A Change in Paradigm: Dedicated Server

Written by Richard Lowe

I found it hard to believe, but suddenly I was faced with a real problem. Well, I suppose most people would not consider it a huge problem, quiterepparttar opposite, in fact. However, it was stressing me out complete, interfering with my writing. I even had trouble sleeping.

What was this horrendous problem? My web site was becoming very popular. So popular, in fact, that I was getting very worried about bandwidth charges.

You see, this was happening after September 11th, 2001, and I had been reading about some people who had created very special and beautiful sites. These sites were so incredible that they attracted lots and lots of visitors. So many visitors that they received hundreds of gigabytes worth of traffic. The webmasters suddenly found themselves charged hundreds or even thousands of dollars for using bandwidth over their allocations.

I had purchased a contract with a shared hosting service which allowed 27gb/month of traffic. This seemed like more than enough atrepparttar 134446 time. However, I was noticingrepparttar 134447 bandwidth increasing at an alarming rate - about 2gb/day. At that rate, I would exceedrepparttar 134448 allotment by quite a bit. I had some time, but not much.

Okay, what to do? I looked around atrepparttar 134449 various shared hosting options and didn't see much that was all that attractive. There were some that offered "unlimited" bandwidth - I didn't trust these at all. Most ofrepparttar 134450 terms and conditions actually did place a "reasonable" limit of some kind. I preferred a limit that was know verses a limit that was unknown.

Actually, truth be known, I was getting a little tired ofrepparttar 134451 paid host option. I mean, it's far improved from free hosts, but there is still much room for improvement. Some ofrepparttar 134452 things that were bothering me were:

Downtime - All ofrepparttar 134453 shared hosting servers that I'd checked out so far seemed to be down more often than desired. I've been inrepparttar 134454 computer industry for over 23 years, and to me a few hours of downtime in an entire year is about all that's acceptable. It's not that hard to achieve these kinds of statistics - I've been doing it myself for years.

Support - The level of support from virtually all hosting companies I've used to date has been pathetic to mediocre. My expectation is simple. My site is down, I want someone to work on it quickly. I want to call someone, get an answer right away, and getrepparttar 134455 problem resolved. Especially during normal business hours. I have never received that level of support from any hosting company yet.

Strange errors - I've noticed that my web sites will run fine for a few days or weeks, then start having strange delays. I know this because I monitor my sites with an automated service. These delays are probably caused by things that other customers are doing onrepparttar 134456 same server.

Lack of communication - Web host support people seem to forget that we webmasters and businessmen depend upon our web sites. I don't know about you, but if my site goes down for any length of time I completely freak out. I want to know why it's down and what's being done about it. And virtually always I get no answers. This is most annoying whenrepparttar 134457 downtime has been planned - these hosts have my email address, why is it so hard to send an email and let me know what's going on?

Changing Web Hosts

Written by Richard Lowe

One ofrepparttar biggest pains about having a web site is changing web hosts. I ought to know, I've changed over half a dozen times inrepparttar 134445 last three years. Each time has been a step up and with each move it becomes easier and easier to change.

Why change web hosts?

In many cases, your web site isrepparttar 134446 first and only thing that your customer sees (besides, hopefully, your product after they make a purchase). This is especially true if your company does not have a real-world presence such as a store or office. Thus it is important that your web site be available to your visitors (and customers if your site is commercial) twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Not only must it be available, but your web site must load quickly. If your host computer is too slow, it doesn't matter how much you optimize your graphics and HTML, cut down page sizes and perform other actions.

Other features must work properly. These include CGI routines, autoresponders, PHP, ASP and SSI scripts, and, very importantly, shopping carts and credit card services.

All of this is so important that you must keep an eye on your site. I use two services: alertsite and internetseer. Both of these ping my site occasionally to determine if it is up. Any errors are reported to my email inbox. Why do I do this? Two reasons: (a) it's critical that my site be online all ofrepparttar 134447 time, and (b) these services provide a third-party record of any downtime, which is useful when attempting to get fees refunded.

These two services also measure response time, which is very useful to determine how well your site responds to your users browsing requests. These two factors, uptime and response time, arerepparttar 134448 most critical measures of web site performance. A consistently bad number in either measure is more than enough reason to find another host.

Of course, if your CGI routines stop working mysteriously or your autoresponders stop responding, then by all means shoot off a trouble ticket to your host. You have a right to expect these types of issues to be quickly and politely fixed. If they are not andrepparttar 134449 errors continue, then consider moving to another host.

Getting Ready to Move

There are a number of tasks that you should be performing on a regular basis. You see, you cannot predict when you might have to change web hosts. It could be that they are suddenly sold and their level of service drops, or they upgrade their computers which causes a series of new problems. You can be sure that you will only find out about these things when your web site stops working or becomes unstable.

Another reason to be performing regular maintenance tasks isrepparttar 134450 possibility of disasters. A hacker could deface or even destroy your web site. Your credit card could be closed, which might cause your host to close down your site until you pay. Any number of other disasters could occur, which make it very imperative that you have a continual set of procedures in place to be prepared for anything.

What do you need to do regularly?

Monitor your site - As I stated earlier, be sure you use a site monitoring service to keep an eye on your web site. That way you will know immediately if something happens.

Backup your site - You should perform all edits to your pages on your own computer and upload them to your site. Never edit your site pages directly. This, by it's very nature, ensures that a copy of your site always exists on your own computer system.

However, you may also have databases stored on your web site which do not originate from your computer. These might include mailing lists, demographic data, links and other similar things. These items must all be copied to your own hard drive on a regular basis.

You can set up your favorite FTP program to do scheduled downloads of selected databases, or you can just manually copy them on a regular basis.

In addition, your web host should be backing your site up daily. In many instances, these backups are available to your as downloadable zip files. Be sure and copy these down to your system once in a while - perhaps once a week.

Don't forget about such things as autoresponders, CGI routines and anything else which you may enter at your site control panel. You must ensure that you have a backup of everything.

Keep a log - Be sure you know everything that you've done to your site. You should list all of your autoresponders and their names, track any subdomains which you have set up, and anything else which you may do. This way if you have to change you can recreate your site quickly and efficiently.

Only use a domain name - Always reference your site via a domain name which you have purchased and control. Never, ever userepparttar 134451 URL provided by your web host, as tempting as this can be at times. I ran into a situation where my web host URL was somehow entered into a number of search engines, and I discovered I was getting tens of thousands of hits from these URLs. This forced me to keep paying forrepparttar 134452 old site after I switched hosts, just to be able to redirectrepparttar 134453 traffic to my new site.

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