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Article 1, What do I need to look for in a website server?Views: 1106
Sep 16, 2007 4:24 amArticle 1, What do I need to look for in a website server?#

Reg Charie

A question a lot have on their minds when starting out is "What do I need to look for in a website server?".

My opinions here are going to be slanted, as I have done hosting since 1998 and have worked on a LOT of servers, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Zero Grief Hosting is my company.
The reason I started hosting was to provide a level of support to my clients that was unavailable at most shared hosting sites.

That being said, let's look at your options.

  • Free Hosting.
    Comes at a price. These free sites usually include their ads on your page.
    Usually limited in needed features. (No web stats, Email, SQL access, script access, etc).

    Also projects a poor image for the business. Would YOU trust a company that did not have enough confidence to spend $75 a year on their own server?
  • Supplied website and hosting.
    Usually supplied by MLM companies and reseller programs.
    While usually good for what they are, they will need constant marketing and back-link building to be of ANY use.
    MLM marketing is a very competitive niche and having one of umpteen thousand identical sites is not going to cut it.
    Supplied services are also usually done in "Framed Pages" which offer no content to the search engines and the multitude of cookie cutter sites will never get indexed.

    Usually the manufactures will not complain if you host this on your own server and break the site out of frames.
    This will give you a head start in the search engines, your best source of traffic.
  • Shared hosting.
    Packages come all shapes and sizes. Prices range from a couple of bucks a week to over $100.
    My hosting starts at $5.95 a month. Annual plans get a free month. Ryze members are given a free month up front on either plan. 
    Subsequent domains are at $4.00 a month.

    Some of the things to consider:
    • Space.
      How big of a home will you need for your online business?
      Don't be seduced by lots and lots of space.
      I offer 250 MB Disk Space for my basic account and only 1% ever reaches near their limit.
    • Bandwidth.
      The same with our 10 GB Bandwidth, few even come to 25%.
    • Email. (We offer unlimited POP3 SMTP based accounts).
      Unlimited accounts are good but how many will ever use more than one or two??
      One account is easier to manage using forwarders that will send anything@your_domain.com to you.
      It is always more professional looking to have your email sent and received at your domain rather then a MSN, GMail, or Yahoo type account.
    • WebMail
      There will be times when you wish to check your email when not at home.
      WebMail allows you to do this from any computer.
    • MySQL Database support.
      For the un-initiated MySQL is a database system that works in conjunction with PHP coded pages.
      Having this service will allow you to setup programs like forums, chat rooms, and content management systems that are database driven.
      While most sites are still written in HTTP, dynamic PHP/MySQL is gaining in popularity.
    • Front Page Extensions.
      While being phased out by Microsoft there is still enough interest in this web authoring system to keep offering it.
      Even if one does not design in Front Page, it allows access to the server in a direct link and makes transferring files and editing PHP pages a snap.
    • Ecommerce Ready.
      This means little. Any site can be made an eCommerce site with the addition of a bit of code.
      We also offer several Free eCommerce open source packages.
    • FTP Manager.
      Again this will have little value to users.
      A FTP manager allows the site owner to make FTP accounts for specific users. The owner does not need one for themselves but can be useful when collaborating with site design and business partners or clients. 
      Files can be transferred to specific accounts only accessible to those that have permission to do so.
    • File Manager.
      This allows you to check, add, or edit files on your server without using a FTP program.
    • CGI Center or access.
      Having a CGI-BIN folder will allow you to run various CGI scripts. Some of these are used for form management and mailing programs.
      Security is always a problem with CGI scripts and they should always be renamed as hackers can easily gain access if they know the name of the script. "Form-Mail.cgi" is a good example of this. While a very good script, it has been in circulation for a very long time and is well known, and has been hacked countless times.
    • Daily Backups.
      If you make a bad error, or if your site gets hacked, having a working backup of your site will save your countless hours of work.
      Of course, most of you will not need this as you all make backups of your sites every time you make a change.
      (Don't you?)
    • Custom Error Pages.
      Can be useful to promote your products or just as a change from the normal, "We cant find this page - 404 error".
    • Sub-Domains.
      Not really necessary for most sites as instead of setting up a www.sub-domain.your-domain.com you can set it up as www.your-domain.com/sub-domain
    • Redirects.
      Quite important.
      These come into play when you make a new page and want to transfer visitors to the old page to the new.
      Doing the transfer using a permanent redirect keeps the traffic that would normally be lost coming to your new pages.
      When doing a site remake, the site can be built in a new, unpublished, folder and then the main index page on the old site can be redirected. My www.fantasticmachines.com site is an example. If you go there, look at the address in your browser's address bar. it will have a /store added to the URL.
    • Web Stats.
      If you do not know where your visitors come from, how long they stay, what pages they look at, or any of a number of other details, you will be lacking the information necessary to improve your site and marketing.
      One of the best webstats programs is AwStats.
      This is one of the stats programs we offer our hosting clients.
      While we also offer a few other programs, AwStats is the program of choice as it offers the most detailed metrics in an easy to understand format.
      In upcoming threads I will be discussing the various reports offered by AwStats and a couple of value added free programs that site owners should use.
    • Add on programs.
      Chat rooms, guest books, bulleting boards, and scripts are all available and installed through cPanel.


    That should about do it for this post.

    Any questions?




Private Reply to Reg Charie

Sep 16, 2007 7:10 pmre: Article 1, What do I need to look for in a website server?#

Kathy Buck
Excellent point about free servers Reg!

To many peole with a webaddress www. geocities.com/mybizname.html

Your business name is buried, people will remember the geocities.com NOT the backslash "your biz name" dot html.
Congrats, you are advertising for that free server for free!

If you can't afford an investment of 5-10 bucks a month for hosting and the price of domain. Why should I buy from you or take you serious.

Some will argue that they are being smart business people by using whats free as a resource. To them I say you are nothing but a host advertising and branding a free server, not your own business. Are you going to wear a FREE t-shirt to a networking business meeting advertising someone elses business as well? Pass thier biz cards out too because the munchies are free?



Private Reply to Kathy Buck

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