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Web Hosting - Changing Web Hosts, Pitfalls and Planning
At some point, nearly everyone finds it necessary to change web hosts. It may be just a migration to another server, or it may be changing web hosting companies entirely. Either way, the process is fraught with potential dangers. But there are ways to minimize the odds of problems and maximize your changes of a smooth migration.
Plan, plan, plan.
Make a very detailed list of everything that is on your current system. Review what is static and what changes frequently. Note any tailoring done to software and files. Be prepared to remake them if the systems aren't transferred properly or can't be restored. Keep careful track of all old and new names, IP addresses and other information needed to make the migration.
Backup and Test
Backup everything on your system yourself, whenever possible. Web hosting companies typically offer that as a service, but the staff and/or software are often less than par. Often backups appear to go well, but they're rarely tested by restoring to a spare server. When the time comes that they're needed, they sometimes don't work.
Do a dry run, if you can. Restore the system to its new location and make any needed changes. If you have the host name and or IP address buried in files, make sure it gets changed.
This is often true of databases. SQL Server on Windows, for example, picks up the host name during installation. Moving a single database, or even multiple ones, to a new server is straightforward using in-built utilities or commercial backup/restore software. But moving certain system-related information may require changing the host name stored inside the master database. Similar considerations apply to web servers and other components.
Accept Some Downtime
Be prepared for some downtime. Very few systems can be picked up, moved to another place, then brought online with zero downtime. Doing so is possible, in fact it's common. But in such scenarios high-powered professionals use state-of-the-art tools to make the transition seamless. Most staff at web hosting companies don't have the skills or the resources to pull it off.
Prepare for Name Changes
One aspect of moving to a new host can bedevil the most skilled professionals: changing domain names and or domain name/IP address combinations.
When you type a URL into your browser, or click on one, that name is used because it's easier for people to remember. www.yahoo.com is a lot easier to remember than 188.8.131.52. Yet the name and or name/IP address combination can (and does) change. Still, specialized servers called DNS (Domain Name System) servers have to keep track of them. And there are a lot of them.
There may be only two (rarely) or there may be a dozen or more DNS servers between your visitors' browsers/computers and your web host. Every system along the chain has to keep track of who is who. When a name/IP address changes, that pair has to be communicated to everyone along the chain, and that takes time.
In the meantime, it's possible for one visitor to find you at the new place, while another will be pointing to the old one. Some amount of downtime will usually occur while everything gets back in sync.
The Little Gotchas
But even apart from name and IP address changes, there are a hundred little things that can, and often do, go wrong. That's not a disaster. It's just the normal hurdles that arise when changing something as complicated as a web site and the associated systems that underlie it.
Gather Tools and Support
Having an FTP program that you're familiar with will help facilitate the change. That will allow you to quickly move files from one place to the next to do your part to get the system ready to go or make repairs.
Making the effort to get to know, and become friendly with, support staff at the new site can be a huge benefit. They may be more willing to address your problem before the dozen others they have to deal with at any given moment.
Ok. On your mark. Get ready. Go.
Some Info on Those ?Get Paid To? Sites Where You Can Get Free Stuff Anyone who has spent even five minutes online is aware that there are many websites that offer free stuff, and many people cash in on hundreds of dollars of free stuff every single month. But what about taking that one step further? What if you could not only get some free stuff, but also actually get paid to get free things? It sounds impossible but actually you can make a profit on getting free things online. The catch is that you have to devote a little bit of time and effort to finding these deals and completing them, but many people find that getting paid to get free things is well worth a little time investment. One of the top places to cash in for free stuff is so called ?get paid to? websites. These ?get paid to? websites usually act as clearinghouses for all kinds of internet offers that give users the chance to make some quick cash by completing some tasks. Most of the time, the tasks you have to complete on these ?get paid to? websites involve filling out some kind of survey or submitting your contact information to a company. When you visit one of these websites, you can often click through offer after offer and complete them in your own time, racking up the cash along the way. But sure, filling out surveys is a way to get paid for doing something very easy, but what about getting paid to get free stuff? These offers also appear on these websites. Most often, you will get a free meal at a local restaurant and then get paid for submitting a report about your experience there. This kind of ?mystery shopper? deal is also in place at many big chain stores, where you may be given a gift card for a small amount to go into the store, buy something and report back about your experience. Companies use these services to test their customer service in stores and figure out what they could be doing better. So, not only will you get a free meal or a free item at a store, you?ll get paid for telling the company if you were treated well by the staff ? not a bad gig if you can get it! The way to get one of the deals is to keep a close eye on the ?get paid to? websites. There are many of these websites out there, so the best way to figure out which ones are worth your time is to look for ones that have deals on offer from big name companies that you know. Most of the times, a major company will work with one website exclusively, so you getting in with the website that has the biggest number of big name companies mean you will have access to the most valuable ?get paid to? deals on offer. Is there a catch to all of this free stuff? Well, there can be, but you can mitigate the hassle to some extent. The biggest problem with free stuff online is that you have to hand over your email address to a company who is sure to both solicit you in the future and sell your email address to other companies who will also start soliciting you by email. Cut the hassle by setting up a separate email address just for these purposes, so that your primary email address does not struggle under the weight of the spam. Also, never give out your phone number ? you can use a phony one with a 555 exchange or set up an online number that you use only for freebies. Managed properly, you can really get paid to get free stuff with a minimum amount of hassle.
Web Hosting - Free vs Paid Web Hosting Options Everyone likes to get something for free. But as the existence of spam shows, free isn't always good. Sometimes, it's downright harmful. Deciding whether it's worth the cost to pay for hosting involves a number of complex considerations. Hosting companies that offer free services obviously can't stay in business from the money they make from you, since there isn't any. So why do they offer free hosting and how do they make money? Why should you care, so long as you get yours? Because, in reality, there's a price of some kind for everything, even something that's free. Free hosting may come from a company doing a promotion to attract business. They expect to demonstrate their value, then charge an existing customer base fees to make up for what they lost by the (short term) offer. It's in essence a form of advertising. But free hosting is offered by lots of companies that are not dedicated to managing servers for websites. Google, Yahoo and thousands of others provide a modest amount of disk space and a domain name on a server for free. Users are free to do anything they like with it, though if the load becomes excessive you can be shut down. That introduces one of the more obvious drawbacks to free hosting: resource limitations. Typically free hosting offers a relatively small amount of space. That's often enough to host a few dozen pages. But an active site can quickly run out of room. A more serious limitation is load. Free hosting often places strict limitations on the allowed amount of bandwidth consumed. If you become a well-visited site, when users start banging away on the server, you can be asked to leave or simply be blocked for the rest of the month. Or, you may be permitted a certain quantity of total bandwidth use per month. Once it's reached, no one else can reach your site until the beginning of a new month. At the same time, you will certainly be sharing equipment with thousands of other sites. Their load can affect your performance, prompting you to move. Migrating an established site brings with it a number of thorny issues that might be better avoided in the first place. Free hosting has another potential downside: lack of support. When you pay for hosting you typically get, at least in theory, a certain level of support. Backups in case of disaster recovery from a hack or server failure, assistance in analyzing connection problems... the variety is endless. With free hosting you usually get none of that. A company or site that offers free hosting will usually recover a disk or server that fails completely and you'll be back up when they do. But if only selected portions of the drive fail, or you lose a few files through a virus attack or accidental deletion, you have to rely on backups to recover. A free service will usually come with no such option. That may not be a problem if you have a small site. You can make copies of everything at another location and simply recover the site yourself - if you have the discipline to keep it current and the skills to make and restore the copy. Free hosting will typically come with a few email addresses, intended to be used for administration and other tasks. But if your needs grow beyond that, you'll need to seek another option. The email service also comes with minimal oversight. The server may be protected against spam attacks and provide virus scanning. But few free services will provide even minimal help with any issues that arise. But the most serious limitation may have nothing to do with any technical issues. Free hosting services often require that your site's pages carry some form of advertising that pays the host, not you. That may be fine for you, or it may not. Individual circumstances vary. On the other hand, if you're just starting out, a free hosting option can be a great way to learn needed skills and a few of the potential pitfalls. You can set up a site, learn how to maintain and improve it, and not care too much if it gets hacked. Freely hosted sites can be a great platform for learning the ropes. Free services don't usually offer any of the features that an active, commercial site will need sooner or later. So if you plan to grow, it may be reasonable to get the free service for a while, knowing you'll have to migrate when you become popular. But in the long run, you get what you pay for and you may need to pay for what you want.