Posts tagged ‘How to Choose Inexpensive Hosting’

Use two different companies for your hosting and your inexpensive domain registration

I think there is a pretty common misconception that it’s a great idea to use your inexpensive hosting company to buy your web address. Its true that when you do that it can be very convenient, since you’re only opening one account with one company and you don’t have to remember a password for both your cheap web domain registration company and your inexpensive hosting company. Also, many companies push the fact that they allow you to make your web domain purchase for free when you also buy inexpensive hosting from them, and a lot of those companies also push specific free domain and web hosting plans. Personally, I think this is a very bad idea – your web domain purchase should be dome with a different inexpensive domain registration company than your hosting company.

Here’s why: Twice, I purchased domains and inexpensive hosting together from a hosting company (the first one was Startlogic, and the second One&One), and both times I got burned by it. If something goes wrong with your web hosting, and you decide its in your best interest to switch hosting providers to a different inexpensive hosting company, then having your domain name registered with a third party facilitates the process greatly. If, for example, you have your domain name registered with a different company, then all you have to do is

1) Sign up for a new inexpensive hosting package with a different web provider,

2) Ftp up a copy of your website to the new web space,

3) Navigate over to your domain registrar, unlock your domain, change your DNS records to point to the new web space, re-lock your domain, and,

4) Wait overnight for all the various name servers around the country and world to update their listings.

5) The final step is to call or e-mail your old web provider, and cancel their service. They won’t have any power over you and you can be as forceful as you need to be in order to get your money back, etc.

If, however, you have your domain name and hosting with the same company, then the process is much longer and more involved. First you would have to figure out how to transfer your web domain away from the hosting company to a new name registrar, which could be a giant headache and may take over a month to do (this is exactly how it was with One&One). Then you would have to still follow the steps involved in moving your site over to a new web provider.

If you decide to open a new web hosting account before you have transferred your domain, even if it’s with the best web site host, then you are still at the mercy of the original company. With some companies, it is almost impossible to get them to point a domain registered with them to the hosting of another company (Startlogic was this way). Then, even if you are able to do it, trying to get your money back, or get the old web provider off your back is much harder when they still have control over your domain name.

Basically you’re negotiating from a much stronger position when you have a different web provider than your web domain registration company. Now you may say, “hey, I’m not expecting any issues with my web host – I’m just doing a simple web page and it should be the easiest thing in the world for them.” I thought the same thing to, however, and managed to have two terrible experiences back to back with web hosting providers…

I encourage you to take my advice – use a different company as your web provider than the company where you have made your domain purchase. Currently I use Web Hosting Buzz as my inexpensive hosting company, and the best place I have found for inexpensive domain registration is Name.com.

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October 6, 2008 at 10:49 am Leave a comment

Inexpensive Hosting: How Much Hosting Disk Space Do You Actually Need?

Unlike unlimited bandwidth hosting, hosting disk space is a little more straightforward – its pretty easy to get a judge of how much hosting disk space you are going to need. Here’s some general guidelines:

A small to medium static site that doesn’t have a ton of graphics or photos will need a few megabytes.

A larger static site that is more graphics heavy will need on the order of tens of megabytes.

A dynamic site, such as one run by a CMS or blogging software like WordPress will need less than 100 megabytes.

A site with video or significant amounts of images could need hundreds of megabytes all the way up to gigabytes.

So, with these general guidelines, its pretty easy to see that most websites are in the 100 megabytes or less range. With most inexpensive hosting plans like the budget plan from Web Hosting Buzz offering at least a gigabyte, and often hundreds of gigabytes, the chance that a normal user would run out of disk space is pretty limited. If you are at all worried, then go with a hosting plan with at least 10 or 15 gigabytes, and in all likelihood that amount of disk space will be more than enough.

Many inexpensive hosting companies are now offering plans with unlimited hosting disk space, which is physically impossible to provide. If you look into the terms and conditions you’ll usually see a paragraph in the fine print that defines exactly what the limits on “unlimited” hosting plans are, and it is usually something like 10% of the hosting disk space, and 10% of the CPU usage, or something like that. While for most users, this 10% of disk space is effectively unlimited, since it would probably be at least 20 gigabytes, it still is not actually an unlimited amount. So, if you are going to have an unusual site with tons of videos or other media, then trying to use an “unlimited” inexpensive hosting account is probably not going to work very well in the long run.

September 29, 2008 at 1:44 pm 1 comment

Inexpensive Hosting: The truth about Unlimited Bandwidth Hosting

Imagine a fantastic scenario: you’ve built an awesome website about purple widgets, and your site gets mentioned in an AP news article picked up all over the world, driving a rush of traffic to your website. It’s a great situation to be in – your site is getting attention and popularity, and your revenues are through the roof!

Then, all of the sudden just a couple days after the article has been published, your website unexpectedly goes off-line and is inaccessible for three straight days. You’re rapidly losing credibility and income, simply because you went over your bandwidth limit, causing your inexpensive hosting company to take your site off the web. Your stress levels shoot up as you angrily yell at the customer service man over the phone, trying to get your site back online, or maybe frantically trying to switch hosting companies over to a more reliable, reputable company like Web Hosting Buzz.

This scenario, while not a universal experience, does happen. Hence the attractiveness of a recent marketing strategy – offering unlimited data storage and bandwidth. The idea of unlimited appeals to many consumers, since it allow them to just purchase the unlimited bandwidth hosting and forget about it.

The problem is that the scenario above is just as likely to happen whether you have an unlimited bandwidth host or not.

Unfortunately, it is physically impossible to actually offer unlimited bandwidth hosting. Servers have two main physical attributes – the amount of data they can store, and the amount of bandwidth they can serve. The data storage is a function of how big the hard drive of the server is, and how many other people are hosted on that server. Even on a plan with unlimited data storage, there will be an actual limit to the amount of disk space you can use for your website. Usually, however, this real life data storage limit is quite large, and rarely would a customer ever run into the limits of data storage.

Bandwidth, on the other hand is much more complex. Bandwidth is determined by a host of factors, including but not limited to the type of connection the server has to the internet, and the hardware of the server itself. The bandwidth figure is important, since unlike data storage, people often do run over their bandwidth limits, or if they don’t actually run over their bandwidth limits, the amount of bandwidth they use causes them to use too much of the CPU of the server and gets their site booted that way.

The basic idea of bandwidth is that it is a measure of how much data the server has transferred over the internet, or from an even simpler viewpoint, a measure of how many people visit your site.

Each time someone visits your site and loads your webpage, they are downloading the HTML files, photos, graphics, and multimedia to their own computer in order to view them. If you have website that has a single page with a size of 100kb, and the hosting plan you have allows you to transfer 15gb per month, then your page would have to be viewed more than 150,000 times in the month in order for you to run over the limit. 150,000 views is certainly a lot of views to have in a month, but it is not out of the question, and a larger website with more photos, graphics, and especially multimedia to download would dramatically shrink the number of times your site can be seen!

Since the bandwidth is limited by the physical attributes of the server and its connection to the internet, it is clearly impossible to offer unlimited bandwidth. Even plans that offer high bandwidth hosting in the thousands of gigabytes are often physically impossible. The server has a limit to how fast it can transfer data, and even if it were transferring data at the maximum speed for every second of the entire month, it still would have a limit that would be reached eventually. Furthermore, no sever has such perfectly even visitors that it is running continuously at full capacity for every minute of the month.

So what’s the big deal about unlimited bandwidth then? If its impossible to truly achieve, then how can some hosting companies offer it?

To answer these questions we have to move from technical talk to talk of marketing. People like to compare numbers, and therefore there has been a kind of an arms race between inexpensive hosting providers to offer the most bandwidth, including now plans that claim to be unlimited. If, however, you read through the fine print, you will see that they do place express limits on your bandwidth, usually something like 10% percent of the CPU used or some other obscure figure like that.

So, basically, they lie.

It is not easy to convert a percentage of CPU usage to gigabytes of data transfer over the course of a month, but suffice it to say that if you are limited to 10% of the CPU usage, your data transfer will not be unlimited, and in many cases it will actually be less than what companies that strictly define transfer limits are offering.

What happens then, if your website becomes immensely popular and you go over the bandwidth limit on your unlimited bandwidth hosting or high bandwidth hosting? Usually they will take your site off the internet without warning, leaving you scrambling to get your site back up so you don’t lose too much traffic. Then, the inexpensive hosting company will often charge you a fee for going over your limit. Its kind of like going over your minutes on a cell phone.

In theory, going over your bandwidth limit is a good problem to have, since it means that your site has become very popular. In reality, however, it can be a big headache that can cost you a lot of money to get fixed and get your site back on the net. It is best to prepare by knowing what your bandwidth limit really is, even if you are on an unlimited plan, and working with your hosting company to allocate you more bandwidth before you actually run out if your site becomes successful.

September 28, 2008 at 11:44 pm 1 comment


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