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  #1  
06-08-2011, 12:24 AM
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What do I need to consider when choosing a host? What is the difference between cPanel and 'the other' .... On some hosting options I see the mention of a control panel, other I don't. Why do I need this, or is it always included? At the request of a recent web designer, I engaged with (mt) MediaTemple and got the DV service for $50/month...this seems a bit expensive, but then again I don't know the reason he had me purchase that option. I have since canceled the service because he took the money and ran. Any help would be appreciated! -Dave

-- merged --

Hello LS, Thanks for taking the time to reply to my WordPress hosting question. My site (www.wiseglobaltraining.com) is our main marketing stream for our health and safety training with a focus on eLearning. We are UK based, but our accreditations our recognised world wide (IOSH, NEBOSH, CIEH). If you could please check out our website and deduce what you think I may need. Thanks for your assistance! -Dave
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  #2  
06-09-2011, 08:28 AM
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First off, welcome to The Digital FAQ.

Consider yourself rescued from that other site where the "advice" being given was nothing more than spam, ridiculous guesses, and the ramblings of folks who had no more experience than you did! (Not what people usually want when getting advice!) Anyway, here goes ... Let's get you set up with a proper web host.

You were set up on a what could be considered semi-dedicated hosting, and is a type of hosting plan generally needed only when you have a high-resource and/or high-traffic site. By "high", we'd be looking at a few thousand visitors per day minimum, complex site code that uses a lot of RAM and CPU, etc. My gut feeling is the person who set this up for you only did it to snag a big affiliate commission at your expense.

As far as control panels go, there's cPanel, Plesk, DirectAdmin and Kloxo -- just to name some of the more popular ones. There's also the issue of Linux vs Windows, which is determined by the coding of the site and related hosting needs. You need a control panel unless you know how to SSH and use command-line. Based on your demonstrated knowledge so far, you don't have that skill set. So you need a control panel. In all honesty, the panels are more or less the same in most functions -- you're able to administrate basic tasks related to creating domains, monitoring traffic, setting up emails, etc. The "better" part (the thing that differentiates panels) generally comes in licensing costs (paid by the host), stability/resource use, and minutia features (DomainKeys anti-spam signing, for example).

At The Digital FAQ, we won't give some crappy advice like you tend to find elsewhere. None of that "use my host, it's the best" or "here, click my spam link" type stuff --- we give advice that actually means something to your specific individual situation.

When it comes to selecting a hosting plan, you need to consider resources and reputation. (And I don't mean the "reputation" as found on bogus "hosting reviews" sites or "top 10 web host" sites -- those are spam affiliate links, or paid advertising. There's no honesty in those kinds of sites -- it's all about making money, and nothing else!) You have to locate legitimate user feedback on hosts, as well as study the host's own website. A bad host, for example, has lots of fine print and hidden gotchas -- the "unlimited" hosts are very guilty of that, and a generally lousy operations to use. I've been building and hosting sites since the early 1990s, so I'm pretty decently versed in hosting, and can help people like yourself navigate the choppy waters.

We're in the process of reviewing hosts, and earlier this year a list was cultivated: List of the Best Web Hosts in 2011 / Top 10 Website Hosting
That list was not influenced by payment amounts, like so-called "review" sites.

And then here's some more for you...

You have a nice looking site, so congratulate yourself for that. On a scale of 1-5, I'd give a solid 4.

For the record, this is the scale:
1. Horrible site, in need of complete redo, from design to content. Starting over.
2. Bad site, with little in the way of salvageable content, but it's still something to work with.
3. Design is not good, 1990s quality coding, content is not to any standard. Lots of work, but can be salvaged.
4. Pretty good overall design, content is pretty good, has a number of "features" going for it (i.e., social media use, etc). It could use some tweaks to make it even better! In many cases, removal of "bad" content (like overuse of JS, Flash, etc) is in order.
5. The site is just that good. There's not much room for improvement on design, features or content flow, though any site could always use content tweaks to drive more traffic. It's probably a fully vetted professionally made site that took a lot of time and effort, both at the front end and ongoing.

Being in UK does not mean you need a UK host -- no more than a USA business needs a USA host. Go for quality first, then let the "chips fall where they may" on the topic of pricing and geography. If you pick price over quality, when it comes to hosting, you will eventually get screwed over. That's not pessimism, that's a promise!

(Side note: I do want to mention it's ideal to keep your hosting in North America or Europe when any/all of your audience is on either of those continents. The advice for those other places, most of whom are outside the digitalFAQ.com audience, is to use the local host. India in India targeted business, etc. Many still use USA and Europe, however, due to quality, pricing and network speeds.)

As a business, it's always a good idea to go with a host that can scale over time. You can start with lower-cost shared or cloud plans, and then move up to VPS or dedicated when needs demand it.

Being in Europe, I highly suggest using EuroVPS. That's actually the host for this site, too, and has been for the past five years. The owners, admins and mods of this site have gotten to know them pretty well in that time, and this site probably would not be where it is today without their excellent uptime and network. They're rated at #1 on the suggest web hosting list. They'll treat you like a person, not a customer number that generates a monthly dollar amount. I can't imagine relying on a host that doesn't care about you, which easily results in lost business from downtime, slowness and problems. Who wants that? Sadly, the uncaring host is the norm, not the exception, so that's why you need to pick your host carefully.

As far as shared vs VPS vs dedicated (or vs cloud, if it comes to that), I'd need to know more about your traffic numbers. How many unique visitors per day/month, and then what language the site is built on. And what databases formats, if applicable.

I know, some of that is semi-techie information, but it's best to pick a host based on those needs, instead of gambling that the low-cost option will be the best one for you. (And if the lowest priced plans work best for you, as dictated by the needs -- GREAT!)

So post back here with some details about your resource needs, and we'll help you get it all sorted out.

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  #3  
06-09-2011, 08:56 AM
wisedave wisedave is offline
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Hello,

A refreshing attitude and outlook....nice to have a place to bounce more ideas around.

At the moment, I get about 60 new visitors a day. In May I had 1310 new visitors/4376 page views/2.72 per visit.

When I view the source of my home page, it says the following

HTML Code:
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
I hope that helps with that question. I don't think we use any kind of database...I assume you are talking about for content or items for purchase. Sorry if my noobness shows there.

I agree that cost should not be the driver....nor will it be. I just need to justify the cost versus my ability.

At the moment I have paralysis by analysis.....


Cheers,

Dave
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  #4  
06-09-2011, 10:26 AM
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To add some to this conversation, too, you seem to have very low needs, in terms of resource use. This would allow use of a shared server. A shared host like Stablehost would be an option to consider, in addition to EuroVPS. I just finished writing up a mini-review on Stablehost, from a few questions I was asked online.

Looking at your link, I don't detect any videos as being on-server for your site, and I don't see any sort of user login system. Generally speaking, it could be assumed that your site is HTML only, and is not based on a CMS. I looked deeper into your source code for tell-tale signs of a CMS, and nothing jumped out at me from a cursory glance. If you can still measure your daily traffic in double or triple digits, you can be considered a micro-site, and those can run virtually anywhere. At a good host, of course, which seems to be the whole topic of this thread. (Some people would even consider 4-digit traffic to be a "small" site, though I'd consider those medium-sized sites.)

Not to "spam up" this post, but I want to mention that one of the currently un-advertised services of digitalFAQ.com is to develop websites, and that would include assisting with hosting needs (setting it all up for you), or in some cases even being the host for a client site, on one of our systems. So that's another option you can chew on, should it be needed or tempting in any way. We're a "full service" operation for digital media (video work, website dev/design work and related hosting/tech, photography, etc). It's not just a forum. In fact, the forum is just a tack-on, because we like to share knowledge with others, as we do quite a bit of research, reviews and instructional guides. Pricing is competitive and reasonable.

Where is the site hosted currently? If the Mediatemple account was cancelled, then where was it moved? Because the site is obviously still up and online.

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  #5  
06-10-2011, 03:47 AM
wisedave wisedave is offline
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Hello,

My Media Temple account was set up to develop a site re-design using WP with a domain I purchased. The plan was that after the site was up to scratch, we would just use a 301 re-direct to point to it. My current site is hosted through the company that designed/built it, Quantum Web Solutions. There are many reasons I want to move away from them. The server it is being hosted on is in Saudi Arabia. Strange but true!

Thanks for you input...


Cheers,

Dave
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  #6  
06-10-2011, 04:50 AM
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I'm assuming that you're referring to quantumweb.co.uk, which is likely since their IP is your IP (212.64.128.33). It's actually SWIP'd to a Rackspace UK server. I don't actually see anything that would confirm it as a Saudi server, though it's not impossible. (SWIP is non-geographic.) However, I'd note that Maxmind confirms UK geography, so I'm inclined to believe that. You may have been given bad information.

Regardless of the geography lesson, it's generally best to NOT have your sites hosted by a web design company unless they've been around for about a decade or more. Quantum's site was only registered on 15-Feb-2010, which is not really safe. Most web designer ventures fail within 3-5 years, and they'll often "screw over" their customers in the process, by not notifying them that new hosting is needed, giving them all their files, etc. So moving away is wise. I see so many horror stories on a daily basis about nobody hosts and designers disappearing, taking sites and domain names.

That brings up another point -- get the domain transferred to your own Registrar ASAP! I prefer DirectNIC, due to a number of legal stances they've taken (to protect domain owners), and their offshore Cayman Islands location. A second choice is Namecheap, if you want to save a few dollars ($10/year, at most).

IMPORTANT: Never use the "big name" hosting registrars, like Godaddy or 1&1 -- their policies are very anti-consumer, and both have mountains of bad press (stretching back many years) regarding their crappy domains policies. For example, Godaddy is infamous for breaking ICANN policy and confiscating domains based on weak evidence of "spamming" or "hacking".
Many people will think "Oh, that's okay, I don't spam or hack, so that'll never affect me!" Tell that to the victims of that policy, who also were not spammers or hackers. The Godaddy CEO also hunts endangered species for sport (elephant hunting in Africa); not the kind of person I want to fund.

If you still need somebody to revamp a site in WordPress, let me know -- that's actually our specialty.

Regarding the 301s, I would keep the same domain and simply 301 old pages that are not going to keep the same URL. In many cases, it's possible and even possibly suggested to keep the same URL structure, to retain SERPs (Google/Bing search results), unless SERPs are not a consideration in your business plan (i.e., you advertise or have a "protected" niche and don't need search engine traffic).

Based on your information so far, I really think Stablehost or EuroVPS are your best choices. I could make more suggestions, but it would really just be for the sake of making more suggestions. Stablehost servers are in UK or Germany, and EuroVPS servers are in Amsterdam (within spitting distance of UK). Based on information so far, get a Linux cPanel shared hosting account.

Stablehost has both LiteSpeed and Apache (both are Linux web servers), and EuroVPS has at least Apache. Both Litespeed and Apache are great to work with. (Do note that this is just what the Linux server runs, it is not anything you'd need to really learn or control; just in case I gave too much information, as I don't want to confuse you. However, you're bound to see the info on their sites, so better to explain it now.)

If you have more questions on this topic, just reply here.
If you need more help on related topics, just make a new post (not reply) in this forum.
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  #7  
06-10-2011, 05:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wisedave View Post
My Media Temple account was set up to develop a site re-design using WP with a domain I purchased. The plan was that after the site was up to scratch, we would just use a 301 re-direct to point to it. My current site
I'm guessing the WP site and current site were to be two separate sites? Or was the WP going to be a new-and-improved upgrade to the current site? Just trying to figure out if you'll have one website, or two, or even several more that have not been mentioned so far.

Stablehost, EuroVPS --

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  #8  
06-10-2011, 08:16 AM
wisedave wisedave is offline
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Hello all,

At the moment, the plan is to have two different sites. You are correct in assuming that the WP would be the 'new and improved' site. I would work in that in the background and leave the current site up and running as this is our main 'store front'. When the WP site was ready, I was hoping to just 'flip the switch' sort of thing. Once that is done, I will tell Quantum to bugger off....

Oh yea..Quantum...they had a name change not too long ago, that's maybe why they seem new. They were called Linesave. In doing a little research, it would appear as though the name change was a shell game to close one company and open it back up in another name, although they say they were 'bought out'. I'm not convinced!

This brings up two more good points I need to figure out. How do I switch the multiple domains I have with Quantum to whatever host I choose? I purchased variations of our business name (.org, .com, .co.uk, etc). I have about 5 or 6 in total that they control.

The other question is the 301 re-direct issue. I would love to keep my current site name for the new WP site. But how to I develope a new site and create all of the web pages, then use the domain name of the old site? Won't the new site have their own unique URL based on a new domain name? For example:

Current Page: www.currentsite.co.uk/contact_us
Development Site (or new site): www.newsite.co.co/contact_us

How do I make the new site have the same domain and extensions as the old one?

I can't afford to lose any ranking in SERP's.......

Thanks for the help and direction,

Dave
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  #9  
06-10-2011, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
The other question is the 301 re-direct issue. I would love to keep my current site name for the new WP site. But how to I develope a new site and create all of the web pages, then use the domain name of the old site? Won't the new site have their own unique URL based on a new domain name? For example:
Current Page: www.currentsite.co.uk/contact_us
Development Site (or new site): www.newsite.co.co/contact_us
How do I make the new site have the same domain and extensions as the old one?
You can develop on a temporary domain. Since you "bought out" your name across all TLDs, to retain brand equity, you have several domains to play with. For example, the non-forum areas of digitalFAQ.com were built about 10 years ago, and very much look their age. That site is being replaced with a new one. (This forum, on the other hand, already received its upgrades throughout 2009-2011.) The new site is being built at digitalFAQ.net, behind a passworded and IP restricted server. When it's finished, the old site will be archived and deleted, and the new site will take its place.

Another option is a subdomain; for example "new.domain.com" while the main site still resides at "domain.com" and/or "www.domain.com".

WordPress is like any other CMS -- it will need manual database corrections performed, in order to be located at the new URL. Most CMS "marry" the URL of a site, and manual corrections are needed. (Note: Do not use those plugins that promise to make it work -- that's not a pleasant experience, and you could end up entirely locking yourself out of the new site AND damaging the database.)

Quote:
I can't afford to lose any ranking in SERP's.......
It can take months for a site to recover from a domain change, even with a 301 redirect -- possibly even years, if the site is small, as yours is. For that matter, I've even seen decent-sized sites lose 33% or more of its traffic simply by changing the URL of pages with changing the domain. So unless it's really, really needed, don't do it. (To some degree, you almost have to know what is/isn't acceptable, on a per-page, per-site basis. There's really no rule to changing the URL on the same domain. It's a complicated formula between keywords, web standards, stop words, and current SERP/rankings.)

Given that this is for a business, I think you really need to get with a web developer that understands SERPs, SEO, WordPress and site redesign. Few do, even when their sites state otherwise. It's really easy to make a big mistake that will jettison all of your traffic by accident. If you have a budget, let me know what it is, and I'll let you know what may be possible within that dollar amount.

Last year (2010), for example, we had four "clients from hell" that insisted ridiculous work be done, and we simply refused. They wanted more than was agreed upon, and to be quite blunt about it, the requests were simply stupid. In each case, they would not listen to reason, and were completely belligerent morons. Even though their knowledge of the online world would not even fill a thimble, they still insisted they knew better than the professionals because they had "heard it", "read it" or "somebody told me". So they took their business and left. (And good riddance.) What each of them did not realize, however, was that I was still an authorized user for their analytics. In a couple of cases, I was actually the GA account owner! I saw rankings and traffic completely tank -- some sites literally went to zero uniques for days at a time. Their hair-brained changes to site code and structure completely destroyed them. Two of them went out of business, and one was bought out and liquidated. When you need a website to survive, you can't be an idiot about it.

Quote:
Oh yea..Quantum...they had a name change not too long ago, that's maybe why they seem new. They were called Linesave. In doing a little research, it would appear as though the name change was a shell game to close one company and open it back up in another name, although they say they were 'bought out'. I'm not convinced!
Linesave has horrible, awful, terrible feedback and complaints online. No wonder they tried to hide behind a name change, and pretend they're a new company. I see that BS all the time in the web hosting industry (many are exposed regularly on WHT). It seems they like to pass off standard CMS and templates as custom work. Your current site looks to be a template, as is theirs, and it was probably bought from some template site for cheap. An easy tell for an amateur design operation is they use tons of stock photos and graphics, instead of their own original photography and images.

Quote:
This brings up two more good points I need to figure out. How do I switch the multiple domains I have with Quantum to whatever host I choose? I purchased variations of our business name (.org, .com, .co.uk, etc). I have about 5 or 6 in total that they control.
Start the domain transfer process either at DirectNIC.com or Namecheap.com. Hopefully they'll just approve the transfer without giving you crap. If they do put up a fight, then there is a dispute resolution system at Nominet, the UK master registry. Since they're still in business, it should not an issue. (Had you waited until their next problems happened, then you very well could have been SOL. So do it now! Today. Hopefully the nameservers data will transfer with it, so you'll have 0% downtime.)

Quote:
How do I switch the multiple domains I have with Quantum to whatever host I choose?
I know, I'm quoting this again.
Website communication is basically three pieces: domains, nameservers and webservers.
Hosts control webservers.
Most hosts have nameservers that you can use, too. (And there are also nameserver services out there.)

Domains can be bought from a host, too, but it's a terrible idea. Horrible. You could lose your domain if the host ever disappears. Losing a site would be bad enough, but at least it could be restored from a backup. (Note: Don't be one of those silly naive website owners that never creates his/her own backup!) If you lose your domain, you're completely screwed, and will lose everything. Worse yet, there's a chance somebody else could legally steal it later on, during the expiry bidding process! Always buy a name directly from an ICANN accredited registrar. DirectNIC and Namecheap (eNom) are two such registrars.

A domain is abc.com, but servers communicate by IP addresses like 123.456.789.0. A nameserver translates the abc.com into the IP number, so sites can communicate. When you buy a domain, you tell the registry which nameserver is always accurate. Every other nameserver in the world (unless you live in China, Iran, or another censorship type country) will copy that information, to direct traffic to your site. At the specified nameserver (and at least one backup nameserver), you'll input the server IP address for the computer/webserver where your site is located. And again, most hosts (especially shared and VPS hosts) have nameservers that you can use for free; it's part of your hosting plan.

For example: Transfer your domain to DirectNIC or Namecheap. Tell it your want to use Stablehost or EuroVPS nameservers. (This info is given to you during the sign-up process with the host.) At Stablehost or EuroVPS, in the control panels, the nameserver is told to point to the machine where your site is. (Note that cPanel shared hosting is generally setup for you already, while Plesk is not.) Put your files on the hosting servers. Use site. It's that easy.

Is that clear as crystal? Or was it clear as mud?

Quote:
At the moment, the plan is to have two different sites
I think the real plan is to always have one site. But for a temporary amount of time, you'll have a temporary "dev" space to rebuild a site. The "live" site is generally referred to as a "production" site.

What I do is a little more complex, when creating client sites. There is a local webserver here on-site, on the LAN. I alter the HOSTS file on my computer, and tell it that abc.com is at the LAN IP address, which overrides lookups to external nameservers. (For the sake of trivia, this is actually how many virus/malware programs can take over your computer, by overwriting unprotected HOSTS files to direct something like google.com to stealingyourdata.com.)

So the site is fooled into thinking it's always been abc.com, and I never had to create def.com and then move it or alter the database after it's finished. It's a simple upload task when completed, and it tends to work perfectly within seconds. That's how real web developers operate. Everything is done on a dev server, before committing it to a production server that is accessible to the outside world.

Generally speaking, advice like this would only be given to Premium Members. You've been asking some good questions, so I decided to go in depth, to help flesh out the FAQs built by conversations like this one.

Hope it helps.

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  #10  
06-11-2011, 07:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wisedave View Post
When I view the source of my home page, it says the following
HTML Code:
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
It doesn't, but that's okay.

All you have there is the doctype, which will be found on pretty much anything properly made, CMS or manual HTML.
I just wanted to point that one out real quick.

The other information provided here, including a link where we could see your site (and thus its source code), we can get a decent educated guess on what does or does not power your site. So far, it appears to be powered by manual HTML using some sort of template. Possibly created in Dreamweaver. A move to a CMS like WordPress is an excellent idea, and will give you quite a few advantages in creating SERPs, as well as improving beyond the old site.

cPanel is one of the easiest panels to use. (Thought not as perfect as its fans sometimes make it out to be.)

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  #11  
06-12-2011, 09:02 AM
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  #12  
06-12-2011, 09:14 AM
wisedave wisedave is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
How's it coming? Getting all the information you need?
Yea...good stuff so far.

This weekend has been spent with family so my activity has been light.

I do believe that with help from others, I can make a go at this. The best part is I have a website already, so I can make my mistakes and it won't impact my traffic and leads.

I do need to figure out the best way to handle my re-direction concerns and the fact that we want to minimise loss of traffic and leads. Most of my traffic does from from PPC, so it may be that I have to throw more money on that while things settle down after the switch.

Speak to you soon,

Dave
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