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Web Hosting - When Changing Web Hosts
Nearly everyone will want to change to a new web host at some point. It may involve just changing out old hardware for new. It usually means finding an entirely new web hosting company. When faced with that decision there are a number of issues to be considered.
Swapping hardware and/or software is a fairly straightforward decision. There are two possible scenarios. Either you maintain your own hardware and software at a facility managed by others, or you are considering upgrading to newer (usually more expensive) systems maintained by others.
In either case, it's simply a matter of estimating the cost and the short-term impact versus the long-term benefits. If the system(s) you currently use are short on capacity, sooner or later you'll be sufficiently motivated to make the change. Either the hardware will become unreliable or loaded to the point you'll be forced to migrate, or your needs will expand enough to justify the effort and expense of moving.
Similar considerations apply to the scenario in which you rely on the web hosting company for everything, and want to find someone else to rely on. Regrettably, that's a very common situation. Many web hosting companies provide systems and staff that sooner or later fall below an acceptable level.
Most people make the decision to change based on emotion. That's not entirely bad. Emotions incent you to take action. But you need to keep a cool head, too, in order to calculate your long-range self-interest. Bearing some minor inconveniences from time to time is usually worth the trade off. When it begins to affect your site to the point you're losing visitors, it's time to make a change.
To get a more objective handle on when that point is reached, reach for some numbers. Maintain, or get from the hosting company, a factual report about availability and current usage. If the server is down so much, or so heavily loaded, that it drives your visitors away, it's time to take action.
There are other less easily quantifiable but equally important factors, as well.
You will at some point need to communicate with one or more persons who help maintain your site. Even if you do all your own server, database and web site maintenance, someone behind the scenes is helping to keep things running smoothly. That's called 'infrastructure'. If the road you drive on has potholes, it's not enough that you can fix your own car.
In terms of network bandwidth and availability, server capacity, disk space, security and a whole array of other aspects, the web hosting company has to have competent people who care (and are allowed) to do the job well. When the company's people fall down - because of incompetence, lack of resources or absence of a culture of excellence - or for any other reason - your web site suffers. This issue more than any other is what drives people to seek another web hosting company.
Even if you choose well at the outset, things can change. Management changes, staff changes and companies are taken over by other companies. Sometimes, it isn't simply a matter of swapping out an unreliable piece of hardware or software. When it's time to swap out people, you look for the same aspect: doing the job required.
Web Hosting - Email Issues When you build a web site, you often provide a means for users to communicate with you. One of the most common 'add-ons' to a web site is the addition of some kind of email access. Email is used to sign users up for newsletters, provide communication for administrative issues and a hundred other uses. But, as everyone sadly knows, email problems can occur. Virus infection is among the most common, though the situation is actually better today than in the past. Huge efforts, and some progress, has been made over the past 10 years to reduce the number and severity of virus attacks. Hackers haven't surrendered, far from it. But they're on the defensive like never before. Many of those viruses were (and are) spread through email, usually in the form of email attachments. That's the source of the now-common advice never to open an attachment from someone you don't know. Professionals will often extend that advice to suggest you never open an attachment that's unexpected, even if it's from someone you know. Well-meaning, but computer-challenged friends often accidentally forward virus infected emails. Spam has taken over the top spot for email annoyances. It's estimated by various different professional sources that 92-97% of all email sent today is spam. While the definition varies, spam is generally regarded as any unwanted commercial email sent by someone whom the recipient doesn't know or have a business relationship with. Spam clutters email inboxes, requires people to sift through to find valid messages, and often contains offensive messages in some form. But, it's a fact of life and isn't going away anytime soon. Even though laws are in place, thousands of spammers continue to risk fines or jail for the chance of making money from that small percentage who will open the unwanted email. Other forms of email problems are even more severe for many web site owners. When the mechanisms fail that they rely on to send and receive messages to and from their users, that's a problem. Dealing with those problems can range from sending an email or instant message to an administrator, to tracking down the right person to get your site removed from a blacklist. Email is the communications vehicle of choice for millions everyday. When the system burps, someone has to take time to do something about it. Often, that means relying on a person who is already overburdened with too many issues to resolve. So, besides pointing out some sad facts or complaining, what's the point? All of the above shows just one more area you should look at when selecting a web host or deciding whether to move to another. Just as with server or network administration, companies vary in their ability to deal with email-related issues. Some are responsive and super-competent. Others, are simply indifferent or worse. And many are in between. Email administration, like server maintenance or network management, is a professional specialty. Skill in one does not necessarily mean quality work in another. Finding a web hosting company and/or system that has few email problems, and solves them quickly when they occur, is an important task. Spend some time researching who provides superior support in email. You'll be happy you did.
Yes, Freebies are Real! If you tell someone that something is free, they immediately start looking for the catch. After all, the words of wisdom ?there is no such thing as a free lunch? have usually been proven true for people time and again throughout life, and so a healthy cynicism towards free stuff usually springs up with good reason. If you are one of these skeptical types, however, you may be missing out on some really great stuff. The truth is that you CAN get free things that are really and truly free, and yes, actually worth having. You just have to know where to look. OK, here is where the caveat comes in. The definition of ?free? often depends on the definition of ?cost.? As any economist can tell you, cost really doesn?t only come down to how much money you have to hand over to get something. There are additional costs, like inconvenience and time spent doing something. And true, some freebies have these ?non monetary? kinds of costs associated with them. You have to balance all of the costs with the value of the free stuff you are getting and decide if it is worth it to you. The two biggest costs associated with freebies? Time and convenience are at the top of the list. Time is a big factor in many free offers. Companies want a bit of your time in exchange for their free products. Indeed, some companies literally want hours of your time. Have you ever taken advantage of one of those ?free weekend vacation? offers in which you received free accommodation in a beach house or condo for a weekend in exchange for suffering through a long presentation and intense sales pitch? For some people, they can handle the presentation and have no qualms about refusing to buy anything and the free vacation more than makes up for it. Other people would rather pay any price to avoid having to listen to one of these spiels. So, while these weekends are freebies, for some people, they cost too much. More often, a company wants your time in a less obvious way ? they want you to spend time filling out forms. These forms may simply be your name, address and email address, or they may be very lengthy, quizzing you about buying habits and the like. The reason the companies want you to do these forms is often for market research, and they are more than happy to give you a freebie in exchange for this. Many people find the time spent filling out these forms will worth it to get a great free product. Convenience is the other cost involved with many freebies. Time and convenience go hand in hand in some cases ? after all, it may not be especially convenient to fill out form after form simply because it is time consuming, but convenience takes another hit from freebies in the form of spam email. Often, signing up for a freebie can land you on a spam email list, and for some people, getting tons of spam is so inconvenient that they would rather pay full price. The truth about all of these costs of freebies is that the freebie is in the eye of the beholder. You have to decide what you are willing to put up with in order to get a free product. Once you know the limits to your freebie costs, than you can cash in on some really great products that don?t cost you a dime. When you spend five minutes filling out a form and get rewarded with a free DVD player that you have been wanting, you will realize that there are free things out there to be had.