Hosting and Domain Names – Make the Right Choices

If you decide that you do want to move beyond ways to make residual income without a website and want to setup your own website – you need two very important things: you need to register a domain name and you need to get some hosting for your websites. If you read nothing else of this post nad remember less – remember this:

DO NOT EVER HOST YOUR WEBSITE WITH THE SAME COMPANY WHO SOLD YOU THE DOMAIN NAME

Sorry for shouting but it really is that important – why – because quite simple if something goes wrong with your hosting arrangement they can hold your domain to ransom. Doesn’t happen? Couldn’t happen to you – sorry its fairly frequent – read a friend’s of mine Dreamhost Review where exactly that happened – and its costing him a lot of money too (the language is a bit rough -he’s very angry I think you would be to).

So stepping back to the basics:

What is a Domain Name Registrar?

This is the company who rents, yes rents not sells, your domain name to you – for example I buy my domains from godaddy.com and I pay around $7.60 a year to rent this domain: netmarketingtoday.com. People talk about buying their domain – but you don’t ever buy a domain – you rent it – so long as you keep paying the fees your will keep the domain name, but if you stop paying you will lose the site name and someone else may buy it.  Domains come in too main flavours : local country domains  e.g. google.co.uk or stuff.co.nz or abc.net.au  which are domains associated with UK, New Zealand and Australia respectively . Generally the last two-l.etters refer to a country – .ws isn’t “website” its Western Samoa  (in the Pacific) .tv isn’t television its Tuvalau (another small country in the Pacific); though more recently  new “top level domains” have been set up which include .biz and .me for business and personal websites respectively. You will generally pay quite a lot more for these TLDs.

The registrar who rents the domain name is critical – if for some reason you lose your domain name you may lose your business. I use godaddy for all my domains – they are cheap for  US based domain names (.com .net .org. info). If I wanted a local .au or .nz domain I would probably use a domain registrar in the appropriate country -they tend to be a lot cheaper.

Tips to avoid losing your domain:

  • give real information – your legal name, your address – if you are worried about privacy you can add a privacy option to any domain name,  or use a PO Box
  • use an email address you check regularly and which is not going to get lose e.g. an email attached to your Internet provider – this is the email that is used to send you renewal notices you want to recieve those notices
  • you can pre-pay up to ten years for important domains – and there may be a slight SEO benefit for registering a domain for more than one year.

What is Hosting?

Hosting is where you keep the files which are your website – if you domain name is lease on a  property then your hosting is your house. Now you don’t need to buy hosting – you can set up your own hosting on your own PC in the back-bedroom – but it takes quite a lot of technical knowledge. Most people pay for hosting – its very cheap anyway – you can get a basic account for $5/month – even less sometimes, and it means that you have someone to call if anything goes wrong. Regardless of where you host your website you should have backups of your files (I use a WordPress plugin which automatically emails me a backup of my database everyday).

There is however a catch to cheap hosting – they all offer “unlimited bandwidth, unlimited disk space” – most beginners are more worried about disk space than bandwidth. They are wrong – bandwidth is the issue particularly if you are running WordPress. Why hosting is so cheap is because the vast majority of websites use very, very fewer “resources “(ie bandwidth and disk space) . But if your site becomes popular you will suddenly use an awful lot of bandwidth – and your hosting company, if you are on “shared-hosting” will shut you down.

The reason they shut you down is quite simply to protect their other customers on the same machine – your sudden demands may take a whole lot of websites off-air – not just yours. I don’t have an issue with companies doing this – though its a shame they are not more open about it – the issue is – what happens next.

What should happen is that you are given the option to upgrade your plan, quickly – remember your site is down because you are finally getting some traffic! If you don’t like the option provided – you should be able to move to a new host – again quickly.

Now moving hosts should be very, very easy – particularly if you have a recent backup of you website. You contact another web hosting company – set up an account. Go back to your domain registrar and change your “nameservers” to point at the new servers whcih your new hosting company will have given to you.  It will take maybe 24 hours for the Internet to recognise that you have moved nameservers – you rebuild your website and you are on-air again.

Unless of course the company you have a dispute over hosting also controls your domain. NEVER accept  a free domain as part of a hosting deal – at least not for anything more important than Aunty May’s 80th Birthday Album because as I said before

DO NOT EVER HOST YOUR WEBSITE WITH THE SAME COMPANY WHO SOLD YOU THE DOMAIN NAME

Issues such as my friend’s experience with Dreamhost: deal with the host holding your domain to ransom until you do what they want with your hosting – do not put yourself in this position. Dreamhost is notorious for doing this – so is Godaddy – note I use Godaddy for domains NOT for hosting no matter how much they try to upsell me to do so.

Another option maybe to consider reseller hosting – I use reseller hosting form HostGator this costs a lot more (around $25/month) but means that every domain I have is totally separate – each has its own hosting panel (cpanel) – if one domain runs out of resources – it has no effect on my other sites.It also has the advantage that if I sell a site I can sell the hosting with it – I simply change the login to the cpanel and tine new owner has access – no downtime – not transfer – no mess.

If you have a really big site you need  a dedicated server  -but that is far more than than the most of use.  Again if this is all a bit technical at the moment don’t worry – there is one thing you need to remember:

DO NOT EVER HOST YOUR WEBSITE WITH THE SAME COMPANY WHO SOLD YOU THE DOMAIN NAME

If you have had good experiences or bad with hosting companies or domain regsistrars please leave a comment below – remember you never really know how good a company is until you have a problem. I personally have found hotstagator chat support (I live far from the US so I don’t call them) to be excellent and response both then I have had sites hacked and when I have broken them through my own stupidity. I would never go with a hosting company that did not provide a number to call and chat as well as email – email is just not good enough sometimes.

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6 thoughts on “Hosting and Domain Names – Make the Right Choices

  1. janet

    Hi Lis
    I had a bad experience with Blue Host. I had around 15 wordpress sites on an ‘unlimited’ package and I started to get downtimes due to excess resource use. I didn’t have a lot of visitors, maybe 150 per day tops per site with most sites getting around 50 or less. It seemed to be related to the use of the WordPress plugin you mentioned that backs up your database as the downtimes coincided with the times this was running. They shut me down and I had a hard time even getting my files. They didn’t issue any warnings and were very slow to even answer my emails. I moved all of the sites to Hostgator (still using the plugin) and even with an increase in the no of websites I have had no problems at all.

  2. Caspar

    You are so right about keeping domains and hosting separate. When I first started making websites I bought what I thought was a great package – buy a year’s cheap hosting and get a free domain name (or was it the other way around?) Anyway, I ended up giving up three nice domain names after a couple of years because I wanted to move to a new host. My original hosts were going to charge me a lot of money to transfer the domains as they weren’t technically mine. I didn’t have a leg to stand on. I have learnt my lesson and I now use domain.com for TLDs and a UKReg for my local sites, with all of them hosted on the lovely Hostgator Baby Croc plan – great value for money and excellent service!

  3. Lis Post author

    Yes I’ve heard of issues with Bluehost – even 50 visits a day is about 49 more than most websites get and hosting companies like Bluehost would have considered you as a heavy user with those figures LOL. Bluehost gets heavily promoted too because it has a generous affiliate program 🙂

  4. Lis Post author

    Yes in those circustances free can be very expensive indeed – people should check whois.com and see if they are actually the registrant of their own domains!

  5. Nick C

    Lis,

    I have had very good luck with hostmonster.com and have referred several people to them who have also had a good experience as well. So there is my two cents worth.

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