Web Hosting Turned Upside Down

You can safely forget most of the dire warnings you have read on the Internet about the perils associated with the selection of an Internet web hosting provider. The greater peril faced by new Internet business upstarts is far more likely to be their own lack of experience running a web site than poor quality web hosting service. That isn't to say that poor quality web hosting can't be found if you look hard enough but experienced web masters know that Murphy's Law rules the Information Technology world and they plan accordingly. In this article we peek behind the Wizard of Oz web-hosting curtain to see what is really going on.

Most web hosting reviews are focused on showing you the tiny differences between a virtual web hosting account that costs $4.95 per month verses one that costs $9.95 per month. That cost difference might be important for your own personal web site but if $5 per month really makes or breaks your business model, perhaps it is time to rethink things. If you are really worried about getting stuck by a poor quality web-hosting provider visit your favorite Usenet server such as Google Groups, and look for user postings about your prospective vendor. If you find lots of the vendor's customers ranting and raving first take a look at the date(s) of the postings. Things may have changed. Next, consider the source. Is the poster someone with years of experience or a newbie? Was the poster expecting to pay $4.95 monthly but actually needed $200 per month of technical support? Realistic expectations go a long way toward making a happy customer and often this comes right back to experience.

Conventional web hosting reviews are focused on differentiating among largely irrelevant parameters such as noting the hosting provider that offers 600 Gb of storage space from those offering only 500 Gb. Likewise, vendor data transfer limits are differentiated even when multiple competetors are in the range of say 6000 Gb monthly.  The overwhelming majority of new web sites won't even use 10% of the aforementioned resources during the first year of operation.  Thus, it is important to focus on your specific business requirements. Instead of comparing parameters that are for all practical purposes useless to your business, take time to evaluate vendors based upon their ability to provide more of any resource you may actually need. If you really might need more monthly bandwidth will it be available at a reasonable price? Look for a vendor that has a wide range of capabilities so that if you initially develop your site using FrontPage Extensions but later switch to Dreamweaver and Flash, it can still be supported without changing vendors. Take advantage of a vendors strengths. If Netcraft shows that a vendor's own web hosts are running on FreeBSD servers, chances are good that this vendor will have excellent quality Unix skills even if they are kept hidden from answering trouble calls.

Integrate your web hosting activities with web development. If you are outsourcing web programming and database development, go one step further and outsource the activities associated with web hosting. This approach can significantly reduce business risks, such as outages caused by not keeping timely backups, often caused by inexperience. For those who wish to do their own web site maintenance, consider implementing a content management system (CMS) such as Drupal or Joomla. A CMS can significantly lower your development and maintenance costs.

Finally, keep in mind that while great web hosting is a fundamental underpinning of any successful online business, your ability to attract and convert targeted traffic via search engine optimization, pay per click, and the acquisition of relevant links will ultimately determine the results.


Web Hosting - When You Need A Dedicated Server

Most Web hosting companies offer packages that mean your site shares a server with several other companies. This shared hosting model is fine if you’re a relatively small business but as you grow there may come a time when you need to look at getting a dedicated server to look after your needs alone.

This doesn’t, of course, mean that you need to have the server on your own site. You can still use a specialist hosting company but what dedicated hosting means is that an entire server is set aside for your own use. Although you don’t control it directly it means you get an input into the choice of hardware and software used.

The advantages are in performance, security and stability and control – you can choose when scheduled downtime takes place for example. Dedicated hosting is expensive though so it’s best suited to sites that are likely to carry a high volume of traffic.

Factors to Consider

Many of the considerations you need to take into account when choosing a dedicated host are the same as those for a more standard shared hosting service. Though you rent or own the server itself the hosting provider will still charge you for bandwidth and with a high traffic site this will be a major factor. Often bandwidth is pooled such that you will have access to additional capacity that’s shared with other sites in order to allow for spikes in traffic at peak times.

A dedicated server should offer you more control over what software is used. You can therefore install your own scripts or shopping cart solutions in order to fully customise the setup to your needs. The hosting package will usually include a control panel that allows you to access and manage the server remotely. This means that your own IT staff can be in charge of updates and changes to the site even though it’s physically located elsewhere. Note that this is not to be confused with full server management – the ability to install and update operating systems and so on – which is usually retained by the hosting company.

Key Points to Look At

  • Backup – make sure your host has a backup regime in place. Ask how often the server will be kept and how long copies of data are retained before being overwritten.
  • Disaster recovery – in the event of a major problem what measures are in place. Is there a hot site backup? How long will it take to switch across to an alternative system?
  • Security – what anti-virus, firewall and anti-spam protection is in use? If you have a dedicated server do you get to install your own preferred solutions?
  • Uptime requirements – you should look for guaranteed uptime in excess of 99.5%. Make sure this is written into the contract.
  • Operating system – which OS will the server use? Do you have a choice and how much control do you have over when updates and new versions are implemented?
  • Access – how much access does the server control panel convey? Are your employees able to access the server remotely and securely, via a VPN for example?
  • Service fees – you need to understand what you’re paying for. Common fees include server rental, bandwidth charges, operating system and software licences, and management fees. There may also be one-time setup fees.

Moving to a dedicated server for your hosting is a major step. But when your business reaches a critical point where you’ve outgrown shared solutions it can offer the best way of providing a reliable online presence for your customers. 

Jann Webb is a freelance writer and former systems analyst. When looking for dedicated hosting she recommends you choose a reliable supplier such as Ant Hosting.


Cheap Internet Domain Name Registration

Internet Domain Name Registration is the process that enables users to establish a named site on the net. An Internet site can consist of any number of information services including: world wide web, email, FTP, remote database access, and other capabilities. Registration of a new Internet domain requires the payment of a lease fee. Domain names can be leased for 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, or even 100 years. Three of the largest domain registration services located in the United States are: GoDaddy with 19.6 million domains, Network Solutions with 6.6 million domains, and Dotster with 1.1 million domains. Trying to find a short available domain name in the .com namespace can be quite an effort these days. Network Solutions gives you a software interface that can help you find available names that are similar. You can also find software programs that can assist. The best rule to follow when trying to find a good available domain name is "don't give up!" Contrary to popular belief it is still possible to find a good domain name.

How to Choose the Right Web Hosting Company

You have made up your mind that you will buy a domain name (or several) and take out web hosting from a website hosting provider.

First some considerations about the domain name(s)
Domain names do not really have anything to do with web hosting and can be registered independently from the hosting package. There are advantages if you have domain name and hosting separate. For example, if the hosting company you selected fails to provide a good service, all you need to do is find a better website hosting company and change the domain name settings. If you have domain name and hosting with the same company and the company ceases trading, the last thing they think about is your hosting or domain name. By having them separate, you are lowering the risk.
Disadvantages of registering the domain name with your hosting company
Many website hosting companies offer to register domain names on your behalf. You think that your domain name is with your hosting company, when, in fact, they register it through some third party registrar for you. You then receive an invoice in 2 years time from a company you never heard of, ignore it, and in the worst case lose your domain name. Furthermore, in many cases, you will not get access to your domain name details nor will you be given a domain name control panel. Why do you need a domain name control panel? You need to be able to update the contact information for your domain name(s). If you move house for example and do not update you domain name details and for some reason you need to change registrar etc. (or because your web hosting company ceased trading), you are in danger of losing your domain name because you cannot prove any longer that you are the owner of a certain domain name. Also, a domain name control panel allows you to change email forwarding, web forwarding, and most importantly, the domain name servers, as well as some other settings. Check out 123-Reg if you want to find out more about that.
Larger hosting providers
Have a good look around online and check out different providers. There are many large hosting companies out there such as 1and1. The advantage of registering with a large hosting company is that they have hardly any downtime and their servers will be fast and up-to-date with the latest spam protection etc. Website hosting can be costly though if you register with a large web hosting company and if you want any additional services, you will have to pay for them. Support can be an issue too - you usually have to fight through hundreds of "Frequently Asked Questions" before you are allowed to send an email to their support team. You might also have to call a Premium Rate phone number if you need to speak to someone urgently. These rates can rate from £0.50 to £2 per minute (!) or even more. In most cases, you will receive good support, but in some cases you might be put through to an unexperienced person who has to speak to their supervisor to double-check things frequently - and all that at a premium rate! The biggest problem with large web hosting providers is that if you miss the annual payment and do not react to their payment reminders - they will remove your website, your account, without further notice. In some cases, there will not be any chance to recover your website. With a large web hosting company, your website is just a number in a very large pool of websites. If they lose your custom, so what!
Web hosting with a smaller web hosting provider
If you find a reliable smaller web hosting provider, chances are that you will receive a personal service, and support questions are answered with a lot more detail and a lot quicker. Most likely, you can call a UK landline or an 0845 or 0870 number which is a lot cheaper than £2 per minute. In some cases, you might be able to receive a reply to your support question - which you sent on a Saturday evening - that same night. If you miss your payment with a smaller web hosting company, they will most likely call you personally and remind you on your late payment. They are keen to keep you as a customer and will probably not remove your account and your website immediately.
Web Statistics
Ask the web hosting company if they provide extensive website statistics. You want to know how many visitors have accessed your website, what search terms they used to find your website in Google and other search engines, how many visitors you have per day, on a certain day of the week, and so on. Please also ask if you can have access to the website log files. You might think that adding a website hit counter will provide enough information, but that is actually the most inaccurate method of counting your website visitors - and apart from that they look tacky and unprofessional. Your web hosting company should provide statistics that are at least as comprehensive as Webalizer and if statistics are important for you, you need to have access to your log files which can then be analyzed with statistics analysing software (such as Surfstats).
E-Mail issues to watch out for
Before you take out sign up with a hosting company, ask them if they provide SMTP/POP3 which you need to set up email accounts. If you want one or several e-mail addresses with your website - such as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - the web hosting company needs to provide SMTP/POP3 setup. Some web hosting companies only allow you to receive emails sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., but they will not allow you to use these e-mail addresses to send e-mails from. They will simply argue that you can use your Internet Service Provider E-Mail address - such as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This does not look professional at all, and you should avoid web hosting companies that do not provide SMTP/POP3 service.
Check with your web hosting company how often backups are made. Usually, backups are made on a daily basis. If you have a large online store on your website and the server room at the web hosting premises is on fire, you will lose all your work if they do not back up their web server files. So please check if they have a backup routine in place.
Free Webhosting with your internet service provider
Please do not use this! Your internet service provider company provide an internet connection. That is what they specialise in. They sometimes "throw in" free web hosting for up to 100 MB or even more. They normally do not provide SMTP / POP3 setup for the sending / receiving of emails related to your website (such as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ), nor will they provide databases, server scripting language support and such like. Usually, you can only upload websites developed in pure HTML, and in some cases you will not be able to use FTP software for uploading your files and managing your files on the web server. Your business website will probably use some sort of server-side scripting language - such as ASP, PHP etc. and maybe use a database such as MySQL. If your website is with your Internet Service Provider, the support for this service can be poor and the account can sometimes not be upgraded to include server-side scripting languages, and/or databases.
Web Hosting Costs
Web Hosting costs can vary greatly. You can take out web hosting for as little as £15 per year, or you can get web hosting, including 5 email addresses, 100 MB web space (which is a lot for a small business presence) for as little as £30 per year (check out Plugsocket). If you buy a web design magazine, you will see many adverts from bigger web hosting companies. Check out their prices, their policies, and maybe give them a call - you will find out how long it takes until your call is answered. Do not jump in because it is cheap, and conversely, do not think the service must be great because it is expensive. Check out what is on offer and then make an informed decision.
Nadin Dunnigan Web Developer of Marketing Agency in Scotland West Lothian.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Nadin_Roth


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