Just a few days ago I talked to a friend about my different online ventures. He was amazed by the number of domain names I own (roughly 145 at this point). He asked me if I would have a website for each domain name I own. I actually declined and mentioned that I have roughly 60% of my domain names developed with their own website. Thinking about his overall reaction I think it is important to point out how easy it is to bring up your own website. [Read more…]
You need a new web host. You do a Google Search for “Web Hosting” and you feel a little overwhelmed by the 252,000,000 results Google presents in return. Admittedly, choosing the right host can be a overwhelming endeavor – no doubt. Now what? You pick a couple of web hosts and look at their websites, investigate pricing and hosting features. Now more confusion – all these web hosts pretty much look alike. Same pricing (though sometimes prices are $0.50 higher or lower), same features, same bandwidth and disk space and even the website design looks somewhat familiar going from host to host. It almost makes the impression they are running their web hosting business of the same blue print or the same manual.
Now, where do you turn to find a new web host? While you can use one of the many web hosting comparison websites (including my own list of web hosting recommendations), the best way is usually to follow the recommendation of a friend or family member. Personal recommendations are the best way to pick a new web host.
But when these personal recommendations are missing, how can you choose the right web host? Use common sense, spend some time researching and then create a list of 3 possible web hosts you like to try out. Verify that each webhost offers a money back guarantee and then move forward. Using a web host that offers a money back guarantee is important as it allows you to leave quickly without occurring any cost. Important in my opinion is the choice where you register your domain name. I personally do not want to be tied to a certain web host by registering the domain name I use through the web host. I prefer 3rd party domain name registries like NameCheap as an example. I keep control over the domain name. If I would try a new web host and have my domain name registered through the web host, they might either keep the name or charge a higher than normal price or make it really difficult to leave. What good is a money back guarantee if you have to leave your domain name behind?!
So, register the domain name at NameCheap (or if really necessary at Godaddy (be warned of the many upsells Godaddy has)), then work your way through the list of 3 web hosts that you like to try. Keep a good backup of your website so that you can easily move to a new web hosting provider as needed. Some web hosts offer better pricing if you pre-pay for 12 months or more. While this is a good deal, you might want to go month to month first and once you like a web host, contact their billing department and switch your payment option and pre-pay. Or at least pick the lowest pre-payment option and then upgrade later on. Do not let the lowest price force you into a decision you do not feel comfortable with. Every webhost will want you to stay and so it is never a problem to change your hosting plan option later on.
Here are my 3 favorite web hosts at the moment. Feel free to make them your list of web hosts to try out.
If you have a Linux web server on the Internet you can be sure it is going to be attacked in one way or the other. When the server gets setup by your dedicated server web host, it is only barely secured. Before doing anything else you should put some basic level of security onto the system and then later on harden the server and make it really secure. I highly recommend to outsource the task of securing an Internet facing web server, but this list below gives you a basic idea of tasks to look into:
1. Change default ssh port (even use SSH keys if possible)
2. Disallow root login and require login via different user accounts and then SU to root as needed
3. Disable any unneeded services
4. Install a good software firewall or better go hardware firewall
5. Disable dangerous or unused PHP functions
6. Install mod_security
7. Install a virus scanner like ClamAV
8. Mandatory Virus scan any FTP uploads
9. Install a root kit detection tool
10. Have root email notification of changes on the server send to an email account not hosted on the same server
11. Use complex passwords with at least 10 character minimums and special characters required
Of course this list is incomplete and only high level, but unless you outsource the task of securing your server this list should give you a few good hints of how to secure your new dedicated server. Or get a fully managed dedicated server from a company like LiquidWeb in the first place and concentrate on growing your website and not your frustration. LiquidWeb will take good care of you.
Web Hosting is usually a pre-pay business. You pay for your web hosting in advance and then next month you get charged again and so on. Over the years this has worked out great. Then quite a few web hosts started offering pre-pay terms of up to 3 years. Pay once and then pay again in a year or so – in return for your trust you receive a huge discount on the price for web hosting. Not a bad deal, eh?!
There are a few things to consider though. For one, it is important to be careful who you trust with your money. You do not want to have prepaid for 2 years and then your web host disappears after 7 months. So, when signing up and pre-paying for web hosting it is important to see who you are working with. If a company is around for many years and has a certain reputation and market share, pre-paying for longer terms is usually safe. If a company is small and new and not well established, then do not pre-pay for more than 1 quarter in advance.
Why not to pre-pay for the long term with certain hosts? If the host disappears your money is gone, too. Once a credit card payment is older than 60 days your chances of getting a chargeback approved are very slim. Again, this is usually only an issue with smaller, newer, and not well established web hosts.
So, which web hosts can you trust in my opinion? I have worked with many web hosts over the years. I have been watching the web hosting industry and the following 3 names definitely stick out for me. My recommendations are in order of how much I like or prefer each company. The #3 host on this is also the youngest company on this list (founded in 2008), but has a) reached quite some volume and b) has established a solid brand reputation.
These 3 web hosts offer very low prices when pre-paying web hosting for up to 3 years. You can read my reviews about these 3 web hosts here.
Host Monster is often considered a low profile webhost that has gradually (but surely) grown to become one of the greatest market players within the shared hosting universe. In my personal opinion Hostmonster website hosting is one of the greatest cpanel web hosting companies currently available. I personally favor cpanel for all my own website hosting due to the stable web hosting setup it provides and as it allows me to take care of all my web hosting customizations myself. Host Monster uses cPanel since they started offering web hosting and they are one of the largest cPanel hosts in my opinion. Why am I saying this? Well, Host Monster is home to over 750,000 domains that are hosted on their web servers. Not many web hosting providers can boost such a statistic.
Host Monster started as a web host in 1996 and has now completed 14 years in business. How many web hosts you know of can offer the same stability and experience? I know a few, but I can count them on 2 hands and have plenty of room counting. I started my own web hosting career with a website that I was able to host on my ISP’s servers, but I soon realized that my own domain name would be a good thing to have and to pick a good web host. By that time domain names still cost $35/year to register. At that time Host Monster was already around offering cheap web hosting. It’s amazing in my opinion.
Host Monster is different in one way as they still offer SSH access for their shared web hosting accounts. Call me old school, but I like that additional level of control as a web hosting customer. Not that this matters to most web hosting customers, but if you ever get to the next level in web hosting where you rather want to do something via SSH it is good to know that there are still web hosts out there that offer this kind of feature.
In regards to features, disk space, and bandwidth allowance you do not have to compromise with Host Monster. They match what other web hosts offer and even go the extra mile by offering you a free domain name registration INCLUDING domain privacy. Domain Privacy hides your personal information on the domain name registration (WHOIS) so that spammers cannot look up your phone number or your administrative email address. Depending where you would buy this on the open market you usually pay somewhere between $10 – $15 for this addon. Host Monster gives it to your for no extra cost. Free Domain Name Registration and Privacy Protection – this combination is hard to beat and hard to find from all other web hosts.
My Conclusion for today is that Host Monster is a great web host and you should definitely take a look at it before signing up for any other web host. Just because they do not advertise as aggressively as others, they should not be ignored. Their support has a great reputation and so if you love high uptime for your website (who doesn’t!!!), Host Monster might just do the trick. Visit Host Monster Web Hosting and check out their extensive list of web hosting features.
Many small business start out with their website hosting on a shared web hosting account. It’s cheap and easy to setup. However, usually sooner than later they outgrow the shared web hosting account and need to move their website to a dedicated server to keep it up on the Internet. That is often the moment things start really going downhill because the lack of knowledge in this field is immense. A small business usually does not have any dedicated IT staff nor does it possess the knowledge to do all the work related to leasing a dedicated server.
The following questions often arise when it comes to the moment of moving a website to a dedicated server:
1) Which provider can I trust without being ripped off?
2) What is a fair price for a dedicated server?
3) What kind of hardware (memory, CPU, disk, etc.) do I need?
4) How can I manage the server (administration, security, backups, etc.)?
5) How do I move our website and domain to the dedicated server?
Each of these questions might pose a significant problem that needs to be addressed as otherwise things can go wrong and it becomes expensive to fix them.
There are thousands of providers for dedicated servers out there. Some are good and some are outright bad. How shall a small business know which one to choose? The best choice would be to follow a recommendation or referral to avoid a negative surprise. I often recommend Liquidweb as this provider is a) reliable and b) their servers are fully managed and c) prices are very fair and reasonable.
What is a fair price for a cheap dedicated server? “It depends” is the answer. It depends on your needs in regards to dedicated server hardware and what extra services you need. I usually order some backup services with my dedicated servers. One dedicated server web hosting provider that I have used in the past – The Planet – even offers offsite backup services (or offsite replication) which moves your data from your dedicated server into one of their other data centers. This is an ideal solution in my opinion as it gives you extra protection in case disaster would strike. However, the setup is a little more complicated and somebody without the proper experience or knowledge easily gets lost. And of course it is also a price question as all these little extra services can add up fast. However, my recommendation would be to not go too cheap as it will pay to have high quality hosting.
Depending on what backend your website uses, you need to spec out a dedicated web server properly and leave room for growth. There is no one answer here. If you have less than 25,000 visitors per day you are might be Ok with a 2 GB RAM server and a normal Dual Core Processor. However, you might want to consider an upgrade to 4 GB to have room for growth and peace of mind. Talk to the web host you are going with for your cheap dedicated web server and let them help you.
As mentioned, some web hosts (e.g. Liquidweb) offer fully managed dedicated servers. Other providers charge extra or you can completely go off the record with this and hire an external service provider for server management. Again, pick someone that you maybe know from a referral. Ask around. Don’t ignore this topic because if your dedicated web server does not get properly configured and secured, it will get hacked. You would be surprised how many port scans and attacks an Internet facing web server has to go through every day. You want your system hardened and firewalled from someone who knows what they are doing. My favorite are the guys from ConfigServer. They offer great service and have their own custom software that they use. I always felt protected after they secured my dedicated servers. And they are inexpensive, too.
Moving a website is usually not too difficult, however it really depends on how complex your website is. Your web designer can probably help or you outsource this task to whomever manages your web server. Your domain name should be registered with a provider that is not your webhost at the same time. I recommend NameCheap or Enom as they have great prices and are independent. You will have full control of your domain name and cannot be held hostage by a web host.
This article only scratches the surface about dedicated web server hosting and leasing. Definitely spend time researching this process before signing up with a provider. It also pays to get an independent opinion from a 3rd party on your plan and your needs. If properly executed the move from shared web hosting to a dedicated web server should be fairly smooth. However, please do not go cheap as it will come back and bite you. You can get dedicated servers for less than $50 per month, but you get what you pay for. Depending on your needs and requirements a number of $175/month to $450/month sounds more reasonable to me.
Resources for this Article
I was browsing a web hosting forum the other answering questions and providing free web hosting advice when I noticed a thread about Liquidweb. Liquidweb.com is one of my favorite hosts when it comes to fully managed dedicated servers. This was a Liquidweb customer who had nothing but praise for his web host.
I finally took the plunge this last August and got my first dedicated server, thanks in part to the good reviews here at WHT. I went with LiquidWeb and I do not regret it for a second. The server was up immediately, and they have ever so patiently helped me with all the questions I had as someone who is new to using a dedicated server.
The customer makes some really good points here. For one he trusted the web hosting reviews and picked a high quality web host. His server was setup immediately and the heroic support of Liquidweb jumped right in to provide a top notch experience.
There has been next to no downtime, Apache failed once and support took a look and had it back in up seconds (before I even got the email saying that it was down), they’re always super fast on support – either by email or by phone – and very polite and knowledgeable.
This is very important to notice. Liquidweb’s support team caught a problem before the customer did and instead of just waiting it out, they went ahead and fixed the problem. Job well done, Liquidweb.
Usually when I contact support, it’s because I’ve done something silly or I have no idea how to do something – the server and connectivity has been fantastic. It is incredible to call or email support, any time, day or night, and get a response back almost immediately. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Liquid Web! This is a company that gets it right.
The reviewer explains why he contacts support and how that experience has been. I have written about the same thing several times. Liquidweb has highly skilled support engineers that also have good people skills and know how to treat a customer right.
About Liquidweb in case you do not know them. Liquid Web offers cheap shared hosting, but is mainly known for their web hosting offers on fully managed dedicated servers at very low prices. They own their data centers and provide a superb environment. Their business puts the customer first and you can really tell it is paying off.
Go here to check out Liquidweb yourself.
Go here to check out their current Specials.
If you sign up with Liquidweb, let me know by using either a comment on this posting or by using the contact us form of my website. I’d love to publish your review with a link back to your website. Thank you.
Source of the original review: WHT
So, I was recently introduced to a new (new for me) web hosting company called JustHost.com. Since web hosting is the mantra of this website, I decided to provide a review about this web hosting provider. Now, keep in mind that I receive a lot of requests and recommendations for new web hosts and that I just do not have the time to look at every web host out there. Before I spent time reviewing a web host I make myself familiar with their website, do some research and then decide if I want to review them or not. JustHost.com passed my initial test and the result is a series of postings about this web host. I also want to point out that this is the first web host, where I created some video web hosting reviews.
Let’s get started reviewing this web host. JustHost.com was founded in 2008 and currently employs roughly 110 highly skilled folks. The company is home to approx. 280,000 domain names at the time of this writing. What I liked was that they are using brand name servers to offer cheap web hosting services. They are using Dell branded servers. I have been working with Dell servers myself for over 11 years now and really like them. So, this already scored some brownie points with me. 😉
Once my account for one of my test sites was setup I logged into the cpanel of my domain. Cpanel is a web control panel for hosting customers. It provides an easy to use interface and allows customers to self-serve many web hosting related functions without the need for customer support to help. I use Cpanel on ALL of my domains no matter where they are hosted. I love it. So, instead of writing down what I saw first inside my JustHost web hosting account, I created a video (see video in the upper right). Please take a look and check it out (it’s a short video – I promise).
Now that you have watched the video, I want to highlight a few points. Most of the items inside the video I liked. Instead of causing confusion for customers before they sign up, JustHost.com went a different route. They actually make it a great approach to a) educate a customer about available upgrades without really being pushy and b) it is very straight forward. The one thing I did not like are the 2 options for the search engine submissions. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has become very complicated and I think that this type of work should be a more controlled process. But that is the only thing I did not like. The other options are reasonably priced and compare easy to other web hosts. So, if I would be a regular Joe looking for cheap web hosting, this would be a great way to a) buy cheap web hosting and b) still have options available to grow a website.
This posting is part of a series of postings about JustHost.com – for me a top web hosting company.
Please Note: In the video I mentioned that I do not know how long these upgrades are available. The seem to be available at all times. So, if you want to sign up with JustHost, this should not hold you back. Check out the JustHost.com Homepage here.