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WEBSITE MARKETING

Unbiased Step-by-step Guide on Webhosting
By: Developer Shed
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    2004-04-01

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    Unbiased Step-by-step Guide on Webhosting
    by Pavel Lenshin


    ------------------------------------------------------------
    copyright (c) Pavel Lenshin
    ------------------------------------------------------------


    No more speeches about importance of your own domain, no
    more talks about necessity of having paid hosting. If you
    think your brand domain name and stable hosting with a
    number of features and absence of ads are not worth, at
    least, $50-$150 per year, then you probably want to play
    games, rather than build online business.

    Choosing hosting provider is something similar to choosing
    the place of your off-line office. Despite the fact that it
    is as easy to enter the URL and go to web-site that is
    physically located in Sidney as in Oslo, the final role here
    plays the speed of connection and stability of the hosting
    itself.

    The problem with hosting comes down to the old statute of
    running ebusiness - that is RESEARCH before ACT! The easiest
    thing to do online is to pay money, the hardest is to THINK
    OVER what I'm paying for! That statement is true with
    hosting also because you can pay, let's say, $35 monthly for
    some particular hosting service, without notice that in two
    mouse clicks there is a hosting offer providing two times
    better services for $15 per month only, so you will keep on
    losing services as well as $20 monthly that accumulates up
    to $240 annually losses as a Fee for not doing hosting
    research! Besides you should keep your eyes open for very
    good discounted offers that could save you 30-50% for the
    first year of payments.

    Phase I - Determining NEEDS

    1. Estimate your ebusiness basic requirements: total
    web-space needed, monthly bandwidth (approximate traffic
    volume multiplied by the most visited web-pages' total size)
    and ability to run CGI scripts as a must for every
    ebusiness.

    If it is content rich web-site, example of your first year
    of hosting may look like this:

    * 30-50Mb of disc space;
    * 500Mb-1Gb of monthly bandwidth;
    * cgi-bin to be able to run your own scripts an offer
    additional services;

    If it is sales web-site, your first year of hosting should
    be something similar to these requirements:

    * 50-300Mb of disc space depending on how much info products
    you are going to sell and therefore upload on your server;
    * 1-3Gb of monthly bandwidth;
    * cgi-bin to be able to run your own scripts an offer
    additional services;

    In particular case with one-two ebooks and three-four pages
    sales web-site, 10Mb of storage space with 500Mb of monthly
    bandwidth, in general, is more than enough, if you are not
    going to expand it, so look closely and examine your
    potential but remember: you ALWAYS have a chance to expand,
    but you will NOT be able to get your money back if you
    overpay for services or web-space you don't need. That is
    called efficient ebusiness running.

    2. Determine additional services that are necessary or
    preferably to have. Consider among them the following:

    * Email aliases
    * URL Redirects
    * Web Mail
    * FTP access/ FTP Accounts
    * Web control panel
    * Graphic statistics
    * Custom error pages
    * POP3 Accounts
    * Sub-domains
    * Autoresponders
    * Mailing List(s)
    * Password protected directories
    * MYSQL database(s)
    * Perl
    * PHP
    * SSI

    and


    * marketing info & support
    * promotional help (SE submissions, free banner impressions)
    * shopping cart
    * chat
    * forum

    3. Plan your hosting expenses beforehand. Usually the amount
    you pay depends on the amount of services you choose, but
    not always as there are hosting providers, which offer
    identical services for totally different money. The saying
    that "You get what you paid for" is not necessarily true,
    especially what concerns high profit margins internet
    business. Although hosting service is not pure online as it
    involves some physical computer systems to be installed,
    nevertheless paying more for less is extremely possible. In
    other words, know your budget.

    Phase II. Selecting the ONLY ONE!

    1. Those who start looking for proper place or business
    web-site should have one or several possible hosts in view
    that you knew or met positive feedback about. For now just
    make a note of them and put aside, we will come back for
    them in the step 3.

    2. Now it is time to search among hundreds of offers.
    Accomplish your search by filling online forms at:

    http://www.google.com
    http://www.hostcompare.com
    http://www.findmyhosting.com
    http://www.findwebspace.com
    http://www.hostsearch.com/search_main.asp

    Click on advanced/enhanced search option if available, input
    all your approximate criteria that we determined at the
    first phase and here we go! Tens if not hundreds of wannabe
    your host providers at your computer screen in less than a
    minute.

    3. Narrow your search by selecting first ten (or more if you
    have the will and spare time) results on every search site
    page(s). Now you should have 50 (or more) host providers and
    2-5 hosting companies you heard and knew about before.

    In the next step we will start to compare all of them in
    order to choose the one that deserves your hard-earned
    money. This task is being accomplished by simple viewing and
    testing each of the host providers' web-site. How to test
    and what things to pay close attention to are explained
    below, but first eliminate all duplicate hosts if there are
    any.

    4. Knowing your potential market will help you to
    differentiate some of the host providers by selecting those
    who are physically located closer to your market. If your
    auditory is mainly English speaking people then you should
    think about choosing servers that are located in US. If you
    are a German restaurant owner running web-site for local
    market it is not critical, but preferable to put your
    web-site to web servers that are located in Germany, not in
    US. I have mentioned web servers instead of hosting
    providers on purpose, because the hosting provider itself
    may be located and registered in one place, but having their
    servers co-located in other city or country, like my own
    provider situated
    in Moscow, but the web-site they host, physically co-located
    at their US servers. If you provide universal services (like
    web-design) and shoot for the global markets offering
    multilanguage site, then physical location of host provider
    is subsidiary.

    5. We start from removing absolute "losers". The first
    criterion they won't pass is the look of their web-site. Is
    it professional or there are amateurish colors with 3 or
    more banners? If you think the price of their site design is
    not even worth $100 you may close their site and forget
    about them. By doing so, you distinguish profitable host
    providers from those that don't even have $300-1000 to
    invest in the professional look of their web-site. You may
    not even read what they wrote on their sites as their
    appearances tell ten times more about their businesses than
    no words can.

    6. Check technical specifications of the hosting servers
    that are being offered for your shared hosting. Needless to
    say that Pentium III 450 Mhz with 1 Gb of RAM, for instance,
    is worse than Pentium IV 2.2 Ghz with 4 Gb of RAM.
    Outer channels bandwidth and speed can also give you the
    image of how established the host provider is. You may not
    need to know all specifications of routers, connectors or
    other devices, just ask for specific numbers that are easy
    to compare. That analysis will also tell what hosts are
    worth further testing and what aren't.

    7. We also need to reassure that our web-site as well as all
    possible databases won't be vanished due to power supply
    overload, virus, fire etc. It is important to check what
    kind of maintenance conditions they offer. - Do they provide
    at least 99,5% uptime guarantee? - What kind of independent
    power supply they offer? - Is there automatic back up
    option? - Do they have fire and humidity control systems?

    Some host providers wouldn't even bother to tell you about
    these control systems. You know what to do with them - they
    go off the list!

    8. Next stage is to send them a prewritten email asking for
    some question. It may be some purposeful inquiry or
    imaginary one just for testing task. Those who failed to
    response in 24 hours are off the list also. Remember, that
    email, due to the "unstable nature" of the internet, may not
    be even delivered, so write for the second time, if no
    response again, than they aren't worth the ink to spend on
    them by crossing their web-site address out of the list :0)
    Just carefully tear them out :0)

    9. The last test that we run is to check the connection
    speed of the remaining hosts. You should know how fast the
    response of your web-site will be.

    Two online services would help us in fulfilling this task,
    namely:

    * http://netmechanic.com/server_check/site_monitoring.htm
    this one will check a particular server within 8 hours and
    email you the report.
    * http://www.webhostdir.com/toolkit/comparehosts.asp allows
    to compare 4 hosts simultaneously by entering 4 domain names
    of respective web-sites.

    I would suggest testing each host twice. First time to check
    the response rate of their corporate web-sites, and second
    time by comparing speed of their clients' web-site as there
    may be a big difference. Just make sure clients are using
    approximately the same shared hosting plans.

    That is all. By now you should have several options: your
    gold, silver and bronze hosting winners. You can go ahead in
    setting up your web-site with anyone you prefer more. Don't
    lose the rest though, as they may prove to be useful in case
    some collision occurs with your present "winner". Last
    thing. When your web-site is online, don't just forget to
    create additional page for providing your new service -
    expert analysis of selecting web-hosting. :0)

    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Pavel Lenshin is a publisher of NET Business Magazine,
    professional web-developer and CEO of:
    - http://ASBONE.com/ - informational portal and provider of
    discounted internet services for entrepreneurs, including
    internet access, web-design and hosting;
    - http://InfoAlchemist.com/ - a must-have business library.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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