Web Hosting Management

Choosing the best hosting for your website is the first step toward worry free website ownership. At ContiCreative we help our clients aquire or manage their web hosting. We are completely independent from any specific hosting company and we make sure you are always the one in charge.

We do not sell Web Hosting or Domain Name. This is important because our decisions cannot be influenced by any kind of profit. We simply try to match each of our clients with the web hosting service that most aligns with their needs.

Web Hosting is a complex topic, but it boils down to Reliability, Customer service, and price.

Please read our FAQ below to learn more about the different types of hosting available and a few more tips and tricks to keep you and your Online Properties safe and working smoothly.

Domain Names and Hosting.

If you own a website, at some point either you or someone in your organization have purchased a Domain Name and a Web Hosting Plan from a vendor. While this is not always the case, especially with very large organizations, it is pretty standard to purchase a Domain Name from a reseller and then complete the basic step to place your website online by leasing space with a Web Hosting provider. Often, they are one and the same, as many Domain Name reseller also offer some sort of hosting (or Hosting companies sell domains, but they are technically two separate and distinct steps.

What is a Domain Name?

Every website, in fact, every computer on the Internet, have an IP address. IP Addresses look a lot like telephone numbers. Your own computer, the one you are using to read these words, likely has an IP address of 192.168.0.1 inside your own network, and another IP address when it's connected to the Internet. Likewise, Websites reside on computers and they also have IP addresses. Numbers are not easy to remember and they mean little to us. Names are a lot more unique. Domain Names are a way to translate strings of numbers into a more memorable name.

What is a Domain Name Controller

The Domain Controller is where you go to purchase and then manage your Domain name. This is not the same place where you manage your web hosting. Even if you purchased both your Domain and your Hosting from the same vendor, the tools to manage each of them are different and unrelated to one another, except for the fact that the domain name controller has a way to "Point" to your Hosting and therefore lets your site be found on the web. Anyone can sell domain names and hosting services. That's usually done in a partnership or subcontracting agreement with companies that specialize in one or the other. Some companies specialize in both, but it is our experience that the best Domain Name resellers are not always the best Hosting companies and vice versa.

What is a “Hosting Company”?

A Hosting Company is a vendor that will lease you some space on one of their servers (Shared Account or VPS) or will lease you an entire server for your use (Dedicated Server). They often also sell domain names and provide other services, but their focus is always on Hosting and related support.

What is DNS.

Domain Name Servers (DNS) are computers that translate IP addresses to Domain Names. When you type "google.com", some DNS will translate Google's domain name into an IP address so that you can then arrive at Google's website.

Why is it important I own my Domain Name and My Hosting Account?

We have had many clients trying to hire us to work on their existing websites, only to discover that they either did not have any of the information necessary to take control of either their Domain Name or their Web Hosting. In some very sad cases, we even discovered that the client did not actually own either or both of those key elements that make a website, but some long gone employee of the company was the de facto owner of their online assets. Needless to say, that's far from an ideal situation. Depending on where the domain name or the hosting were purchased, it may or may not be possible to regain ownership of those assets. We have helped many clients in those straights over the years, but in a couple of cases, even though we could demonstrate that our client was indeed paying the monthly or yearly fees for the services, we were unable to secure their ownership back. In almost all cases however, we were successful, but it was a lot of work, a large part of which had to be managed by our client personally, but still involved a lot of effort on our part. Additionally, every vendor will have a different procedure, making prior experience of the process only slightly useful. That gets expensive fast and it is best to do things right from the start. If you are in such a predicament, we can help. Contact Us and we will guide you through the process.

What kind of Hosting Plans are commonly available?

Unless the name of your company is IBM or Google, your choices will be among Shared Hosting, VPS or Dedicated server. Please read each of these types of hosting below.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting, as the name implies, is a way to lease an account on a web server that is being shared by many other customers just like you. You often share the same IP address (which can be problematic at times if one of the other customers is a spammer or a hacker), same disk space (or cloud space) and, most importantly, the same Computer Processor. Shared hosting can be inexpensive. As low as $4.00 per month or even slightly less. It is often a great way to start out, but it has its downsides. If you don’t have a need for a Dedicated Server or a VPS (a shared dedicated server) a shared account is often enough, but we always suggest to our clients to buy the better plan offered by the Host. The monthly price difference is usually equivalent to a couple of cups of Fancy coffee drinks. The cheaper accounts are often just a way to attract new business, but the accounts may lack even the most basic features such as multiple databases, backup and so on.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting means that you are leasing an entire server from the vendor. No one else will use that server, an actual computer sitting in a high tech "Cold Room" someplace, but you and your website. It is more expensive, of course. How much? It varies. Just like one can buy different computers with more or less "power", servers also can have more or less capabilities. The more capable a server, the more expensive it is. Another important aspect of leasing a Dedicated Server is support. Some companies will simply provide access to a server, and then they'll leave everything else up to the customer. This is great for companies that have a fully staffed, and competent, IT department, but for many of our clients it is not a good idea. We at ContiCreative offer Dedicated Server Management as one of our services, however, we always suggest to our clients to purchase a "managed dedicated server". Web servers are complicated systems, no two precisely alike, and they require specialized knowledge especially when something goes wrong. While we are very knowledgeable about Dedicated Server (as long as they are Apache based) it is not our core business. We can perform 90% of the tasks necessary to manage one effectively, but we leave the remaining 10% to the real experts. Like in everything computer based, web servers are easy to use (for us) until something goes wrong. If nothing ever went wrong, if every software program always worked as advertised and promised, we probably would not have a career in this field. Likewise, if web servers always worked perfectly, IT managers would not have a job. Alas, we are all very busy because things do go wrong occasionally. If you need a dedicated server, always make sure to lease one that runs on some flavor of Linux (unless you have some very specialized needs) and that is "managed". i.e. it comes with some sort of built in support and maintenance.

VPS (Virtual Private Server)

VPS are a way to have the benefits of a Dedicated Server at a much lower price. It is similar in concept to a Shared Hosting account, but in the case of the VPS, rather than lease an account inside a dedicated server, along with hundreds of other customers, one can lease a "Virtualized" web server that looks and behaves exactly like a dedicated server. While multiple customers still have to share the processing power of a single server, the limits are much less restrictive and it allows more freedom of customization. VPS also come in several flavors and different levels and price points. A VPS is an excellent choice for both the established company and the startup, at an affordable price (between $30 and $100 a month).

Cloud Servers

If you have read the part about Shared Hosting, VPS and Dedicated servers, now imagine exactly the same thing but in the cloud. You no longer lease space on an actual machine sitting in a geographical point, but you lease an "instance" that is spread out on the provider's cloud network. At the time of writing this, Cloud Hosting is just reaching the point of maturity, but it hasn't quite reached the level we would like.

CDN (A Content Delivery Network)

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a system of distributed web servers that deliver webpages and other Web content to a user based on the geographic locations of the user. A CDN can be used regardless of the type of hosting one chooses, and it obviates a lot of the restrictions shared hosting has. It also increases security considerably. In fact, CDN are often chosen from a Content Delivery or security standpoint. Even a website meant for a limited market, let's say the USA or even just a state or a city in that country, can benefit from the added security a CDN provides even if there is no need of geographical distribution.

Can you host your domain with a hosting company but your email with another?

Yes you can. The process differs slightly depending on your desired email provider. It is not only possible, but we think that in many situations it is actually preferable. Contact Us if you have any questions.

What is the best Hosting plan for my website?

If you are just starting out and your company doesn’t have unusual requirements, a Shared Hosting Plan is often enough to get started. It is usually rather easy to upgrade, to a point, if more space, bandwidth or processor Cycles (the actual way many "Unlimited Hosting" plans are sold) are required down the line. It is a good idea to plan for the future though and the best plan for your Online Properties is usually the one that is least likely to leave your website stranded at maximum traffic and capacity. As an example, let's say that on a day to day basis your site gets X hits per hours. X hits an hour is a comfortable number for your Hosting Plan. However, let's say that a local or national News Service is about to do a story on your business. It is possible that with that much additional traffic hitting your website, the hosting company (regardless of their "unlimited" marketing speak) will shut your site down. Why do they do that? Because you are sharing a computer with hundreds of other websites like yours, and if your Website takes up the majority of the server's processing power (not disk space or bandwidth, although those are not infinite either, but because of the "Cloud" things are a lot better than they used to be.) the other sites will suffer. At the very least they will slow down, and some may go offline. To prevent that, your hosting company allocates only a share of the total power of your server to you. That means that at peak times, rather than let every website suffer from your traffic, they will shut down your website instead, or at least fewer visitors will be able to connect.

Do you Sell Hosting?

No, we do not sell hosting or Domain Names, nor do we have any kind of affiliate deal with any hosting companies. From time to time, we may run advertising from a Hosting company, but only because we may be part of a advertising delivery network that matches our site's keywords with their ads.

Why not sell hosting? That's in part because it is a full time job, but more importantly, because we want to be free to pick the best web provider for our clients at the time we work with them. Hosting is a business where companies merge, are bought and sold or change procedure and staffing frequently, so we always try to steer our clients toward companies that have a stable track record.

We could not do that if we had special "backdoor" deals with any specific hosting company. At least we could not do that and still sleep soundly at night.

ContiCreative Web Development Sacramento, California

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