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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!

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.