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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.
Web Hosting - Unix vs Windows-Based Hosting, Which Is Better? An operating system functions largely out of sight, or at least is supposed to. It doesn't matter to non-geeks how a file gets stored, or how memory is used, or how simultaneous processes share the limited resources available on a computer. These are among the basic functions of any operating system. Yet, you can find very passionate supporters - who offer very detailed lists of pros and cons - for every operating system. Why? Because, though the low-level functions of an operating system do their work out of sight, there are many other features that rise to visibility. Sometimes, they do so when they're not supposed to. Weighing the pros and cons objectively could consume a book. But to select a web host operating system, a manageable level of considerations apply. They can be weighed even by those who don't know a processor queue from a pool cue. Learning Curves For most web site owners, administering the site/server is just overhead. It's not something they take pleasure in doing and they have plenty of other things to worry about. Many wouldn't know how and have no interest in learning (rightly so, given their priorities). Consequently, ease of administration is paramount for such people. Whether a Unix-based site (usually Linux these days) is easier to administer than Windows depends on your current skill set and the type of tools and level of access the web hosting company provides. But in general Linux is more difficult to install and maintain than Windows and the learning curve is steeper. FTP and Control Panels Often, you don't have to care. For many, the operating system is fairly transparent. FTP file transfers to get a new web page up to a Windows server are very much like they are to a Linux-based site. The user/administrator simply doesn't see what's behind the curtain. Many companies provide other utilities that completely mask any awareness of the operating system underneath. When that's the case, the web site owner has no reason to care, until or unless they need or want to go 'inside the black box'. Performance Performance issues can be relevant in selecting which operating system host type to choose. But for the most part, that aspect is outside the web site owner's control. Overall performance can be good or bad on either system, depending on many factors that the publisher will rarely see. The issue is a wash, as far as tipping the scales is concerned. What is more likely to be seen by a web site owner, at some point in their (and their site's) development is the database product that can be used to store information. Databases Microsoft SQL Server is relatively simple to use, yet extremely powerful and can deliver great performance. But it doesn't run on Linux. At least, not without special software to emulate Windows, which usually kills performance. On the other hand, with a bit of time invested, MySQL isn't significantly more difficult to learn than MS SQL Server and there are many free installations. Cost may well outweigh other considerations for most on this issue. Programming Languages Last, but not least, there are differences in programming languages that can be (or at least typically are) used on Windows vs Unix. If you have programmers who are skilled in Visual Basic, ASP and other Microsoft technologies, then a Windows-based host will be your preferred choice. For Perl and PHP programmers, Linux is the more common platform of choice. No single factor can push you to one versus the other operating system. And, in the long run, it isn't the primary consideration, unless you just enjoy playing with operating systems.
Online Writing Labs: You have One Available for You (online writing labs) There are numerous colleges and universities around the United States and the world that offer online writing labs. The labs are designed to offer help and instruction for any writing matter. Most Online writing labs are only available to the students of the offering college or university, but there are a few that are open to the general public. Virginia Tech has an online self help section and email help available for questions you have about grammar. The online writing labs are beneficial to both the writer in need of the help and the person helping them. The helper or tutors are usually graduate students working for their degree they benefit from the additional teaching practice. The students are getting proofreading, critiquing, and feedback along with any help they may need. The online writing labs were created by the schools to offer extra help to their students in their writing. They offer support in most areas of writing including choosing a topic, grammar help, revising a draft, and editing. They provide tutored help in these areas to students and faculty. Many online writing labs are set up to help you in three ways; online self help, email support, and one on one personal support. The online self help applications are available 24 hours a day. For the email support you email in your paper or project and you will receive a response with in 24 hours. The one on one personal support is a great way for students to learn how to do their own proofreading and editing. The tutors will help show the students what to look for and how to find their own mistakes. This is a great opportunity for help with someone other than a teacher. Even though the online help is available student are encouraged to use the writing lab tutors on a regular basis to improve their writing skills. Purdue University has an online writing lab they call OWL. It offers a wealth of information that virtually anyone can use. They offer a highly detailed step by step instruct of the writing process and huge section on professional, technical, and scientific writing. A section in job search writing that walks you through everything, from your academic coversheet to writing a personal statement, step by step. General Academic writing and research and citation help. This is the best site for offering its advice absolutely free. This site definitely deserves to be bookmarked on your computer if you are a serious writer, a student, a teacher, it really doesn?t matter. The University of Richmond has a program they call Writing Center. Although not as complex as Perdue?s they offer online self help topics for writers. Starting with the writing process to grammar and punctuation, it is another option for you. The University of Wisconsin has the Writing Center that offers some help with the basics. One thing to keep in mind that many of the universities and colleges that offer these many take them offline in between semesters and on breaks. If you are a student, many of you have an online writing lab available at your school or one that reciprocates with your school. Though the general public have self help online help available to them, chances are your school will offer some sort of one on one help to guide you through your work. Check it out it could be very beneficial to you. If you don?t have one available, it is highly recommend checking out OWL at Perdue or search the Internet. There are a lot of self-help online writing labs available to you.