Compare DotNetNuke (DNN) Hosting
What You Will Learn
Are you considering using DotNetNuke, but aren't sure if it is right for your needs?
This post will cover what DNN is, the different versions of the program, how it works, main features, and what you need in a DNN host.
I'll also make a few recommendations for DNN hosts to help you get started in your search.
What is DotNetNuke (DNN)?
Created in 2006, DotNetNuke (commonly called DNN) is an open-source content management system designed for the Microsoft web environment.
Focused on simplicity, high customizability, and third-party extensions, DNN is used to create and manage hundreds of thousands of sites across the Web.
DNN is self-described as the "leading open source web content management platform (CMS) in the Microsoft ecosystem"
At its core, DNN is a three-tier application, with the CMS component running atop the Web application framework and Microsoft's ASP.NET, .NET, IIS and Windows Server OS.
History of DotNetNuke (DNN)
The project was created as a portal application for the .NET framework by a company called IBuySpy Workshop.
In 2008, a partner corporation was founded and the ecosystem for plugins grew rapidly.
How Did DotNetNuke Get its Name?
After its initial launch, the functionality of it came to rival that of similar platforms PHP-Nuke and PostNuke.
This is why the Nuke term was added to the platform's name.
What is a CMS?
Screenshot of the DNN Homepage
One of the most popular ways to handle website creation and content production on the web is to use a content management system (CMS).
These applications are often template-based and easy to use.
Content Management Systems (CMSs) give you the tools to create, manage, and post to a website quickly.
A CMS Designed and Optimized for Windows
Unlike many other CMS solutions, DNN is designed and optimized for Windows.
It requires Microsoft's Internet Information Services (IIS), MS SQL (Structured Query Language), and the Microsoft Windows Server operating system (OS) to function.
How Does DotNetNuke Compare to Competitors?
DotNetNuke claims to have over 750,000 sites using their platform.
Newer but similarly popular tools like Umbraco and Orchard have comparable but somewhat lower numbers.
A platform shouldn't be judged based on its number of users though, but rather on how well supported it is and what desired site functions are needed.
It is best to pick your platform based on what features are most important, then pick the tool that handles those functions the best.
- WordPress - if you're looking for a well supported CMS, this is the monolithic giant. It runs on PHP though, which can be run from IIS, but generally relies on Apache.
- Umbraco CMS - a well updated, modern, open source .NET CMS which is widely used, very flexible, and easy to extend.
- Orchard CMS - another open source .NET CMS - with a focus on being more customizable at the code level than Umbraco.
- .NET CMS - The CMS platform for the .NET framework which came after dasBlog, it has support for modern responsive sites, and has strongly validated third-party tools.
Which is Better: DotNetNuke (DNN) or WordPress?
Content management systems come in a variety of types.
They're most often defined as web-based applications that allow multiple users to manage content, data, and other information on a web project.
I'm sure you've heard of WordPress.
This is one of the most popular content management systems. People use it to build websites and manage the content on these sites with ease.
DNN, on the other hand, is slightly different.
It also allows for the management of websites.
But, it's used on Windows servers instead of the common Linux servers.
This makes it a great option for managing Windows web projects.
Side-by-Side Comparison: DotNetNuke vs WordPress
We've created a more thorough comparison between WordPress and DNN so that you can understand the functionality of DNN a bit better.
|Used mostly by medium-sized and enterprise-level e-commerce.||Preferred by bloggers, and smaller businesses. Very user-friendly.|
|Written in ASP.NET and based on MS SQL, making it easier to integrate with .NET-based infrastructure.||Written in PHP and based on MySQL which are preferred by most developers.|
Has two commercial editions and one free, open-source edition.
WordPress is only available as a free, open-source platform.
|DNN has over 1,000 modules to extend the functionality of the framework. You will have to pay for modules from the DNN store, or you can install open-source modules for free from the DNN forge, Codeplex, or GitHub||WordPress includes over 31,000 plug-ins to extend the functionality of your website. Many of these are free.|
|Can only be installed on Microsoft Servers||Can be installed on both Microsoft servers with some tweaking but is best used on Unix systems.|
Screenshot of the versions of DNN.
What Versions of DotNetNuke (DNN) are Available?
There are two commercial versions of DNN and one free, open-source edition.
The commercial editions come with increased functionality over the free edition, as well as access to technical support.
DNN Platform: the Free Edition of DNN
DNN's free edition was formerly named the DotNetNuke Community Edition. It's now called DNN Platform.
Open-source software is free to use by anyone since the nature of open-source relies on a community of developers to maintain, contribute to, and update it.
Who Uses DNN?
DNN is a great content management system for developers using ASP.NET.
Since ASP.NET is used for web development of web pages, web applications, and web services, DNN Platform is a popular choice for managing these web projects.
Do I Need Coding Skills to Use DNN?
Developers aren't the only ones who use DNN Platform.
In fact, the whole point of a CMS like this is to make it simple for people who don't know much about coding to manage and run a website.
DNN Platform provides a web authoring environment for hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world.
These range from small businesses to very large companies.
DNN Helps You Navigate HTML
Web authoring is the process of using a desktop tool, like DNN, to navigate the HTML and coding environment of website and application development by using a graphical user interface.
This is preferred by people who are not experienced in coding.
You could say that web authoring software translates HTML for people who don't know how to code.
Since DNN Platform is open-source, the community of developers behind it continue to identify defects in code, contribute to new features and designs, and essentially work together to refine the DNN Platform.
How to Expand the Functionality of DNN: Use Modules
DNN is modular.
Its basic functionality (content management, multimedia support, etc.) can be expanded with modules.
Expanding your DNN functionality with modules is similar to building with lego-blocks: modules are created to be easy to "snap on" to your site.
Modules come in the form of add-ons and plug-ins, either from the extant library of modules provided by DNN or via third-party creators.
Modules and themes can be installed and configured directly through the platform, generally without any changes at the code or database level.
"DNN Forge" contains an extensive list of add-ons, extensions, and other modules to customize your site for eCommerce, blogging, community forums, and more.
Is there an Active DNN Community?
The DNN community is very active.
Like many popular CMS solutions, DNN is community focused, they want to see their user base run a successful website.
DNN Forge is part of that community.
The DNN community includes:
- DNN Tutorials, Webinars, Videos and Forum Posts
- Community blog
- Project history timeline
- Open-source roadmap
- Webinars and conferences
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What Type of DNN Support is Available?
DNN maintains a Security Center with bulletins and patches, as well as email support.
Access to the CMS's core code can be found on CodePlex and Github.
DNN Forge maintains a reputation points system that rewards Module developers who update regularly.
What are the Main Features of DNN?
To list all of the features of DNN would be tremendous, so here is a high-level summary:
- A rich text editor for content
- File and image management
- Cloud-ready and Microsoft Azure compliant
- Mobile-ready site features with mobile API
- Core platform written in C# and highly extensible
- Single installation can handle multiple site portals
- Modern web tools, CSS3, HTML5, JQuery
- Bulk email management tools
- Deep security and administrative protection
How to Install DNN
DNN is available from many hosts as a one-click install via their hosting control panel.
It's also available as a free download from both the DNN website and the community website.
Either way, the software is open-source and free, and so shouldn't add any additional cost to your monthly hosting budget.
One-Click Install or Step-By-Step
The DotNetNuke Install is super easy if you use the one-click installation.
Though the term "one-click" is a little misleading.
There are a few steps you'll have to follow after installing DNN before you can use the application. To start out...
- Make sure your computer meets the requirements for setting up a DNN website including a Windows Server 2012, IIS 8.5, and SQL Server 2014.
- Install the free version of DNN from their website.
- Extract the contents of the installed ZIP package on your computer.
- Access to your web hosting control panel to complete the set-up using the "How to Install DNN" step-by-step guide from the wiki.(Get the URL at the end of this article).
- Launch your site.
It's important to remember, though, that DNN is Windows-only.
If your site runs on a Linux server, you'll need to look elsewhere.
What is Evoq?
For those looking for an enterprise-level CMS solution, DNN offers a commercial product known as Evoq.
This edition facilitates modern marketing via personalization rules.
It's streamlined and optimized for mobile and multi-user, interactive sites.
Evoq's functionality is significantly expanded beyond that of the core CMS.
Evoq: Driving Actionable Insight
Evoq emphasizes analytics and real-time tracking as a means to discover what is motivating site traffic and finding ways to increase it.
This includes strong integration with third-party tools, including the popular Marketo.
One of the advantages to paying for Evoq over just using the open source DNN is that DNN software will provide tools that increase search performance.
Boosting Engagement and Conversions
Evoq offers easy-to-use personalization tools to optimize conversions.
You can personalize content according to the device (e.g. mobile) accessing it, geographic location of the visitor, among other parameters.
Evoq's Gamification Features
There is also a set of Gamification features, which encourage site visitors to stay more active - with tools such as quizzes, leaderboards, badges, reputation points, and user dashboards.
What Does Evoq Cost?
Pricing varies based on configuration and scale.
What You Need to Know About DNN Hosting
If you're going to be using DNN, you need to satisfy a few hosting requirements first.
Your web server must have a minimum of Windows Vista, SQL Server 2008, and .NET 4.0, and IIS 7+.
If your server has the latest versions of these then you will be good to go.
One-Click Install of DNN
Many web hosting companies offer DNN with their Windows servers.
They can even give you one-click installs of the software through Microsoft.
The reason that some more popular hosting companies don't offer DNN support is due to its requirement for an IIS medium.
Do I Need IIS for DotNetNuke (DNN)?
IIS stands for Internet Information Server.
This is a Visual Basic application that performs website processing on the server.
IIS acts the same way as an ASP application, except ASP is more commonly used for developing web pages while IIS is typically used by developers building web-based applications using Visual Basic.
Do I Need VPS or Dedicated Server for Hosting DotNetNuke (DNN)?
For hosting DNN, you don't need a VPS or dedicated server.
You can run DNN on any shared hosting account that satisfies the server requirements.
Just note that shared servers may not be able to handle the demands of larger and more complex web pages.
What are the Pros and Cons of DotNetNuke (DNN)?
Not sure if DNN is right for you? There are both pros and cons to using the platform.
Here are some features to consider before deciding.
Pros of DNN
- Straightforward to use.
- Edit website content instantly.
- The CMS is adaptable for all businesses and can be used to manage all types of web projects.
- Users can view the live content of their web pages in a separate popup window while they are making changes to it.
- Grant and deny access to different users working on the same project.
- Modules extend the functionality.
- DNN Platform is a completely free edition of the software that anyone can use.
Cons of DNN
- DNN's own modules cost money and aren't available for free.
- Can only be installed on a Windows server.
- Setting up DNN can be time-consuming as you'll have to manually add extensions and configure many of the core functions yourself.
- It will be harder to find developers who know how to code for DNN than WordPress and other CMSs that run on PHP.
Top 3 Hosts for DotNetNuke
DotNetNuke can be hosted on a variety of servers, as long as they use Windows servers.
Here are my top three picks for DotNetNuke hosting.
If you're looking for the best hosting provider for DotNetNuke, check out 3essentials. The company has some of the cheapest Windows hosting available and includes full DNN support.
Their servers run all the necessary requirements for the software.
These plans come in shared and VPS options of different plans.
The company owns their own datacenters, and they give you 24/7 customer support.
All plans include free SSL certificates, and daily backups as well.
Another great choice for DotNetNuke hosting is InterServer.
The company has super scalable Windows VPS plans which let you only pay for the exact resources your website needs.
Though they don't explicitly state that they support DNN, their Windows hosting plans include IIS servers, MS SQL, and .NET support.
But, these plans start a little bit more expensive than 3essentials since they only offer VPS Windows hosting.
A2 Hosting seems to be optimized for almost anything you want to do, including DNN hosting.
A2 may be one of the best web hosts for people who need to find specific hosting support for certain applications or features.
They have shared Windows hosting at cheaper prices than InterServer's VPS plans.
But even better, A2 Hosting provides an AutoInstaller for setting up DotNetNuke with a single click.
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Other features in CMS
MS DotNetNuke Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the hosting requirements DotNetNuke?
A Windows server that can run IIS 7 or higher and a SQL database. Any .NET hosting provider should be able to accommodate and many might even have one-click installs.