Personalization and Membership servers

Definition of Personalization and Membership servers in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is Personalization and Membership servers?

Related components of Microsoft Site Server that enable Web site administrators to personalize content for site visitors and provide secure content based on site membership. Features of the Personalization and Membership servers include the following:

  • Personalized content suited to individual visitors’ needs. Site administrators can build rules governing personalized content and store user profiles in the Membership Directory.
  • Members-only areas on a site with controlled access for users. Site administrators can register users, protect and share their data, verify users’ identities, and control access to sites. User information is stored in a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directory based on Microsoft SQL Server.
  • Direct mail for delivering personalized content to site visitors through scheduled e-mail based on their site usage patterns.

How It Works

Membership Authentication on the Personalization and Membership servers builds on Microsoft Windows NT security by letting administrators store user accounts and group permissions in the Site Server Membership Directory. Access to Web content is controlled by granting users and groups permissions on Web content using the same Windows Explorer method that Windows NT and Internet Information Services (IIS) administrators use.

By storing user and group accounts in the Membership Directory, you can enable sites to scale beyond the capabilities of the Windows NT Security Account Manager. In other words, instead of managing tens of thousands of accounts using the Windows NT domain model, you can use Personalization and Membership servers to manage millions of user accounts. This is particularly important if a cookie account and a user profile must be created for every user visiting the site.

Tools are also included for creating registration pages to handle creating new user accounts in the Membership Directory, adding users to groups, and upgrading cookie users to secured accounts. You can manage membership by using Microsoft Management Console (MMC) or through Web-based Administration (WebAdmin).


When you plan an implementation of Site Server, you must decide whether to use Windows NT Authentication or Membership Authentication. You cannot reverse your decision later without rebuilding the Membership Directory, which essentially means redoing all your initial implementation work. Use Windows NT Authentication for Windows NT–based intranets in which user accounts already exist for network users. Use Membership Authentication for Internet sites and for intranet sites in which Windows NT accounts do not yet exist. Membership Server is also suitable for any type of site in which users must self-register and thus create and manage their own profiles, which eases the burden on the Site Server administrator. For example, the information that intranet users create in the Membership Directory can form the basis of your corporate information directories with little administrative overhead.