xlsx fix - on the server vs in php

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http://serverfault.com – We have a php application, and xlsx files are getting downloaded as zip files. I've seen many posts with solutions for handling this - with htaccess, httpd.cond, and mime.types files. Our files our hosted though, and the host is giving us a hard time about chaging any server (apache on linux) files. He thinks we should do the fix in php. So my question is: What is the benefit (if there is one) of making the change in the server configuration files, rather than in php? (HowTos)