I'm not sure how to ask this and I'll probably sound a little stupid, but bear with me.

How does a "membership" website store member data? Is it done with a database? Does it store the information in a flat file as pages that can be edited later?

I see places advertise "all in one" membership software, but I'm trying to figure out how it works. I know some places have a back end database, but what about a member site only expecting a couple hundred members?

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Data would be stored in a database on the server. A flat file could be used but that is pretty old school.

all with knowledge....php and mysql is one of ways to create dynamic sites. The easiest way is to create login form in php, databases store all users data

commented: Kindly and patiently answered my question even though it was probably in the wrong place +3

Okay, I can understand the need for a database to hold member data, but how are forums handled/stored?

oh...and images, how are images handled for the database?

all of the questions you have asked are answered in the MySQL user guide sections
in the appropriate server side language for the site host,

at mysql reference sections http://dev.mysql.com/doc/ for the version to be used
from theses sites you will get absolutely accurate answers, code samples and instructions
cmon back and post a question if the code you develop has a specific bug

perhaps start with a CMS, prewritten to accomplish what you look for

commented: almostbob's guidance was accurate and gave me exactly what I needed. +3

Thank you very much for the guidance. I wasn't sure I was posting in the proper place to begin with, but I wanted to start with some background knowledge as this is a small scale local project for a guy who typically works with mainframes and back end database warehousing in a closed system environment. When I started looking at it, I really had no idea how the data was stored locally when you're just setting up a site/host for someone.

Yours was a refreshing question,
it wasnt 'help me with my homework' of which there has been rather too many
And there was thought behind it
'I've begun to look at these, where to look next'

there are previous posts in daniweb about securing files for users only, but the thread titles may be obscure
this is a goldmine of data if you have a few hours to browse

edit ::
images are stored in the database in a BLOB datatype binary large object field
or in the file system and the uri to the image is stored in the database in a text field

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