Finding The Most Ideal Web Hosting Plan

The rainbow of web hosting plans can be overwhelming for any webmaster, novice or advanced.  From shared “unlimited” to VPS hosting plans, which one is actually suitable for your endeavors?

The myriad of options in web hosting can be akin to comparing apples to oranges.  However, we hope this article will help you sort the apples from the oranges – and choose the right “fruit” for your hosting needs.

What Are Your Hosting Needs?

Before you start shopping and comparing the many different plans that are available, first decide what type of hosting plan will meet your needs best.  Shared, VPS, reseller, dedicated web hosting and ecommerce are some of the hosting types that are available.  Here is a brief explanation of each type of hosting:

  • Shared hosting is considered “entry” level hosting, as you share one web server with hundreds, if not thousands, of other websites.  It is certainly the cheapest type of hosting plan, which makes it suitable for new webmasters who are launching websites on a budget.
  • VPS hosting, which stands for virtual private server, is an intermediate hosting plan that strictly partitions the server.  While there are other websites on the server, you are guaranteed your partition’s resources – which means that if another website is eating bandwidth, your website will not be impacted.  VPS hosting is considered the middle bridge from shared hosting to dedicated hosting.
  • Dedicated web hosting is the premier type of hosting, wherein your server is exclusively dedicated to your website.  Dedicated hosting is the most effective and powerful hosting service and is perfect for seasoned webmasters with several sites or one large site.
  • Reseller hosting gives you the ability to sell “private label” web hosting.  Many of the companies in the industry are simply resellers, marketing private labeled web hosting services.
  • Ecommerce hosting specializes in online stores, giving these shops specific resources in terms of SSL certificates, store management software programs, and more.

Comparing Web Hosting Pricing

Once you have ascertained which type of web hosting would be the most ideal for your situation, you can start comparing the prices and features.  However, it is important to carefully review the details and fine print.  For example, while “unlimited” bandwidth and data storage plans may sound enticing, they are actually quite limited when you review the fine print.

Do not forget to consider the costs involved with setting up your hosting account.  While web hosts may entice you with incredibly low monthly fees, how much are the setup costs?

In addition, you will also want to review the commitment you must make.  Some hosting plans can be paid by the month either manually or by automatic draft from your bank account.  Other hosting plans require you to pay a full year in advance.  If you are a novice then you may not want to commit to a whole year.

Comparing the Features of a Hosting Plan

With a general price point, you can begin to compare the features of each plan and hosting service. Some of the hosting plans can range anywhere from $15 to $200 dollars a month.  Examine the higher end of the spectrum first that fits within your budget, and utilize this as a barometer.  Should a cheaper plan offer the same features, then this presents a good value for your hosting dollar.

A Glance at Reputation

Once you have perused the features and pricing, choose the hosting service that has the best reputation, both for customer service and uptime.  You can visit web hosting review websites and webmaster forums to view what customers say firsthand.

Keep in mind that all hosting companies may appear to guarantee 99.99% uptime, but is this really the case?  Going straight to the words of webmasters and reviews can help you determine if reality meets the marketing jargon.

When it comes to customer service, you may want to consider whether or not the support staff is domestic or overseas.  Do you believe an in-house support staff would serve your needs best?   Many web hosting companies outsource their customer service reps, which could impact how quickly they resolve any problems with your server.

Choosing the best hosting plan is certainly not easy.  However, the time you invest in comparing plans, pricing, and features will pay off in dividends when your website is hosted ideally.

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Domain Names Explained

Numbers are given to people to identify them on their driver’s license or their social security card.  Domain names are no different.  Beneath each domain name is a numerical process that translates a local website address into a word or phrase. Having a domain name individualizes each and every website, making each online property unique.

However, how exactly do domain names work?

What Exactly Is a Domain Name?

To put it simply, a domain name is the title, word, or phrase that you type in your web browser to access whatever site you are trying to visit.

However, most people who use the internet do not know the precise details of what occurs when they type the name of a web site into their browser.  Every single domain name is associated with a numerical IP address.  Once you type in the domain name, the domain name servers (DNS) will translate the words and numbers you type into an IP address.  In the end, you are essentially accessing a website through its numerical, IP address.

Understanding Domain Name Servers

Computer language consists solely of numbers. To enable the transmission of information to a computer, the DNS has to translate information based on the address or definition of the domain name.

Simply put, a domain name server is assigned with the sole function of sending and receiving requests that are related to an IP address or domain name.  A domain name server works by taking a unique number like an IP address and translating it into a word or phrase that can be inputted to your web browser’s address bar to access your site.  Perhaps the largest database in the world is that of the domain name server system.

How Do I Use a Domain Name?

First and foremost, you will need to purchase a domain name.  The extension you choose for your domain name will determine the cost.  The universally accepted .com extensions are by far the most popular, and these typically cost an average of $10 per year. The .net, org, and .info follow sequentially in terms of pricing and popularity.

A newcomer to the domain name arena is .co, which some speculators believe will be the next “runner up” behind .com’s popularity.  The new .co domains just launched in July of 2010, and the domain registrars are charging an average of $30 per year for these web addresses.

Once you have selected your domain name and extension, you will need to register it through domain registrars, such as GoDaddy.  After selecting and paying for the domain name, you can log into the registrar’s interface and edit any of the details on your site, including name servers.

The name servers identify the website with which your domain name is associated.  When you log into your hosting account and visit the control panel, you will see the name server information.  If you log in and cannot locate your name server information, you can call your hosting company, and they will be more than happy to provide them for you.

You will need to input your name server information into the required field within your hosting account in order to enable your domain to be active on their server. Again, if you have trouble doing this, hosting accounts normally offer great technical support online or via telephone.

Buying Older Domain Names

If you are looking to buy a domain name that has already been registered, there are certainly pros and cons associated with this strategy.  Keep in mind that the older a domain name is, the more money it is likely to cost.  The best thing about the older domain names is that they seem to come in closer to the top on search engines.  Some domain registrars sell older domains that have been in existence for several months or years.

Selling Your Domain Names

The buying and selling of domain names has become a lucrative enterprise. If you own a good domain name that you’ve never used, you might want to consider putting it up for sale.  There are quite a few auctions online that can help match you up with a buyer for your domain name.  If you have a website that has already been established, the domain name associated with that site will be worth even more money.

Domain names are the backbone of the internet, akin to virtual real estate.  Registering, buying, and selling domain names has become its own profitable industry, one that continues to grow with each addition of new extensions.

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An Introduction to Colocation Web Hosting

At its core, colocation functions as a web server storage service. In a colocation facility, your dedicated server will be stored safely in the most secure setting possible.  However, before making the choice to use a colocation web hosting service, you must first understand how the environment operates.

How Does Colocation Hosting Operate?

With colocation web hosting, you are actually renting space in a web storage facility.  If you own a dedicated server, a colocation facility will allow you to utilize a state of the art data storage center.  From here, you can connect to the internet via their T3 or T4 connections, which will be far superior to any other connection you can use.

How Much Does Colocation Hosting Cost?

The cost of using a colocation hosting account typically hovers around the range of $300 per month.  The precise cost is a bit tricky to measure because you are charged only for the amount of bandwidth your server utilizes. Unlike standard web hosting services, with colocation, you only pay for the usage of high speed bandwidth and a safe and secure environment.

You must factor the cost of your own server into your monthly expenses when considering colocation hosting. You will also need to allocate a certain amount of money in your budget for maintenance and repair if there is ever damage.  If the damage was a result of a faulty condition or error on the colocation hosting company’s part, then they would be responsible for the expense of repair.

Inside a Colocation Facility

A colocation facility is very much like the inside of a medical or science lab.  The temperature is always monitored and controlled.  The environment is kept perfect and pristine at all times, creating the most ideal condition to keep your sensitive data. There are air regulators, such as humidifiers, as well as dehumidifiers.

The floors have state of the art cooling systems to keep fresh, cool air circulating up and around the web servers at all times.   There are filters in all of the cooling systems to ensure that there is no chance of any type of debris ever getting into the servers.

There is constant security all day, every day, year round.  The facility employs security guards that walk the compound 24 hours a day.  Every employee who walks into the facility is required to wear protective clothing and gear to make sure the conditions in the facility are never compromised.

The walls are covered in a unique material to keep any dust or dirt from attaching to them and building up.  There are high tech fire extinguishing systems in place in each and every server room. Indeed, colocation hosting facilities are by far the safest environments to store your web servers.

Do Colocation Facilities Offer Support?

Unfortunately, colocation facilities typically offer minimal tech support.  Some colocation hosting facilities will offer technical support packages for which you pay extra, however, the technical support is usually limited to IT support.

Many server administrative or maintenance tasks can be performed remotely, but for those issues that cannot, IT assistance could become necessary.  Ask the colocation hosting facility you are interested in what their support packages, if any, entail.  If the facility you choose does not offer IT assistance, you may want to shop around for one that does.

Who is Colocation Hosting Most Geared To Benefit?

The people who will not benefit from colocation hosting are those who have smaller businesses, as well as individuals who do not own their servers.  Colocation hosting facilities are not recommended for people who just use their websites for personal use, such as blogging or web forums.

However, if you are the owner of a very large company that has multiple dedicated servers, colocation web hosting would be a great benefit to your business.  For anyone who has their own dedicated servers and would like to ensure they are kept in an extremely safe and secure environment, colocation hosting facilities are a smart option.

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Reseller Web Hosting

Reseller hosting gives the up-and-coming internet entrepreneur a real shot at generating significant revenues.  With reseller hosting plans, you are given access to state of the art server resources that can be assigned to different clients for profit.

Reseller hosting is almost the same concept as some of the smaller cell phone companies using major network towers for their own plans. For example, Boost Mobile uses Verizon towers, and this concept is very similar to reseller hosting.

If this idea sounds intriguing to you, then peruse the following information to determine if perhaps reseller web hosting is the ticket for you.

Comprehending Reseller Hosting

If you are a reseller host, you have total control over all the server resources that have been assigned to you.  In other words, you have the freedom to create any type of hosting plan you like based on what you think your customers will want and need.

You can name your plans anything you want. You can even put packages together that offer other services to maximize your profits.   With reseller hosting, you will even be able to use a site builder to assist you in establishing your presence and authority online.  You can design the control panel and add your own graphics and logo so that your site will truly be unique to you.

Once you have built up your clientele, you can even choose to sell your hosting company if that’s what you wish to do.

How Reseller Hosting Works

As soon as you decide to buy a reseller hosting plan from one of the more reputable hosting companies, your journey has begun. Now you can begin setting up your interface and building your client databases and delegating whatever resources you want to each one of your clients.

Indeed, it is really very simple.  The main objective is to make a profit by selling the resources you purchase for a greater price than you paid.  Much like any other business, you want to keep your mark up just high enough to make money, but low enough so that you will still be able to compete with the other web hosting services that are available.

The Benefits of Reseller Hosting

One of the elements that make reseller hosting unique is the amount of control you have over your server resources.  Having the freedom and flexibility to create hosting plans and price points unique to your business will help you target your niche client base perfectly.

When done correctly, hosting with a reseller is seamless on the customer’s end – as well as internally.

Because these hosting companies also give you comprehensive site building tools, you can track all of your clients with very little effort.  You can even set your clients up for auto pay, streamlining your administrative elements even further.   Furthermore, you can accept clients from all over the world because chances are your hosting company will offer support in multiple different languages.

Establishing Yourself as a Hosting Provider

The key with being successful with reseller hosting is to ensure that your services are seamless.  The customer does not need to know that you are simply reselling another company’s resources.

The reseller hosting providers can assign your own name servers, ensuring that your business looks even more authentic.  After all, the hosting companies make money when you do – and subsequently, they will go every step of the way with you to ensure your success.

If you have trouble or have questions, you can contact your reseller provider.  Indeed, the best part about the reselling business is that you are not alone.  You have the chance to build a successful web hosting business with total control and a very minimal amount of effort on your part.

Reseller hosting can provide you with a key to unlocking significant profits and success.  The good news is that you are operating like a franchise, which means you will always have someone to contact if issues or questions arise.  Your reseller provider makes money when you do, which means they will want to be sure you succeed.

Reseller hosting has offered thousands of online business owners the opportunity to create another revenue string by capitalizing on the rapid growth of the web hosting industry.

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What is Dedicated Web Hosting?

When your website begins to gain traction, your shared hosting server may fail you.  With the increase in traffic, your pages could load slower, or worse, not load at all.  If this scenario sounds like your predicament, it may be time to consider dedicated hosting.

Dedicated hosting is perfect for online business owners that need to host either dozens of medium sized web sites or one massive mega site. Anyone that needs a powerful hosting solution should consider dedicated hosting for their web sites. By choosing a powerful hosting plan from the beginning, you can eliminate the need for unnecessary plan upgrades that can halt the progression of your online business.

How Do Dedicated Servers Work?

Dedicated web servers are web servers that are specifically designated to a single plan holder. In essence, you are leasing an entire web server for your own personal usage.

Unlike shared hosting plans, in which you have to share server resources with hundreds of web site owners, dedicated hosting plans give you complete control over your server configuration and usage. If you want to delegate the entire server to a single website, install special software, or even rent out partitions on the server to various clients, you can – and so much more.

Dedicated servers often contain vast amounts of disk space, are capable of transferring massive amounts of data, and are the top pick when it comes to site performance and server capabilities.

The Pros of Dedicated Hosting

The biggest advantage of dedicated web hosting is the privacy and control that is offered. There is no other hosting plan that offers as much as dedicated hosting when it comes to comprehensive features and sheer server power. Dedicated hosting plans come with several IP addresses, the ability to host unlimited domains, unlimited email accounts, and a plethora of other unlimited features.

With the ability to install and operate software on your dedicated server, you’ll be able to automate web management tasks using powerful server-side applications that are utilized by larger corporations. Choosing a dedicated hosting account will ensure that your web sites perform to the best of their capabilities.

The Difference Between Managed and Unmanaged Dedicated Hosting

The real advantages of dedicated web hosting cannot be realized without technical assistance and comprehensive customer support. If you have an online business to uphold, you need access to the best web hosting and the best support simultaneously (one without the other is practically useless).

There are two kinds of dedicated hosting plans available – managed and unmanaged.  Managed dedicated hosting plans are perfect for individuals with minimal web hosting experience and big web hosting needs.

In contrast, an unmanaged dedicated hosting plan does not include technical support, which means all server administration must be handled by you, the webmaster. This can present significant challenges for the novice webmaster, many of which will be too overwhelming to overcome. Unmanaged dedicated hosting accounts are generally less expensive, since the web hosting provider does not have to hire technical support agents.

Managed dedicated web hosting is much different, as it provides a complete package, with support included. By purchasing a fully managed dedicated hosting account, you can be sure that your server is well maintained, and your sites are operating optimally at all times of the day and night.

How Expensive is Dedicated Web Hosting?

Fortunately, dedicated web hosting plans do not require yearly contracts, as that would make dedicated hosting an unaffordable solution for many webmasters. Nonetheless, dedicated hosting is still the most expensive kind of web hosting, with plans costing about $100-$400 per month, depending upon the amount of server resources needed.

If you are on a tight budget, you may want to consider a VPS hosting plan instead. Dedicated servers are often used by larger businesses that need a powerful corporate solution for their network of web sites.

Before purchasing a dedicated hosting plan, it is important to accurately assess the storage and bandwidth needs of your online business to avoid unnecessary excess hosting expenditures.

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Understanding Content Management Systems

Content management systems (CMS) have completely changed the way site administrators manage web site content. By providing a simple user-friendly interface through which content can be organized, edited, uploaded and published, CMS effectively eliminate most of the complexities associated with web site management.

In the past, content management systems were nothing more than a dream.  Webmasters needed to practice for months in order to perform the most mundane tasks efficiently. Building and organizing web pages was a tedious process that required extensive training in web development in programming.

Thankfully, the times have changed and content management systems allow anyone to jump into online publishing.  Many webmasters still utilize “old school” techniques instead of using content management systems, but the benefits of a comprehensive CMS cannot be denied by any crowd.

Creating Sites Easily with a CMS

Creating web sites has never been easier with the advent of advanced content management systems that simplify nearly every aspect of site creation and design. Instead of learning HTML, PHP, CSS and other programming languages that require weeks (or years!) of intensive training, web site owners can now use predesigned templates to change the appearance of their site with ease. Templates, also known as themes, are basically fully developed site designs that can be applied to an entire web site with a few simple clicks of the mouse.

One of the most appealing aspects of CMS themes is the fact that the entire site design can be changed without affecting the content of the site.  In fact, it is even possible to change the design of very large web sites without changing any of the articles’ formatting. You can even apply several themes to the same web site using certain plugins and addons for the CMS.

With the ability to change your site’s design on the fly, you’ll be able to keep your visitors entertained every time they enter your site.

Content Management with a CMS

Managing your site’s content with a CMS is also very simple. In fact, most people can mange very large web sites by spending only an hour a day or less. Due to the unique capabilities of CMS like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, site owners can now schedule tasks ahead of time, which eliminates the need to perform mundane repetitive tasks, such as posting pre-written content.

Within the CMS interface, you can organize, edit, upload, publish, organize, and even schedule web site posts and pages with very little effort. Perhaps most appealing is the fact that all of this can be done within a single user interface.

Enhancing Content Management Systems with Addons

Addons, also known as plugins, are a great way to enhance the functionality of your CMS without contracting the assistance of an independent developer. Fortunately, most CMS like WordPress are open-source development, meaning anyone can create applications and addons that are fully functional with the software for free! Thanks to the massive online community of CMS developers, there are now thousands of plugins and addons available that add new features to the CMS instantly.

If you have a problem as a web master, there is a good chance that there is a CMS plugin designed to solve it. Some plugins even amend the entire design of the content management system, adding new modules to the navigational area in sections such as tools and settings.

Picking the Right CMS

With so many CMS available, it can be difficult to choose just one. Many people are tempted to try multiple CMS at the same time, but this often leads to confusion. The best way to decide which CMS is best for you is to try one at a time, carefully examining the features and benefits of each one.

Most people start with a simple CMS like WordPress, which is specifically designed for novice webmasters. The greatest aspect of WordPress is its flexibility and low learning curve. WordPress is used by web site owners of all skill levels and is often called the best CMS in the world.

If you need a more advanced CMS and you have web development skills, then you may want to consider a content management system like Drupal, which offers more advanced options for professional web masters.

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