Web Hosting – the Good, the Bad and the Lack of Unicorns
– what is it and how do I get it? These are common questions I get everyday and I try to remind myself of the day I first wondered about it myself. With this post I will help remove the mystery and explain some the marketing terms you will see being touted by many web hosting companies out there. I do not intend to bash anyone in the process, yet….
When you finally decide you need a web site for business or personal reasons you will need 3 things:
A Domain Name
Your domain name is a unique address very much like your house address. There can be only one and thank God or otherwise mail delivery people would have a tough time knowing where to drop your letters and packages! You will need to register your domain name with a registrar. I highly recommend GoDaddy or, if this is your first site and new domain, then this process and cost is included with my shared hosting packages when you pay for a year and it is the registrar I use. This registration is necessary so that when a person types http://www.insertCo0lDomainNameHere.com the web knows where to find the server where the site files are stored for public/private viewing. Which brings us to…
Your web site is a set of documents, pictures (jpg’s, gif’s, bmp’s, png’s) and maybe some video or animation. These files are stored on a server which is just a computer, not unlike your own, that is customized to serve web pages, email ,etc. I hear the next question already; “Why can’t I just use my computer then?” The short answer is you could! However, in order to do that you need to install the right server software, pay for a new ISP account that allows your computer to act as a web server and open Port 80. This is expensive and really not necessary, not to mention you’ve just opened your personal computer to the public. It’s a jungle out there. Now for the third part…
A Web Site
Webmasters and Web Developers
The realm we called the internet can be easily compared to the Wild West of early America. There are a lot of black hats and also the I think I cans. The black hats are the ones that intend to rip you off. They gladly promise you the world and take your money and *POOF* they and your money are gone.
The I think I cans are the ones who think they can put web pages together, no problem! Maybe they saw the HTML code for a web page and thought to themselves “Hey! I can do this!” and then set out to find a client. They usually start on your site and then mysteriously disappear. I think this happens because they soon learn that this isn’t something that you can learn overnight and are in over their heads.
What can you do?
Shopping for a new website may seem daunting. It doesn’t have to be. My recommendations are to shop around; get estimates. Ask people you know who they used and how they feel it went. If they have a website and a portfolio then contact the companies directly and ask them if they are happy with the developer/webmaster. Make sure you get the contact info from the companies official website and/or 411. I would not recommend trusting the contact info supplied by the developer as this could easily be set up with a friend! Search for reviews; although you should remember to take anything you read with a bit of salt. We all know that sometimes people can write a bad review simply because they don’t understand the product they are reviewing. Sometimes reviews are written by people that are paid to write reviews; good and bad, and because of this uncertainty I added this step as a last option.
When getting estimates look at them with the knowledge that you get what you pay for. The cheap estimates are usually given by overseas outfits or from the I think I cans.
The overseas folks have a few glaring issues like:
- being overseas and in a time-zone that makes it difficult to communicate in real-time
- English as their 2nd language – this causes miscommunication
- Different country – How would you sue them? How would you start any legal action against them?
- Marc Hall