How to choose a great web hosting company!

Web hosting companies are a dime a dozen. You have the one man show working out of his house with his DSL connection and on the other end of the spectrum you have your large corporations that are so big they leave you feeling like a number in a database. How do you decide? If your website is important to you, this article will tell you the right questions to ask your potential web hosting company so that you can have real peace of mind that your web site is running and available to the rest of the world.

There are several important questions that you will want answered before choosing your web host. The first and most important is the history of the company. The web hosting industry is full of fly by nights. Here today gone tomorrow. These companies will rack up several thousand accounts with the goal of selling your account away to a larger company which many times will place you in their huge customer database and change your pricing to their higher priced plans. When I first started out designing web sites this happened to me. I went with a cheap hosting solution and my account was sold. Within two months I was moved to a much higher priced plan and forced to either accept the price change or move my account. So, make sure the company you choose has a solid history and plans on still being around tomorrow.

Secondly, make sure they company has the right type of connection to the internet. Ask you potential web host what type of connection they have to the internet. The minimum connection that you will want to go with is a T1 connection. Anything slower than a T1 connection is probably going to leave you with slow web site syndrome. A slow site means a loss in return visitors and will also cause visitors using dial up connections (Yes they are still out there) to find a different site to get their information or products from.

Ask you potential web hosting company what type of backup system they have in place. The minimum backup system you should expect from a quality web hosting company is a triple raid backup with tape backups nightly, weekly and monthly. A triple raid configuration will mean that the hard drive is simultaneously writing the data to two other hard drives. In the event that one drive fails then your information is safely stored on the other two drives and can be restored by changing around the raid configuration. Well, then why the tape backup? In a raid situation, if the computer ever comes under any type of attack such as viruses or hackers, the tape backup will have the information backed up separately from the machine. This means that while your information is may be erased or inaccessible from the hard drive, it is safely stored on an archival tape and can be quickly restored. A lot of times a web host will charge for having to restore the information from a tape backup, but it is usually a small price to pay for retrieving your lost data.

Find out what type of machine you site will be hosted on? Most people start out by hosting their first site in a shared hosting environment. What this means is that several sites are sharing a common machine. Over time if the sites on this machine get more and more traffic then the sites may all feel the slowdown of the strain on the machine. If your once peppy site seems slower, this could be the cause. Talk to you potential web hosting provider up front and see what their policies and plans are for upgrading their machines and their services as time goes on.

When choosing a web hosting company, also get a full list of the services that are included with your plan. Ask them what options are free and what options are available for additional costs. Another important question to ask them is whether or not there is a cost to upgrade or downgrade to one of their other plans. Some web hosting providers will not disclose everything up front and will hammer you with little fees on the backend. If the web hosting company requires you to sign an agreement for a certain term, make sure that it does not automatically renew at the end of that term. A lot of web hosting companies will want you to sign some type of agreement up front. This is not out of the ordinary. It is so they can recoup some of their up front costs that they wave to keep your initial investment down. Verify with them (Get it in writing) that at the end of your contract that you are only obligated on a month to month basis.

If you are still uncertain about what web host to choose, then read some reviews about what people think of their web host. Search on Google or Yahoo for web hosting company reviews and see what people who have used them have to say. Beware of the reviews that sound too good, they were probably posted by an employee of that company. Go with the majority rules theory and you should be okay. In these reviews look for peoples opinions on the support and professionalism of the company. Also look for comments on their response time for support issues.

These tips should help you out and make your web hosting experience a better one. Keep in mind that this is one of the single most important decisions that you will make regarding your web site. It really can mean the difference between your site being a success or a failure.

Search Engine Optimization Results

We had very good results from the new web pages on our web site. Google promoted a lot of our pages from a PageRank of a 3 to a pagerank of a 6. We were expecting to get a good boost this month based on a backward links from a PR7 link that we have established thanks to Hivelocity which is a Dedicated Hosting Provider. Unfortunately, Google did not visit their page between the time the link was put up and the time of the update so we did not get that backward link yet. Search engines such as Yahoo, MSN, Altavista and Ask Jeeves have all reacted to our new pages and new content favorably as well. The update from the latest Google Dance occured during the night (June 23rd, 2004). It appears that Google may have also changed its algorythms during this last update. Once again this confirms the importance of having good, ongoing search engine optimization of your site. The algorythm changes can really hurt or help certain sites and adjusting to the changes will help to keep your web site up in the search engines.

About Web Hosting

Your friends did it, your business did it and maybe even your mom did it. Having a web site has become quite the norm these days. Lots of people have web sites with a deluge of new ones popping up each day. So, you have finally made the decision to build your own. You build your shiny new web site, check your spelling and polish off your graphics. Now what? You have come to one of the most critical points in the success or failure of your web site, choosing a web hosting provider.

So, you ask, what is web hosting? If you click on the files on your computer you can view them just fine through your browser of choice. Now you have got to make the files available to the rest of the world. You can do this by setting up an account with a web hosting company. A web hosting company will let your put your files on their web servers (Host your files for you) and make them available for visitors to view.

A web hosting company has special machines or servers with special server software that will make your files available to the rest of the world. A good web server will have high end hardware that is made to withstand the day to day toll of processing information 24 hours a day 7 days a week. These servers have special software installed on them that will process incoming request for your site and return the information to the visitor. There are several different types of web server software available.

Web hosting providers also have a special connection to the rest of the world. A web site can be hosted on a regular broadband connection, but if the site receives a high number of visitors, the site may seem sluggish and detour people from returning to the site in the future. The minimum connection that a web hosting company should have is a T1. This special connection allow a web hosting provider to receive a high number of request from the internet and will help to return the information to the visitor quickly and efficiently. Being able to browse your site quickly will encourage return visitors and drive the traffic to your site up. A web hosting company also has options for much quicker connections like OC3 - OC192 connections. All of these connections to the internet are very expensive. That is part of what you are paying for when you pay your monthly web hosting charges.

Once you have established your account with a web hosting company you will need to get your files onto their machine. To get the files from your machine to your web hosting provider's web server you will need to connection to their machine and transfer or upload the files to a folder that they have set up for your web site. To do this you connect to their machine using an FTP connection (Files Transfer Protocol). Your web hosting provider will provide you with an FTP username and password and an FTP address. This address will be either an IP Address (example: or a hostname ( To connect to your FTP account you can either use FTP software or you can use Internet Explorer to connect to the FTP and upload your files.

After you upload your files to the server you will have to give your visitors an easy way to find your site. That is where the domain name comes into play. Domain names were established to make it easy for people to find a certain IP Address. If you gave someone the IP address to your web server, odds are they will not remember it. When you register your domain name you will your domain name registrar the name servers of your web hosting provider. When a person types in your domain name it will forward them to your name servers. These special servers store your zone record. The name servers will check your zone record and forward the request to your IP address or web server.

Now that you have setup your website with your web hosting provider, transferred your files to your web server and pointed your domain name to the correct name servers so that people can find your site the only thing left to do is view the files. Computer files have extensions. Extensions are the letters that come after the dot in your filename. For instance, an executable file on a Windows machine would be filename.exe. The .exe would be your file extension. The file extension is what tells the computer what program to use when opening or viewing that file. For websites the most common file extensions are .html or .htm. These files are opened with programs called browsers. A browser is a program used to view web pages. In fact if you are viewing this file right now you are using a web browser to view it. The most common web browsers are Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, Opera, Safari for Apple Computers, or Konqueror for Linux. All of these will open not only .html and .htm files, but will also open other types of web files such as, .php, .asp, .jsp, .shtml and others. When you enter an address or domain name it sends a request to the web server and the web server will return the file to the browser for viewing. These requests are known as HTTP Requests or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. When the file is returned it is translated by your browser and you will see the text and graphics that are specified in the file.

A question I am asked a lot by people is why not host your own website. There are several reasons I recommend against hosting your own website. First and foremost is security. Port 80 is the Port that HTTP request travel through. To host your own web site you must open up Port 80 to allow the HTTP request to come into your machine. Port 80 is by far the most hacked and attacked port on the internet. If you do not know what you are doing you will eventually have your machine and your network compromised by a hacker. A quality web hosting provider will have high end (Expensive) equipment and the technical training to allow them to prevent hackers from accessing their machines. On top of the security risks there are also the costs involved in hosting your own website properly. To properly setup equipment to host your website you would need high end enterprise class hardware, a high speed connection, a power backup system and a data backup system. You would never make up the money or the time that it would cost you versus purchasing a web hosting account from a web hosting provider.

We have covered some basic principles of hosting a website. I hope this information will allow you to get a start on your web hosting plans. There will be a follow up article shortly which will discuss what to look for in a web hosting provider. For more information on web hosting solutions or web hosting plans, please call visit our main site by clicking on the link below.

Web Hosting

Search Engine Optimization of New Site

We are currently working on optimizing our new site for the search engines. We have many exciting products and services to offer our clients, but the current pages do not rank well in the search engines.

Our obvious focus is Google since based on the last search engine survey that I saw as high as 85% of all external links coming into a website come from the Google Monster. Google currently holds a huge share of the market. Yahoo has recently branched out on its own severing its ties with Google. In the past Yahoo pulled its results from Google as many of the other search engines still do. The search engine market is becoming smaller and smaller with the big players buying the smaller players up and some just giving up on the search engines all together. The four major competitors stand in the world of search engines are Google, Yahoo, Microsoft (MSN) and Ask Jeeves. Microsoft has dedicated a team of specialist to their search engine development. Microsoft is a late comer in the game. Until recently they did not focus on their search engine with the same intensity that Microsoft seems to dedicate to every other aspect of the world of technology. Realizing they were getting left behind, Microsft has now decided to develop their own search engine in an attempt to compete with Google and Yahoo.

Of the four major search engines, Google's results have always been very accurate. Google's algorythm has produced consistantly over the years. They have had times where they were beta testing different things and you could not get acceptable results in some areas, but these issues always seem to work themselves out over time.

Search engine optimization is an ongoing process. Unfortunately there are companies out that that use the set it and forget it mentality when it comes to search engine optimization. This may have some success initially, but over time search enigines will change their rules, buy out other companies and integrating their systems and customers, and your competitors will change their pages with the goal of out ranking your site. Because of these changes, search engine optimization is something you must constantly to stay ahead of your competition.

A common mistake people make when it comes to search engine optimization is to use these free search engine submission services. These services will never deliver the results you want. In fact they can actually slow down you climb to the top of the search engines. Paying to have your site included is also not recommended. I have several sites at the top of major search engines that require payment for inclusion. I never paid a dime to be included in any of them. A good search engine will find your site over time and often your page will reach the top of the search engines just as quickly as if you had paid for the inclusion.

The bottom line is that if you absolutely have to be at the top of the search engines, then let a professional search engine specialist help you. They will research to find out what people are searching for and make sure your site is optimized correctly and indexed correctly for the highest possible placement in the search engines.

Review of D-Link Hotspot Gateway DSA-3100

I was able to review a new device today. I received the D-Link DSA-3100 Public / Private Hotspot Gateway. Being a web designer I have not had a lot of networking experiences. Most of my networking projects have been with Linksys Routers (BEFSR41 and WRT54G).

I was given this project because of the ability to build a custom web interface right into the networking device. This device allows you to setup a hotspot where you can have either a hardwired network or wireless network and allow visitors to log in and gain access to the network. The device will manage up to 250 users and will allow for 50 users to be logged into your network at a time. You can split off a private network from your visitor's network so that your information on your internal network stays secure.

The interface on the Hotspot Gateway is very nice. The menus are layed out and easy to understand. The help button on the interface is seriously lacking though. It will give you a brief one sentence statement about a tabe with 5-10 buttons. Hardly enough information, but the menus themselves are straightforward and easy to understand. If you have ever configured a router you should have no problem with this device. The installation manual is pretty brief also, but the CD contains a PDF with the full manual.

This item is great for a business that would like to have a wireless hotspot either for visitors to the business or say maybe an employee lunch room. The ability to use either a switch or a wireless access point makes the device flexible for many types of environments. The custom log in and log off screens add a nice touch to this device, allowing you to customize the look and feel of the login and logoff screens. You can also choose what URL to direct your visitors to once they have logged in. The D-Link DSA-3100 will also allow you to setup a guest account with a timer that will cut off access after a certain period of time.

I like what I have seen from the D-link DSA-3100 and with a price tag of right around $450.00 it is something you can make your money back on in no time if you decide to charge for access.

Solution for Internal Link to External Web Site Link

I have been trying to find a solution for linking from an internal web site page to an external website. I need to give the client the ability to access the web page from the company's computer network only. They do not want to be able to have someone access the site from outside of the organization. They do have several locations though. So to summarize, the website must be able to be accessed from several specified locations (all of which will be on their current computer networks), but no one outside the network should be able to get in.

Virtual PC 2004 Rocks

The more that I play with Virtual PC 2004 the more uses that I discover for it. It is great for playing "war games" when working on a difficult migration. You can simulate the entire migration on a single computer without risking live production machines.