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Hosting for a charity

Posted on 2013-06-06
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Last Modified: 2013-06-11
Hi,
A friend of mine is working with an organisation doing AIDS outreach in underprivileged communities in Africa.
They're having a terrible experience with their current hosting company, I think half of the problem is the poor support of the hosting company, and the other half is that they aren't really able to focus on this aspect of the project as much as is necessary to make the site successful.
I need to find them a solution that will let them focus on publishing articles instead of playing in frontpage with HTML and trying to upload with FTP.

I think their site is simple enough to get away with moving to a blog. That way the theme / skin can be nicely designed once, and they never have to worry about that again.

Then I thought their mail might be better off in a google apps account that way it's under the same umbrella as the blog (site) and it's easy to use and easy to access anywhere.

The only problem comes when we get to DNS hosting. I'm not sure what's a good, reliable, easy to set up (for google) DNS provider that's going to be around for a long time and be hassle free.

Please tell me if you think it's a good idea, or if there are better, easy-to-use, low cost providers that will suit the needs.

They're really worried about losing mail in a transition or as a result of malice or neglect on the part of the current host in the event that they try switch hosts. From the whois it looks like the domain name is registered to the hosting provider instead of to the  project itself. (aidsministry.com)

I've never been involved in a domain transfer of ownership, I'm not sure what all is involved, I've only ever registered new ones for people.

Any advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I'm trying to help them out because I know they feel a bit out of their depth, I've done a lot of registrations and I host my own sites and I've had experience with mail - I currently use google apps for my own mail because I love the gmail web interface and spam filtering, so that whole side of it I'm comfortable with, I use Dynect for my DNS stuff, but that's way out of their price range, I need a simpler, cheaper DNS host for them.

I want them to go away from this knowing they have full control of all their web services and resources, and knowing that they're reliable, easy to use and that they're not over-paying for internet servies in a place where the money could really literally be used in changing people's lives for the better.
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Question by:StevenHook
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LVL 7

Assisted Solution

by:dec0mpile
dec0mpile earned 167 total points
ID: 39225650
I think in this case your best option is to move away from frontpage. There is not reason to do anything with frontpage today especially for the purpose of a blog.

Consider going to WordPress. The installation is extremely simple and the software is free, mature, and with great community backing.

http://wordpress.org/

For hosting you should look at: http://www.hostgator.com/
I have used hostgator as a hosting provider for many years (from high profile clients to personal projects). They are very inexpensive and provide unmatched customer support with all plans. They even have a tool (if you choose a plan with CPanel option) that will install wordpress automatically for you.

If your needs ever grow it is easy to scale up without loosing your data and you have the options to utilize CDNs and other advanced features.

I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned I just wanted to give you my personal experience with this. I hope that it helps you.
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LVL 7

Assisted Solution

by:dec0mpile
dec0mpile earned 167 total points
ID: 39225677
For domain transfer you would want to use a provider separate from your host (this let's you easily change one or the other if you like).

Take a look at : http://www.domain.com/

They have easy step by step transfer process that you can follow. I find that the cost is very reasonable also. Allow them to handle your DNS no reason to get a separate provider.

Once the domain is transferred all you have to do is point the name servers to your hosting provider (you can do it in your account under domain control panel) and your website is ready to use. They have great documentation on how to do this.

Again, I am not affiliated with this company. However, I have had very good experience with their service.
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LVL 58

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by:Gary
Gary earned 83 total points
ID: 39225716
it looks like the domain name is registered to the hosting provider instead of to the  project
This is quite common to hide the owners details but you need to check you do own the domain.  Sometimes hosting providers will offer a free domain but they keep hold of it.
If you do own it then you could transfer it to for example GoDaddy and let them handle the dns.
I suppose this is your first line of call, because if they do own the domain and will not surrender it to you then you will have problems.
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Author Comment

by:StevenHook
ID: 39225723
Thanks - if that info - ownership info - isn't available in the whois, then how can I see who the registered owner is?
Is godaddy a good service provider?
Thanks
Steve
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LVL 70

Assisted Solution

by:Jason C. Levine
Jason C. Levine earned 83 total points
ID: 39225802
I would also recommend getting them off FrontPage as it is no longer 2001 and no longer supported by MS :) and WordPress is an excellent choice both for ease-of-use and also for the presence of the plugin community which will drastically reduce the time and need for a real developer to add new features.

For hosting, HostGator is a good choice as is Dreamhost, HostGator, WP Engine or Page.ly. The latter two are managed WordPress hosts and handle upgrades, security and backups for WordPress for you which further reduces the need for a dedicated administrator.  As for cost, assuming the charity is a registered 501c3, contact the sales department for each of the above and ask if they have non-profit rates available.  Many, many ISPs do have a discount for qualifying NPOs.

Google absolutely has this and I would register them for Google Apps now and get their email migrated to Google.  Apps for nonprofits is completely free and comes with some ridicolousy high number of users (500 I think).  There will be a very brief window with no email (a few minutes) once the MX records are switched over but old mail will be deliver to the old location and new mail will start delivering to Google.  As long as you can get to the old mail server, you will be able to recover those few messages.  I would recommend you plan the cut-over to happen at an hour when mail service is naturally low.
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Expert Comment

by:Jason C. Levine
ID: 39225806
Is godaddy a good service provider?

For domain registration and management, yes.  Hosting, no.
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Author Comment

by:StevenHook
ID: 39225841
Thanks.

I was hoping to get away for a web host completely - maybe with a blogger account - it's linked to the google apps account then it's just that much more simple.

I know wordpress is more versatile, but really all there will be is articles about what they're currently busy with, or what they've recently experienced or completed.

I know a lot of photographers love wordpress - I have a suspicion it cates for the more design-inclined - but I want to make it as simple as possible, from a admin side (accounts users and passwords) as well as from a content creation side - The site as it is now is very simplistic, I don't think any special or advanced design tools will be necessary.

I believe blogger even has an option to post new content from email?  - It's just an idea tho, so if Wordpress has benefits I'm overlooking, I definitely need to consider that.

Tx.
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Author Comment

by:StevenHook
ID: 39225858
One dns management feature I do like about Dyn that I believe few other providers offer is "webhop" which is basically like an http redirect I think.
but it's awesome for making things land in places that make sense - like a admin or mail login pages with long URLs - especially ones with port numbers, just make a simple admin. or mail. webhop to the right place
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Expert Comment

by:Jason C. Levine
ID: 39225899
If you want to get away from an ISP then get them a WordPress.com account.  That's as simple as it gets and free for basic.  If you want to customize CSS or add a domain name, it costs a little extra.

And yes, you have a misunderstanding of the depth of features WordPress provides.  It doesn't cater to just photographers but there are a lot of themes that do.  The WordPress core is a full featured CMS.  

I run 501c3 and c6 non profits for a living and all of my clients run WordPress sites.  So I'm biased but I also know what can be done with the platform.
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by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 167 total points
ID: 39226010
As an alternative to wordpress, check out tumblr.  You start by creating your site just as wordpress.com where once you sign up you start with a url like http://mysite.tumblr.com.  There is a feature to add your own domain so you can have mysite.com point to mysite.tumblr.com.
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Expert Comment

by:Gary
ID: 39226495
Do you have some kind of hosting panel/dns management portal?
If you do then you should see an option to request a transfer/transfer authorisation.
This is what you will need to give to GoDaddy to take over the domain and DNS.
As pointed Godaddy is great for domain management, I use them for all my domains but wouldn't go near them for hosting.
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Accepted Solution

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Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 167 total points
ID: 39226530
I agree with Gary123.   If you use a major registrar, that is the best place to manage the DNS for small sites.
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Author Closing Comment

by:StevenHook
ID: 39237397
Thanks all for the help and advice!
Steve
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