Is Your Web Site Held Hostage By Service Providers?Written by Shaun Fawcett
Do you use third-party services to track links on your Web site? What about for processing your online credit card payments? If so, you are probably losing sales that you don't even know about. Sorry, but it's a fact.
Third-Party Services Defined.
Let me explain what I mean by "third-party" services. These are "link tracking" type of services that one can purchase from various online companies. People use special html link codes that these services provide to keep track of how visitors move around their Web sites. In return for a monthly fee, user gets online access to a Web site that stores their link tracking information on a database, and gives them access to tracking statistics. This allows users to quickly and easily find out such things as which links visitors to their Web sites click on, and how often.
But, it's not just link tracking services I'm talking about here. Payment processing gateways is another type of third- party service that many of us are dependent upon.
These third-party services are great in theory, and when they're working well they're also great in practice. BUT there can be a definite downside to them. That downside is this. If that service company's servers or and/or network go down for any reason, you go down with them!
A Case In Point.
After a few bad experiences over past year, I have made it a habit to check all of my Web sites every morning. I quickly open each of home pages and click on a few key links and make sure they are working as they're supposed to. Of course, I don't have time to check each and every link, but I do test key ones I know my visitors tend to click on most often on their way to making a purchase. And, I definitely check main "order" links on each page.
If I find that these links are not working for some reason, as I have on numerous occasions, it is about worst thing that could happen. In fact, it could ruin one's whole day, because it means lost sales! Last week while doing one of these routine checks I discovered that a number of links were not working on one of my sites. I did some further checking and realized that these links had not been working for more than 12 hours! What this meant was that visitors to my site had been/were clicking on these links and getting a blank page full of gibberish that indicated that my service provider's data base was corrupted. In effect, this problem was crippling my site.
You know what that meant to me of course - lost visitors AND lost sales!
Long story, short. It took more than 24 hours from my initial call until problem was fully resolved. This was during a prime sales period in middle of week. Consequently, I estimate that during 36-hour period that my site was intermittently "out-of-action" due to this problem, I lost somewhere between 6 and 8 sales. Ouch! I can't afford that. Can you?
Here are a couple of other quick examples of similar occurrences that some of you might be able to identify with.
Lost Weekend. Lost Sales.
One Friday night a few months ago I discovered that links on two of my sites were not functioning properly. These links were being tracked by one of "big name" services that is widely marketed across Net. Believe it or not, I spent that whole weekend checking my links regularly and then trying to get in touch with this so-called "service" provider (I use term "service" advisedly here).
What is web hosting? Written by Michael Guilfoyle
What is web hosting? If you want to take part in internet as a business, information resource, directory, or as a hobbyist wanting to share data, information and knowledge with many people and communities on internet, you have to contain this in a central spot on internet. You have to own a piece of space in cyberspace. Web hosting empowers you and anyone with a computer and internet connection to own a piece of cyberspace. In your space, you can have news, bulletins, documents, data, files (your web site) and your own post office (mail server) to accept mail, all in context of you or your business. This is your space and to get this space you either have to own a piece of physical internet with a network connection to internet backbone and computer(s) operating as server(s) offering access to your files and post office, for people on internet to view your web site or send and receive email with you. The cost of owning a direct connection to backbone and a server dedicated to a web site and email is out of reach for average business and especially general members of internet. Even running a web site and mail server on your own computer when it is connected to internet requires a lot of technical ability and knowledge. The internet itself has to be your business for either of these options to be viable. In our modern society, for every person in business or with a career in most industries today, it is imperative to have a place in cyberspace, not just to be competitive but to survive. Web hosting companies were born out of this great need to provide an environment for masses to own a piece of cyberspace, to offer an environment where people could have their piece of cyberspace on internet 24/7 without great cost. Web hosting companies developed a model where they could split up areas on servers connected to backbone and ‘rent' this space, cutting costs across many people sharing server and backbone connection to internet. In a web-hosting environment, you are offered a web site to place your files, data, documents, and bulletins for people to access with their web browser and an email server for you to send and receive email messages. The web host will also provide you a means to get an address for people to get to your web site with a web browser and post email to you. To obtain space in a web hosting environment you become a member and agree to terms and conditions of renting space - just as if you were to rent a house or commercial premises for your business. Once you agree and become a member, you are given an access code, a key, to your piece of cyberspace. This key, in form of a login and password, allows you to connect to web hosting server and up-load (transfer to) your web site so it can be accessed on internet. Your login and password is also used to connect to a mail server to create and administer mailboxes to send and receive email for you, your staff, or family members. Just like when you rent a house or commercial premises for your business, you have so many rooms, bathrooms, and floor space to use. In a web-hosting environment, your area is defined as disk space and network transfer. Disk space is measured in Megabytes (MB) or Gigabytes (GB). Megabyte roughly means 1,024,000 characters and Gigabyte roughly means 1,024 Million characters. Imagine a character as one key on your key board. These amounts determine how many files, documents, or data you can have on your web site. Network Transfer is also measured in Megabytes or gigabytes which determines how much data (how many of your files, documents or data) can be downloaded (transferred to) people accessing your web site. The more people, or more data each person accesses on your web site more data is transferred on network. The more disk space and network transfer you use greater percentage of web-hosting environment you are using - therefore higher rent. Just as no office building and home is same, neither is every web-hosting environment. Some offices have stairs, others have lifts, some houses have ensuites, swimming pools, and gardens, - and others do not. Web-hosting environments are much same, some offer bare structures to do just basics and others offer an array of features and facilities to help you do just about everything you could ever need or want. Some of features and facilities likely to be offered are ranges of software to use, components, databases, and server side script processing. The similarity of renting an office or home to renting space in a web-hosting environment is even more similar. With some buildings a gardener and/or a guard is available to look after gardening or provide security. In a web-hosting environment, you have support people to help you do what you need to do on your web site to make it grow and there are server administrators to protect and secure your web-hosting space. When you rent a building there are key parts needed to work or live in space, like rooms, offices, kitchens, toilets, and bathrooms. In your web-hosting environment, you will find equally important components that are required to make space workable. The core components in a web-hosting environment are: Web Server The web server is a relatively simple piece of software that accepts requests over HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and delivers HTML pages and Image files. FTP Server FTP is means of which a web master can transfer files to and from server. To put your HTML and image files on a server you will generally use FTP to upload (transfer to) your files to server running web server.