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web hosting

I would welcome a list of suggestions of what I should be looking for if I am to select either an ISP, or another company located somewhere around the world to host my web site.

I am based in the UK and my site contains information on investment strategies and opinions.  Rather than paying my ISP something in the region of £30 a month (about $50), I am tempted to choose one of the hundreds of US companies that are now charging less than $10 (about £6!) for 50 megs of space and unlimited bandwith and email, and unlimited hits.

What is bandwith and what are the pitfalls of going with these small companies compared with say webcom.com?  I have been told that I have full access to cgi bin and all that.  So whats the catch?
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BoneyMAuthor Commented:
Oh yeah, also what is the command to test the speed of access to one of these $10 a month companies?  Some "ping" command or something?  Can having my site on a US server slow the access time if most users are based in the UK?
Bandwidth is the amount of information that will pass through the "line" when people DL stuff from the site... ie your first HTML document say is 5k and has 2 images. 1=10k and 2=5k... That user has just used 20k of your bandwidth.  now, there is 1024k per MB... So, 600 hits will use 1MB bandwidth... you get the picture.

as for ping... you can run "ping sitename" and get the average millisecond response time.  so, ping "microsoft.com" will return the average time it takes to get a 32byte data piece to and from microsoft (it took 288ms for me on a 56k modem).  Now, realize that is a VERY small piece of information.  

Catch? hmm... not sure if there is one, but just think about this:  Microsoft and Yahoo are two of the most hit sites on the internet... Do you get on there fast?  the more users, the more traffic, and we all know the more traffic the slower things are...

So, larger cheaper ISP (such as webcom.com) will have more traffic and could possibly be slower.  But, they will probably have faster servers).  Smaller ISP's will have just as fast connection speeds, but will be more expensive.  As for unlimited email, well, I can get that anywhere... ie hotmail...

In addition, smaller more expensive ISP's may have a better support staff compared to those "big guys".

Best answer:  Give them both a try for a month of two... see which is better.
Boney, when you're choosing an ISP to host your site, always do a server check at http://www.netmechanic.com  It's free and you'll get a really solid readout on all kinds of stuff, from ping time to loading time for images, and so forth. Just tell it to check out the url of the host you want to find out about, or better yet, the URL of one of their hosted sites (NEVER do business with a webhost who will not provide you with a list of hosted sites!)

I strongly recommend going with a small ISP, since support and attitude are much better than the bigger companies. Avoid Simplenet at all costs, as their $10 unlimited everything account has about a million restrictions. If you want MY suggestion of a good host to use, comment back and I'll recommend my own company. :)
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BoneyMAuthor Commented:
Thanks to both of you for responding.


Am I right in thinking therefore that some companies only provide limited bandwidth?  If that is the case, using your example of the 20k, does that refer to 600 users logging on at exactly the same time, or 600 users over a duration?

My site is very small, about 1400 hits in the last 12 months.  Should I be concerned about bandwidth in this case?

Thanks for the tip and the URL link.
I would love to know what co. has to offer.  Ain't free advertising great?  :)

I performed a few web searches on "web hosting" and it obviously came back with a lot of info.
What I was hoping, was to get a response or rather a short list of the basic things that I should have access to, and maybe a few options which would be nice to have.

Ok if I start it off;

50 megs space
Unlimited bandwidth
pop accounts email
Access statistics
Secure server ???
Password and user login enabled  ???
Extended logging ???
FrontPage'98 support extensions ???

What the last 4, and anything else I should look for on the list.  I would like to have access statistics, and I might down the line want a password and user name login for certain areas of the site.

I was thinking about this co. http://www.tnug.com/ but the fact that their main page runs off screen when I use IE 4.0 that came with win98, makes me think about whether they have used the largest browser to view their own site for quality assurance!?

BoneyMAuthor Commented:
Also, what is the difference b/w a T1 and T3 servers, again which should I go for?
Hi Boney, okay.. my company is Aurora Developments, http://www.aurdev.com and we can set you up something nice and special at a bit less than our posted prices. :)

Looking over your list of needs, let me discuss them one by one:

50 MB space: just about any serious webhost will be able to give you that.

Unlimited bandwidth: You probably don't realize this, but the odds of you needing seriously unlimited bandwidth are very slim UNLESS, a) you're serving up a porno site, b) you're serving up a free graphics/midi/etc site, or c) you're serving up a warez/MP3 site, in which case, for a) and c) no host will have you, and for b) you're moving into the realm of thousands of headaches. :) The average website uses less than 100 MB of bandwidth every month. :) Companies like Simplenet, which promise unlimited bandwidth, basically are saying: look, we're offering you something you aren't even going to need in likely probability, but since we host tens of thousands of sites, we don't have a problem doing this since the 5% of websites that suck down a lot of bandwidth will be subsidized by the 95% that use less than 100MB per month, and since we have thousands of sites on this pipe, expect a lot of lag :P

POP email: again, this is something any serious webhost will offer.

Access stats: Any decent webhost will be running analog or something similar, they NEED to in order to keep track for themselves of who is using how much resources. If they aren't running something like analog, then they basically don't care if their server is getting hammered.

Secure server you will only need if you expect to be accepting credit card numbers over the web. Most serious webhosts have one, but you will need to get a digital certificate of your own, unless the webhost will permit you to use theirs (usually for a small monthly fee). Digital certificates are sold by Thawte and by Verisign, among others. The Thawte certificate is about $100, the Verisign cert is outrageously priced and not worth it, since Netscape and IE both have no hassles with the Thawte certificate.

htpasswd access for user logins to special areas of a site is never a problem, you just have to set your site up properly to do that. If you don't know how, most hosts will be happy to explain, or may even have a tutotial somewhere explaining how to do so (we do!).

Extended logging? Not sure what you mean by this one, since I've seen ten or twelve different definitions of the term.

FrontPage extensions: Not on Aurdev, we don't like opening up doors for hack/crack freaks to mess with our customers sites. http://www.geek-girl.com/bugtraq/search.html and search for frontpage to learn more.

The difference in T1 and T3 is speed of connection to the internet. A T3 is faster, a T1 is a bit slower. For the average site, again, you won't notice the difference. A host connected through multiple T1s is often better than a site connected through one or T3, since it has several routes in and out, where the single T3 host only has one.. this means that if there is a netbreak a hop or two above that T3 connection, the site is unreachable for the entire world, where with a multiply connected host, it means that the site is reachable unless there are many netbreaks, because each of the connections is routed differently over different carriers if the host was intelligent when they purchased their connections. I HAVE seen hosts that tout multipe T1 or T3 connections that actually had all of their connections using the exact same routing and carrier, which basically translates to being a waste of money and a waste of time.

Also, to answer your question about limited bandwidth: what it refers to is the amount of data transferred over your domain during a given time period (generally one month). The 600 user picture refers to 600 at any time, either all at once or over the course of the month.

Good luck to you, Boney. :)

BoneyMAuthor Commented:
Hi again elfi

You've almost sold me.
Could you give me an email address I can reach you so we can talk things a little further off-line.

Not being funny, but are we looking at special rates around the $7-10 a month charge for about 50 megs?  To give you an idea of what I will be having on my site, you can take a look at my URL at http://www.city.ac.uk/~ey143/index.htm  The site is currently sitting on my college server, and the site is quite small, probably not even taking up more than 2 or 3 megs in total.  The graphics are also quite bad, but I'm hoping I can get someone to develop the site for me, or being a student that I am, to develop the site myself if I can find the time.  Hence my reason to look for a very cheap site, but with good user accessability.

I plan to have more content on there, as well as a Bulletin Board.  If you are as good as you sound and can offer me a good rate (  :)  ) can you sort out the moving of my domain name currently parked at webcom for me?

You're prob right about secure servers.  I wont be charging anybody anything, so I guess I  will not need this.  For a Bulletin Board I might like a user name and password so that posters can be traced so we dont get idiotic comments from anonomous individuals.

Extended logging I know nothing about, just saw it on a few web hosting services, so I thought I'd put it up here to see what it meant.  Don't know what you meant about the FrontPage stuff.  I assumed it was to do with Microsoft Frontpage web creation software, but obviously not?

Interesting stuff, thx.

Hi Boney, I've sent you an email detailing what my company is prepared to offer you, to the email address on your webpage. One of my email addresses is on my company webpage, but the email I sent you has my personal email address as well.

We have a Bulletin Board CGI already built into the server that is quite nice, if you would like to see how it looks and works check out: http://jambos.aurdev.com and click the 'Air YOUR Views' linke. This is a site for a Scottish football team that I built for my brother in law as a birthday gift a couple of years ago and was (according to him), instrumental in Heart of Midlothian winning the Scottish Cup last year ;). The Bulletin Board script is pretty durned nice, I think you may like it. :)

FrontPage software works with any web hosting deal, but some servers have special extensions that they have installed on the server that allow people using frontpage to design pages with a few special (and useless) features. The extensions, like all things from MicroSoft, are laden with bugs and security holes which makes it a risk to all website owners on a particular host. Not nice, and not something I will subject my customers to.

Hope this answers your questions. :) And don't forget to check out our response times and all that with webmechanic before you make any final decisions!
BoneyMAuthor Commented:
Thx for your help on that Massey.

I'm in touch with elfi regarding potential subscription.
BoneyMAuthor Commented:
Thx for your help on that Massey.

I'm in touch with elfi regarding potential subscription.
BoneyMAuthor Commented:
Hi elfi

Can you check your mailbox ASAP if not already done so, thx :)


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