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.

What Makes For A Good Host?

Written by Richard Lowe

I've had to change web hosts a number of times. In fact, I spent most of this week changing from one host to another. Believe me, it is a major pain, although I have made sure that my site is always ready to move if necessary.

One thing I've become is very aware ofrepparttar difference between a good host and a bad host. To put it simply (and obviously) a good host makes it easy for you to create and maintain your web site. A bad host gets inrepparttar 134444 way and makes you angry, unhappy and gives you an ulcer.

The key point to remember when evaluating hosts isrepparttar 134445 most important quality is responsiveness - of your site and support people. Your site should be up virtually all ofrepparttar 134446 time (unfortunately computer crashes do happen but they should be rare and far between) and it must be fast. In addition, all good hosts react in a timely manner to support issues and questions. You can tell when a host is going bad fromrepparttar 134447 failure of these key areas - unresponsive technical support, slow servers or constant downtime.

This article is intended as a kind of checklist - what is essential, essential if you need it, optional and not important at all? Look it over, then when you go to find a good host pull outrepparttar 134448 article and make sure it measures up.

Essential Qualities

There are a few attributes which are common to all good hosts.

Reasonable support - This is something you won't know until you've started using a web host and hopefully you will not need much support. However, when you have a question, concern or problem, it's essential thatrepparttar 134449 you have a way to contactrepparttar 134450 support staff. Just as important isrepparttar 134451 handling ofrepparttar 134452 issue needs to be fast and efficient. I wouldn't insist on a phone number, but an email or form interface with quick responses is essential.

Even if you don't have any particular reason to contact support, it's a good idea to send off a message occasionally just to see if they are onrepparttar 134453 ball.

Access to control panel - You should not use a host unless it gives you access to a well defined control panel. What does this do for you? It allows you to controlrepparttar 134454 features of your web site (account) from your web browser. For example, usingrepparttar 134455 menu you should be able to upload files, protect directories, add autoresponders and so on.

Excellent automation - This is perhaps one ofrepparttar 134456 more important features of a good host. Automation. You should be able to access everything you want from a well designed menu and do virtually anything without involving a human being.

Control of creating protected directories - Sometimes it doesn't seem important, but sooner or later you will almost certainly want to create a protected directory. This is a directory (or folder) on your web site which requires a username and password. Any good web host will allow you to do this directly from your account menu.

Error pages - I would not host my site anywhere I could not create my own 401, 403 and 404 errors pages. I likerepparttar 134457 idea of letting visitors know in a nice way when there is a problem. The better hosts allow these files to be maintained fromrepparttar 134458 control panel, although some simply allow you to edit your .htaccess file directly.

Reasonable performance - A web site must load quickly. It's hard enough to get page sizes down torepparttar 134459 point where they load reasonably quickly without your web host slowing things down.

Domain Parking - It's incredible useful to be able to park a domain on your web site. This can be useful for having several closely related domain names ( and for exmaple) as well as to just reserve domains for future use. A good host should be able to allow you to do this for at least a dozen domain names.

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