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I am currently exploring the VALUE of IIS Rewrite (or similar) verses 404 error management in an ISP/ASP based solution. We have VERY successfully implemented IIS Rewrite to create an organic SEM solution for our dynamic eCommerce sites (about 20+)...and are now looking to address some ugly URL issues.
Specifically, we are looking at allowing clients to create friendly URLs (www.client.com/productname) instead of (www.client.com/directory/product.asp?product=sku?prmotiontracking=ID). The question…what is the merit(s) of using IIS Rewrite vs. 404 error handling/redirects?
The downside is that they are at best a messy solution, especially when trying to integrate them with an existing site which wasn't designed to be funnelled through a 404 script. Plus sometimes the the "rewrites" don't work quite as well as you'd like unless you have full access to the IIS settings.
On the other hand IIS Rewrite gives you a more professional way to approach your rewrites which (as far as I'm aware) doesn't interfere with any of the code on the target site. Plus since it's a commercial product I presume you can also get support if it doesn't quite work as planned.
The downsides include the fact that it costs money, and that you need to install the component on the server, but ultimately if your site could benefit from some decent rewrites it's money well spent.
We've already implemented IIS re-write across our servers. The cost issues is mitigated. I'm more concerned with the viability to the solution in a hosted, mulit-client per server environement. the goal is to allow our client to create their own "re-direct rules" through an easy to use GUI...
My developers are convinced that the use of 404 as a vessle for URL redirects is the most efficient way to go.
On the otherhand, I know that IIS Re-write was created for that specific purpose...that it runs in memory (fast)...and that it provides more flexibility.
I guess what I'm looking for as someone to articulate WHY 404 is better than IIS Re-Write...or is it?
As mentioned above, the 404 method is a cheap solution and one that usually causes more problems than it is worth.
P.S. Unless your clients are familiar with writing regular expressions, you don't want them doing anything that has to do with redirects. Nada! Zilch! No can do!