove useful for promotional programmes and improve customer loyalty.

Don't spam, provide useful and informative updates

Part of the purpose of email marketing is to generate revenue and convert readers into customers, keep regular customers informed, announce promotional contests, sales and disseminate other information that may be of use.

Of course, you should tread carefully and stop short of spamming your customers' inboxes with countless updates they may not find relevant, but this is another matter. We are talking about the technical aspects of phpList, the marketing department should handle the rest.

In case you deal with an international audience, phpList can be a useful tool for reaching out to clients abroad, in their language. Bear in mind that phpList supports a number of major languages (English, Spanish, German, Japanese, French, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and Traditional Chinese). Support for new ones is constantly being added.

The software can also handle extensive mailing lists with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, which makes it very scalable – phpList can be used by small, niche sites, or large e-commerce or B2B services.

System requirements for phpList

While phpList was originally developed for the Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP environment (LAMP), it is also compatible with OpenBSD, FreeBSD, Apple's OS X and Microsoft environments such as Windows Server or IIS 7.0 and above.

As far as LAMP is concerned, you will need PHP version 4.3.x or higher with an IMAP module for bounce processing. The required MySQL version is 4.0 or higher.

On Windows, you will need Apache, PHP and MySQL. The phpList team recommends XAMPP server for testing and development. While Windows IIS web server is not officially supported and the environment is not recommended by the developer, it is possible with a bit of tinkering.

Support for PHP with IMAP is another requirement if you want phpList to automatically process your bounces. The phpList team is also working on support for ADOdb, but it is still not officially supported.

It is highly recommended to run phpList with "safe mode" in PHP off. This should not be an issue with small operations, but with more than 500 users safe mode will not work. In addition, safe mode will prevent automatic bounce processing.

Installing phpList

Installation is relatively straightforward and phpList documentation will guide you step by step.

You simply need to download the distribution files from phpList, unpack it and allow it to recreate default directories and subdirectories, then upload the contents of the lists directory into your web folder.

The next step is to create a database compatible with phpList. This can be done from the prompt or with the help of phpMyAdmin. In case your host does not allow the creation of new databases, you can use an existing one by specifying a prefix for table names in the config.php file. This is done with a simple text editor, but it can take a while. Luckily detailed instructions are available on the phpList website.

Once the configuration is complete, you can initialise the installation process by pointing your browser to the web directory where the phpList backend is located. From then on, it is all down to the installer.

The process may differ for OpenBSD users, but it is still relatively straightforward.

Don't forget to backup and upgrade

The upgrade process is not entirely automated, so the operator still needs to backup the database and old config.php file.

Another alternative is to backup phpList entirely, so you can rollback the update in case it starts misbehaving. It is recommended to download the contents of the entire phpList directory from your server to your hard disk for recovery.

The next step is to download the latest phpList version and unpack it while deleting all files from your phpList folder. It is also necessary to create a new config.php file. Although the old config file can be reused, this is not recommended.

phpList Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is phpList?

    PhpList is an open source software solution for mailing list management. Written in PHP, the software utilizes MySQL and is designed to distribute information, such as newsletters or advertising to subscribers.

  • Are there any unexpected expenses I have to deal with using phpList?

    No, there should not be any surprise expenses since phpList is published under the GNU General Public License making the software completely free.

  • How many subscribers can phpList handle?

    PhpList is known to handle mailing lists that are very large, up to hundreds of thousands of email addresses.

  • Can I use a database other than MySQL with phpList?

    Though phpList was originally designed to work with MySQL databases, it is possible to extend connectivity to other databases such as PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, SQLite, Sybase, IBM DB2, and Oracle with phpList's support for ADOdb.

  • Can a shared plan handle phpList?

    Yes, a shared plan can handle phpList, but you need to be aware of the hourly and daily mailing limits of your hosting company. Also, on a shared plan, you are sharing your mail server's IP address with other users. If that IP gets blacklisted, you won't be able to send out mail. For high mail volumes, consider a VPS hosting plan.

  • Can I get phpList preinstalled on a shared hosting account?

    Yes, since phpList is freely available software, most hosting companies will have it available as a single click install. If it is not available through one-click installation, you can easily install it yourself or get your host to help you.

  • How can I get support?

    Since phpList is well documented, you can get support from tutorials, reference documentation, and community forums throughout the web. Since the software is widely used, most problems will already have solutions posted online.

  • Will phpList work with Windows IIS servers?

    Since the Microsoft platform is not officially supported, using phpList on Windows IIS servers is not endorsed. However, users have successfully adapted phpList to run on IIS.

  • Can I run phpList on Windows without IIS?

    Yes, it is possible to run phpList on Windows without IIS as long as you have the correct versions of PHP, Apache, and MySQL.

  • How many languages is phpList available in?

    PhpList provides great localization options since its user interface and software documentation is available in at least 35 languages including English, Spanish, French, Japanese, and Vietnamese.

  • How can I update phpList?

    You must update phpList manually. First, backup your database and the entire phpList installation along with the configuration file called config.php. Next, replace your phpList with the new version and restore your old configuration file.

  • Does phpList have any special requirements?

    Yes. Some of the special requirements for phpList include having PHP 5.4 with a number of specific extensions, MySQL or MariaDB, and the Apache web server.

  • What operating systems will run phpList?

    PhpList can run on any OS including major distributions of Linux, Windows, and OS X. To install phpList, simply following the detailed guides from the online community.

  • Can I specify how phpList handles bounced messages?

    Yes, you can modify settings within phpList to forward bounced email to a specific email address.

  • Am I able to create email message templates with phpList?

    Yes, you are able to create HTML-based templates that can also include images with custom tags using phpList.

  • Can I attach files to the email I send using phpList?

    Yes, you are able to attach files but remember to enable attachments in the config.php configuration file.

  • Am I able to limit the number of email messages I send within an hour?

    Yes, phpList can throttle outgoing email, which is highly recommended for managing bandwidth and respecting the mailing limits of your host. This can easily be done in the batch processing segment of phpList's config.php configuration file.

  • What are some options for importing and exporting data via phpList?

    The phpList software provides a few convenient options for data import and export. Users who want to import data can either use standard CSV or TAB delimited files. TAB delimited import files are recommended since data is less likely to contain them. Since the maximum import file size is 1 MB, you will have to split larger files. On the other hand, if you want to export files you will need administrative privileges for outputting data in TAB delimited format.

  • Can I run phpList with PHP's "safe mode" feature turned on?

    According to phpList's documentation, you must run PHP with "safe mode" turned off in order for certain features such as bounce processing to work properly.

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