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Old 02-05-2008, 12:10 PM   #1
Howard Allen
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Folks--

I'm very naive in these matters, so this question could either have a simple answer or a very complicated one--I dunno.

My ISP gives me 10 MB of free web space, which I'd like to use to park files for others (members of a club) to download. I can FTP files to the web space, but I'd like to protect some of the files with a password/login scheme so that not every Tom, Dick and Harry can get them.

Is this something that I'd have to get my ISP to set up, or is there a simple freeware-type of utility or easy-to-use commercial software that will construct such a "gateway"--as I guess it's called--or is this something I'd need advanced knowledge to do (PHP programming, etc.)?

(Mac OSX, BTW)

Thanks in advance!

   
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Old 02-05-2008, 12:32 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Allen View Post
Folks--

I'm very naive in these matters, so this question could either have a simple answer or a very complicated one--I dunno.

My ISP gives me 10 MB of free web space, which I'd like to use to park files for others (members of a club) to download. I can FTP files to the web space, but I'd like to protect some of the files with a password/login scheme so that not every Tom, Dick and Harry can get them.

Is this something that I'd have to get my ISP to set up, or is there a simple freeware-type of utility or easy-to-use commercial software that will construct such a "gateway"--as I guess it's called--or is this something I'd need advanced knowledge to do (PHP programming, etc.)?

(Mac OSX, BTW)

Thanks in advance!
Are you going to maintain a database of club members who can access these files, or will they register themselves? How will you know who is a member of the club, and who is not?

There are a good many userid and password mechanisms out there, some far more complex than others. However, first you need to decide who controls what, and what are the consequences, if any, if some non-member gets at the files. Try to avoid anything too complex.

Incidentally, 10 Mb is a small disk space by today's standards, so I wonder how practical your overall idea is going to be.
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Old 02-05-2008, 12:40 PM   #3
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As long as this is not a Windoze server you can password protect a directory using .htaccess - check on your server control panel as it may have an option to protect directories already built in. But as it is "free" webspace it is highly unlikely that this will be available. It is possible to create the .htaccess password files and install thtm yourself, but is not easy. There is a guide here.

   
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Old 02-05-2008, 08:17 PM   #4
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Are you going to maintain a database of club members who can access these files, or will they register themselves? How will you know who is a member of the club, and who is not?

There are a good many userid and password mechanisms out there, some far more complex than others. However, first you need to decide who controls what, and what are the consequences, if any, if some non-member gets at the files. Try to avoid anything too complex.

Incidentally, 10 Mb is a small disk space by today's standards, so I wonder how practical your overall idea is going to be.
Thanks for the input.

Here's the scenario: I distribute a PDF version of a club newsletter to fewer than 100 members. I currently FTP the file to my webspace, then send an email message to the recipients, with a link to my webspace, telling them to click it and download the newsletter. I'd like to make the file available to paying members (I'd email them a password) but keep it unavailable to freeloaders, as much as possible.

The size of the PDF is rarely more than 2 MB, so the 10 MB webspace is not really an issue (unless the password gateway stuff takes more than that!). I'd remove the file after a few weeks grace period for tardy downloaders.

I could simply password protect the PDF file, but it's extremely irritating to have to key in a password every time you open the file locally (few of these people will have the full version of Acrobat, so most couldn't disable the password even if I told them how).

It seems like every second website on the net has a security login screen, so I was hoping it was a trivial matter--I'm beginning to think not.

   
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Old 02-05-2008, 08:30 PM   #5
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It is possible to create the .htaccess password files and install thtm yourself, but is not easy. There is a guide here.
Yeah, that's what I was afraid of...I think I'm already in over my head. (I can't believe I used to write 6502 assembly language code for fun!) But at least you answered my question about how hard it is, and for that I thank you!

   
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Old 02-05-2008, 09:11 PM   #6
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If the files don't need to be available for a long time, you could use yousendit.com. Store the file on their server and email the link to the people you are authorized to download it.
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Old 02-05-2008, 11:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
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I could simply password protect the PDF file, but it's extremely irritating to have to key in a password every time you open the file locally (few of these people will have the full version of Acrobat, so most couldn't disable the password even if I told them how).
Why not ZIP it, and password-protect the zip file? That way they'd only have to use the password to extract it once - and it might even end up being a smaller and faster download.

(ZIP passwords seem to be crackable, but you'd immensely reduce the number of people who could read it anyway.)

   
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Old 02-06-2008, 06:08 AM   #8
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What about PHP code that checks a MySQL database for a userid and password? It seems to me that is fairly easy to implement and probably available for free or inexpensively in PHP books. It does have the problem of maintenance of the database, especially to remove members who stop paying their dues.

Alternatively, PHP code could ask for a userid and password but they would be hardcoded into the PHP, and changed periodically to exclude the freeloaders. The problem is not security against outsiders, who are unlikely to care about a specialized newsletter, but against insiders who don't renew their membership.
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Old 02-06-2008, 06:18 AM   #9
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Howard,

See my reply to Kelvyn.

Two years ago I was webmaster for an organization sending out newsletters and posting them on the website. In the newsletter on paper by mail days, we only provided newsletters to members who paid their dues, with a grace month at the beginning of a new year. Then we began to send out the newsletter to everyone on the list by email, whether they renewed or not, and consequently there are a lot of people on the list who think they are members because they get the newsletter, but they have not paid. When the newsletter got to be 10 Mb because the editor used the wrong techniques, we sent out a link to a PDF instead. Now we are sending out an email with the newsletter text directly in the email without a lot of formatting, but we still send it to everyone on the list.

Maybe you could just send out a different link for each to the paid members, but would the paid members share the link with the unpaid members? You need a simple solution, not something too technical or requiring lots of maintenance. I hope my ideas help you to get that.
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:35 AM   #10
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When an ISP offers a whopping 10Mb of webspace, it's highly unlikely there will be PHP and MySQL available.

   
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