Wednesday, 19 December 2018
 
 
Web Hosting: Web Accessibility PDF Print E-mail
Deep in the heart of an office complex there lies a room that may be filled with floor to ceiling server cages that house multiple web-based servers. In the back of a storefront you may likely find servers working to keep websites operational.

A web host is simply a leasing agent for space on an existing server to allow your business website to be accessible by millions of Internet customers. The use of a web hosting service is similar to leasing a storefront as a showroom – it just costs less.

However, unlike a typical building lease option, a web host can provide a variety of features that you can customize based on the needs of your online business. For instance, you might need the capability of providing File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to business associates to access company data or new manufacturing specs. You might also need other data management protocols.

Most ecommerce websites will also need a shopping cart with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), database support and other similar features. Web hosting may not always be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. You should determine what your needs will be in a web hosting solution and seek to find a solution that bundles the most options for the most reasonable price.

Interestingly, many of the sites that provide web design also make web hosting a part of the package. There may be many reasons this is so, but the predominant reason may be the access to the site information through a known or existing server. However, it is possible to work with a web hosting solution to allow the development of a site that is personally built by you. These web-hosting solutions allow the use of an extensive selection of features that can be customized through template rich designs and implemented in less time than other web development options.

You also want to find a web hosting service that can guarantee the greatest amount of uptime. Because the Internet has grown so fast you may also find web-hosting solutions that have no track record, so be careful about selecting a company that has not had ample time to prove their capabilities in maintaining quality service.

Leasing a portal to the web through a web-hosting service is one of the most cost effective ways to unleash your entrepreneurial spirit through a business startup, but you may be best served in looking through a variety of options before settling on a service that will help determine your accessibility on the web.

 
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1and1 Hosting - Raising the bar
First, I have to admit. I'm a terrible customer. I'm a demanding perfectionist who rarely feels that he is getting his money's worth. This is especially true of hosting providers. In the past four years, I've had to change providers at least six times because I felt that I was not getting what I paid for. This brief commentary is somewhat of a treat for me as I finally get to say something good about a hosting provider!

A little over two years ago I was reading up on the latest technologies in one of my favorite publications, eWeek, when I ran across a nice, full-page ad from 1and1 offering an introductory offer of free hosting for three years. Wait! What! No way! This has got to be too good to be true! Off to the trusty computer I go...

Sure enough, it was the real deal. 1and1 was indeed offering free web hosting for three years to introduce its new public sector hosting service. Well, like any good cash-strapped college student, I stepped right up and got me a piece of the pie. I've got to say, the pie was good too!

After roughly two years of hosting with 1and1, with minimal problems I should say, I started to notice that I was getting dangerously close to the bandwidth allowance my free package had to offer. No big surprise there; these things happen when you're trying to establish an online presence and you offer free downloads. It was time to upgrade my hosting.

At the time, there were no great specials going on at 1and1 so I decided to shop around. That was a tremendous mistake! What I got was a course in how *not* to run a hosting service. I will be polite, this time, and not name and companies, but let's just say stay away from cheap reseller hosting accounts! The uptime is nowhere near what they promise and every time you turn around some idiot is running a script that bogs the server down to a crawl.

After a couple months, a chunk of wasted cash, and several moves back and forth between providers, I finally conceded that 1and1 was indeed the best host I had come across thus far. As luck would have it, I had received an email from 1and1 announcing a great promotion for their free preview package holders (obvious marketing trick, but good timing in my situation). They were offering their top shared Linux package for half the price. Ok, that sounds like a good deal, and it was, but what about next year? Well, this is where it gets even better. Not only did I get the package at half price, but they guaranteed that price for three years with free upgrades!

I might not be the brightest light bulb in the box, but I know a good deal when I see one. So, as I'm sure you've already figured out, I signed up. What I got was a whole lot more than what I bargained for, and honestly, could have hoped for. Almost instantly after upgrading, I noticed that my sites were running faster. I'm assuming that paid customers are placed on less crowded servers.

Then, the first upgrade came. My space and bandwidth were doubled at no extra charge. I thought to myself, cool, I'll take it! A couple weeks later, I was browsing the 1and1 site comparing features for a potential client when I noticed that the package I have had been bumped to ridiculously high levels. Even though I was getting my money's worth at the time, I felt a little bitter that I wasn't getting the full package spec. After all, I was promised that I would get every package upgrade.

Just like any other nightmare client, I promptly dialed billing to give them a piece of my mind. Apparently, the billing agent was no stranger to difficult clients like me. Within a few minutes of talking to me, he got me defused and assured me that my package would be brought up to spec within four weeks. That was two weeks ago. He explained that it was taking more time than expected to upgrade all their current accounts to the new account specs. He really surprised me when he said that I'd actually be getting more than what was currently listed on the site. What?! Ok then! Thank you for your time! Needless to say, I was left feeling very positive about that support call.

Here's where we get into the numbers... When I logged into my account today, I was greeted by some very generous numbers for the package I have. I discovered that I now have 30,000MB of storage and 1,500 GB of transfer on a shared hosting account that normally runs $19.99/mo! Wait! That can't be right! Those are VPS specs! Yup, you read right. 30GB of storage and 1.5TB of transfer for under $20/mo. PLUS, with 1and1, I only pay $5.99 per domain, per year.

Now, let's be real here. Those numbers are great and all, but other providers offer similar specs. What sets 1and1 apart? For starters, uptime! With every other host I've used, uptime was a major issue. This is not so with 1and1. I can count on one hand how many times in the past two years my site was not available and nearly every time it was related to an ISP router, not 1and1! Also, one of the things I've really grown to appreciate is their one-of-a-kind control panel. It's a little slow, but it more than makes up for it in streamlined administration. This is especially true of the domain administration. Even complete n00bs have no problem navigating the 1and1 control panel and managing their package like a pro.

Again, I'm not the easiest person in the world to impress, especially when it comes to hosting providers. Nevertheless, 1and1 has really raised the bar of what a good hosting provider is in my mind. They are now the benchmark by which I will measure all hosting providers. If you are in the market for a good, reliable, affordable hosting provider, I cannot say enough positive about 1and1.

There is only one negative I've found with 1and1 and it's not even really a negative. They're a bit restrictive on script execution. If you think about it, in a shared hosting environment, this is a good thing, and this also explains why the only time I've noticed the server actually being down was during a scheduled hardware upgrade. Now, who's going to complain about a free upgrade in performance?

If you would like more information on 1and1 and the packages they offer, I encourage you to visit their site. Just as a point of reference, I'm running on the Developer Package. I think you'll find that it's a more than adequate package for moderate to heavy traffic sites.