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Redirecting pages from www.upenn.edu

If you have had a web site on www.upenn.edu and are moving to another server, it is recommended that you make arrangements to redirect users who may have your old pages bookmarked or are referred to your old site by outdated links.

You can redirect users to your new web site by:


META Tag Redirects

You can replace your main homepage with a page that informs the user that your site has changed and after a certain amount of time as specified in the META tag, the user will automatically be taken to the new site.

Example:
<html>
<head>
<title>University of Pennsylvania</title>
</head>
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="5; URL=http://www.newsite.upenn.edu/">
<body bgcolor="#FFFFFF">
<p>
<center><h3>University of Pennsylvania</h3></center>
</p>
<hr>
<p>
<center>
This page has moved.<br>
Please change all references to this page.
</p>
<p>
The new location is:<br>
<a href="http://www.newsite.upenn.edu/">http://www.newsite.upenn.edu/</a>
</p>
</center>
</body>
</html>
In the above example, the user who is using a browser like Netscape will be redirected after 5 seconds to the new URL, http://www.newsite.upenn.edu/.

Advantages

  • The provider has control over the redirection without any intervention from the system administrator.
  • The provider can educate the user about the site change.


Disadvantages

  • The redirection is only supported by certain browsers. If you plan to use a redirection page like this, you should include a link to your site so that users with browsers that do not support the META tag redirection can follow the link to your new site.
  • The redirection will only work for the specific page that contains the META tag. If the user comes into your site looking for multiple pages, you will have to create redirection pages for each of the pages on your site.




System Level Redirects

You can contact the system administrator to set up a system level redirection for your site. With a system level redirection, the user continues to request a page using the old URL and is automatically redirected to the new site.

Example:

The user requests a page like http://www.upenn.edu/oldsite/testing.html. That user is automatically and immediately redirected to http://www.newsite.upenn.edu/testing.html.


Advantages

  • The redirection is seamless and causes no disruption to your users.
  • This redirection is not browser dependent.


Disadvantages

  • There is an annual fee for this kind of redirection.
  • Users are not notified of the new location. Although the new URLs do appear in the location box of your browser, the user is not explicitly informed that the site has changed. The user can continue to use the old URLs indefinitely.
  • This redirection works best if you are moving your site intact to another server. If you redesign and/or reorganize your site changing the URLs of your documents, the user will receive error messages that the pages cannot be found.
  • The system administrator must maintain this redirection.




.htaccess

You can create a .htaccess file that specifies the redirection. If your directory on www.upenn.edu has the URL of http://www.upenn.edu/cpps/, your .htaccess would look like:
Redirect /cpps/index.html http://newserver.www.upenn.edu/index.html

Advantages

  • The redirection is seamless and causes no disruption to your users.
  • This redirection is not browser dependent.
  • Providers can maintain and modify this redirection themselves.


Disadvantages

  • The ability to use the Redirect directive in the .htaccess file is not turned on by default. You may have to contact the server administrator to have this turned on for your directory.
  • Users are not notified of the new location. Although the new URLs do appear in the location box of your browser, the user is not explicitly informed that the site has changed. The user can continue to use the old URLs indefinitely.
  • This redirection works best when redirecting specific pages rather than whole sites.




Customized 404 Error Handling

You can set up your old site on www.upenn.edu so that when a user requests one of your old pages, that user will get a 404 Not Found error message that you can customize with an explanation that the site has moved.

To set up customized 404 error handling:

  1. Create a .htaccess in your directory on www.upenn.edu that turns on the 404 error handling. If your directory on www.upenn.edu has the URL of http://www.upenn.edu/cpps/, your .htaccess would look like:
    ErrorDocument 404 /cpps/index.html
  2. Delete all of your documents from www.upenn.edu.
  3. Create an index.html that informs the user that your site has moved and include a link to your new site.


Advantages

  • This method works well and requires the least amount of work if you have redesigned and/or reorganized your site.
  • The provider can educate the user about the site change.
  • This redirection is not browser dependent.


Disadvantages

  • To maintain this error handling, you will need to keep your site on www.upenn.edu and there is a base cost for every site that resides on www.upenn.edu regardless of the amount of data that is being served.
  • The redirection is not seamless and the 404 Error messages can be annoying. You can add a META tag redirect to your error handling page (index.html) that can redirect users to your site without their having to follow a link but this redirection is browser dependent and will not work for all users.
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