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Web Hosting - Free vs Paid Web Hosting Options
Everyone likes to get something for free. But as the existence of spam shows, free isn't always good. Sometimes, it's downright harmful. Deciding whether it's worth the cost to pay for hosting involves a number of complex considerations.
Hosting companies that offer free services obviously can't stay in business from the money they make from you, since there isn't any. So why do they offer free hosting and how do they make money? Why should you care, so long as you get yours? Because, in reality, there's a price of some kind for everything, even something that's free.
Free hosting may come from a company doing a promotion to attract business. They expect to demonstrate their value, then charge an existing customer base fees to make up for what they lost by the (short term) offer. It's in essence a form of advertising.
But free hosting is offered by lots of companies that are not dedicated to managing servers for websites. Google, Yahoo and thousands of others provide a modest amount of disk space and a domain name on a server for free. Users are free to do anything they like with it, though if the load becomes excessive you can be shut down.
That introduces one of the more obvious drawbacks to free hosting: resource limitations.
Typically free hosting offers a relatively small amount of space. That's often enough to host a few dozen pages. But an active site can quickly run out of room.
A more serious limitation is load.
Free hosting often places strict limitations on the allowed amount of bandwidth consumed. If you become a well-visited site, when users start banging away on the server, you can be asked to leave or simply be blocked for the rest of the month. Or, you may be permitted a certain quantity of total bandwidth use per month. Once it's reached, no one else can reach your site until the beginning of a new month.
At the same time, you will certainly be sharing equipment with thousands of other sites. Their load can affect your performance, prompting you to move. Migrating an established site brings with it a number of thorny issues that might be better avoided in the first place.
Free hosting has another potential downside: lack of support. When you pay for hosting you typically get, at least in theory, a certain level of support. Backups in case of disaster recovery from a hack or server failure, assistance in analyzing connection problems... the variety is endless. With free hosting you usually get none of that.
A company or site that offers free hosting will usually recover a disk or server that fails completely and you'll be back up when they do. But if only selected portions of the drive fail, or you lose a few files through a virus attack or accidental deletion, you have to rely on backups to recover. A free service will usually come with no such option.
That may not be a problem if you have a small site. You can make copies of everything at another location and simply recover the site yourself - if you have the discipline to keep it current and the skills to make and restore the copy.
Free hosting will typically come with a few email addresses, intended to be used for administration and other tasks. But if your needs grow beyond that, you'll need to seek another option. The email service also comes with minimal oversight. The server may be protected against spam attacks and provide virus scanning. But few free services will provide even minimal help with any issues that arise.
But the most serious limitation may have nothing to do with any technical issues. Free hosting services often require that your site's pages carry some form of advertising that pays the host, not you. That may be fine for you, or it may not. Individual circumstances vary.
On the other hand, if you're just starting out, a free hosting option can be a great way to learn needed skills and a few of the potential pitfalls. You can set up a site, learn how to maintain and improve it, and not care too much if it gets hacked. Freely hosted sites can be a great platform for learning the ropes.
Free services don't usually offer any of the features that an active, commercial site will need sooner or later. So if you plan to grow, it may be reasonable to get the free service for a while, knowing you'll have to migrate when you become popular. But in the long run, you get what you pay for and you may need to pay for what you want.
Writers Block: What Causes it and How to Overcome it (writers block) If you are a writer then you know what I am talking about. You have everything ready, a drink, a snack, the topic, and even reference material. You sit down ready to start typing or writing, which ever you prefer, and it happens. You are stuck, your mind is blank and you have no idea how to fill that blank canvas in front of you. It is a writer?s worse nightmare come true. You have writers block. First you need to figure out what is causing it. There are a multitude of things that can be causing it. Stress is one of the biggest factors that cause writers block. Whether it is stress caused by personal matters, deadline dates, or fearing your article won?t be good enough it can block the words from flowing as easily as the should. Sleep deprivation doesn?t let your mind function to its full potential. Getting a good night?s sleep is imperative to having a clear mind and being able to focus. The project itself could be causing the writers block. A topic you are not interested in can easily turn your normally resourceful mind into jelly. The research on that topic turns into a grueling task. Then trying to put the words on paper that make sense and will peak someone?s interest seem impossible. If a topic has personal meaning to you it can be hard to write objectively about it. A simple informative topic can easily become a personal rant session. Writing because you have to, not because you want to makes it hard to concentrate and focus. Now that the basic causes have been covered, you need to know how to fix it. Writers block is not permanent. Identifying the reason is the hard part. Relax. The world is not going to end if the article isn?t as perfect as you feel it should be. Just because you don?t think it is perfect doesn?t mean someone else won?t. Go and read some of your previous writings. Even if what you read has nothing to do with your current topic, it can be inspirational to you. Don?t burn yourself out on a topic. Try to split up the writing process. Research and brainstorm one day and write the next. This will give you time to think about your topic and figure out the angle you want to write. Talk your way through it. Call a friend or colleague and chat. Tell them the topic you are working on and get their opinions or ideas. They may be able to offer fresh insight and ideas. Work on multiple projects at one time if you can. Bouncing back and forth between a few topics can keep your mind hopping and will keep boredom at bay. Take a break from you current project and write about something that motivates you. Chances are once you get those creative juices flowing they will continue into your next project. Make yourself a schedule and stick to it. If your schedule says 500 words by noon, write your 500 words and stop. Even if you don?t have a project going, by writing daily you will stick to your schedule and keeps your imagination going. If you write from home, which most of freelance writers do, make a quiet time and treat it like a real job. If you have young children at home, write while they nap. Let your answering machine be your secretary. If it is important they will leave a message. Most importantly remember why you started writing in the first place. Even the best of the best have gotten writers block at one time or another.
Web Hosting - Changing Web Hosts, Pitfalls and Planning At some point, nearly everyone finds it necessary to change web hosts. It may be just a migration to another server, or it may be changing web hosting companies entirely. Either way, the process is fraught with potential dangers. But there are ways to minimize the odds of problems and maximize your changes of a smooth migration. Plan, plan, plan. Make a very detailed list of everything that is on your current system. Review what is static and what changes frequently. Note any tailoring done to software and files. Be prepared to remake them if the systems aren't transferred properly or can't be restored. Keep careful track of all old and new names, IP addresses and other information needed to make the migration. Backup and Test Backup everything on your system yourself, whenever possible. Web hosting companies typically offer that as a service, but the staff and/or software are often less than par. Often backups appear to go well, but they're rarely tested by restoring to a spare server. When the time comes that they're needed, they sometimes don't work. Do a dry run, if you can. Restore the system to its new location and make any needed changes. If you have the host name and or IP address buried in files, make sure it gets changed. This is often true of databases. SQL Server on Windows, for example, picks up the host name during installation. Moving a single database, or even multiple ones, to a new server is straightforward using in-built utilities or commercial backup/restore software. But moving certain system-related information may require changing the host name stored inside the master database. Similar considerations apply to web servers and other components. Accept Some Downtime Be prepared for some downtime. Very few systems can be picked up, moved to another place, then brought online with zero downtime. Doing so is possible, in fact it's common. But in such scenarios high-powered professionals use state-of-the-art tools to make the transition seamless. Most staff at web hosting companies don't have the skills or the resources to pull it off. Prepare for Name Changes One aspect of moving to a new host can bedevil the most skilled professionals: changing domain names and or domain name/IP address combinations. When you type a URL into your browser, or click on one, that name is used because it's easier for people to remember. www.yahoo.com is a lot easier to remember than 188.8.131.52. Yet the name and or name/IP address combination can (and does) change. Still, specialized servers called DNS (Domain Name System) servers have to keep track of them. And there are a lot of them. There may be only two (rarely) or there may be a dozen or more DNS servers between your visitors' browsers/computers and your web host. Every system along the chain has to keep track of who is who. When a name/IP address changes, that pair has to be communicated to everyone along the chain, and that takes time. In the meantime, it's possible for one visitor to find you at the new place, while another will be pointing to the old one. Some amount of downtime will usually occur while everything gets back in sync. The Little Gotchas But even apart from name and IP address changes, there are a hundred little things that can, and often do, go wrong. That's not a disaster. It's just the normal hurdles that arise when changing something as complicated as a web site and the associated systems that underlie it. Gather Tools and Support Having an FTP program that you're familiar with will help facilitate the change. That will allow you to quickly move files from one place to the next to do your part to get the system ready to go or make repairs. Making the effort to get to know, and become friendly with, support staff at the new site can be a huge benefit. They may be more willing to address your problem before the dozen others they have to deal with at any given moment. Ok. On your mark. Get ready. Go.
Start Sampling for Free with the Start Sampling Website If you are looking for the best in online sampling, there is one Web destination that you should know about. The websites is known simply as StartSampling.com, and it can do wonders for your cache of freebies. If you are an avid freebie hunter, this is a website that you will definitely want to keep at your freebies by placing it on your active bookmark list. You will find that this is a fun and active community that you can consult on a regular basis for the best in online freebie sampling. How Can You Become a Member of StartSampling? If you are a newbie to the world of online sampling and freebies, here is a brief primer on becoming a member of this active community. First, StartSampling is a free service?never sign up for a freebie service that asks for monetary compensation or that requires a yearly membership sign-up. All you need in order to become a member of the StartSampling community is the ability to willingly sample many fine products from some of the company's leading manufacturers. As a member of StartSampling, you will receive samples as well as participate in the site's own Frequent Tryer Miles program. The Frequent Tryer Milers program allows you to collect points. You collect these points from participating in a variety of sampling programs and taking advantage of special offers and promotions. As a reward for participating in these programs, you will receive pints and gifts for free. This is your reward for being an active member of the StartSampling community. How to Contact the StartSampling Company Directly If you find that you have questions and concerns about using StartSampling, you can contact the company directly by selecting the 'contact us' button that is located at the bottom of the StartSampling home page. However, you will probably find that most of your questions can be answered directly simply by perusing the FAQ section of the website carefully. The FAQ provides you with an extensive list of questions and answers that have been addressed and compiled by the company. What Exactly Does StartSampling Do? Many newcomers to the StartSampling community wonder if the company is a web research enterprise. In reality, StartSampling is a promotions and marketing company. They have recently managed to establish themselves as a leader in online sampling. They do this by connecting consumers directly with the right kinds of companies. As an active participant of the StartSampling community, you will have the opportunity to receive samples from companies that you did not previously recognize. Sampling also allows you to inform marketers about your specific desires and interests. This way, you will receive product and service offers that are tailored specifically to your interests. In effect, think of StartSampling as a way to make your voice heard as a consumer. Where Do the Product Samples Come From? With so many online samples coming your way, perhaps you are wondering where all the samples provided by this community come from. All the samples provided to you by StartSampling are furnished directly by the small and large companies that are working with StartSampling. These samples are provided to StartSampling because these companies believe in their products and want consumers to try them and express an honest opinion. Most companies are looking to receive consumer feedback from members of their targeted consumer group. Who is Behind the World of StartSampling? Many newcomers are curious about who is behind the scenes at StartSampling. StartSampling is a leading online company managed by small group of energetic individuals. It is a privately held organization that is growing at a rapid pace.