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Saturday, September 25, 2010

10 Really important Tips for Choosing your Web Hosting Provider.


When it comes time to select who will be hosting your website, keep in mind that your web host is, in a way your business partner. Their service and performance could directly impact on your business so I’ve put together a list of my top 10 tips for choosing a web hosting provider:

Reliability and Uptime

You really want this to be top of the list. If you host on a server that is only online 50% of the time then you’ll be losing half your visitors, business and income! Your web host should guarantee its uptime. You won’t ever find a host that has 100% uptime – but look for web hosts that at least guarantee a minimum of 99.5% uptime. Also check out the host’s redundancy – ask them what resources are available in the event of a utility failure? For example, a backup generator and uninterruptible power supply (UPS).

Support

Following on from your server’s reliability, it’s a good idea to look for a host that will provide great, timely customer support. Customer support need not be via phone – email support is just as good as it provides a thread should an issue need to be escalated. Your website’s server and network should be monitored 24/7 – that includes public holidays!

Data backup

Choose a company that backs up your files. Then if the unforeseen happens, your website can be restored. Find out how often your server will be backed up. Remember, you should always archive your website files on your own hard drive in case of that meteor strike!

Find out where your server will be based

Find out the physical location of your web host’s servers as many New Zealand Web Hosting providers host their servers offshore, usually in large data centres in the USA. If your target audience is local, then New Zealand based servers are a good choice. You’ll find your host easier to deal with if both the support team and data centre are in the same time zone. It also means faster access for your visitors making their visit to your site more enjoyable!

Flexibility

You may just be getting your business off the ground but it’s always good to look for a web host that will allow you to easily upgrade your plan in the future. This may include increasing disk space, number of email accounts or extra data traffic allowances as your business grows.

Disk space and Data transfer

Don’t cut yourself short on disk space and data transfer (bandwidth/traffic) when picking a plan. Most websites consume a very small amount of disk space, but you should allow room for growth, and space for email storage. Investigate if the host provides warning emails as you approach critical limits and ensure they won’t surprise you with excess fees for exceeding your monthly bandwidth traffic allowance.

Server features

The operating system of your server may determine the types of scripts you can run. Whether you require a Linux or Windows server will depend on what you plan to do with your site. Linux servers are often cheaper and more stable, but if you need to host ASP scripts then you have no choice but to look for a Windows web host. Check with your host to ensure these minimum features are available with your plan:

  • FTP, SSH
  • PHP, Perl, CGI
  • Subdomains
  • Statistics and logs
  • FrontPage extensions
  • Email

Think about how many email accounts you will require and how you’ll access email sent to your domain name. When overseas or away from your computer, WebMail is handy and allows you to pop into an internet café to check your mail. Other features to consider when choosing your host include:

  • Number of email aliases included in your plan
  • Is email forwarding available?
  • Can you setup auto-responders?
  • Is there a catch-all account included?
  • POP3 and IMAP access for checking mail on your mobile.

Ease of use / Control Panel Site Management Tools

Choose a host that allows you to manage the different aspects of your web and email account yourself. An easy to use web based control panel should be provided. Ask to see a demo of the host’s control panels. This way you can get a feel for how you’ll be managing your website’s server.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bandwidth - What is this?

Bandwidth is a term that has several different meanings depending on the context. When talking about bandwidth in terms of Web Hosting it refers to the amount of data that transfers into and out of your web hosting account. Incoming data can include requests for web pages, email, FTP requests, and FTP uploads, while outgoing data includes file transfers, web pages, and email. Each hosting account is allocated a certain amount of bandwidth per month. Common figures for bandwidth range from 3 GB for small personal sites up to 200 GB for large business systems.

How much bandwidth do you need? This depends on the amount of traffic your website receives as well as the content. Web pages made up of text and a few pictures are very small in size but if you get thousands of visitors each day you may need a lot of bandwidth. On the other hand website content consisting of downloadable files such as software, music or video is much larger in size, so even if your traffic is fairly low you may need extra bandwidth.

The best way to calculate the amount of bandwidth you need is to calculate the size of your downloadable content and multiply by the number of visitors you receive each month. Add to that the number of emails sent and received and other content such as FTP uploads. The figure you come up with should be pretty accurate because it is unlikely that every visitor to your site is going to download every file or view every page. This will give you a bit of margin to play with.

As your web site grows and as you receive more traffic you may have to increase your bandwidth allotment accordingly. It is better to plan ahead and arrange with your web host for a larger hosting package rather than wait until you go over your limit. Check with your host to see what their policy is in regards to exceeding your bandwidth. Some will allow you to go over by a certain amount while others will shut down your site and demand that you upgrade your account before resuming service. It is always best to keep track of how much bandwidth you are using and anticipate when you need to upgrade.

If you feel that you have sufficient bandwidth and would prefer not to upgrade you may be able to ‘throttle’ traffic if you are approaching your monthly limit. Some hosts offer this service as a way to limit incoming requests or to exclude requests once a certain number has been reached.

There are several throttling options. You can limit the number of incoming requests by specifying an idle time between requests. This causes incoming requests to be delayed by a specified amount of time if too many are arriving at once. Other options are to impose a limit on data transfer within a certain time period or to limit the number of requests for a certain file. The speed of transfers can also be capped at a certain level. Throttling may not be a good idea if you depend on web traffic for your business. If your pages are slow to load or if users can’t access files they are looking for they may give up and move on to another site. If you have a lot of free content, though, throttling can be useful for keeping your hosting budget within a certain amount.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What is a Blog?


A blog is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketches (sketchblog), videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting), which are part of a wider network of social media. Micro-blogging is another type of blogging, one which consists of blogs with very short posts. As of December 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 112 million blogs. With the advent of video blogging, the word blog has taken on an even looser meaning - that of any bit of media wherein the subject expresses his opinion or simply talks about something The One you are reading
 

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