Category Archives: Articles

Get Yourself a Website – Without the Drama

So, you’re done with the free web hosts. Gone through Geocities, Angelfire, Fortune City. You’re exhausted with the pop- ups and banners. You want a real site. But where to go? You look around the net, and the possibilities seem endless. 20 MB of space for only $20 a month! Wow! That’s fantastic!

Or is it? Way back when I bought my domain and signed up with a web host, I was the typical “the internet is so wonderful” optimist. I was thrilled to find something that sounded just about what I kind of wanted – and bam, just like that, $300 poorer and with a useless chunk of web space that wouldn’t even work properly. My domain addresses wouldn’t connect, my content was being warped – things weren’t looking too good for me.|

A year later and much the wiser, I know better. My site is working, I have a lovely, helpful support team, and I now know what I want. But, that’s all well and good for me – I have had the added advantage of working for a web hosting company. But what about the rest of you out there who don’t have my experience, who see a world of opportunity and are about to jump into the cesspit of money loss and disappointment.

So, I figure, why not let you in on a useful hint, one that may save you from misfortune. What is it, you ask? Well, simply – know what you want! Sounds way too simple for me to be handing it out, right? I don’t think so! Sure, you have a vague idea of what you want, but do you know what all of it means? The “mumbo jumbo”, so to speak?

I didn’t think so! Listen up, sit back, relax, and before you go jumping off the deep end, scroll down and read a bit.

MB of space
MB? Eh? Well, MB stands for MegaByte. This is basically the amount of storage space you will have. You can figure out how much space you will need if you spend a little bit of time thinking about what is going onto your site – how graphic intensive it will be, how many pages, any multimedia or music, etc. Make an approximation in your head and then add another 50. This will allow you to add on and expand. It’s always better to have too much, rather than too little.

Pricing (Monthly/Yearly)
the payment plans are generally either monthly or yearly. Make sure, even if you want a year or more of hosting, to start with a monthly plan! If you give them $3/400 for a year, and then they end up being useless, I’ll bet you that you won’t be getting that money back. If you start with a monthly account, you can always upgrade to a yearly account. And if you can’t upgrade and you’re really worried, add up how much it will be for a year, and set that money aside to slowly add back onto your credit card every month.

Domain Registration
do you already own a domain name? A domain name is basically the www.yourdomainname.com. Most of web hosts will provide domain name registration in their packages. If you already own your own, you will have to transfer it to their name servers. Make sure this is possible! Ask them if they will do it for you, or ask for directions on how to do it yourself. If you don’t own a name already, though, how many will you need? Will the one be enough? Do you need redirects; do you want extra names attached to sub-domains?

And then you need the actual name! If you’re completely stumped, have no ideas, there are some really good places online which will create a list for you.

http://www.1ststar.com/cgi-bin/fswiz/wizard.pl?show_wizard=1 &

http://www.ecxmall.com/domains/

Make sure your name is relevant to what’s on your site – people tend to get annoyed if your website is called “cool- cars.com” and it ends up being about cushion embroidery.

Email Accounts
there are quite a variety of options in this area. You have mail servers, mailing lists, redirects, catch all. If you’re going to be getting a substantial amount of mail through your website, you might want a mail server – an actual site online where you have your own personal mail box. It would usually be mail.yoursitename.com. Mailing lists are sometimes offered and sometimes not – if you’re going to be sending out a newsletter, promotional info, etc to a lot of people you might want to go with this option. A mail catch all basically does what its name suggests – catches emails with typos, wrong names etc, but have your domain written properly in the address, (i.e. typo@yourdomain.com). And finally, mail redirects, which give you an email address, but redirects emails sent to it to another mailbox – for example, if you have johnny@johnnyssite.com, it could redirect to your hotmail account.

There are many other added options as well, which you need to think about. If you want to have multimedia on your page(s), Front Page support, Access/database support, cgi-bin, custom 404 error pages, search engine submission. Sit down and make a list of what you need.

But before you do anything, send the support team of the web host an email. Ask them if they provide all of your specific requirements; describe what you are looking for. Be friendly and concise, and see how they react. If they are prompt and friendly or slow and unpleasant. You are always going to end up needing some sort of support during your hosting, and this will be a good indication of what kind of assistance you will get further down the line.

Basically what I’m telling you here is to think before you spend. So many people have tales of woe and disappointment; don’t end up being one of them. There are no guarantees here, but make it as close to it as possible.

ASP web hosting

ASP web hosting refers to web hosting companies who provide support for ASP (Active Server Page). If you want a dynamic data-driven web site you may wish to embed ASP code into your web site’s HTML Pages. When a user is viewing a web site that is developed using ASP, the pages can change depending on the actions of the user. ASP code allows you to link your web pages to a database, where users can interact with the web page by logging in and using their own personal settings or they can interactively place orders on your web site.

What is ASP?
ASP stands for Active Server Pages. Active Server Pages are HTML pages with embedded ASP scripts that are processed on the server before the page is sent to the user. ASP allows you to create dynamic database driven pages, a user can access data in a database, and interact with page objects such as Active X or Java components.

How does ASP work?
When you type a URL in the Address Box or click on a web page you are asking the web server to send a file to your computer; if the file is standard HTML, then, when your web browser receives the web page it will look exactly the same as it did on the web server. However if an ASP file is sent to your computer from the web server, firstly, the server will run the HTML code; and then, run the ASP code. For example: the ASP code could be the current date, or time; and other such information.

How to find an ASP web host
You will need to find a web host who will host your website on a Windows 2000 server. It is safer to host your ASP pages on a Windows 2000 server as they are more stable and most ASP components work with IIS (Internet Information Services), specific to Windows. You also need to consider if your web site uses a database (e.g. SQL, Access) and then make sure your web host provides support for the type of database your web site uses.

Free & Unlimited: Terms of Service

The English language is an amazing language. Where else can you take a “word” and use it for the exact opposite of its literal definition. A good car is “bad”! A good-looking person might be “hot” while they are really “cool”.

Sometimes the word used is not used for it’s exact opposite, but the way it is used has a different definition than the literal/dictionary definition. For this article, let’s explore two words used in the advertising world that have different definitions depending on the advertiser using it. These two terms will be used in reference to hosting. Please note that this article is not an attack on hosts, nor on advertisers. The purpose is to show that some words are not clearly defined nor can they be taken literally, but must be understood in the context of how they are used.

Free

First of all, let’s look at the word “free”. According to The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary, the definition is:

adj. not subject to external restraints or domination; not captive, at liberty; not having to be paid for; unhampered; open to all without restrictions; etc.
adv. without expense; without penalty
v.t. to release from constraint, set free

The literal definition of a free host would then be a host that has no restraints for the user with no expense and no restrictions. The webmaster would be set free to design to their hearts content. A literally free host would allow the webmaster everything and anything that they might want to establish a website without any constraints, restrictions, or expense. Can anyone imagine having all the space and bandwidth without any cost whatsoever? No, I didn’t think you could. Hence, the literal definition of a free host is both unimaginable and ridiculous. Free with no obligation whatsoever? Hardly.

Obviously, the literal sense is not the case with a free host. Depending upon the host, there will be restrictions as to such things as space and bandwidth. Some even have a requirement of having their banner(s) on your published site. Hence, the definition of “free” when it comes to a host means no expense as long as a set of conditions are met. Those conditions consist of such things as space, advertisements, hot linking, etc. The host’s service might be free with 20 meg of space. Additional space requires different conditions, probably money. The service might be free 20 megs of space and your site must display a required 468×60 banner of the host’s choice.

So the space that they have allotted is free, as long as their conditions and/or criteria is met. Just as this article is free as long as you’re a subscriber to Webmaster-Talk newsletter and, if you should desire to reprint it, the resource box is used with the article.

The literal “free” host is non-existent. The conditional “free” host is not only existent, but very prevalent in the webmaster world today. If you see “free” in a host’s advertisement, forget the literal and then read on to see what the conditions are for having some free space.

Unlimited

Next, let’s look at the word “unlimited”. According to The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary, the definition is:

adj. without limits; boundless, vast
syn. eternal

The literal definition of a host offering “unlimited” space and/or bandwidth would be a host that had no bounds on the amount of space or bandwidth for their customers. The webmaster would pay their host the set monthly fee, and could then design a website that used every bit of technology available today without any limit or bounds while doing so. Can anyone imagine a host that gives you implicit use of any and all resources available? No. Again, I didn’t think you could. The literal definition of “unlimited” space or bandwidth is unimaginable and ridiculous.

For purposes of this discussion, bandwidth will include page views and data transfer. The loading of pages for viewers and the transfer of data by the webmaster are very much different and may be handled differently by some hosting companies.

There are some very real reasons that unlimited space and bandwidth does not literally exist. From the smallest host to the largest host in the world, all have limitations from the very machines that they use for hosting. One machine or thousands of machines will have a certain capacity when it comes to space and bandwidth. The technology does not exist to make any machine literally unlimited. Even the largest hosting companies will have to set limits based on the size of their machinery. Does this mean they can’t add on or grow? No. It just means that there is a limit to their capacity.

Why do hosting companies use the word “unlimited” when it comes to space and bandwidth? It is definitely not to be taken literally, but it is a term used to attract attention to what the company has to offer. The term will have different definitions with different hosts. A keyword to remember at this point is “vast”. Vast was used earlier in the definition of unlimited. The definition of “vast” is immensely large in area; great. This gives more insight to what unlimited means when used by hosting companies.

When it comes to “unlimited” space and bandwidth, the host is claiming to have a vast amount, so much that the typical webmaster will not be able to use all of it in its entirety. If a customer would start approaching the physical limits of space, the host would make a provision so that it is not totally used. The provisions that the host makes is what determines their viability as a good host. With this claim comes a responsibility for the customer or webmaster. The customer must investigate the host to find out their capacities and their Terms Of Use policies to understand what is meant.

You decide

The policies that define “free” or “unlimited” are many times ambiguous or not clearly defined using mathematical equations or specific amounts. Many times, the policies will read that if a certain customer is using more than “normal”, then there will have to be a change. The host might ask them to change their plan, pay for the excess, or cut back on their use. So what is normal? This article can not define that. Policies also use terms such as over use, abuse, above normal, etc. These are usually not defined and are relative terms.

What should you consider when a company uses the term “unlimited”?

Consider that the term is not literal.
Find out what happens if you start to use more than normal, over use, or abuse the space.
See if the hosting company has a standard charge for the amount of space and bandwidth used over your plans amount.

Finding out this information from the start will help to avoid any unnecessary problems with your hosting company.

You must decide what is the good and bad of unlimited anything. Most would consider it a bad host that would immediately shut down their site if it exceeded the allowed space and/or bandwidth. Some will do just that. On the other hand, a good host will be willing to work with you on this aspect. Different hosts will act in different ways when a site exceeds the allotted space or bandwidth. One host may work with you to properly fund that site and keep it going by adding the costs of the exceeded amount to your bill. Another host may immediately notify you that you have exceeded your contract and negotiate with you about the excess.

So remember

Get to know your hosting company. All hosting companies are not created equal. Most will work with their valued customers when it comes to use of more space and bandwidth than is allowed. They will work with you to ensure that your site stays up for all to see. If they use “unlimited”, ask what that really means. Remember that it will never be the literal definition of the word, and probably means they have a vast amount.

Read the Terms of Service or Terms of Use. Explore their policies on free and unlimited to understand the host’s definitions of the terms used. Your initial contract with the hosting company should explain their procedure for use of space and bandwidth. Hopefully, this will be explained in concrete terms as in allotted space and bandwidth, and the cost for any used above that given amount.

FREE is FREE with many constraints and restrictions. UNLIMITED is UNLIMITED when you have the funds to pay for it. Forget your understanding of the literal definition of these two words when examining a host. Then carefully read and consider what they are truly offering you. Are hosts bad that use these terms? No! Remember, they may be “Bad!” when they’re exceptionally good!

For a continuing discussion on these two terms, please visit the Webmaster-Talk forums. There is a lot of discussion and opinions expressed about this subject.

Bandwidth Or Data Transfer – Which is Which?

Too often web hosts talk about bandwidth and data transfer in the same breath but truth be known they are different although very closely related. Bandwidth is how much data can be transferred at a time and data transfer is how much data is being transferred.

Think of it this way. If bandwidth were a bridge, then the bigger the bridge is the more vehicles can pass through it. While data transfer is the number of vehicles allowed on the bridge in say a month. In essence, data transfer is the consumption of bandwidth.

How It Affects Your Site

The less bandwidth you have, the slower your site takes to load regardless of the visitor’s connection type. If you have more visitors, some of them will have to wait their turn. The least data transfer you have, the more often you’ll find your site unavailable because you’re reached the maximum allowed until a new month rolls by or you upgrade your account.

Determining Your Requirements

Usually when a host talks about bandwidth, they are referring to your transfer. So you need to figure out what is sufficient for your site to function. You’ll need to gather some information; fairly easy if you already have a site. Most of this information is available from your traffic history. If you don’t have an existing site, provide an optimistic estimate if you intend to heavily promote the site. Then get ready for some math.

Find out the daily averages of: –
· Number of visitors / expected number of visitors
· Page size including the graphics of the page
· Page views / expected pages viewed by each visitor

Then, multiply them as follows:
Visitors x Page size x Page views x 30 days = Monthly Website Transfer

You should also throw in a small margin or error there to take into account email traffic and your own uploads to the server. If you offer downloads, then you should add the following:

Average/Expected downloads x File Size x 30 days = Monthly Download Transfer

Unlimited Plans

Bandwidth is very expensive. All hosts are limited by their own allocations. Thinking back to the bridge. What happens is each visitor to your site will be given a smaller lane to transfer the data, creating many tiny lanes therefore “unlimited”. The more visitors you have the smaller each lane will be, which makes each visitor wait for the page to load.

More often than not there is little choice over your bandwidth as your host controls this. Some hosts may limit the number of simultaneous connections so in affect slowing down your site and refusing some visitors. This is called throttling. If you’re concerned about this, you should ask the host how they control bandwidth usage or purchase a package with more data transfer. If you use HostVoice.net , this information is easily obtainable with one request.

Reducing Transfers

On the other hand, you can reduce your transfer amount by building simpler, more efficient websites and optimizing your graphics. Refrain from fancy flash presentations or streaming audio. Use CSS, call JavaScript externally instead of embedding in every page. Remove unwanted tags, white space and comments. Limit your META tags to those absolutely necessary. Having too many keywords is not search engine friendly. Besides many search engines will only review the first few and ignore the rest.

Another good idea is to cache your website but you might want to set an expiry date in the HTTP headers so the browser will refresh the content after a certain time. Use mod-gzip. It could save you as much as 40% of your bandwidth. Out of control robots can also suck down your bandwidth like a black hole. So use robots.txt to keep spiders in check.

3 Mistakes to Avoid While Choosing a Web Host

Choosing a web host is the first vital step you’ll take toward having your own website. Your web host will provide space on the Internet for your site so that the whole world can view it. But, choosing a web host is not as easy as it may seem.

There are a few mistakes to avoid while choosing your host. I’d like to share these with you below, and explain why it’s important to avoid these mistakes at all costs – especially if you wish to start an online business.

3 Mistakes to Avoid

1. Free Web Space – Remember seeing all those ads that mention “free web space”? Please avoid participating in these services. In most cases, the reason it’s free is because the company will place advertisements for other websites all over your web page. This defeats the entire purpose of having “your own” web business.

Why should you have to give your potential customers away? Shouldn’t you be able to keep the visitors that you have paid to receive through your own ad campaigns?

With “free web space” sites, you’ll give away more business than it would cost you to get your own domain and hosting service. It’s not worth it.

2. Limited hosting – Avoid hosting packages that will not allow you to add order forms, statistics, or multiple email accounts to your website. These are necessary tools for any webmaster who desires to open an online business.

It’s best to choose a hosting service that offers many options such as:

— Multiple POP Email Accounts — Dedicated Hosting — Secure Servers — Web Usage Statistics — Web Space Allocation (you can get how much web space you’ll need) — URL Redirection — Autoresponders

These are just a few “necessary” services to look for when choosing a web host for your new website.

3. Low Cost Hosting – Watch out for very low cost hosting packages (i.e. $2.50 per month). They usually require something in return, which can take away profits from your online business.

I must admit that it does sound appealing to sign up for free or very low cost hosting, but count the costs before signing up…

– Each time an advertisement banner is placed on your website, it’s designed to get your visitor to click out of your website and go some place else. Most free or low cost web hosting services place these banners at the very top of your web page – giving the visitor an opportunity to click out of your site before getting to the first words of your presentation.

– One complaint that comes to mind about a free hosting service was that the company’s server became overcrowded and the customer could not get their website to come up 50% of the time. When this happens, your business is closed – and you have no control over this situation.

One final point about hosting before closing. If you get your own domain name, and your own hosting, your visitors will have more confidence in your site, and will be more willing to buy your products or services.

Search for a web host that offers fabulous service, affordable rates, and everything you’ll need for your online business. You’ll be glad you did!

How to Transfer Your Web Site to Another Host Without Losing It

You want to change web hosts because you have found a less expensive solution for your web site. You are not happy with the services your host is providing. The response time for technical support is too slow. You make the decision to change web hosts.

Now you are faced with the daunting task of switching web hosts without losing the files and beautiful design of your web site. How do you achieve this? Here are the steps you need to take:

1. Make a complete copy of your web site . Use your favorite FTP utility (I use SmartFTP.com), to download all files to your computer from your web host. Don’t assume you already have all the files on your computer – you may have added some scripts from the Net that are on your server but not on your computer.

If you are using Dreamweaver, use the GET command to copy all your files.

If you are using Frontpage, use the import feature to make a complete copy of the old web site.

2. Choose your new Web Host. Choose a new Web Host that meets the needs of your web site . If you don’t know how much space you need, read the article: “How Much Hosting Space Do You Need”?
3. Transfer your domain name. Contact the domain name registrar (place where you registered your domain name) and change the Domain Name Server (DNS) or Name Server information to your new hosts DNS information.

Your site is going to experience a downtime while your DNS record is being changed and propagated through the world’s WHOIS servers. It will take about 24-72 hours for the process to be completed.

Maintain any existing services set up on your old domain name such as email forwarding, web pointing and website hosting until the transfer is complete to ensure continuity of your service.

You can check the progress of your domain name transfer by using a Domain Name Search facility such as Whois.net. You should see the details change from your previous Host to your New Host when the transfer is complete.

4. Upload all files to your new Web Host. When you are sure your domain name has been transferred, upload the files to your new Web Host.

Dreamweaver - define your site first, and then use the PUT command to transfer all your files and html pages. This will ensure that your whole web will remain intact with the transfer.

FrontPage - create a new Web from the site files you have imported from your old host, then publish them to the new host. Make sure your new host has Front Page extensions installed. This process will transfer your complete site to your new Host.

5. Transferring web pages to the New Host. Dreamweaver or FrontPage editors make it very easy to transfer html web pages. They keep most, if not all your web site intact for the transfer (as explained above).

Another way to transfer your web pages is to copy the source code by right clicking on the page as you see it when you visit the site and select ‘view/source’. It will come up on Notepad. Select ‘file/save as’ and save to a place of your choice as an HTML file. To do this, at the bottom of the box just before you save it, it will say ‘.txt’. Change the drop menu to ‘all files’ and then change the ‘.txt’ at the end of the name you’re saving it as to ‘.html’, then save it. You will then have a complete page ready to load to wherever you want. If you have images though, you’ll have to save them separately.

6. Amending your web site . Sometimes your web site may not look exactly the same as on your last Web Host. This is because the html code and/or files did not completely transfer. This may happen more often with the editors. FrontPage will do this more because it uses FrontPage extensions for publishing (extra files for easy publishing).

Make the necessary design changes to mirror the site you had previously hosted. You may have to eliminate or add some code to completely reflect your original site.

7. Testing your web site. Once the domain name and your web site files have been transferred, you should test that all services are working on the your new Host (i.e. email services, etc). If it’s working correctly, go ahead and cancel all your remaining services with your previous hosting service.

Transferring your web site to a new Host doesn’t have to be such a nerve-racking task, once you know the exact steps to take. Now you can enjoy the savings and services of a new home for your web site.

Finding that Host that Offers the Most

Whether you already have a website or are thinking of setting up shop online, sooner or later you’ll have to deal with the issue of web hosting. Although it may seem like a “no brainer,” there are actually many factors you’ll need to consider before making this important decision. Your first inclination may be to look only at the cost, thinking “cheaper is better.” However, that old saying “you get what you pay for,”is especially true in this situation. Here are some of the more important points you’ll want to look at when considering your next host.

UNIX/ NT/ The two most popular hosting platforms to choose from are UNIX and NT. UNIX is by far the favorite, as it was the only choice way back in the early days of the Internet. It is easy to configure, great for setting your own file permissions and the platform for most of the free scripts available for download. It is flexible, reliable and supports scripting languages like Perl and PHP3.

NT is Microsoft’s baby. One problem that I have found with NT servers is a lack of readily available scripts that work on this platform. Also, (unlike UNIX) many NT users need assistance from their Web Host Administrators to set file permissions. NT supports MS applications such as ASP, Access, FP and scripting languages such as Perl, Cold Fusion and ASP.

TECH SUPPORT/ When you need help you’ll want to make sure you can get it. Some web hosts offer phone support or even live chat. Make sure they have good tech support in place as there’s nothing more annoying than needing assistance with your site and not being able to get it.

SET UP FEE/ MONTHLY FEE/ Some hosts charge an initial set up fee to get your site set up and running on their server. Make sure you check on this when comparing prices. I’ve seen monthly fees ranging from 9.99 to 39.99, depending on the plan and services offered. My advice to you would be to look past the cheapest and most expensive ends of the scale and go with a mid-range pricing plan to be on the safe side. You should be able to pick up a reliable web host for 20 to 25.00 per month.

HARD DRIVE/ SPACE/ How much space they’re willing to give you is important if you’re going to compare apples to apples. You need to keep in mind the size of your site when deciding how much space you really need. Generally, 20 to 30 MB is plenty for a small site. You might want to ask if you can pay for more space should your site ever outgrow its present state.

FTP ACCESS/ TELNET ACCESS/ Even if you plan on using Frontpage to manage your site, you’ll still need to have FTP access. It is usually standard, but it never hurts to ask. Make sure you keep your user name and password in a safe place. You’ll use FTP to set file permissions and to upload your files to the web server.

Telnet can be very useful for troubleshooting CGI scripts and changing server configurations. There are some servers that will not grant telnet access.

CGI-BIN/ A very important component if you’re planning on adding any sort of interactivity to your site like forms, shopping carts, etc. Usually comes as standard equipment, but I’ve seen some of the cheaper hosts leave it out entirely.

EMAIL BOXES & POP 3 ALIASES/ One thing that’s very important to me is the ability to use different aliases with my domain name. For example, if your domain is ezineadauction.com, you may want to set up separate addresses to sort your mail like service@ezineadauction.com or support@ezineadauction.com. They may all funnel into the same mailbox, but you can set up filters at your end, making customer service a whole lot easier.

If you have a “wildcard” account, you can set up as many aliases as you like. If you have other employees who will need their own private box, check with the web host to see how many boxes they will allow.

STATS/ Once you start getting traffic, you’ll want to know where it’s coming from and what pages of your site are being visited. Some web hosts will throw stats tracking in with their standard package or at least give you access to your log files, which you can then use with third party software to run reports on the traffic your site is receiving.

MISCELLANEOUS THOUGHTS/:

1) If you want to use Frontpage: Do they have the FP server extensions installed?
2) Do they offer autoresponders?
3) How about a secured server option for payment transactions?
4) Do they back up all websites in case of disaster?
5) Do they offer assistance in programming or design work if needed at an hourly rate?
6) Do they offer shopping cart software if you’re going to be selling products?
7) Do any customized forms come standard with your account, like feedback or order forms?
8) Bandwidth- Be aware that bandwidth is how much data can be transferred in a month’s time. This shouldn’t be a concern unless you’re getting a ton of traffic, but be aware that most hosts do have limitations on what they’ll allow.

As you can see, there are many factors to take into account when choosing a web host. Your host is essentially the spine of your site,so you want to make sure that the one you choose is reliable and solid. Nothing can ruin a site faster than an unreliable host. I know; been there, done that.

Remember, choosing a good host is essential to the success and reliability of your online business. Do your homework and choose the one that’s right for you.

How to Transfer Your Web Site to Another Host Without Losing It

You want to change web hosts because you have found a less expensive solution for your web site. You are not happy with the services your host is providing. The response time for technical support is too slow. You make the decision to change web hosts.

Now you are faced with the daunting task of switching web hosts without losing the files and beautiful design of your web site. How do you achieve this? Here are the steps you need to take:

1. Make a complete copy of your web site . Use your favorite FTP utility (I use SmartFTP.com), to download all files to your computer from your web host. Don’t assume you already have all the files on your computer – you may have added some scripts from the Net that are on your server but not on your computer.

If you are using Dreamweaver, use the GET command to copy all your files.

If you are using Frontpage, use the import feature to make a complete copy of the old web site.

2. Choose your new Web Host. Choose a new Web Host that meets the needs of your web site .

3. Transfer your domain name Contact the domain name registrar (place where you registered your domain name) and change the Domain Name Server (DNS) or Name Server information to your new hosts DNS information.

Your site is going to experience a downtime while your DNS record is being changed and propagated through the world’s WHOIS servers. It will take about 24-72 hours for the process to be completed.

Maintain any existing services set up on your old domain name such as email forwarding, web pointing and website hosting until the transfer is complete to ensure continuity of your service.

You can check the progress of your domain name transfer by using a Domain Name Search facility such as Whois.net. You should see the details change from your previous Host to your New Host when the transfer is complete.

4. Upload all files to your new Web Host. When you are sure your domain name has been transferred, upload the files to your new Web Host.

Dreamweaver – define your site first, and then use the PUT command to transfer all your files and html pages. This will ensure that your whole web will remain intact with the transfer.

FrontPage – create a new Web from the site files you have imported from your old host, then publish them to the new host. Make sure your new host has Front Page extensions installed. This process will transfer your complete site to your new Host.

5. Transferring web pages to the New Host. Dreamweaver or FrontPage editors make it very easy to transfer html web pages. They keep most, if not all your web site intact for the transfer (as explained above).

Another way to transfer your web pages is to copy the source code by right clicking on the page as you see it when you visit the site and select ‘view/source’. It will come up on Notepad. Select ‘file/save as’ and save to a place of your choice as an HTML file. To do this, at the bottom of the box just before you save it, it will say ‘.txt’. Change the drop menu to ‘all files’ and then change the ‘.txt’ at the end of the name you’re saving it as to ‘.html’, then save it. You will then have a complete page ready to load to wherever you want. If you have images though, you’ll have to save them separately.

6. Amending your web site . Sometimes your web site may not look exactly the same as on your last Web Host. This is because the html code and/or files did not completely transfer. This may happen more often with the editors. FrontPage will do this more because it uses FrontPage extensions for publishing (extra files for easy publishing).

Make the necessary design changes to mirror the site you had previously hosted. You may have to eliminate or add some code to completely reflect your original site.

7. Testing your web site. Once the domain name and your web site files have been transferred, you should test that all services are working on the your new Host (i.e. email services, etc). If it’s working correctly, go ahead and cancel all your remaining services with your previous hosting service.

Transferring your web site to a new Host doesn’t have to be such a nerve-racking task, once you know the exact steps to take. Now you can enjoy the savings and services of a new home for your web site.

Searching around for a web hosting company?

The current count of web hosts yields just over a gazillion companies claiming to be number 1, offering the very best in what hosting can offer with prices that simply cannot be beat. Needless to say, it can take a trained eye this day and age to see through their gimmicks and get right down to whether this company has what you want. If you’re confused about what to choose, read on.

Before even beginning your search, analyze what your needs are. What features would you like your site to have? What Internet programming languages do you anticipate using? Be sure to take under consideration any feedback form features, database connectivity or any other site virtue that is simply too advanced for pure HTML. Would you like e-mail addresses? Do you have a domain name? How much traffic do you expect to receive? All these questions and more help in the final decision for that one glorious hosting company.

In the midst of your search, you’ll probably run across hosting services that offer ‘unlimited bandwidth’. This is simply not true. The term ‘bandwidth’ refers to the amount of information that is past between the hosting servers and the end user. Most hosting companies are connected to high-speed Internet backbones (UUNET, Sprint, AT&T, etc) which charge the hosting company based on their monthly bandwidth from customers. Needless to say, if you rack up upwards of 25Gigs of bandwidth a month, that lacks financial prosperity for your hosting company. Be sure to read the terms of service very carefully with each hosting company that you are considering, especially if they advertise ‘free’ or ‘unlimited’ site features.

A hosting company’s support services often goes untested, especially with beginners in the site design and hosting world. A skilled and prompt support staff should be one of the most important decision breakers in your mind. If you run into trouble getting a perl script to work, or perhaps your database permissions are not setup correctly on the hosting company’s side. You want those problems corrected, and fast. One way to test a service’s support staff is to simply send them an e-mail and see how long it takes for a response to be sent. Try to send an inquiry to support and sales and any other department you deem necessary. Ask support if they offer a web language that you like, or ask the sales department if they charge your credit card or hire another company to do it for them. If you receive a response the same day, you can probably rest assured you will receive timely help with any inquiries you have. They should not take more than one complete day to get back to you.

Perform research away from the company’s web site. Ask questions through e-mail lists and other mediums to try and get some feedback. If the company lists a testimonials section, look into contacting the authors of the testimonials and start asking questions. The more comments you have, the better understanding you’ll have on how that hosting service treats its customers.

Pay attention to how long they have been online. A well-established hosting company of many years will most likely yield the greatest chances of customer successes. Click on the about page if they have one and read it all; after all, you may very well be giving this company your credit card number.

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty: Does the service offer what you want? Although you may expect your site to remain fairly small, allow yourself some room to grow, represented in megabytes (Mbs). If you’re using 5Mbs, look for 10. If you’re using 20Mbs, look for 30 or 40. If you are a photographer and want to use your site as a portfolio, you better opt for a more powerful account with more space and bandwidth, as images take more of both. Depending on how many images you have and how popular your site is, look for at least 50Mbs of space and 5Gigs of bandwidth. However, a regular, average size site with mostly html pages should be fine with 15 or 20Mbs and 1 or 2gigs of bandwidth and paying no more than $15 a month, depending on other features.

If you have purchased your own domain name, be sure the hosting company supports them (most do), and be sure they give you at least 1 e-mail address (you@yourdomain.com). A lot of companies offer 10 or more custom pop e-mail accounts with unlimited forwarding address at little or no additional cost, which is a nice feature.

Let’s look at a few features and offerings you might find with a Windows and Linux based hosting services.

Linux

Cheaper than Windows in general

Should offer PHP and MySQL (at least and PHP)

May offer telnet accounts at little or no additional cost

Since the Linux operating system and all Linux based languages and databases are free to install and offer for the hosting company, prices are usually lower than Windows. Perl should be supported with sendmail support for any formmail scripts. SSI is nice, along with .htaccess. Linux is the choice of most budget web designers and is also much more secure than Windows. In general, more configuration options and advanced customizations are available with Linux based hosting services.

Windows

Usually more expensive than Linux

Should support ASP

Could support Cold Fusion, Access, SQL Server at an additional cost

Windows based servers are flat out expensive for the hosting company to purchase, so prices are usually a bit higher. Cold Fusion is fairly expensive and is purchased through Allaire, now merged with Macromedia. SQL Server is also purchased for a high price through Microsoft, while Access is almost free. Any important database work should be done through SQL Server. If you want the extra features through a Windows host, be prepared to pay extra. In case you are wondering, Stevesdomain.net rests on Linux based web servers.

The decision rests in your hands. If you are completely new to the design world and know next to nothing about hosting options and features, you may find a Linux based hosting service more to your liking, and for a lower price. If you are using Microsoft Access databases for the web, a Windows based hosting service with Access support would be required for you. Take your time when looking for a hosting company. Test their support services, gather comments from others and weigh your requirements to the company’s features and offerings. Remember to leave yourself some room to grow and expand.

A Meta Tag Adventure

If You Build It, They Will Not Come

Suppose your name is Woody and you want to promote your chainsaw dealership via the Internet. You build a web site that announces the products and services of Chainsaw Sales to the world. You design the site with the latest software tools and host it with the most powerful servers available. You work very hard and put a lot of time into this project. During the process, you learn a lot about how web sites work. Your employees notice that the job title on your business card now reads “Chief Web Developer” instead of “President.” You fancy yourself a technology artist. So proud are you of the new site that you offer the first ten visitors a free chainsaw valued at $1000. Such a site would receive thousands of hits from the timber cutting community, right?

You check the statistics a week after publishing the site and learn, to your disappointment, that it received a mere one hit! Only your mother-in-law who cut and pasted the link into her AOL browser managed to traverse your work of art. She now demands that you not only deliver her free chainsaw, but that you use it to clear a nasty grove of redwoods from her back yard. Family politics aside, you shouldn’t take it personally that no one came to the Internet grand opening of Chainsaw Sales, should you? Nah. Successful web artists only pity the competition. Besides, those missing visitors were probably just not aware that the greatest chainsaw dealership in the world made its web debut. But, how are people going to find your web site without you actually giving them the address? Doesn’t the Internet do that automatically?

You brew some coffee and perform a Yahoo search using the words “web” and “promote” and “increase traffic.” After a bit of reading you learn that you can promote your site to various search engines and that you can optimize the ranking by using something called “meta tags.” You read further. As best you can determine, meta tags announce the topic of your pages, describe their content, and provide other information useful for search engines in cataloguing pages. So, if your pages contain meta tags that accurately describe the site, you might get visitors who will buy some chainsaws. Visitors who search Looksmart.com for Chainsaw Sales should return results that yield a link to the page and an accurate description of what they will find there.

I’m an Artist, not a Programmer
As you research meta tags a bit further, you learn that they are actually part of the html code inside an html page. Thats a negative because the newly discovered right side of your brain shuns mathematics. Besides, you have been warned by your programmer friends of the mysterious missing time phenomenon that prevents coders from accounting for hours, even days of time. But youve come too far to let html stand in the way of your technology renaissance. Knowing html will help you create meta tags, but it’s not necessary.

After reviewing meta tags on other web sites, you surmise that they tend to occur in two forms: the META NAME and the HTTP-EQUIV varieties. The first tag below tells search engine spiders to come back after two weeks. The second tag tells spiders when the pages content expires so it knows when to revisit. Spiders are agents that gather content for search engine databases. Besides the words META NAME and HTTP-EQUIV, both tags are exactly alike in syntax. The only other difference is whats inside the quotation marks. The first item in quotes describes what the tag does, the second item in quotes is the variable or the part that you change to affect search engine placement.

<META NAME=”revisit-after” CONTENT=”2 Weeks”>
<META HTTP-EQUIV=”expires” CONTENT=”Fri, 04 Dec 2001 21:29:02 GMT”>

All meta tags should be placed between the <HEAD> and </HEAD> tags in your html source. The opening <HEAD> tag usually comes at the beginning of the source code after the opening <HTML> tag (normally the very first tag that appears).
<!–pagebreak–>
The Big Three

The more you research meta tags, the more tag types you discover, each with its own good intentions. After sifting through over a hundred or so, choosing the right tags for your web site becomes a confusing task. Even the tag names themselves can be daunting to the non-programmer. There are actually tags called Abstractand Pragma.However, three particular tags seem more common than the others: Title, Keywords, and Description.

The Title tag states the name of your page and perhaps a brief description. The title of your page should be enclosed between the opening and closing tags, <TITLE> and </TITLE> respectively. You can simply insert the name of your home page or company as in:

<TITLE>Chainsaw Sales</TITLE>
Or include the title with a short description as in:
<TITLE>Chainsaw Sales – a cut above saw dealer</TITLE>

The title text is not viewable by your visitors in the page itself, but shows up in the Windows task bar and in a browsers favorites or bookmarks. If you include a description in your title, it should not be longer than about five words or else the browsers favorites will truncate the title when bookmarked. Notice that the Title tag is a standard html tag and does not include META NAME and HTTP-EQUIV nor quotation marks.

The Keywords tag makes words that describe the content of your page available to search engines. Commas should separate the keywords. The most important words should appear first. You want to think very carefully about which words to use. Flaunting your vocabulary or using redundancy is usually not the best practice. Although search engines now place less emphasis on this tag than in previous years, Inktomi still uses the it. With some careful thought, you place these keywords in your Keywords meta tag:

<META NAME=”keywords” CONTENT=”Chainsaws, Tools, Trees, Cut, Saws, Blades, Axes, Hatchets, Wood Chippers, Repair, Rental, Timber Services, Logging, Logs, Lumber, Pulp, Timber, Pulpwood, Sawdust, Defoliation”>

With the Description tag, you want to take a minimalist approach, squeezing as much important information about your page as possible in the smallest amount of space. The page description should be less than 200 words. A reflection on the mission statement and business model of Chainsaw Sales yields the following Description meta tag:

<META NAME=”description” CONTENT=”Whether trees or prices, we love cutting for our customers. We have the finest, lowest priced chainsaws and timber cutting tools. Contact us for a free demonstration (please, no redwoods).”>

You are confident that most site rankings can be greatly improved by simply using the big three meta tags. You insert these tags into the source of your main page and publish it to the web. The tags appear together like this:

<TITLE>Chainsaw Sales – a cut above saw dealer</TITLE>

<META NAME=”keywords” CONTENT=”Chainsaws, Tools, Trees, Cut, Saws, Blades, Axes, Hatchets, Wood Chippers, Repair, Rental, Timber Services, Logging, Logs, Lumber, Pulp, Timber, Pulpwood, Sawdust, Defoliation, Deforestation, Ardennes”>

<META NAME=”description” CONTENT=”Whether trees or prices, we love cutting for our customers. We have the finest, lowest priced chainsaws and timber cutting tools. Contact us for a free demonstration (please, no redwoods).”>
<!–pagebreak–>
The Long Arm of Spammers

A few months go by after your meta tag coup. The ten chainsaws from the free giveaway have been shipped. Your traffic has increased greatly. Your mother-in-laws redwoods have been cleared. You have received numerous orders via the Internet. However, you notice that you are suddenly getting a hefty amount of spam in your inbox. Not that you dont already shovel your share of spam, but something seems different. This spam is not from the usual spammers, but from some unfamiliar sources, including some invitations of a particularly deviant sort.

After some investigating, you discover the culprit was the E-mail meta tag that you inserted into your web pages. You thought that the tag would be used by someone who needed to contact you for a business reason. However, it turns out that spammers (proliferators of unsolicited e-mail) have actually sent out their own spiders and gathered your e-mail address for unscrupulous marketing purposes! The solution is to remove your good e-mail address and replace it with an address that you filter or check once a month, your spam target address. Beware of the E-mail tag! An example is:

<LINK REV=”made” HREF=”myaddress@domain.com”>

Conclusion

There is much more to meta tag lore than discussed here. In the above adventure, Woody looks at the trees, not the forest. Each search engine employs different methods of gathering data for indexing. Meta tags are not a guarantee of high placement, but may help rankings with some search engines, especially when using the big three.

Many programs and free online meta tag generator tools make it easy to create meta tags without even looking at the html source. One such program is Metty Freeware Meta Tag Maker. After publishing your web pages, keep your eye on the way search engines are displaying and ranking them. Experiment with meta tags. You may learn something and you may discover yourself to be an artist.