According to my ISP the only way to avoid the problem of visitors with different character sets creating weird characters when they submit a form, is to use text files with links or file paths in the db field. And in addition, they say the entire system will be more efficient.

Is this true? Is the only way to avoid the insert of weird characters.

If so:

1) Can I do WHERE clauses that search the text file?
2) Can the visitor update his/her profile from/to the text file?

I have to say that hearing this, the whole concept of the database has changed for me. I thought the great thing about the database was exactly being able to search text in the db fields.

Any tips, advice, ideas are welcome!