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February 05 2014

07:30

Pixeno: Web Designers Hosting for Free (with Luck)


  

Today we are back with another special giveaway. Pixeno, a company offering web hosting for web designers and developers by web designers and developers, gave us six of their annual hosting plans, which we don’t want to keep but raffle off to our dear readers. Participating is easy. Simply answer the questions at the end of the article correctly and you are in the draw…

November 27 2013

04:15

How to Choose the Perfect Hosting Solution for your Needs

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Choosing a hosting company that suits your needs can be a daunting task. Anyone who’s ever switched from one host to another knows that it can be a tedious process and it’s just plain annoying to do. So, choosing the right hosting company from the get go, one you will possibly stick with for years, is critical.

All hosting providers are not created equal, some are better than others, some have features better suited for your needs, and some even a better reputation than others. Depending on what you intend to do with your hosting account or server, there’s a lot of questions to ask yourself before you settle on one:

  • How much traffic will you be getting?
  • How much bandwidth and storage will you need?
  • How many domains and/or sub-domains will you be hosting?
  • Will you host only your own sites or your client’s sites as well?
  • Ecommerce website? Do you need SSL?
  • Will you be reselling hosting to your clients?
  • Do you even need hosting? Would all-in-one solutions like SquareSpace, WordPress.com, Tumblr or Virb be enough for you?
  • Does the host offer any type of discount if you purchase hosting for multiple months or a year?
  • Do you need shell/ssh access?
  • Do you need a domain? Some hosts offer a free domain name when you purchase a hosting plan.
  • Do you need to be able to choose your OS? Linux or Windows?
  • Do you know what runs the HTTP server? Nginx, Litespeed, Apache, Lighttpd?
  • Does your website or project require you to deploy scripts like Ruby on Rails?
  • How comfortable are you updating your server? Should you go with a fully managed or an unmanaged solution?
  • Will you need to manage your hosting account on the go? Does the host offer a mobile app to manage your account?
  • Are you comfortable installing a CMS like WordPress yourself? If not, does the hosting company provide one-click installation?
  • Do they offer 24/7 support? Email, phone, support tickets, live chat?
  • Where do you want your server to be located? Do you need a CDN?
  • If you’re moving to a new host, will that new hosting provider help you move your files and databases over? Is there a fee?
  • If you choose a small plan to start, will your hosting company let you upgrade to a bigger plan or server? What are the costs associated with this?
  • Are there setup fees when you open a new account?
  • Does the web host offer some guarantee when it comes to uptime? What’s their check interval?

You obviously don’t need to answer all of those questions. But try to answer as many as you can, it should help paint a clearer picture as to what you might need to look for in a provider. If you don’t know what Apache, Ruby or SSL is, chances are an unmanaged dedicated server is not for you and you should probably aim for a cloud hosting solution or a managed VPS. Don’t forget to get in touch with the hosting company you’re looking to signup with and ask any question you may have, and test their level of support and responsiveness.

There’s a million hosting companies out there, so selecting the one you will give your business to is no easy task. Thankfully we’ve selected some of the top ones that have a focus on designers, developers and creatives, and we have all this right here in a handy list. Check out the features of each provider and then make your choice. I hope this post helps you make the daunting task of finding a hosting company easier.

MediaTemple

MediaTemple
MediaTemple is loved by many designers and developers and for good reasons. They offer plans ranging from cloud hosting, to VPS and managed or unmanaged dedicated servers. I can speak from experience when I say that MediaTemple’s support is quick and friendly. Here’s a quick rundown of the packages they offer:

  • Grid Hosting: $20/mo
  • Dedicated Virtual: starts at $50/mo for the managed solution, and $30/mo for DV Developer.
  • Dedicated Virtual Enterprise: $2000/mo and up

MediaTemple also offers a content delivery network service called ProCDN that starts at $20/mo, as well as some other great services like Move to MT, where they’ll move your site over to them for a small fee.

Eleven2

Eleven2
Eleven2 offers shared hosting plans starting at $44.55 per year, as well as reseller hosting, VPS plans and dedicated servers that are reasonably priced. They also offer their customers a great iPhone app for those of you who need to manage their account on the go.

WebFaction

WebFaction
WebFaction is definitely geared towards developers. You get full shell access and tons of tools pre-installed like Python, Ruby, Subversion and Git. Prices start at $9.50/mo, or $8.50/mo if you pay yearly.

Rackspace

Rackspace
Rackspace is more than just a cloud hosting provider. In fact I believe they offer the highest level of customization of all the hosting companies listed in this post. Cloud monitoring, load balancers, content delivery network, email hosting, managed colocation, and that’s just to name a few. Their support is unrivalled too.

They offer so many options via their website that finding a solution that suits your needs may not be such an easy task though – but get in touch with them and you’ll see why I praise their support so much.

WPEngine

WP Engine
WPEngine focusses on hosting WordPress-powered websites and they’re great at it. Their plans start at $29/mo. While they may not be the cheapest option around, if you’re using WordPress (the self-hosted version, of course) you cannot go wrong with WPEngine as they are 100% focussed and dedicated to WordPress. Their service even handles upgrading WordPress for you so you can go back to actually running your business rather than updating your installation.

KnownHost

KnownHost
KnownHost is not a cloud or shared hosting company. Their focus is on VPS and dedicated servers. But don’t let this fool you, you can actually get a VPS with KnownHost for about the same price as a well-featured shared hosting plan. Their VPS plans start at $25 per month and their dedicated servers at $179/mo. Oh, and if you do go with a VPS, you still get full root access.

HostNine

HostNine
HostNine is another provider that offers a broad range of plans and packages. Shared hosting plans start at $3.45/mo, VPS plans at $25/mo, and their dedicated packages start at $175 per month. Like a lot of other hosting companies they offer 1-click installation of popular apps like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and others.

Pixeno

Pixeno
Pixeno was founded by designers and that’s a good thing. Only designers can understand the needs of other designers and from what I’ve heard they “get it“. Their “personal plan” starts at £3.95/mo (around $5.35 USD per month). They also offer cloud servers that let you build your own plan – select the number of nodes you need, the amount of storage and how much RAM you need, and off you go!

WebHostingBuzz

WebHostingBuzz
WebHostingBuzz has some very inexpensive plans. Shared hosting plans start at $4.95/mo, VPS plans at $14.95/mo, and dedicated servers at $139/mo. When you signup with WebHostingBuzz you also get $100 worth of Google Adwords vouchers, which is always nice.

FlyWheel

FlyWheel
FlyWheel is another hosting provider that focusses on WordPress sites. Their control panel is elegant and their plans are well-featured as well. Basic packages start at $15/mo and include malware monitoring. They also have a CDN service that’s rather inexpensive, at $10 per month.

ThisWebHost

ThisWebHost
ThisWebHost has been a favorite of mine for a couple years now as far as shared hosting goes. I’ve hosted a lot of websites with them over the years (some with quite a lot of traffic) and their support staff is extremely responsive and friendly. Their shared hosting plans start at $3.95/mo and they also have semi-dedicated and dedicated plans that are very reasonably priced, too.

Digital Ocean

Digital Ocean
With Digital Ocean you can deploy an SSD cloud server in less than 55 seconds — no joke. They focus on cloud hosting plans starting at only $5 a month. One of the great features of Digital Ocean is that you can choose to be billed monthly or hourly, and you can easily scale things up or down with just a single clicks. Need more RAM? No problem.

Content Delivery Networks (CDN)

A CDN is a network or servers located around the world. The goal of a CDN is to serve content fast no matter where your end users may be located. Without a CDN, some of your content may be slower to load for users that are far away from your server. For example, if your server is located in New York City and a user in Australia tries to access your website it may load slower for them. A CDN is a great way to offload some of your static files and serve them faster to your users, no matter where they are in the world.

Some hosting providers offer a CDN service to their user, often at a reduced cost. Here are some great options:

  • EdgeCast / ProCDN: $20/mo for MediaTemple customers
  • Cloudflare: starts at $20/mo, free for MediaTemple customers
  • MaxCDN: starts at $9/mo for 100GB of bandwidth

What About Dropbox?

Do you have a Dropbox account? Did you know you can actually run a small website off your Dropbox account? Some content management systems even integrate very easily with Dropbox to serve your files. You’re already paying for your Dropbox account, why not use it to serve some files or even host a file-based CMS?

Here are some great CMS solutions that make great use of Dropbox:

If you don’t require a CMS you can even host full static websites using Dropbox and Github. But of course a real hosting company will be much more reliable, secure and will offer a lot more benefits (support, SSL, email addresses, easy management, etc…), but at least you have options.

Conclusion

I hope you this post useful. Do you have personal recommendations for hosting companies? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!


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20:51

February 04 2012

10:00

Ultimate Guide on How to Host Your Own Blog – For The Non-Technical

Lately there have been a lot of people trying to hire us to create a website for them, others even ask for quotes and present a short plan that they have made. The problem is we’re not a company that will design and develop websites for clients, we’re an internet publisher focused on writing guides, inspirational articles, reviews, and the lot.

My friends, it has come to this. Many have asked for help and now I will walk you through it all, even without knowledge of coding you will be able to create a website in just one hour after reading this.

Say you have already grown tired of your Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress.com blogs and you want to move up the scale. What do you do next? Yes, you read this guide!

Remember, you can start your own blog/website now for as low as $10!

Things to know:

Before anything else, there are some small details that you will need to think about. Do you want to have a totally free website that has a fixed set of features? You probably want more power and the option tp tweak things, but are you willing to pay for these options?

First you need to decide whether to create a self-hosted website or not.

Free websites are hosted under a parent domain. For example, there are a lot of websites, or in this case blogs, out there that are used by people for their private ramblings like sampyourname.wordpress.com or testwebsite.blogger.com. These blogs are totally free, but the irony is you really do not have the freedom of bending it to your will. There are limitations involved. But the good thing here is that they are totally reliable and free, also you won’t need any technical knowledge of HTML and CSS, everything is already designed for you.

If your goal is to keep an online diary for your personal life or craft, just the basic things, then using free website/blog services like WordPress.com and Blogger.com, or even Tumblr.com, is highly suggested. You can keep your files safe, no worrying about down time, and most of all they’re totally free. But since they’re free, your site will always have the service’s name (site.blogger.com) attached to your domain and it doesn’t look very professional.

If your goal is to appear strong and professional, and have more control over most things, then your best option is to host a website yourself. Unlike a free website, a self-hosted website requires some technical knowledge, and that is the point of this whole guide.

When should you self-host a website? As mentioned, when you want to have a professional look and feel to your site. Most likely they will know that you are serious about running that website and updating it, since you’re paying for it. Most self-hosted websites are owned by people who are using it for their business, either to promote their skill and services or to make money with it. Just like 1stwebdesigner.com. This is exactly the reason why I decided to write this guide, because people with WordPress.com and Blogger.com blogs have contacted us about shifting to a .com blog. Admittedly, I only replied to a couple of them briefly pointing them to the correct services and websites to read. But now it is different, to avoid further confusing our first time readers I have written a guide to solve this problem!

If you’re still serious about creating a self-hosted website and spending some money, then continue reading.

Before Purchasing Anything

Before you purchase anything, please be sure that you have already decided on what to do. I know that many of the people that will read this are considering it and are not entirely sure about spending money. I know some students both here in the Philippines and elsewhere who are considering spending money to get a website, some have failed and regretted their decision.

Ask yourself, do you need a premium website design?

Choose a Content Management System (CMS)

As the name implies, CMS is software that manages a website’s content. This is actually one of the best inventions of all time. I daresay that 90% of websites in existence today are built over a CMS. Websites like 1stwebdesigner, TheNextWeb, TechCrunch, and a lot more.

I won’t delve too much into what a CMS is, since you’ll more than likely end up using WordPress. 1stwebdesigner is using WordPress to manage all of the photos, articles, and plugins used in this website. Without WordPress it would actually be hard to grow it as big as it is now. But this is just my opinion.

You can, however, choose a different CMS depending on your preferences.

Check out:

Choose a Domain Name and Web Host

Technically, you should be looking for a Domain Registrar to register a Domain name of your choosing. Usually domain names and hosting are purchased together, but in case you want to find cheaper solutions you can buy them separately.

Suggested Web Hosts

These are web hosting companies that I have firsthand experience with. No matter what you do, do not go to GoDaddy.

Below are three of my recommended web hosts. The process is linear. First you will be prompted to select a domain name of your choosing (the name of your website), then the package type, some add-ons, and finally the checkout process where you will pay.

HostGator –  cheap and has a one-click-install for WordPress and other CMS’s. The cheapest plan boasts unlimited bandwidth and unlimited disk space, and hosts one domain. The main take-away for HostGator is that you can actually host your website here for only $0.01 for one month! Provided you have already purchased a domain name which can cost from $8 to $10. Succeeding monthly bills would be around $8. But you can host your website here for one year for only $75.

Use coupon code: “1stwebdesigner” without the “” to get a $9.94 off of your bill!

Currently hosting 1 website here, no problems so far.

WPWebHost – priced just a little higher than HostGator, but the service is absolutely stunning. Their customer support can solve just about anything you can throw at them related to WordPress. One-click-install for WordPress is also available.

Hosting 1 website here too, still happy with it.

ASmallOrange –  for as low as $25 a year you can host a website. For $25 you will get 150MB of disk space and 4.5GB monthly bandwidth. Not bad if you’re planning on a text-based website with few images.

Use coupon code: “1stwebdesigner” without the “” to get a 15% discount!

Also happy with ASmallOrange.

After choosing your web host it’s time to wait. Yes, you need to wait for some time, at best your account is activated within 10 minutes, at worst it will be available after 48 hours (but trust me, I haven’t experienced this yet).

After your account has been activated, an email from the service should be sent to you with the account information with all of the login details for FTP, MySQL, cPanel, and some links to your dashboard. For now just focus on the cPanel.

Setting Up WordPress

First Step: Login onto your Control Panel

HostGator Control Panel

This is what HostGator’s control panel looks like. Do not worry, if you think this is too much to handle and there’s too many icons to click, you only need to worry about one..wait, no, you don’t need to worry at all.

Hostgator-control-panel

That one icon you need to find? It’s the QuickInstall, just scroll down until you can see this:

Hostgator-quick-install

After clicking QuickInstall you should see the image below. To the left is a list of software you can install, but our main goal now is to install WordPress. It’s the third item to the left. Just click on it and it will prompt you to continue, simply click on “Continue”.

Hostgator-quick-install-wordpress

After this you will receive an email with your login details for your WordPress dashboard. In order to login, go to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin. You will then be prompted with a login form. Just fill in the form and you’re good to go.

WPWebHost Control Panel

This is how WPWebHost’s control panel looks like.

Wpwebhost-control-panel

In order to install WordPress, find Softaculous:

Wpwebhost-softaculous

Click on it and a page similar to the screenshot below will load.

Wpwebhost-softaculous-install

Click Blogs and the following will appear. Click on where the red arrow is pointing at.

Wpwebhost-softaculous-install-wordpress

Then the following page will load, and all you need to do is click the blue button saying “Install”.

Wpwebhost-softaculous-install-wordpress2

Everything onwards is pretty easy to understand. A form will appear, asking for some information. I will no longer post a screenshot of it here because you will not need to change anything. Just change the Admin Account details for your user name and password, and an email address so that the system can send your details.

After this you will receive an email with your login details for your WordPress dashboard. In order to login, go to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin. You will then be prompted with a login form. Just fill in the form and you’re good to go.

ASmallOrange Control Panel

If you notice, most of the control panels look the same with only minor changes on the software/services available.

Asmallorange-control-panel

Once you can see the image above, scroll down until you find Fantastico De Luxe.

Asmallorange-fantastico-deluxe

Click Fantastico De Luxe and you’ll be redirected to the page below. Click on WordPress, pointed by the amazing red arrow.

Asmallorange-wordpress-installl

Click on “New Installation”.

Asmallorange-wordpress-install2

Then you will be redirected to this page. Just fill in the user name and password, an email address and choose the domain you want to install WordPress to. Don’t forget to read!

Asmallorange-wordpress-install3

After this you will receive an email with your login details for your WordPress dashboard. In order to login, go to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin. You will then be prompted with a login form. Just fill in the form and you’re good to go.

Congratulations! You have successfully installed WordPress by navigating through your web host’s control panel!

At this point everything is pretty much finished. But you will need to install a theme and some plugins to get your blog rolling!

Second Step: Configuring Themes

Why do you need to install themes? What are themes? Themes are like clothing for your website, each having their own design and features that you can use. There are hundreds of free themes out there that you can use for free, but don’t expect many features from them. Most likely if you are willing to spend more for the best themes you’ll go for premium themes.

Choose and download Free Themes here:

For Premium Themes:

Installing Themes

First login to your WordPress dashboard by going to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin. You will be greeted by this sweetheart, which you should familiarize yourself with because you’ll be seeing it often. Hover on Appearance and click on Themes.

Wordpress-dashboard-install-a-theme

It is important to note that all the themes that you will be downloading are zipped/rar-ed files. Just keep them that way. When the page loads, click on Install Themes and then click on Upload. Happily navigate through your folders to find the theme you downloaded, select it then upload it. After activating it, check your website and it should have a new design.

Wordpress-dashboard-install-a-theme2

Congratulations! You have just installed a new theme! Now, what comes next is also crucial to your website’s success: installing plugins.

Third Step: Setting up Plugins

First let’s talk about the necessary plugins that you need to download and install. Note that this is only based on my preference. You can find your own plugins to install, but I’m just giving you an idea as to what kind of plugins to use. So, let’s begin!

Needed Plugins:

How to Install a Plugin

It’s very easy to install a plugin, either by uploading or searching the WordPress.org plugin directory. First go to the Plugins page by clicking on Plugins.

Wordpress-dashboard-install-a-plugin

If you have downloaded a plugin, then you will need to click on Upload and upload the zipped file. If you want to search for the plugin, simply input the name on the search bar and search for the plugin. If you will use the search function, you will be greeted by this:

Wordpress-dashboard-install-a-plugin2

Simply click “Install Now” and the plugin will be installed. Don’t forget to check the Details to see if the plugin is compatible with your current WordPress version. Talking about that, be sure to always keep your WordPress updated! After installing, just activate the plugin and if settings are available, adjust the settings to your preference.

Congratulations! You have just installed your first plugin! Next and final step would be to add your content!

It’s not a website if it doesn’t have content. Be sure to write valuable information that people can actually use. Never steal content from other websites!

What do you think about this guide?

As always, don’t forget to share this with your friends who are in need, instead of telling them to “Google it!” And also share tips and techniques. Did I make an error somewhere? Please feel free to point them out!

If you are having trouble just write a comment below and I will be glad to help you. :)

November 10 2011

10:00

Everything You Need To Know About DNS

DNS. Three letters that can make or break your website. A fault with DNS and your website can go down for 24 to 48 hours. What is DNS? From where does this 48 hour delay come from in the age of super fast Internet and high-speed technology? Why hasn’t the ever evolving technology replaced the age-old DNS and the frightening 48 hours delay? This discussion will shed some light on most of the queries about DNS. I hope that you will see DNS from a completely different perspective after this writeup.

What is DNS?

That is the customary question that we got to answer when we are discussing something as vast as DNS. Basically, DNS (Domain Name System) is responsible for translating human friendly website URLs like www.1stwebdesigner.com to computer readable IP addresses like 148.68.30.27 (just an example). You know, our mind cannot remember combination of such digits so we devised a system which helps convert these IP addresses to English names and vice versa.

Please understand that DNS isn’t a localized system where all the IP addresses corresponding to every website present on this planet is stored. If that was the case then an unimaginable amount of care would be required to keep such a huge database working. Also, having a localized DNS would be against the distributed character of the Internet.

Rather, DNS is a distributed service which is actually a collective group of name servers (which we call as “nameserver” in Internet lingo). These nameservers constantly refer to each other in order to stay updated with the changes that are rolled out every now and then. The process sounds simple but it is quite complex.

So, every website has a nameserver?

Well, technically speaking, yes! Though it’s a different case that one nameserver will be used for multiple websites. Otherwise, we would end up having 100 million nameservers for 100 million domains – which makes no sense. Like, I host a domain of mine on DreamHost.com. So, they give me nameservers like ns1.dreamhost.com, ns2.dreamhost.com and ns3.dreamhost.com. Now, DreamHost is giving these nameservers to almost every client that they have. So, these three nameservers basically have almost all the IP address to URL details of every DreamHost client.

A basic flow of request on the Internet

When you type Google.com in your browser then a lot of stuff happens behind the scenes before you get to see the Google homepage. The image below tries to explain the flow of request.

Let me try to make it bit more clearer:

  • When you visit a website URL via your browser then Windows will look for the corresponding IP address stored in the nameservers of your ISP.
  • If the IP address is found then the request is directly sent to that IP address henceforth reducing the execution time.
  • If the IP address is not found locally then the request is sent to the cloud of Internet and your browser waits for the virtual world to do its job.
  • Every website has a nameserver associated with itself. Henceforth, that particular nameserver receives that request and sends it to the respective IP address.
  • If that nameserver does not have the IP address details then it communicates with other nameservers and they with others. The request flows in the Internet till correct IP details are attained.
  • Once the IP address is known then the request is sent to the particular IP address and data is served.

What is “48 hours delay”?

Usually, when you are about to change the nameservers for your domain or when you are hosting a fresh domain then your hosting company will tell you that it might take up to 48 hours for the information to be updated. Technically speaking, they are correct. It might take up to 48 hours for all nameservers on this planet to connect with every other nameserver and keep themselves in sync. You see, it’s a huge virtual world out there. But, my personal experience says that it usually takes less than 24 hours for the global update to complete. Still, you should consider the 48 hour delay in your time plan before you make any changes.

The below image via Wikipedia will give you an idea of hierarchical DNS, organized into zones, each served by a nameserver.


How and when does caching occur?

Nice question. You got the information for Google.com request that you had sent some time back. Now, that information is saved in the local ISP’s nameservers so that next time your request isn’t sent to third-party nameservers. But, after a stipulated time period these nameservers contact other nameservers so that their information isn’t outdated. This is where the term TTL comes into play.

What is TTL?

TTL (or Time To Live) is the time period that comes in along with the IP address info. This time period information is sent by the third-party nameserver along with the IP address. The value is usually in seconds and it is more like a suggestion from the third-party nameserver that you can stay away from me for X seconds and still stay updated. Come back after X seconds and I will pass on the latest information.

Usually the TTL value is 12 hours or 24 hours. This can be set to a custom number as and when required to reduce traffic.

Other types of DNS lookups

Once DNS started to serve the IP address lookup (as discussed above), then it was time to expand. DNS was later on used for other type of lookups, two of which we will discuss below:

  • A Record – A Record lookup is something that we have already discussed. The IP address lookup is actually the A Record lookup for DNS.
  • MX Record – MX (which is acronym for “mail exchanger”) is used for email address lookups. Usually when a tool tries to send an email to mail box related to your domain then it will look for MX record of your domain. This MX record will have another domain (something like mail.yourdomain.com) as its value. Now the A Record for this MX record will be checked to get the target IP address.
  • CNAME Record – CNAME (stands for Canonical Name Record) is actually an alias for another domain name. This comes in handy when you want to use your own domain and data from another website. Like, during the ancient Internet Age (when blogspot.com was luxury), blogspot.com had a feature (they still have it) where you can use your own domain (yourdomain.com) instead of using the bogspot’s sub-domain for your blogspot hosted blog. In this case all that Google would do was ask you to change the CNAME of yourdomain.com to your blogspot’s sub-domain and the job is done. Whenever one would visit yourdomain.com then the data from your blogspot’s sub-domain will be delivered although the sub-domain won’t be visible in address bar.

Other usage of DNS

Other then the three lookups that I discussed above, DNS can be used for many other functions like:

  • As I discussed before, domain names and nameservers do not have a one-to-one matching. This gives the hosting companies the chance for shared hosting and save a lot on money invested. Here, multiple domains can result into one IP address. This means one machine can host many websites. Additionally, one domain can point to multiple IP addresses. This helps in redundancy and high availability.
  • The DNS system can be used to save and share IP addresses of blacklisted email hosts. Such databases are available for free in order to fight spam.
  • These days software makers save the version of a software in the DNS database. This way the client machine connects to find out the latest version of the software available. It connects to the software maker’s server only if a new version is available. This helps in reducing the requests that client machines get.

June 29 2011

10:55

Save 20% on Your First 12 Months of Hosting with Eleven2!

Every website needs quality, affordable hosting. We’re happy to announce that our host, Eleven2, is offering a 20% discount for the first twelve months on new plans with the promo code “vandelay” (please continue reading for details)!

Several months ago we posted a few coupon codes that would save you some money on the first month of a hosting account with Eleven2, and a number of readers took advantage of that promo. That offer drew enough response that we thought that this deal is certainly worth mentioning. We use Eleven2 ourselves and we frequently recommend them to our clients as well (we’ve written a more detailed review of Eleven2 if you are interested).

Eleven2 Hosting Coupon Codes

The details of the offer are as follows:

  • enter the promo code “vandelay” when signing up for a new hosting account
  • the code will give you 20% off of a shared hosting plan for the first 12 months
  • or, if you purchase a cloud hosting plan it will give you 30% off your first month

If you’re looking for a quality hosting company that offers a wide variety of plans from which to choose, take a look at what Eleven2 has to offer. Shared hosting plans for unlimited domains start at just $4.95, before the discount.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

Tags: Hosting

March 28 2011

17:36

Eleven2 Success Story And Giveaway:First Come, First Serve!

Have you heard about Eleven2? Well, 1WD has been hosting with them for almost a year now! How is it? Well, you can see it yourself – site is working fast and we rarely have any problems now! If you have ever owned internet business I bet you know how crucial is to have a great hosting provider with good support. I’ve been lucky to get to Eleven2, they are really reliable! I would even say 24/7 support is the most crucial part, because there are always times when something goes wrong and without immediate attention, you may loose more than you imagine to your branding!

Long story short, Eleven2 just relaunched their business, redesigned their website, added different plans improving greatly and today I am sharing their story with you! And be quick to get your free hosting account – only 100 packages available!!!

Eleven2 Story

January the 3rd is when we launched our new website design. It had taken 5 months to build, starting from the beginning of August 2010. Originally, we wanted to have the whole site done by September 21st, but that deadline came and went, as we continued to find aspects in our design that we wanted to change and improve, thus bringing us forward to the end of the year, and seeing as January is our biggest month, we thought we could enter 2011 with a brand new site!

Comparing the oldsite to our brand new current site, the oldsite was a lot more bland (colour wise), and used 100% widths, where as our newsite all fits perfectly within our 940px container, and everything is aligned perfectly to the user has a great experience when browsing our site. Check out the homepage of our oldsite, compared to the brand new homepage on our newsite…

(old website design)

(new website design)

Where Did We Improve?

We wanted to create a new website that focused on the end user, making the user interface easy to use, and making it easy for the customer to find information about any of our services! To do this we decided to split our site into sections with pages underneath it. We implemented an Ajax dropdown menu to do this…

We also have redesigned out back-end billing panel, so that clients can manage all their domains, hosting and services with us easy and efficiently. This was thanks to Jon Eichler who spent ages battling with WHMCS.

I am extremely proud of our brand new all In one signup page, where users can pick their hosting type, then filter down to package and location. It uses alot of Ajax, and we put alot of work into this page.

Everything on the site has changed, including all our pricing tables. We put alot of work into research on this front, making sure all our services we’re displayed beautifully, and making all the information easy to compare to other packages within that product band.

We have also added global server locations to all of our reseller packages. People can now choose where they want their server to be hosted, from London UK, Dallas Texas, and Singapore Asia. We offered this on all our shared hosting plans, so we thought it would be a good idea to add it to our popular reseller hosting too.

We also have a growing Facebook Page, Twitter Page, and our brand new blog which we are using to keep customers updated on company updates, new product launches and server issues, upgrades etc.

The New Video Tutorials Catalogue

We have also launched a brand new video tutorials catalogue with the newsite, which contains over 1,000 video tutorials all split up into sections and subcategories. We cover everything from cPanel, WHMCS to Paypal and WordPress Integration. This is another step forward to going the extra mile to our customers.

When users click on a tutorial, the video opens in a lightbox allowing for fast video toggling between each video in a series.

What’s Happening Backstage at eleven2?

Behind the doors at eleven2 right now, we have so much going on, and we are all so excited to enter 2011 with all the staff on board to take eleven2 further and offer much more to our customers. With the launch of our FREE iPhone app on the iTunes App store, we also have a Google Android App in the works, and will hopefully soon go even further when the company grows and offer apps to all Major SmartPhone platforms including Symbian and Blackberry OS.

We also want to perhaps sometime before the Q2 of the year create a mobile website, and if the iPad 2 really takes off, then there will perhaps be an app for that too. It all depends on the way technology goes, and making our services more accessible to fit current trends.

The Giveaway – FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE

We are giving away 100 x Shared hosting packages FREE for 4 months! The hosting package you will be on is the S-100 package, which gives you 1GB of Storage Space and 15GB Monthly Bandwidth transfer. There is no limit on how many websites you can host too!

You can even pick where you want to be hosted. We have servers in Dallas (TEXAS), London (UK), and Singapore (ASIA).

We are giving these packages away on a first come first serve basis! There’s only 100, so HURRY! All you have to do is to go the following link, click web hosting, choose your location for the S-100 plan and click signup. Remember on the checkout porcess, choose the monthly billing term, and enter the coupon 1stwebdesignerFREE.

http://www.eleven2.com/signup/

Checkout Coupon: 1stwebdesignerFREE

If you don’t like us after 4 months of free hosting, you can cancel your account anytime.

If you missed out…

There are only 100 FREE accounts to giveaway on a first come first serve basis, so if you go to the checkout and the coupons have all been used up, then you can always use the coupon 1stwebdesigner to get 35% off your first payment term on any of our hosting packages! Which includes shared, reseller and cloud!

35% Off Coupon: 1stwebdesigner

March 10 2011

10:00

Cost Effective Services to Help You Launch Your Own Site

Creating a website does not really require you to have all the technical skills to create one. There are various services available, both free and paid, that will be a great help in your website building process. Whether you are a developer, a designer, or neither, you can still have your dream website, all you have to do is read through this guide. This article is primarily for people who have always dreamed about having their own site, but always thought you had to be a tech savvy person to have one. However I will also touch on and explain how to leverage rapid website building possibilities for serious entrepreneurs too! I am sure you’ve been there – you had an amazing new project idea one that you wanted to realize immediately but the painfully long process of website creation took too much time and you lost your excitement or even worse – never launched your website!

If you can relate with anything I’ve written above, then this article will be a great time and life saver for you! I’ll explain several ways to launch a new website for free or extremely cheap! Quality doesn’t need to suffer because you don’t have a few thousand dollars to spend on unique website design coding or extremely cool features. If you’re going to launch a new start-up – it’s always smart to start small, start with just core functions to see how people respond to your creation! Once you see they enjoy it and there is a market, then you can consider seriously investing  some money on improving your site. It doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money when just you’re just starting out.

With my advice you will be able to create a new website really fast! If you have a great idea you don’t want to have to spend hours working on it before you get to test it in action! Website creation doesn’t need to be a confusing and time consuming process! The main thing is to get your idea out there! Let’s get started!

In this article we’ll focus on:

  1. Basic solutions to launch small projects online for free or really cheap.
  2. Slightly more advanced solutions for entrepreneurs who want to test their new idea fully while spending only a little money on it.

Free Solutions Versus Paid Ones

There’s always certain advantages and disadvantages in everything we do or use, this principle applies to website creation as well. Free options aren’t always bad and paid options aren’t always better. You just have to know what strings to pull to find the best deals on the internet. Well, you won’t need to pull any strings here, because I will share with you the most effective solutions.

Advantages of Free Solutions

Image representing Iconfinder as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Well, if you are on a tight budget (or even better – no budget, just a dream)  you can always count on resources that are offered for free by their creators. There are resources out there that are premium-like in quality but are free. Why free? Don’t they want to see dollars on their bank accounts? Of course they do, but the thing about giving away free softwares, logos, themes and other deliverables is pure marketing to grab attention and gain exposure.  We can seriously benefit from such freebies too regularly searching for premium free resources.

For example, I rarely buy any icons, because there are so many free ones – take FindIcons, IconFinder websites for example.

Disadvantages

There are many free resources available but with most of them you’re either going to sacrifice quality, aesthetics and with themes/templates you cannot be sure if  code is well written. If you’re getting something for free, you often cannot expect to receive good support and you cannot expect to receive the highest quality. There’s a quote that goes “if you are good at something, don’t do it for free,” and you guessed it! Beginners and intermediate designers/developers quite often provide free resources because they’re not at the level yet where they can sell everything they design or develop. The good thing about this system is that though they may not make money they build their reputation and potential customer base by providing quality resources for free.

To summarize – yes, there are a lot of amazing free solutions available and some are high quality. While free is good – you can run into problems such as overuse(everyone using the same trendy free pack of social media icons), no brand recognition, looking cheap because without the necessary knowledge you may not use resources as they are intended to be used. My opinion here is that you can surely use free graphic design resources because what you see is what you get! However you should be careful picking up free themes and templates because often they aren’t very well documented or supported and you may encounter unexpected problems as bugs, compatibility issues with different plugins or modifications you will want to do.

I still consider free solutions to be a pretty good starting point if you don’t want (or can’t) spend any money on it. To explore more about free resources and their pros and cons, read this excellent article by Jared – Can Free Design Resources Be Exemplary?

Zilch Experience in Web Dev?

For people who are not into development but want to have a website for a business or for personal use there are many options to choose from, both free and paid. Free themes, free hosting, and free anything has its downsides and would not work for a blog like 1WD or for e-commerce. Good thing the citizens of the information age, and of the internet, are good enough to offer a free taste which can work for both people who have the skill to develop a website and for people with zero experience with such.

Now, there are tons of free services out there which offer good things, but here I will focus on things that I have used firsthand.

The first thing to ask yourself is…what is this site going to be for? What’s your goal? – personal diary, portfolio site, just a fun project, serious blogging project, startup, website to support your application or software you have, forum, e-commerce site? You need to set clear goals at first!

Basic free solutions for beginners : Hosted Websites

This solution is very good if your goal is just to have some internet presence, have a personal diary or you want to build a small community for friends, work colleagues or maybe just a fan club. However I will list the advantages and disadvantages of this solution, because I really do not recommend it if you have any plans to expand. You’ll understand what I mean once you’ve read pros and cons:

Advantages

  • Well, it’s free or super cheap!
  • Updated automatically – no maintenance issues at all! You don’t have to worry about updates and any compatibility issues
  • Free hosting – you don’t have to worry about your site being online, you don’t have to solve any technical issues
  • Easy to setup and launch – it will take just a few minutes for you to launch such website, no previous experience needed!
  • Search engine friendly – many marketers use those free website solutions to promote their main site! Why? Because usually those big blog platforms have excellent rankings in search engines, you can get ranked extremely fast because of that.

Disadvantages

  • Little control over configuration, design and customization – your chances to pick appropriate templates are limited, you can use only a few supported plugins. It’s hard to build/design something that stands out from the crowd there.
  • Very hard to monetize – Well, these sites will be monetized, but not by you! It will be monetized by those big companies who own the site, because they need to cover their own expenses. Basically you’re paying them in both cases – you pay them cash or they earn some cash with ads.
    Image representing Tumblr as depicted in Crunc...

    Image via CrunchBase

  • No branding- many hosted websites will look the same. Your  website will also look cheap because of the ads the hosted website platform will implement automatically.
  • Limited resources – while hosting may be free, many platforms have limitations for bandwidth and space usage. You won’t encounter these problems early on
  • You don’t own the content – this is the most serious one – if one day the site decides to stop working and they change their policies, you could lose your content and it’s usually difficult to transfer to your own website later on.

Ok, now you know some of the things you may deal with if you choose this option!

For hosted blogging platforms I recommend you choose from Posterious, WordPress, Tumblr.

There is also a very interesting Flash website creation solution I encountered some time ago so I am going to talk about it a bit too, because it’s great for beginner users:

Flash or Not?

To help you decide, first you need to know the purpose of your website. Is the purpose to have an online portfolio so that employers and potential clients will see you and be impressed? If  that’s the case, I believe that a flash website is a good choice because it provides flexibility when it comes to creativity. If the goal is to start an online store or a blog it would be best to go for a more dynamic solution, one of my recommendations above may be better suited to your needs.

Flash Website


The good thing about having a flash website is the creative freedom. Colors, effects, and animation is not a problem. A Flash-based website will save you the trouble of learning jQuery and other languages/scripts for added effects. Here’s the rub, if you have a slow internet connection like mine you won’t fully enjoy the website. Opening a light-weight flash website on my end takes up to 30 to 50 seconds. Not fun at all.

There is a free flash website builder, which allows people without any knowledge of programming and designing to come up with a new website via drag and drop. Wait, drag and drop? Yes, that easy. Wix allows its users to create a flash-based website using a very simple process. Trust me when I say that the registration process only took me 5 seconds and I’m good to go with my website. Alright, I’m dropping it now, it’s free. But if you are the meticulous type and serious about it you can always upgrade and have your own domain name.

With Wix you get to choose from a wide selection of free layouts and edit them at your whim. Literally drag and drop, you can manage information with just a few clicks.

See their gallery for a full list of what you can do with Wix.

Quality

The quality of the design is amazing, with its wide selection of layouts you can’t help but notice the high quality while most are free to use. Many of the design elements are drag and drop, no programming or designing skills needed.

Drag and Drop

This eliminates the need to code and design, all you have to do is choose, drag, and drop. Very user friendly. Menus are easy to understand, you won’t get confused trying to figure out what things do. Anything that you can see is clickable and editable, no worries if you don’t like the color, it only takes a few seconds and clicks to change it to suit your taste!

Below is a screenshot of how layouts are edited.

Wixcp

Wix is best for people who are on a budget but need to be online. Best for portfolios and personal websites. As mentioned, there’s an option to upgrade your plan from free to premium where you will get your own domain and other features that you will love. I like this approach because you can easily switch and see benefits immediately  (no ads, own domain, hosting, support, analytics and so on).

Wix Sample Websites

Remember, you can build your website via drag and drop using Wix, no programming required!

I don’t want a flash website! What else?

Up to now I really do not know what to call it: standard website, traditional website, HTML website, etc.. Whatever, what’s important is that you know what I mean: not flash.

During my free time I am developing a website, although I’m not that good at coding. My real problem? My design skills are terrible. Free solution? Minimalist design. I’m not saying that minimalism is easy, I’m pretty sure I’d still be troubled by it. If only I had the money I’d buy something from ThemeForest or hire a designer friend.

“I have a design but I can’t code”

Relax! There is a great solution for that. If you have a design (in generally accepted image format) and you want it coded in 48 hours one thing comes to mind: Code My Concept. Although it does not come cheap, at least you are assured that your design will be hand coded in valid HTML and CSS within 48 hours. Saves you the time and effort, and it’s professionally done too.

An alternative is Code Canyon where you can literally purchase scripts. Just like Theme Forest, rest assured that the codes and scripts delivered there are properly moderated and are of high quality. All for a fair price.

Some of the things you can buy:

Many people have trust issues when it comes to these type of things, 1stwebdesigner is willing to help you find a designer or a coder among our 24,000 plus followers on Twitter. We can tweet your needs if you need it, how does that sound?

Shopping for code and plugins is very easy, very helpful too if you are on a tight budget, or time won’t allow you to hire a developer in time or it’s not within budget. Think of it like building your own computer, buying parts that will complete the whole. That’s how it works.

“I know how to code but I can’t design well”

Aside from Theme Forest where you can purchase web templates, there is Graphic River where you can choose from a wide selection of stock graphics ranging from simple icons to a sophisticated prints.

A free solution would be free stock photo sites like sxc.hu or a site like Deviant Art but you can’t expect to find specific web elements to add on your website.

Here are some free things that you can use to build your design:

Create Your Own Domain Name

Choosing the right domain name is crucial task, because you’ll build your whole branding around it. There is a problem though, it’s very hard to get a good .com domain which is still free. Actually there is a serious problem in getting any good domain names at all! To help you through this process I suggest you try this nifty website – Domainr. It’s a site to bookmark, that’s for sure!

Well, I also suggest you use the site GoDaddy to register your domain. You can get domains really cheap from as low as  7.49$ per year! They also have a pretty good suggestion system to find related domains if the name you really wanted is taken already. Their backend system may seem confusing at first, but I’ve had positive experiences with this site, so I can really recommend it.

Choosing a Web Host

Catchy “Unlimited” bandwidth and disk space, several hosting services offer monthly payments from $4 to $10 for shared hosting. What does it mean?

In truth there is no such thing as Unlimited disk space and Unlimited bandwidth, the service provider assumes that you won’t use too much (which is true most of the time) so they use the word to their leverage. Is it any good? It depends on how you will use it, of course. For a personal website or an online portfolio it is more than okay if you want your own domain. I use GoDaddy and so far I have not experienced any problems, except for the fact that their control panel is a huge mess. Hostgator is one of the cheapest and good hosting services too. Both start from $4 (as of writing this) for shared hosting and both offer VPS. Dreamhost’s record is near flawless, you can google up “Dreamhost reviews” and use your instincts to see if the review is a sham or not. I know three people who use Dreamhost and they say it’s flawless, of ourse it does not come cheap.

new eleven2.com coming at us...

1stwebdesigner is hosted by Eleven2. Is it any good? It speaks for itself. 1WD receives hundreds of thousands of visitors a month and it’s still doing fine. If your website will have great traffic in the future you may want to start with a good host to avoid the hassle of transferring to a new host when everything is in motion. You don’t want to lose even 30 minutes of uptime.

If your goal, on the other hand, entails great traffic and thousands of users every day you might want to opt for a Full-featured hosting. For a couple of months now I have seen many people cuss about their hosting services because of hours of downtime on their blogs. Probing deeper I learned that most use shared hosting. In my opinion you can’t trust shared hosting when it comes to big businesses online. A solution would be to shift from shared hosting to full-featured hosting.

Quick Review:

Hosted Website Solutions

  • For hosted blogging platforms I recommend you to choose from PosteriousWordPressTumblr;
  • Easy site builder for a flash website you can use Wix;

Website Design

  • Theme Forest offers high quality,unique and very affordable themes.

Code Shopping

Hosting And domains

  • GoDaddy -register domains with ease.
  • Eleven2 Hosting – great hosting 1WD uses for a year already!

February 15 2011

12:00

Save Up to 99% on Hosting with Eleven2!

Last year we moved our site to Eleven2 and we’ve been very pleased with their reliability and customer service. Today we’re excited to let you know that if you are looking for a new host, Eleven2 has offers that will save you some money!

Here are two coupon codes that can be entered when signing up for hosting services with Eleven2:

  • 25offeleven2 – Enter this code to save 25% on your first payment of any payment term. The promotion is valid on all shared, reseller and cloud hosting packages.
  • firstmonth99off – Enter this code to save 99% on your first month’s payment of a shared hosting account.

Eleven2 Hosting

Eleven2 offers a wide variety of hosting plans including shared hosting (starting at $4.95 per month), reseller hosting (starting at $19.95 per month) cloud servers (starting at $19.95 per month). They offer both managed and unmanaged plans. So regardless of the website or your specific needs, Eleven2 has a solution for you. They offer free migration and a 60-day money back guarantee. See what Eleven2 has to offer.

We’ve written a much more in depth review of our experience and opinions of Eleven2, which you can read if you are interested in seeing the details. We know that all web designers and website owners need to have a quality hosting company at their side, and finding the right one can be a challenge. If you haven’t found the right host or if you’re simply looking to open a new hosting plan, we think you’ll like working with Eleven2.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links, however we only promote services that we use ourselves and that we feel our readers will appreciate.

Tags: Hosting

October 11 2010

16:05

Free web hosting with ICDSoft

computer tunnel

I received a nice email from my web host, ICDSoft, offering two coupons for opening new hosting accounts for free. I don’t have any immediate plans for new sites, so thought I’d give the codes to you.

“Each of the coupons is worth €77 and allows you to open a year-long account on the Universal plan, along with a domain registration, on a server in Germany.

“To use a coupon, please visit http://eu.icdsoft.com/order and enter the coupon code into the Coupon code field. The €77 discount will be automatically calculated and applied to your order.”

I’ve been a happy ICDSoft customer for about five years now, through some awkward times, too — my domain hijacking for instance. And even today, receiving around 350,000 monthly page views on this site, their business plan (coupled with a WordPress plugin to cache my pages) is still adequate. Support tickets are usually answered within minutes, too.

If you want one of the codes, just leave a comment recommending a mobile phone. I’m getting a new one, and am thinking of something that’s not the iPhone 4. Maybe the new Nokia N8 or the Blackberry Torch.

I’ll randomly draw two winners this Friday (15th), but even if you’re not chosen, here’s a 25% discount.

Published on David Airey, graphic designer

Logo Design Love, the book

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Tags: Web hosting

July 23 2010

22:28

19 Important Features to Look for in a Web Host


If you’re reading this, you probably develop websites. We don’t make websites to let them sit on our own computers: we set them free on the web. While it’s often more fun to create the website than to worry about hosting it, web hosting isn’t a decision you should make quickly. In this roundup, I’ll point out 19 things you should look for when choosing your web host.

1. Amount of Storage

Ive Drive Unibody External icon by The Iconfactory, Inc.

When choosing your web hosting, one of your primary concerns will obviously be “How much data can I store?” For most small and medium web sites, you’ll find that several gigabytes should be plenty of storage. Some hosts may offer “unlimited storage”: caveat emptor! If you read the fine print (usually, the Terms and Services) you’ll find that it’s unlimited until you go over the “normal site usage.” If you think you might be close to or over whatever “normal” is, make sure you know what you can use before buying … or go with a host that sets clear limits.


2. Amount of Bandwidth

When looking for a web host, you’ll often see storage and bandwidth hand in hand. What is bandwidth? It’s the amount of data that your host will let you and your visitors upload and download (cumulatively) in a given month. Say your website is 1 megabyte of data and your monthly bandwidth is 10 MB. At the beginning of the month, you upload the entire site; now you’ve used up one MB of bandwidth. If a visitor to your site views every page, they will have downloaded 1MB of data. That means you can have up to 9 visitors in that month (assuming each views your whole site). After that, your web host will either not allow any more visitors, or (more likely) charge you extra per MB. Of course, your bandwidth is something you’ll want to keep an eye on, especially if you run a fairly popular site or do something media intensive (like host your own video, or high-res photos). Just like storage, some hosts offer “unlimited” bandwidth; again, if you think you’ll be in a grey area, find out the limits or choose a host that sets the bar where all can see it.


3. Number of Domains and Subdomains

Once you’re running one site, there’s a good chance it won’t be long until you’ve got a second one up … and then a third. It would be a pain to have to manage a hosting account for each site you own, so make sure your web host will let you host multiple domains. Often, there will be a limit on how many domains you can have on one account; make sure it will accomodate you! Usually, there will be a section in the admin panel for adding your domains and choosing which sub-folders each one will point to. The same is true for sub-domains.


4. Email Accounts and Features

Many web hosts also offer email account for your domains. You’ll want to know how many email accounts they’ll let you set up; also, don’t forget to check out their selections for receiving that mail. Do they have a webmail interface? Multiple ones that you can select from? How about integration with Google Apps (for the Gmail interface)? Can you get your mail in your client of choice via IMAP, or do they only offer POP?


5. Database Support

Database icons (including post preview icon) by barrymieny

Now-a-days, even small websites seem to have a database on the back end. You’ll want to make sure you can use the type of database you’re comfortable with. Most hosts today offer MySQL; that’s probably enough for most people, but if you’d prefer PostsgreSQL, Oracle, SQL Server, or another flavour, don’t settle for anything less. Remember, if they aren’t advertising it, they probably don’t offer it!


6. Framework Support and Easy-Install

A lot of web hosts offer support for popular frameworks, blogging systems, or CMSes. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of Nettuts’ readers are WordPress fans: it’s always nice when your web host offers a one-click install (or at least a super easy set-up) for WordPress or your CMS of choice.


7. Mobile App or Website

For most people, this will probably be a nice extra; however, I’m sure there’s something who will find having a mobile app to access your site administration / statistics on the go indespensible. While I only know of two hosts (MediaTemple and SliceHost) that currently offer iPhone and Android apps (MediaTemple’s Android app is forthcoming ), I’m sure most hosts will follow their lead. Both offer mobile websites as well, and I’m sure other hosts have the same.


8. Tech Support

This one is very important: find out exactly what your prospective host offers for tech support: can you phone them? At what times? Do they have a support email address? A ticket system? What’s their promised response time? How about a live chat? Do they have a wiki or library of help articles / tutorials? Don’t choose a host until you know exactly what support they offer; you’ll be happy for it later, trust me!


9. Shell Access

If you’re a little more advanced, you might want to consider choosing a host that offers shell access: that’s logging into your server from the command line over SSH. You’ll be able to securely copy files up and down, change file permissions for whole groups of files quickly and easily, and perform a multitude of other tasks. If you want this feature, you’ll know all that you do with it!


10. .htaccess Files

Here’s another important one: you’ll want the ability to add your own .htaccess files to your directories. What’s a .htaccess file? It’s a configuration file used by Apache server. You can use them to password protect directories, re-write URLs, redirect pages, and more. Check out the many good tuts here on Nettuts+ to get familiar with them.


11. Cron jobs

Cron jobs are another great feature to have on your web host (and there’s a good chance you’ll have them if you’ve got shell access). Cron is a “time-based job scheduler” (thanks, Wikipedia) that you can use to perform tasks on the server at given times. To learn more about how to use Cron and what you can do with it, check out the great Cron tutorial we ran back in January.


12. Language Support

This should go without saying, but make sure the host you plan to choose offers support for the server-side languages you want to use. If you plan to pick up Ruby on Rails in the next few months, you probably want to see it on the list of supported frameworks. If you want to use Django, make sure there’s Python support. Don’t lock yourself into having PHP as your only option (unless you’re sure that’s all you’ll ever want or need!).


13. Free AdWords

While not a necessarily something you need, it’s something you’ll probably want to take advantage of: many hosts offer some Google AdWords credit (usually ~$50, I’ve found) or some other form of advertising. Even if you’d rather use another advertising proxy, you can’t beat free: you might as well use it!


14. Site Backup

Don’t think that your web host is any less suseptible to data loss than your own computers; remember, servers are just big computers that everyone can read files from! What backup options, if any, does your host provide? You’ll want to back up both your site files and databases. If they don’t offer backup, figure out how you’ll be able to do it yourself: this might be one of the places that shell access and cron come in handy!


15. Choice of OS

For most people, this won’t be a big issue. Of course, if you’re developing in ASP.NET, you’ll need Windows hosting; that’s a little harder to find, and often a bit more expensive, but if you’re a Microsoft developer, the extra cost will be worth it. (If you’re interesting in learning about ASP.NET, check out our great tuts on the subject.) If you’re using an open source language, you probably won’t need to worry about which Linux/Unix distribution you’ll get; however, some hosts give you options, and some developers may have preferences, so it’s worth mentioning.


16. Extra Applications

We already talked about content management systems, but sometimes you’ll want a something more. Several hosts offer set-ups for social features like forums, bulletin boards, mailing lists. If you’ll be running an online store, some hosts offer setups for eCommerce solutions.


17. Up-to-Date-ness

If you can, find out what software versions the host you are considering offers. Some hosts aren’t quick to upgrade to the latest offering, while others will let you choose which version you want. There are few things worse than signing up for a year of hosting only to discover your host is running PHP 4.x (yes, I’ve made that mistake).


18. Up-Time

I’m sure I don’t have to convince you that it’s important to know that your visitors will be able to get to your site when they try! Find out how reliable your prospective host is; when you’re doing this, it’s important to read the fine print. Often, hosts will stretch the truth a bit (claiming 99.9% uptime, not counting almost everything that could go wrong), so make sure you understand exactly what “100% uptime” means. It would be a wise move to google around and see what other users and reviewers have said about the host.


19. Free Domain

While you may already have a domain name, there’s no such thing as too many of them. Most hosts offer this, but all else being equal, a shiny new domain name is a good enough reason to go with one host over the other.


Conclusion: What’s your tip?

I’m sure you’ve got some great tips for choosing a web hosting solution. If you do, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments! Also, let us know what hosts you’ve found reliable and which ones have come back to bite you.

July 07 2010

10:00

Selling Your Blog: How To Transfer It to The New Owner

I’ve just finished the process of selling one of my sites. It was the first time I ever sold a website and, in the process of doing that, I’ve learned some very important lessons.

One of the hardest parts when you already found a buyer is transferring the website to the buyer with very small downtime. So far I haven’t encountered any article describing how to do this so I’ve decided to write one and share what I know.

1. Know the buyer

I know, I know, this phrase has become a cliche. However, the more you apply it, the more you realize how potent it is. Same with selling websites.

Ask the buyer 2 main things when you transfer the website to him:

  • His domain name register. In my example, the buyer wanted to use NameCheap (which was the same I used)! This information saved me money (it costs around $8 to transfer a domain name.) How? I just contacted NameCheap and asked them whether it’s possible to transfer a new domain to another Namecheap user and they told me a free way to do it.
  • His hosting. Common sense thinking here. If your hosting is different from his hosting, you want to know the name of the hosting company so in case you encounter a problem during the transferring process you can contact their live support (many hosting companies have 24/7 online live support.) In my case, both of us used Hostgator

2. Transferring the website: Data first, DNS records last

The last step of the overall process should be changing the DNS records. In Namecheap, they look like this:

The first step should be transferring the data of the website, so when you’re ready to transfer the DNS, the exactly same data is there just on a different server.

Here’s how you do that with WordPress:

  • First, create an add-on domain using cPanel. I don’t recommend for the buyer to set up the domain I’m about to sell as the primary one for the sake of clarity. Again, I don’t recommend to set up the site as a primary domain. I made this mistake when trying to transfer my public records site from my other host. I couldn’t access the site at the beginning and had many problems afterward. Just don’t do the same please if you want to have 0 downtime.

  • Backup the database. Use WP-DB plugin for WordPress, I’ve tested it and it produces the smallest database size.
  • Install WordPress on the new web host as a clean installation (or you can copy all files, see this guide for more information.) I prefer to do a clean install (things can go wrong if you copy all the files and then you’ll have to find the root cause of the problem which is the hard part, with a clean install if a problem appears you usually know the root cause immediately.)
  • After you install and configure WordPress, copy the wp-content folder from the old host to the new host. Then restore the database with phpMyAdmin (see instructions). Now you’re done with transferring the overall content and settings.

  • Now, you should be able to access the domain at domainame.primarydomain.com. So if you’re trying to transfer 1stwebdesigner.com and the primary domain on your hosting is example.com, then you can access 1stwebdesigner on 1stwebdesigner.example.com. After you get to the homepage, you might get a 404 error when trying to open the posts. You need to update the Permalink structure (just to go Settings > Permalinks and click on ‘update’.) to fix this.
  • Go to wp_options using phpMyAdmin and change “siteurl” and “home”. Using our previous example, if you want to transfer 1stwebdesigner.com and the primary domain for the hosting is example.com, you can access 1stwebdesigner on the new host using the URL: 1stwebdesigner.example.com. Now, after you made sure everything is okay and you’re ready to do the DNS transfer, use wp_options and change “siteurl” and “home” from 1stwebdesigner.example.com to 1stwebdesigner.com
  • Go to your domain registar (Namecheap, Godaddy or some other one) and change the DNS Servers (see the first screenshot in this article.)

Now you need to wait several hours for the DNS to propagate. After that process is done, you should see your site on the new server. The process of transferring with 0 downtime is done.

To see whether the DNS servers are changed, a good trick I use is to place a simple html file on the old server. For example, I can place example.html on the old server with a simple text in it. I then try to open that file in my browser after few hours. If the file is located, that means the DNS transfer has not yet taken place. If the file is not located, that means the website is already on the new server (which doesn’t have that file.) This is helpful because the you have 2 identical copies on the servers so you need to find a separator like this.

That’s it! This process should be even simpler if you have a static website. If you try to transfer a website with Joomla or Drupal, the process should be a bit different. The basic concepts are the same, however. First transfer the data and then change the DNS servers.

Thanks for reading. How do you transfer websites between different hosts?

June 10 2010

10:00

Dominate Your Website Host: Free Monitoring Services

Have you ever seen a web host that don’t claims 99.99% up time guarantee? With so much experience with several leading web hosts of industry, what I have realized is that most of them have sub standard services.

Today I am going to tell you my bad experience with one of the leading web hosts of Industry, Dreamhost. After starting with them, I was very happy with their shared servers but things went bad when I moved to Dreamhost PS. My personal tech blog was having so much down times that uptime went to 94% in just 2 weeks and to even surprise you more, it happened after moving to Dreamhost Personal Servers (which are designed to handle big traffic, at least is their words). After so many ticket queries and live chat, there was no solution hence I decided to move to a new web host as Crispy Tech needed a personal server for its traffic.

If you want to keep an eye on your web host, Its very necessary that you use a website monitoring service which notifies you when your website goes down.

Today we have come up with best free website monitoring services which help you to monitor your website. It was easy for me to write an article with 20 website monitoring services but I have only included the best ones which we have actually used before.  So let’s start.

1. Uptime Robot

A Quick Look

  • Price: Free
  • Number of Sites You can monitor: 50
  • Notification Methods: RSS, Twitter, Email, SMS
  • Time Interval for each check: 5 Minutes
  • Simple yet effective

Uptime robot is one of the finest and completely free website monitoring services. Co Founded by Umut Muhaddisoglu of WebResourcesDepot, Uptime Robot is our personal choice for monitoring on 1stWD.

The monitoring service has no Premium Plans and their free services are more than enough for any web developer. You can monitor 50 websites for free with options of getting notified with:

  • Twitter DM
  • RSS
  • Email
  • SMS.

Pretty awesome. Right?

Uptime Robot checks your website with regular interval of 5 minutes.

In a talk with Umut, he assured us that Uptime Robot will be free till September 2010 and then they will introduce premium plans (In case if they are unable to continue Free Plan) but free plan will still be there with some modifications.  Although the web app is not feature enriched but Its awesome for those who just want the work done with out whistles and bells.

One thing you will fall in love with is the completely Ajaxed interface of Uptime Robot. After signing up, just play with different areas of website and you will enjoy the experience.:)

Missing Features:

We would love to see better support for SMS notifications in UpTime Robot. While writing this review, SMS notifications are not supported World Wide. Another awesome feature would be iPhone/ Android App.

2. Pingdom

A Quick Look

  • Price: From Free to 39$/month
  • Number of Sites You can monitor: 1 for free
  • Notification Methods: RSS, Twitter, Email, SMS
  • Time Interval for each check: From 1 Minute to changeable

Pingdom is by far the most comprehensive and enterprise solution for website monitoring services. With all those nifty and expensive plans they also provide the option of a free website monitoring plan which allows you to monitor one website for free.

Pingdom is the biggest guy in thr world of website monitoring services with customers ranging from of Alexa to Mashable.

Pingdom is feature enriched and has its own free iPhone app. With support of Response time tracking, you can also check how your server reponds when it experiences traffic load.

3. Zabbix

Quick Look:

  • Self Hosted Solution
  • Open Source
  • Free

If you are a big fan of Open Source softwares then Zabbix is for you. Its completely free and licensed under GPL v2 which means you are free to do modifications in the core software and pass it on. There are no proprietary restrictions on you.

Zabbix is such a comprehensive tool that a book has been written on it which covers all of its features. There is no pre-hosted version and you will have to install it yourself after downloading it. The tool is pretty complex and I only suggest it for Advanced users.

4. Basic State

A Quick Look

  • Price: Free
  • Number of Sites You can monitor: Unlimited
  • Notification Methods: Email, SMS
  • Time Interval for each check: From 1 Minute to changeable

With support of email and SMS notifications, Zabbix is another completely free web monitoring service. You can have unlimited monitors active with Basic state. The web app checks your website’s header with regular intervals of 15 Minutes. Though the home page of basicstate don’t gives a professional look but I have personally tested and was using it before I came to know Uptime Robot.

5. 100 Pulse

A Quick Look

  • Price: Free/ Premium Plans
  • Number of Sites You can monitor: 2 Websites for Free
  • Notification Methods: Email, SMS, Twitter, iGoogle Gadget
  • Time Interval for each check: 15 Minutes

100Pulse is another free website monitoring service which comes with an inituitive user interface. The free plan allows you to monitor the status of  two web properties and you will be notified using Twitter, Email and SMS. They also have an option of Google Widget which you can set up on your desktop or iGoogle.

I hope that you liked the article. Which web service do you use for website monitoring? Feel free to share it with us.

December 10 2009

12:27

Private Label Opportunities for Web Designers and Developers

Web designers have the opportunity to increase their income and to help brand their business by taking advantage of private label (or white label) options that are available. A private label means that you will be able to brand it as your own. For example, you can use a re-branded CMS that appears to clients as though it is your own system, rather than displaying the name and branding of the CMS.

In this post we’ll look at some of the leading private label options for web designers and agencies in a few different categories. We’ll look at content management systems, shopping cart/ecommerce systems, hosting, and email marketing.

Private Label Content Management Systems:

Most clients today want to be able to manage their content without paying a designer every time changes need to be made. There are a number of content management systems that offer private label options. A private label CMS could be a cornerstone for your business that includes residual income each month. Here are some of the leading options.

LightCMS
LightCMS is Element Fusion’s CMS that is created especially for designers (the same CMS is available to businesses through WaterCMS). LightCMS aims to provide designers with a CMS that will provide clients with everything they need while not limiting the design, and also providing designers the opportunity to earn a residual income from monthly hosting fees.  There is no cost for designers to become resellers, and you can determine the prices that your customers pay. Earlier this year we published a tutorial for setting up your first site with LightCMS.

LightCMS

Business Catalyst
Business Catalyst really could be included in any of the categories in the post because it is more than just a content management system. With Business Catalyst you can create sites that allow you clients to manage the content, sell online, take advantage of email marketing and more. Business Catalyst does not sell directly to end users, they work only through partnerships with designers and agencies. Prices are not listed on the website.

Business Catalyst

CushyCMS
CushyCMS is simple CMS that allows clients an easy way to update pages without a lot of more advanced features. The system is free to use and designers have the option of upgrading to a pro plan ($28 per month) to be able to brand it as their own CMS. In January we published a tutorial for setting up a client’s site to be editable with CushyCMS.

CushyCMS

Surreal CMS
SurrealCMS is very similar to CushyCMS in that it provides a simple solution without all the extra features. You can manage up to three websites for free or you can upgrade to a designer’s account for $25 per month, which gives you the option of branding it as your own CMS. Spyre Studios recently published a tutorial for setting up a portfolio site on Surreal CMS.

Surreal CMS

PageLime
Like CushyCMS and Surreal CMS, PageLime aims to be a simple solution for designers, developers and clients. You can easily integrate PageLime into your sites very quickly and easily to make the content manageable. It offers features like editing in place on the pages, ability to create templates for creating new pages, RSS feeds, image galleries and more. You can manage up to three sites for free, 50 sites for $19 per month, and unlimited sites for $69 per month. Either of the premium plans allows re-branding. Nettuts has a video tutorial, Easy Website Updates with PageLime.

PageLime

Monk Development
Monk Development offers a high-quality private label CMS. It is the same CMS that Monk Development uses for Ekklesia 360 for church and ministry websites. With Monk’s private label CMS you can become a reseller or a design parnter. As a reseller you will design and code sites for your clients, and as a design partner you will do the design work and Monk Development will do the coding.

Monk Development

Interspire Website Publisher
Interspire’s Website Publisher allows clients to manage their sites, including drag and drop layout customization. It offers all the typical features of a CMS plus options for creating lead capture forms, an image manager, threaded comments and more. Designers can purchase Interspire Website Publisher for $395 and re-brand it as their own.

Interspire Website Publisher

Brightegg
Brightegg provides designers with the opportunity to get a private label CMS without the need to do any coding. You can do the design work in Photoshop and uplod the design to Brightegg to be coded. You can have control over the prices of your design services and you can determine how much you want to charge clients monthly for the hosting (you’ll keep the profit above their base prices).

Brightegg

Private Label Ecommerce:

For designers and developers who do a lot of work on ecommerce websites, private label options are available. Private label shopping carts also provide opportunities for residual income.

Interspire Shopping Cart
Earlier in this post we featured Interspire’s Website Builder, but they also have a brandable shopping cart. It provides all of the typical features of a shopping cart, plus a single page checkout, coupon code functionality, reporting and more. The Starter license allows you to sell ecommerce sites with your own branding and it costs $295. Professional and Ultimate licenses cost $995 and $1,795 respectively.

Interspire Shopping Cart

1ShoppingCart
As a private label partner of 1ShoppingCart you can earn 40% of the residual income for the life of your clients, and get support for you and your clients. There is a fee for setup and licensing, but it is not listed on the site.

1ShoppingCart

Pinnacle Cart
Pinnacle Cart (a PHP-based shopping cart) allows to designers to re-brand their shopping cart without any upfront investment. You buy one site license at a time and have control over the prices that are charged to clients.

Pinnacle Cart

Reseller Hosting:

Many hosting companies offer reseller accounts. Here we’ll feature a few of the leading choices for setting up private label hosting services to host the sites of your clients.

Page.ly
Page.ly offers customers a service that includes hosting and automatic set up of WordPress. Customers can set up a new site in two minutes and Page.ly takes care of email setup, installation of popular plugins, nightly backups, and automated WordPress upgrades. Prices start at $14.98 per month with additional options of choosing a premium theme. White label resellers use a WordPress plugin to manage their reseller account right from their own site. If you get a lot of inquiries from clients with very low budgets, this may be a good option for you.

Page.ly

Site5
Site5 offers reseller hosting starting at just $19.95 per month (other plans are available for $31.95 and $46.95 per month). Each plan includes all the features, including private nameservers, the disk space and bandwidth allowances are the only difference.

Site5

midPhase
A reseller account from midPhase is available for $24.95 per month. A reseller Max account with higher limits on disk space and bandwidth is available for $34.95 per month (prices based on a 12-month commitment).

midPhase

Host Gator
Host Gator is one of the largest hosting companies and their reseller accounts start at $24.95 per month. Other plans with more disk space and bandwidth are available for $34.95 to $99.95 per month.

Host Gator

Hostway
Hostway’s hosting services include email marketing and a website builder for customers. Their reseller platform Tango allows private label partners to manage everything needed. Prices are not listed on the site.

Hostway

Email Marketing:

Many of your clients may also be interested in email marketing. There are plenty of choices out there for these services, and a growing number of them are offering private label options for designers and agencies.

Campaign Monitor
Campaign Monitor is feature-rich email marketing software created specifically to be re-sold by designers and agencies. With Campaign Monitor you can determine your pricing and profit from the difference between Campaign Monitor’s base prices and your prices.

Campaign Monitor

AWeber
AWeber, one of the leading email marketing options, offers a private label program for resellers. AWeber’s private label partners receive priority support, and get support for their customers through email, phone, and chat, plus their own toll-free phone number. Prices for the private label program are not listed on the site.

AWeber

GetResponse
GetResponse is another leading email marketing option that offers private label opportunities. As a private label reseller you will earn 45% commission from your clients. Pricing details for the private label services are not listed on the site.

GetResponse

Interspire Email Marketer
Interpsire also offers email marketing software in addition to their CMS and shopping cart. To purchase the software that can be re-branded, prices start at $495 with no monthly or per-message fees (it runs on your own server).

Interspire Email Marketer

CakeMail
CakeMail focuses exclusively on private label partners, they do not sell directly to end users. The Start Up Account sells for $150 per month, which allows up to 25,000 emails per month. Advanced plans require a customized quote.

CakeMail

BlinkCampaign
Like CakeMail, BlinkCampaign also focuses exclusively on private/white label partners. BlinkCampaign uses pay-as-you-go pricing. One cent each for the first 50,000 credits, with prices being reduced for greater volume.

BlinkCampaign

Neteffekt
Neteffeckt is also dedicated to private label partnerships. Prices are not listed on the site.

Neteffekt

Listrak
Listrak email marketing software provides a private label option for designers and agencies. Pricing details for the white label program are not listed on the site.

Listrak

What’s Your Experience?

What is your experience with private label products and services? If you have any othe suggested services that were not mentioned here please leave a comment.

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00:52

Your First Client Project: New Plus Tutorial

Once you’ve gotten a handful of client projects under your belt, you manage to forget just how difficult that first one really was! Even outside of the design/approval process, you must purchase the domain, purchase hosting, assign the nameservers to your host, upload your design, convert it for some CMS like WordPress, and then create custom email addresses – like john@john-doe.com. If you’re doing it for the first time, it really is a confusing pain in the butt!

In this week’s PLUS screencast, I’ll take you through the process from scratch. Become a PLUS member!

Join Tuts Plus

NETTUTS+ Screencasts and Bonus Tutorials

For those unfamiliar, the family of TUTS sites runs a premium membership service called “TUTSPLUS”. For $9 per month, you gain access to exclusive premium tutorials, screencasts, and freebies from Net Plus, Psd Plus+, AE Plus, Audo Plus+, and Vector Plus! For the price of a pizza, you’ll learn from some of the best minds in the business. Join today!

  • Subscribe to the Nettuts+ RSS Feed for more daily web development tuts and articles.



December 01 2009

22:07

Which hosting service do you suggest and why?


Choosing the right hosting company is a crucial aspect for the success of your web site. When I switched from Blogger to WordPress I spent a lot of time looking for a company that offered high-quality services at an affordable price. After some days of researches I decided to host Woork Up on MediaTemple.
Now, after three months, I can say I’m really satisfied about their service and in particular about the customer support that helps you solve quickly every issue.
And you, which hosting service do you suggest to use and why? Please leave a comment, thanks!

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