10 Questions to Ask Before Choosing Web Hosting

Posted: Monday March 28th

Q. How reliable is the service of a web host?

Q. What kind of performance can I expect?

Q. How good is email and phone support?

Q. How much will it cost me?

Q. How much bandwidth will I need for data transfer?

Q. What about a control panel?

Q. What about a POP3 account?

Q. What about anti spam and viruses features?

Q. What about running my own online store?

Q. What about Online Marketing Support?

9 Steps to Transferring to New Web Host

Posted: Monday March 28th

1. Before you sign up for your new web hosting services, make sure that your new plan offers all of the same features that your web site is currently using. Do you have enough disk space? Does your new plan offer enough bandwidth? Is it using the same operating system (Windows or Unix)? Also make sure that your new plan supports any programming languages that you are currently using.

2. Once you have researched the company and verified that the new web hosting company will support your website, go ahead and sign up for your new web hosting plan.

3. Set up your existing e-mail accounts on your new server. Make note of the new POP3 and SMTP that you will soon need to start using.

4. Upload your website files to your new server. Since your domain name currently points to your old hosting account, you will have to use your new IP address to do this.

5. Test to make sure that your site looks good and functions properly on your new server. Most web hosting companies can provide a link to preview your site before the domain name has been transferred over.

6. Once you are satisfied that your site looks and functions OK, you can go to your registrar and change the DNS settings to point the domain to the new web host’s nameservers. You should be provided this information after signing up for your account.

7. You will see your site on the new server 24-48 hours after you modify the DNS settings. Your e-mail will also start going to your new account at this time.

8. Modify your e-mail client with your new POP3 and SMTP e-mail settings.

9. Verify that your new website is working OK. Make sure that all of the files were loaded properly and that all scripts are running fine.

You have now successfully switched to a new cheap web hosting company!

Web Hosting Bandwidth Explained

Posted: Monday March 28th

When you are buying insufficient bandwidth, you might find yourself in two undesired situations: paying, usually high fees, for the extra bandwidth your web site needed or having your web site shut off. Overbuying bandwidth is not a good thing either as it will put you in the position to pay for something you don’t use. This article is intended to help you determine just how much of bandwidth your web site requires.

What is bandwidth anyway?

Let’s just see what bandwidth is. Bandwidth is the term that is used to denote the amount of data that has been transferred from your web space to the computers of your visitors. To put it simple, bandwidth is the amount of data that flows across a network wire in a given period of time. In web hosting industry this time period usually is one month. This happens simply because web hosting providers are also charged monthly for their huge broadband Internet connection. This is the cost that ultimately is then passed on to the consumer in the form price for their individual web hosting plan.

Bandwidth being such a delicate matter for a successful web presence, could you at least estimate the bandwidth needs of your web site? The answer is yes, you can estimate it, but you can never be sure of your estimate being perfectly correct because of all the variables involved.

How do I calculate my bandwidth?

If your index.html page has a size of let’s say 50 KB, every time you get a visitor on your start page (assuming that your visitors will only open you first page and not browse your entire web site), your visitor will download 50 KB of information onto his or hers computer. For 100 visitors, you will get a total of 5.000 KB of data being transferred from the web server hosting your site to your visitor’s computers.

So a formula for computing your estimated needs of bandwidth would look like this: Size of your web content * number of visitors that accessed that web page = your consumed bandwidth

The formula looks very simple, yet estimating correctly the bandwidth required by your web site is anything but simple. This is obvious when you look at what makes up this formula.

The size of one web page is one thing, and the total size of your web site is another. You should take into consideration the total size of your web site and this means including files offered for download. Also web sites grow in time or even change completely. When this happens, you must redo the estimates for your web site bandwidth.

When it comes to visitors browsing your web site, it is rather difficult to predict what pages your visitors will access. For example, some visitors would stop at the index page, other will look for the contact details, and some will download your brochure. Knowing the sheer number of visitors your site has over one month can be very helpful in estimating the bandwidth required to support them.

Ultimately, when trying to find out the amount of bandwidth your web site requires you must answer two important questions:

What is the size of your web site? What is the traffic your web site will get? For a not very large web site that is not very that doesn’t offer audio/video downloads and doesn’t get very much traffic, you don’t need a very large amount of bandwidth. Average web sites use only about 500 MB of monthly bandwidth. But for small web sites that generate a lot of traffic, you should consider a web hosting plan that offers a lot of bandwidth.

For your reference, an average web site (for example a personal or a family web site) will also get average traffic, meaning a range of 50-500 visitors per day.

When assessing the requirements of your web site bandwidth, you must also understand that although you have purchased your web hosting together with the bandwidth as “per month”, your total monthly bandwidth is usually broken down into daily rates. Exceeding the daily rates might result in having your web site shut down for the day.

How to keep your bandwidth down?

Having a lot of rich web content (images, flash files, audio files) is a good way to make your web site more attractive for your visitors, but also is the shortest way to burn out your bandwidth. This article won’t tell you to give up using such files for your web site, instead simply point out that overcrowding your web pages with images could harm not only your bandwidth, but also the usability of your web site. Good web site design is not proportional with the number of images per page.

Offering downloads on your web such as site music files, .PDF files, flash or video files is another thing that will almost sure consume your bandwidth by just a handful of visitors. The simple download of an average .PDF file half of megabyte in size will consume monthly 1 GB of bandwidth, only with 2.000 people downloading it.

Stick to your goals and adjust your web site’s content strictly to fulfill them.

Keeping down the amount of bandwidth your web site is consuming might be easy to achieve with good preparation and excellent web design.

To avoid sky-high bandwidth costs, try to apply the following suggestions:

1) Make the file size of your web pages as small as possible. Lots of tools, some of them freeware can help you to do just that by compressing them.

2) Keep the images on your web site to a minimum. For the images included in your web site, use .JPG or .GIF compression tools to reduce the size and still keep the quality at an acceptable level.

3) Try not to offer too many downloadable files. If your have to offer downloadable files, it is best to only include the ones around 1 MB in size.

The right way the to start when planning your web site’s bandwidth needs, apart from the traffic your site will get, is to look at the type your content your are going to serve to your visitors. If your web site is packed with multimedia (video, music, flash etc) or if your offer .PDF files for download, you might consider opting for a dedicated server. Even in the event your web site is just starting out an you have limited funding for its hosting, it would be wise to choose a web hosting provider that will offer you a plan with more resources than your estimate need at a reasonable price.

As no matter how good your estimate is, there is a chance that it will fail, don’t forget to look at the charges for the bandwidth exceeding your monthly plan.

eCommerce and other strange animals

Posted: Friday January 28th

At it’s most simplistic level; eCommerce is simply the buying and selling of goods, services or information via the World Wide Web, email or other pathways on the Internet. It is here to stay and will play a bigger role in our lives over the years ahead. Ecommerce and Ebusiness are interchangeable terms. eCommerce can be broken down into the following sections:

- eTailing. These are mainly “virtual” storefronts which act as a catalogue of products of merchants and usually include a “shopping cart” system to enable consumers to purchase online with the use of credit cards. Today’s Internet climate dictates that if you can’t buy what you see online while you are online; you will probably lose the sale. The great advantage of etailing is international coverage at minimum cost and the ability to trade 24 hours a day with minimum staffing levels. The benefits to consumers are shopping from home and a wide range of choice. This range of choice can sometimes be a downfall as it confuses some consumers who in frustration may give up on buying the product at all!

- EDI (Electronic Data exchange). This is the business to business (b2b) flow of information between companies or within a company itself. The 90′s saw the concept information equalling power. Whatever creates power also generates money and therefore creates new enterprises to supply this information. EDI is being replaced with XML. He with the most relevant data on his hard drive wins!

- Email and faxing. Direct marketing through email. Unfortunately, it also creates the equivalent of what we find in our physical mailboxes every day; junk mail – electronic junk mail is known as spam. Terrabytes of spam is circulating around the Internet at any given time, which slows down our global network. While this is one of the negative aspects of eCommerce, direct marketing ploys, if carried out properly are a very successful and acceptable way of generating income for a business

- Security services. The broad exposure of (and sometimes hyped) dangers of credit card and direct debit transactions via the Internet has rocketed the growth of many companies who provide security services to protect consumer & business transactions. This can include authorisation/encryption technologies and creating secure areas on web sites. This will be a growth area for as long as eCommerce is with us because you can guarantee that as soon as a new “unhackable” technology is introduced – someone has hacked it. Some hackers view themselves as rebels, antiestablishment and “socialists”; but in reality they actually fuel the security services market and provide huge dividends for shareholders in successful security services firms. Good one guys… you won’t change the world for the better by sniffing around bank accounts!

- Statistics. Demographics and survey results regarding Internet habits is a huge industry. Web planners rely on information from these sources in planning web sites and justifying marketing and promotional expenediture.

- B2B (Business to Business). When I began in Computer Hardware sales some years ago, I spent a great deal of time and money on national and international phone calls to locate components. In 2001, if contacting a supplier meant having to pick up a telephone; I wouldn’t bother doing business with them. The B2B world of today means that wholesalers and retailers have a means of fast and efficient communications and transactions; the Internet.

Bill Gates is reported to have said something along the lines of: “In a few years, there will only be 2 types of businesses, those that are online and those that are out of business.” You may not buy anything online yourself, but I’ll guarantee that most of the companies that supply you with goods and services do – knowingly or not we all have our role in this brave new world……