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Web hosting FAQ What is Web Hosting?

Web hosting is the act of renting space and bandwidth through a company so that you may publish your web site online. You can either opt for free hosting that is usually supported with banners and pop ups, or may opt to get paid web hosting, which gives you complete control over your site contents.

What is Virtual Hosting?

Also known as shared hosting, this form of web hosting should suffice for most everyone.

Virtual hosting simple refers to the fact that your site is on one server, and that this server hosts mulitple sites. You are virtually shared - your site will not be the only one on this specific server.

Very few sites would actually need the power of a dedicated server, so this option provides to be a reliable and cheap solution.

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is a word along with a TLD that uniquely identifies your website. Please visit our domains page for more information.

How Do I Register a Domain Name?

Registering a domain name is very easy.

First you will have to make sure that the domain you want is available - using something called a WHOIS lookup at sites like Register.com or Whois Source you can make sure the domain you want is available for registration.

Afterwards, you simply need to visit a registration site such as DirectNIC or Register.com to purchase your domain name.

My host offers unlimited bandwidth/space/transfer?

As we explained on our scams page, it is not possible for a web host to offer 'unlimited' bandwidth or diskspace. Such hosting plans always come with clauses that restrict how much bandwidth you can transfer at a given moment , how much CPU usage you can use (which is arbitrarily decided), and so forth.

We recommend you visit UnlimBand for more details.

What exactly is space and bandwidth/data transfer?

Diskspace is the size your website can be. Every single letter on your website has to be stored somewhere on your web host's server. Each letter is one byte, and a megabyte is roughly one million bytes. HTML pages are usually very small, but it is the extra images, scripts, and even databases that can take up large amounts of disk space.

Bandwidth/Transfer is the amount of data the server will allow your site to send in a month. Transfer is usually measured in gigabytes - billions of bytes. Once you go over your monthly limit, a host may either shut your site down for the remainder of the month or it can charge you 'overage.' This overcharge is usually about $2.00-$5.00 per extra gigabyte of transfer.

What do I need to do to put Flash on my website?

Flash is a client side feature - it runs on the user's computer, not on your web host. As long as the user's browser has the correct plugin installed, it will run on their computer.

How do I track how many hits my website gets?

There are a few things that need to be cleared in terms of terminology:
  • Hits - this simply refers to the number of 'elements' loaded on your site. If one page has five images in it, viewing that page once adds 6 hits (one page + five images).
  • Impressions - the number of times all the pages on your site are seen (also simply called pageviews). Impressions are sometimes referred to as 'hits' which can cause confusion
  • Uniques - the number of people that visited your site
So to clarify, if I visit your website, look at two pages, and each page has 5 images on it, then your stats increase by one unique, two page views, and 12 hits.

Tracking on your site can be either done server-side or remotely. With server-side statistics, log files are used to generate visitor information. This is usually much more accurate than remotely hosted solutions. In such cases, you usually have to add some javascript to your site. This javascript is then used to track visitor data.

If your host provides it (and many do), server-side statistics are a good solution. Otherwise, companies like Site Meter can be used to remotely track your visitors.

What are PHP, ASP, perl, etc?

These are all programming languages which are referred to by their acronyms.

PHP - PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor
ASP - Active Server Pages
Perl - not an acronym

Each programming language has its own benefits and uses. It is best that you research on your own to find one that best fits your needs.

What is MySQL, MS SQL, etc?

MySQL and MS SQL are database systems. Depending on what your host provides, you can use a database to organize your data.

Do I have to change my domain if I get a new host?

No. Provided that the domain is registered in your name (as it should be), you can simply update your name servers (from where you manage your domain names) to that of your new host.

Will there be forced advertising on my site - things like banner ads or popup ads?

Not at all. You are paying for webspace that is only yours - no one may put ads on your site except you.

What is Domain Parking?

Domain parking lets you buy a domain and then have a 'coming soon' page on it. This is not needed - if a domain is not parked it will simply be iinaccessible to anyone.

Most domain registrars provide this by default.

How can I pay for web hosting?

This depends on which host you decide to go with. Most web hosts will accept credit cards, and some will accept PayPal and/or a Money Order / Check.

What is PayPal?

Simply put, PayPal lets anyone with an email address send money to anyone else with an email address.

Each user signs up with PayPal and then enters their necessary banking and credit card information. Once registration is completed, your email address is all you need to send and receive money.

PayPal is owned by eBay.

What are subdomains?

Consider subdomains as an extension of your domain. For example, your site is www.example.com. A subdomain would be test.example.com, and another would be webhosting.example.com.

Subdomains are usually treated as separate sites from the main domain site.

How do I upload my site online?

Uploading your site can be done in many ways, but the most popular is FTP.

When your hosting account was created, you should have been provided with an FTP account. Using software such as CuteFTP or WS_FTP, you can log into your host. Then, using the program like a normal windows program, you can drag and drop files onto your web host. These files become live online instantaneously.

There are other ways to upload your site such as using SSH or uploading files through your browser

What is uptime?

Uptime is literally what it means - it is the amount of time your site is online throughout the entire month.

The best uptime would be 100%, but because things can break, many hosts offer 99.9% uptime guarantees. This means that if your site is not accessible for more than 43 minutes in a single month, they will reimburse you, depending on their terms of service.

What is the difference between UNIX hosting and Windows hosting? Depending on which operating system to go with depends on your needs.

If you need to support Microsoft products such as ASP, MS Access, or VBScript, then Windows hosting would be better. Furthermore, if you are comfortable with IIS and do not have the time to understand how UNIX works, Windows hosting would again be a better choice.

There are some things to remember.

First of all, just because you use Windows at home does not mean you should use Windows hosting. The two are completely different, and having a Windows system at home will not affect your ability to communicate with a UNIX server.

Secondly, Linux is much more common with web hosts due to its superior stability and because it is free. Since it is free, Linux hosting is usually cheaper than Windows. Just because it's free does not mean it's not as good - Linux is an excellent product too.

I have a fast internet connection (DSL/cable) - can I just host my own site?

You could, but that's definitely not recommended.

First of all, most ISPs have clauses that do not let you use your internet connection for web hosting - doing so will result in termination of your account.

Second of all, think of the headaches it can provide: making sure your system is secure so that no one can hack into it, having your computer on 24/7, and other such problems.

Third of all, think of the performance. Most good web hosts use powerful servers with lots of RAM and high performance hard disks. Furthermore, they have multiple internet connections at speeds far higher than what residential DSL or cable service can provide.

Lastly there are all the issues of support. If something goes wrong, it will be your job to fix it - you will not have a professional to correct the problem.

Why would I need a dedicated IP?

For most people, a dedicated IP is not required. But for people that want to provide anonymous FTP or a website using SSL, a dedicated IP can make that easier.

Why don't I just go with the cheapest hosting?

A host has to make a profit to continue operating. Some hosts do not properly understand the market, and may be pricing themselves too cheap.

We provide a more detailed explanation here.

I am using too much bandwidth! Is there anyway for me to make it less?

In most cases, yes.

You should first try to optimize the graphics on your website. Many GIFs look just as good with fewer colors, and many JPEGs look just as good with a higher compression level. NetMechanic offers an image optimizer program online.

You should also analyze the HTML of your site. Make sure you use relative paths, so that images are not downloaded more than one time. Remove any extra spacing and when linking to other pages, use relative paths and not absolute links.

While many hosts already have it, you could also see if your host has mod_gzip installed. This can save you a lot of bandwidth.

 Best of all, optimizing your page like this makes the user experience better as your site will load faster for them!

Web Hosting Scams In order to help you avoid getting scammed by the unscrupulous hosts that do exist, we have tried to put together the 'tricks' used by such companies to ensnare you:
  • Unlimited bandwidth/space - it is simply impossible for a company to offer unlimited space or bandwidth to use. As hosting companies and their associated technologies are themselves limited (i.e. bandwidth or hard disk space), unlimited offerings are usually just an advertising gimmick. Often you will find clauses embedded deep within the company's terms of service contract that negate the unlimited offering. The clauses are usually arbitrary, such as excessive CPU usage will be grounds for account termination.
  • UnlimBand is a good resource to learn more.
  • No Contact - some hosts simply make it impossible to contact them! Even getting an email address so that you can get a hold of them can be a chore. Many cheap hosts prefer to keep communication down.
  • Long term contracts only - while cheaper plans may warrant an annual only plan, some hosts provide annual service exclusively. There is no guarantee that even though you have paid them for 12 months that you will get 12 months of service.
  • Domain Registration not in your Name - some devious web hosts, while offering to register you domain for you, legally register the domain in their own name! This means that if you try switching hosts, you will love the domain name - legally it is their posession, and you have no claim on it!
  • No Money Back Guarantee - a host should fully satisfy your needs - if not, your money should be returned.
  •   Complicated uptime Guarantee - some hosts hide behind their TOS with complicated procedures such as the customer having to report the downtime for any downtime. Be careful of this.
Remember to read both the TOS (terms of service) and AUP (acceptable use policy) to ensure no hidden surprises later!

Domains A domain is your identity online. It separates you from everyone else - once yours, as long as you keep renewing it, no one else may have it.

There are two parts to a domain - the domain name itself, and the TLD (top level domain) extension.

The most popular TLD is the .com extension - it is synonymous with online business. But due to its popularity, getting a good domain name with '.com' is hard - most have been bought and are not available.

Most TLDs have a meaning behind them - .EDUs are used by educational institutes, and .ORGs are supposed to be used by non-profit organizations. A domain with a TLD of 'co.uk' is very likely British-based. There are other TLDs too, such as .cc, .tv, and .tk. These are all associated with either a company or with a country.

Many hosts will register a domain for you if you do not have one (it must be available though). You need to be careful that the domain is registered in your name and not theirs. Also make sure that they are not overcharging - some hosts charge over twice the average.

There are quite a few companies that will register your domain for you. The biggest and oldest is Network Solutions , which is also known as VeriSign. Personally, we use and recommend DirectNic. At $15.00 per year, they are much cheaper than Network Solutions ($35.00 a year), while offering better support and full features.

For most domains, the minimum registration duration is one year. Some TLDs such as .US require a minimum of two years. However, most TLDs only require a one year commitment.

The information related to you when buying a domain is publicly available. It is illegal to put in false information, so your personal information can be traced back. If you are worried about that, some registrars like Go Daddy will register for you as a proxy – your information will not be public. Be prepared for some spam to be sent to that address.

Once you have registered a domain, as long as you remember to keep renewing it, no one will be able to take the domain. You may sell the domain to someone else (or even buy somebody else's domain), but no one will be able to just take the domain.

Having your own domain is very important for your business. It sets you apart from everybody else, and gives you a brand to work with.

Dedicated Server For sites requiring more power than what normal hosting can provide, a dedicated server is usually the better route to take. Having a dedicated server is a completely different from normal virtual (shared) hosting. The server is now fully yours - the entire hard disk and all the bandwidth allocated can be used as you want. There is no longer any CPU Usage restriction. If you need, you can use up 100% CPU utilization. You can put all your sites on this one server without having to worry about paying hosting fees for each site added. But along with these new liberations come new responsibilities. Most important is to ensure that you server is always patched and up to date. There are new updates being constantly released, which if not applied to your server could let a hacker could gain inner access to your server. Because management can be so difficult, there are usually two types of dedicated hosting offered:
  • Unmanaged - your host will not help you maintain the server. Far more cheaper than managed dedicated, you should only opt for an unmanaged server if you are well versed with how a server functions. The server will be given to you either with a plain operating system installation or with a control panel installed. It is your duty to take care of all upgrades, patches, configuration, security, and fixing any problems. In such a situation, it might be worthwhile to hire a system administrator to ensure that your server is always in good condition
  • Managed - your host will assist you in the upkeep of your server. This can be quite expensive, but for those without the technical skills it can be very helpful. By choosing to go with a managed dedicated server, the web host will help you with the above-mentioned administrator responsibilities. While more expensive, it will save you the headache of trying to get your server to work if there are any problems.
Dedicated servers come either as just plain installations (where only the operating system and basic services are installed) or with a control panel. The control panel lets you easily modify most server features from a web page. It should be noted that the control panel will have limitations, and will not provide access to everything.

It should be noted that with a dedicated server, even though you may be paying a set up fee, the server is usually owned by the company - you are only renting it for the time being.

Cheap Web Hosting At times you will come across deals that are almost too good to be true - cheap web hosting with amazing features!

There are hosts that while offering cheap prices do back that up with excellent performance and service, but there are things to be noted:
  • Look very closely to what is written in their terms of service (TOS) and acceptable use policy (AUP) documents. Some hosts try to limit the activity of the customer through these two.
  • Unlimited bandwidth or space. As explained on our scams page, offering either of those two as unlimited is not possible.
  • The quality of bandwidth and the overall performance. Some hosts scrimp on these to give you cheaper prices. Do a self test - visit the host's website multiple times in a day to see that it remains fast loading.
  • In general, Windows Hosting is more expensive than Unix hosting.
  • Test out the support, and take a look over the online documentation. If you are paying less than $10 a month (which is roughly 30 cents a day), do not expect to receive an answer right after email the host. Many hosts now offer flash tutorials online which can be an excellent way to learn how a feature works.
  • Do some research - visit google.com and WebHostingTalk and look up feedback on a host.
Just because a host is cheap does not mean that you will receive 'cheap' service, but you must be careful.

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