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May 1st, 2009:

Server and Web Hosting

Choosing a Server and Hosting Company for Your Website

If you are ready to put your website online, its time to think about what kind of server and which server hosting company you want to choose.

You may want to host your website yourself by setting up a server at your home. For more information on how to set up a server on your home computer, visit

However, hosting your website on your home server may not be the best option if you are looking to run a professional online business or website. Backbone connectivity and a T1 or other (DSL) internet connection is very important to guarantee gapless server uptime. For Example: If your server is down when the search engine spider stops by to index your website, your site might drop out of the search engine because it could not be reached!

If you want to play it safe and make sure your website gets the best possible online exposure and server uptime, you may want to consider having your website hosted by a professional server hosting company. Most good server hosts guarantee 99% uptime (or even more) and ensure that your website can be reached at any time. This is a very important factor for any online business. If your customers get a "time out" error, or if they can't reach your website for any other reason, they are likely to spend their time and money elsewhere. And as mentioned above, your site might drop out of search engines if it can't be reached 24/7. Thus, a reliable and professional server hosting company is extremely important for any online business or website.

Windows-Based Web Hosting or Linux-Based Web Hosting

Each option, Windows-based and Linux-based hosting, has advantages and disadvantages. Here is some information about how to make the right choice for your needs.

Windows-Based Server Hosting:

If you prefer working with MS Frontpage to create and manage your website, you should consider opting for a Windows Server. As with other Microsoft products, Microsoft applications and software usually harmonize well. However, a Windows Server is vulnerable to viruses, so you will need to protect your Windows Server from viruses and perform periodic virus scans, just like you do on your home computer (if you are running Windows)!

Linux-Based Server Hosting:

A Unix/Linux-based server has one big advantage over a windows server: there are no virus threats for Unix or Linux servers! There are various distributions of Linux (other than MS Windows) that come from different companies, such as: Red Hat, SuSE, or Linspire. Linux distributions released around the same time use the same kernel, which is basically the core of your operating system. Another Linux advantage has over Windows is its customizability.

What is a Graphic User Interface or GUI?

Both server operating systems (Linux and Windows) provide a graphic user interface or GUI. While the Windows GUI is basically part of the operating system, there are many substantially different Linux Graphic User Interfaces available. For example, one Linux company. Lindows, has made their graphic interface look a lot like the Windows GUI.

Dedicated-Server Hosting vs. Shared-Server Hosting

Shared-server hosting means that your hosting account shares a server with other users or hosting accounts. This option is recommended for smaller websites with little traffic. Shared-server hosting accounts are very affordable (starting at just a few bucks per month). However, there is a possibility that one of the other users on your server might use up too much server resources, which could slow your site down or, in the worst case, bring down the entire server.

If you are serious about your online business and are running a high-traffic website or several websites, a dedicated-server hosting account is definitely worth considering. Although a dedicated-server solution is more costly (starting at about $ 100/month), there are many advantages to hosting your site(s) on a dedicated server: -You may have more freedom and more options in terms of server settings -Server resources and bandwith are used for your site(s) and projects only, so you do not need to worry about other, inexperienced users disrupting your online business. While shared-hosting accounts are usually managed by the hosting company, a dedicated server can be managed by either the hosting company or yourself.

Most server hosting companies provide two hosting options

1. Managed-Server Hosting

With a managed-server hosting account, the hosting company takes care of pretty much all server-related tasks. The managed-server option is usually available for both Windows and Linux. Your only responsibility is uploading your files via FTP. The hosting company takes care of all necessary settings, updates, patches, email accounts, email aliases, setting up new domains and so on. This allows you to focus on your business and update your website's content. Of course, this option is a little more pricey than unmanaged-server hosting. However, some hosting companies may advertise managed-server services for a very low price. Make sure those companies actually take care of everything they are advertising. Many low-cost managed- server accounts are not actually fully managed accounts. You might have to set up domains and email accounts or email aliases yourself. Read the service agreement carefully before committing to any managed-hosting account!

2. Unmanaged-Server Hosting

With an unmanaged server hosting account you are responsible for your own server. However, most unmanaged-hosting accounts come with a control panel. This control panel is basically a graphic user interface, which makes it easy to manage the server, even for people with little or no server administration experience. Typical control panels are Cpanel or WebAdmin. Many hosting companies offer their own custom control panel. This control panel provides an easy-to-use interface that makes it easy to set up new domains, email aliases, email accounts, sub domains and so on. Control panels (i.e. Cpanel) take care of updates, patches and security settings automatically. As long as you use good passwords and keep them secure, unmanaged-server-hosting option is relatively safe to use, even if you have little or no server administration experience.

Whether you are going for a Windows or a Linux server, a managed or unmanaged account, or shared or dedicated server hosting, do your research before you select a company. The lowest-priced service might not necessarily be the best way to go. The company hosting your server and thus your website is the foundation of your online business. You wouldn't necessarily go to the cheapest doctor to check up on your body. The technical health of your server is just as important to your online business as your physical health is to your personal well-being. If your server is down, your online business is down, and the resulting damage might cost you much more than the difference between cheap and professional hosting services.

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