Sell Web Hosting Without the Hassle

Intrahost has recently introduced a partner scheme ‘friends of Intrahost’ designed for those who want to earn extra revenue and have customers looking for hosting services. This is a great opportunity to add an additional revenue stream without the hassle of maintaining their own servers. The web hosting business is a competitive one and it can be difficult for digital agencies to recommend services to their clients if the company doesn’t itself use a host. There are so many on offer at wildly varying prices that, for the layman especially, it can be an incredibly difficult choice.

Cheap hosting is rarely useful for businesses who are looking to have a reliable web presence, but many try to cut costs by choosing them. As a digital provider, you’re in the position of being able to influence that decision and point customers the way of a business-grade, and reliable, service.

Why Sell Hosting?

These days there can often be many companies dealing with a firm’s website in one way or another. You may sell digital content for example, or SEO services, but have little say in the servers that the company’s site actually lives on. This in turn can affect the services you provide. For example, if you’re selling SEO services and the hosting company servers perform poorly, then this will affect the bottom line – profits.

A study carried out by Kissmetrics found that most people leave a site that’s not loaded in 30 seconds and this is worsened if the user is viewing the site via a mobile device. Since we’re rapidly moving forward as a race that’s rather addicted to all things mobile, in order to compete a company must then ensure that the site loads quickly.

Likewise, an unreliable hosting service can mean that a customer arriving at a site that goes down once a week is unlikely to have much faith in that site and the company behind it.

So if you’re a:

  • Web designer
  • Marketing agency
  • Digital services agency
  • IT consultancy

Then get in touch to see what services you can offer to your customers through Intrahost. Take a look around the site first and you will see that all of our current customers are more than happy with the service that we provide.

Types of Hosting Available

We offer a range of hosting packages suitable for small sites on a shared server, to large ecommerce sites on a dedicated server and everything in between. Of course, we also offer cloud hosting and VMWare hosting too, as well as Hosted Exchange for those who want a decent and reliable email service.

Our UK data centres are open 24/7 and is backed up by fast and friendly support for those times when your customers need that little bit extra help. Intrahost are pleased to be able to boast 99.99% uptime and for those businesses that need more, we also offer bespoke hosting services, ensuring that you can offer your customers the complete service whatever their needs.

In the Business of Digital

As the number of digital agencies in the UK increase rapidly to meet demand, it’s now important for these businesses to offer a more integrated solution that can meet all of the needs of its clients.

digital agency surveyAccording to a benchmark study carried out last year, more than half of all digital agencies in the UK now offer the full range of digital services. For the most part, many of these services surrounded marketing and all of its accompanying services such as social media management and SEO. However, the agency that can also offer web hosting is one that will have an additional string to its bow that provides better value for clients.

When it comes to SEO services, including PPC, it’s a discipline that’s rapidly evolving. Many of the techniques that it used to be perfectly acceptable to use no longer are, thanks to the search god that is Google. This has meant for many agencies that they’ve had to seriously rethink their business and what they offer.

What better thing to offer then is there than a service that’s completely managed for you and all you have to do is put forward a recommendation and then sit back and wait for the commission to come in?

In business, especially when it’s concerned with the web, the company that offers a rounded package will be the winner, so why not get in touch to discuss our partner program today and see what we can do to help make your company one that offers an integrated package.

Quick Guide to Choosing a Web Host

choosing a web hostChoosing a web host can be a difficult decision for those not overly familiar with the technical aspects that are involved, not least because of the sheer volume on offer. Web hosting packages tend to vary quite wildly too on the surface of things, when it comes to price, making the choice even more confusing. With that in mind, here’s Intrahost’s quick guide to choosing a host to help you to make a decision quickly. We also sell web hosting, so this will be a completely unbiased guide. ;-)

How Low Should You Go?

Price is of course at the top of most people’s priority list, we all want to save money. However, be very wary of choosing the lowest priced hosts as often, this is reflected in the service, no matter what uptime the hosting company may claim.

Recently, a Twitter follower suggested to me that I should move my web hosting to a company that’s free. I politely declined. Free services are great if you’ve got a hobby site, but they’re never a business solution and neither are many of the services that charge around £0.99 – 1.99 per month. For business, you need a service that’s secure and reliable and in my experience, the really cheap end of the market is neither.

However, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t shop around, but you should be aware of what you need and always choose a business grade package for company websites.

Ups and Downs of Web Hosts

Many companies claim to have an up time of 99% or more and to be fair, most do. Again, companies that offer a lot for very little appear to have the worst outages. Have a look around and make sure that you read testimonials from existing customers before committing.

Ask if the web host:

  • Guarantees the uptime
  • Offers a Service Level Agreement
  • Bases its offers on a long-term or monthly contract

If you’re covered by a guaranteed uptime then you can be fairly certain that the company has a stable network that doesn’t experience many outages. Likewise, if you’re not tied to a long-term contract, then you can switch in the event of any problems without too much trouble.

Security Matters

Security is increasingly important to your website and absolutely vital if you accept credit card payments on your site. With this in mind, ask what security measures are in place at the data centre where the servers are stored. You should go for a host that chooses high-end hardware and software solutions, as well as physical security at the data centre premises.

Bang for your Buck

Pricing is important but so is what you get for your money and you should pay attention to this when checking out one package against another. The features that you need will depend on what kind of website you have, including:

  • If you need more than one site – some of the cheaper sites offer unlimited sites for as little as £1.99, but are generally not worth it in terms of outages and support
  • Email – how many mailboxes does the host allow
  • How much storage is allocated – will it be enough to host your site once you have a blog uploaded with lots of images and video, for example
  • How many databases are you given
  • How much CPU/memory are you allocated and what happens if you use more? Many hosts don’t allow you to go over your allocated resources but some will bill you. Others might have a service where each user isn’t measured and you could then find yourself sharing the server with a resource hog, which will slow your site

If you have a large site, then shared web hosting is probably not for you, as the resources won’t be enough. Likewise, if you have an ecommerce site then it’s a better, more secure bet to invest in a dedicated server where you are not sharing space and resources with other sites.

Pay attention to whether the host offers SSL certificates too, some people choose their hosting and when it comes to the certificates, find that they have to pay for an upgrade before they can get them.

Is Web Hosting Support Good Enough?

Choosing a host which is located in the same country as you is the best bet when it comes to support, as although most hosts claim to offer 24/7 support, this is often not the case. If your site goes down in the middle of the day, or you have some other problem and your host is located on the other side of the world, there’s not much you can do if nobody’s answering the phone.

I’ve had many different experiences when it comes to support and again, the bargain basement hosts are the ones to avoid. I’ve waited days for support, or even had my questions on an issue that the hosting company didn’t have an answer for completely ignored. This is clearly unacceptable and of course, this is a problem I’m citing from the past, but it is something that you will come up against if you choose a host that doesn’t really do business grade hosting.

Again, look for testimonials when you’re checking out web hosts online and check out forum posts too. A company with a bad reputation will easily be found, there’s nothing people that who have had a bad experience online like doing more than letting the rest of us know.

Choosing a web host isn’t particularly difficult, it’s really just the sheer amount of hosting companies that are around that muddy the waters. However, follow these tips and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.

It’s a competitive market and hosts don’t tend to vary wildly on price if it’s a professional service, but do be aware that free doesn’t always equal good and if something appears to be too good to be true, it usually is.

We did say that we do web hosting, didn't we? :-)

Image: Spiceworks (CC)

What is Business Class Hosting?

Although many businesses purchase web hosting, there is a substantial difference between standard hosting and business class hosting. Business class web hosting solutions are frequently used for businesses that require zero downtime. Large corporations, high traffic e-Commerce websites and mission critical applications solely depend on high availability solutions. Businesses like Amazon.com require high availability solutions and zero downtime. If the Amazon website had 60 minutes downtime – it's scary to consider how many potential sales Amazon would lose in a single hour. Amazon and eBay are very popular resources for books, CD’s, DVDs and other products. Both of these websites need highly redundant servers in place to reduce server downtime.

High Availability Solutions

Complex hosting solutions is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Load Balancing is a popular example of high availability. This is where multiple machines share the web hosting burden without one server becoming overwhelmed.

Load Balancing is a critical necessity for any website that receives large numbers of visitors or processes a vast number of database transactions.

Cloud based applications including: Google Analytics, Google AdWords, SalesForce and Skype are dependent on high availability. At one given time there could be thousands of web users on one Cloud based application.

Another added benefit of Load Balancing is that servers can be taken down for maintenance without any downtime to the service.  Cloud based applications like SalesForce are constantly improving their service. This can be implemented with zero time to the end user.

Clustering

High Availability Clusters (which are also known as HA Clusters or Fail-over Clusters) are computers clustered together to create a high availability solution.  Generally Cluster Servers are a minimum of two servers clustered together. High Availability Clusters are used as a redundant back-up. For instances, server one is the most frequently used server if this server fails, then server two takes over and keeps the online presence up and running without the end-user noticing.

Now on a regular server with no fail-over system, the website would be offline – making the website inaccessible. For a mission critical business process this would be unacceptable.

Service Level Agreement

Although, high availability hosting is available – this doesn't guarantee 100% server and network up-time. A number of hosting companies promise a 100% Service Level Agreement. Its not humanly possible to provide 100% up-time.

It makes sense to search for a hosting company that offers between 99.9 % – 99.99% server and network time.

Interested in highly reliable web hosting?

Business hosting is an asset to your business. A number of web sites would see a significant loss in profits and productivity if their servers failed.

Its important to invest in business class hosting with minimum downtime, with multiple resources available, dedicated technical telephone support that is fast and friendly.

What Everybody Ought To Know About Blogging

Blogging is fascinating. Many people consider creating a blog for a variety of reasons. The most common reason that people blog is to make money. Having a blog can be very valuable for a business.  We have 10 reasons why a blog can benefit your business. If you have a website it’s important to have a blog as well. Let’s look at ten reasons why a blog can be beneficial. If you’re a blogger or thinking of creating a blog - I highly encourage you to leave a comment and join in with the conversation.

Improve your personal & professional development

I started blogging in 2007, for a variety of reasons. Just like everybody else I was interested in making money online. I noticed that blogging helped me with my personal and professional development.

Since I started blogging, I’ve learnt more about the following:

  • SEO
  • Content creation
  • Video blogging
  • Using social media sites such as: Twitter & LinkedIn
  • Link building
  • WordPress theme design
  • PHP
  • Podcasting
  • Writing eBooks
  • Email marketing
  • Google AdWords
  • Writing skills

Blogging is an on-going project where you can develop content and in a variety of mediums. It’s important to experiment and constantly learn new skills to develop content.

When I was part of an eLearning team we used different mediums to get our message across. People learn in different ways.  For some, videos and interactivity are an excellent method of engagement – whilst others prefer to read. Feel free to experiment with a variety of mediums.

"Focus on learning and helping others throughout your blogging career."

Develop relationships with other bloggers and potential customers

Bloggers love comments on their blog. A thriving community that contributes is  a valuable asset for any blogger. Contributing to a community is always important on the road to successful blogging. Constantly focus on developing networks throughout your blogging career.

"Be proactive. Get to the conversation going."

Twitter is a great place to communicate with others. Try to contact somebody new once a day either by a Tweet or an email. Networking is an important aspect of developing an online community.

Generous SEO benefits

WordPress is the most popular blogging platform and packed with a variety of SEO benefits.

The term blog has been labelled as “better listings on Google” by blogging gurus in the past.

A blog is updated more frequently than a static website and Google is constantly hunting for new information. When the Google Bots find your new and original content it will be added to the Google search engine.

Developing fresh content on a regular basis can help Google to crawl your blog more frequently. It's important for Google to find your on a regular basis.

Blogging can be done anywhere

Many business bloggers use iPhones. At times, it can be difficult to find creative flair if you’re in the same office day in and day out. Thanks to the iPhone WordPress application, you can create content whilst on the move. Creating blog content in different locations can help you to generate new ideas.

You don’t need technical experience to run a blog

Before the time of blogs, you needed to write web pages in HTML. You can save an abundance of time and resources by using WordPress. The easy to use blogging format is as simple as typing in Microsoft Word.

The WordPress community have thousands of themes available. For added functionality you can also add a variety of WordPress plug-ins to your blog. If you prefer you can develop your own WordPress theme.

Blogging is very economical

WordPress is open source (free). All you need is reliable web hosting and a domain name. Most web hosting providers have an automated WordPress installation.

Blogging creates a variety of opportunities

Depending on your goals blogging can open a number of doors.  For many businesses, blogging can be used to enhance PR and generate more sales.

If you’re searching for a career in online marketing or SEO, it’s a good idea to develop your blog today.  Experience is what potential clients, customers and employers are looking for.

Continue blogging and developing your skills. You maybe even head hunted to blog or create a  social media campaign for a company.

If you become a successful blogger or a recognised leader in your niche you're likely to be interviewed or asked to talk at live speaking events.

It's also important to proactively look for  new opportunities. The best way to find new opportunities is to create them.

"Being a proactive blogger is a successful blogger."

Blogging enhances communication with your customers

Look for opportunities to blog. If you have something that’s newsworthy and related to your niche create an article about it. Creating blog content is great for PR and brand awareness. Somebody that’s reading your blog could be interested in purchasing one of your products within the next 6 months.

Brand awareness can play an important part in your blog’s success. Many bloggers comment on other blogs this is a good PR strategy. Getting noticed is also another important in the eyes of Google.

Continue to develop great articles on your blog to increase loyalty and trust with your community.

Develop expertise

In the world of blogging, it’s important to be humble and work hard. As your content becomes popular and resourceful, your community may class you as an expert. Continue to work hard and develop rapport. Overtime, you will build loyalty with your audience.

Focus on the following:

  • Provide richer content that is backed up by your own experience
  • Focus on solving your target audience’s problems
  • Be generous with back links
  • Focus on giving to your target audience

Online marketing can be effective

If you have a blog you can take advantage of other social networking sites.  By using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter you can increase the reach of your target audience. Don’t forget that an RSS feed can be a powerful blogging technique too.

Did you know that an RSS Feed can be an effective method of keeping your target audience informed? You can use RSS applications such as Twitter Feed, Ping.Fm and HootSuite to inform your social profiles and networks.

Educate your readers on the benefits of subscribing to your RSS feed. If you want to keep your readers engaged even more use an email auto responder. Aweber is most frequently used auto responder system used by email marketers.

Now it’s your turn

Do you have a blog? How much time do you spend blogging a week? Are you noticed any benefits from blogging? We’d love to hear you response.

Developing a Successful Online Presence

A successful online presence takes planning and dedication. Throughout this article, we will suggest some resourceful methods for building a successful website or blog.

What are your goals?

What is the purpose of developing your online presence? Your website or blog will only be successful if it solves people's problems.  It’s important to focus on the needs of your target audience.

Why some websites are so successful

Ask yourself, why do you visit a major city? Let’s say that you’re interested in going to New York for a long-weekend break. People go to New York because there’s plenty to see and do. The opportunities for sight seeing and shopping are endless. Just like a major city, a high traffic website or blog has an abundance of high quality content that either entertains, engages or informs the web user.

Popular places have a good number of reasons to visit them. You need to give your target audience good reasons to visit your online presence and also keep them returning.

Write down some goals that you'd like to achieve with your online presence.

Here are some examples:

  • Are you saving your audience money?
  • Are you helping your audience to learn something new?
  • Are you solving problems that people are desperate to find the answers to?
  • Are you entertaining people?

Websites such as Facebook, Yahoo and Wikipedia have thousands of pages and unique content. These websites are constantly growing on a daily basis. Their goals are to solve people's problems.

It’s important to develop relevant information from the beginning. Focus on creating content that your readers will appreciate and value. Give your audience reasons to visit your website or blog. The most successful blogs and websites understand what motivates their target audience. Find out as much information related to your target market as possible. Planning is the key to success.

You need strong foundations

To build any large structure you need solid foundations. A large oak tree has very strong roots in order to grow big and strong. The same principle applies for a high traffic website or blog. It’s important to use reliable web hosting. As you’re developing an online presence it’s crucial to have a strong structure in place. If you have weak foundations it’s like building a house on sand.

"Always focus on the needs of your audience. How can you improve your online presence for your target audience?"

Research your web hosting provider.  If you have a high traffic eCommerce website, it’s crucial to have a highly reliable hosting solution in place.  When your website is down and unavailable you're losing potential customers.  It's wise to invest in the best hosting solution for your budget.

Develop traffic to your blog

Every major city has a number of routes. If you’re travelling to Paris you can get there in a variety of ways. You can travel to Paris by car, bus, plane, train, motorbike or on foot.  It’s important to understand that there’re a variety of ways to find your website or blog too. A web user could find your website on Google or click on a ReTweet from Twitter.

Every method of traffic generation will vary. If your online presence is located on the first page of Google for a highly competitive keyword you’ll have a lots of web traffic.

High street stores have no problem of being noticed – their custom is generated by being located in a prime location.

Many websites or blogs fail. If you don’t have a solid marketing plan and content strategy you’re planning for failure.

Some places to market your website or blog.

  • Use Twitter to promote your brand.
  • Start using Google AdWords. A great opportunity to promote your online presence.  However, this will require a marketing budget.
  • Start developing a link building campaign. Having relevant and quality back links is one way to boost your search engine rankings.
  • Networking with like-minded people online. Fans of your content will speak highly of you and promote your online presence.

Now it’s your turn

Do you have an online presence? How do you market your website or blog? Please leave a comment below.

How to develop a fast loading website

Is your website taking forever to load? Are you losing customers from having a slow loading website? In this article, we will discuss some techniques on how we can improve the loading speed of your website. One of Google’s algorithms for high organic search engine rankings is having fast loading web pages. In order to be successful online you can’t ignore Google. The people at Google have the interest of the search query user at heart. If you listen to Google’s suggestions you’ll have a better website and reap the benefits of higher search engine rankings.

Increase your website speed

Cascade style sheets – CSS

CSS has made web formatting easier for designers and developers since its birth in 1996. For those who are unfamiliar with CSS, it is a programming language that allows designers to easily change the look and change of a web page.

Before the time of CSS, designers had to apply formatting to every single page throughout the website.  If you’re working on a website that has 10,000 pages and you were asked to modify fonts and colours on every single page it would take you forever and a day.

Use one external CSS file

There are some great benefits of using one external CSS file. All your CSS coding will be stored in one file – making your life easier when you return to modify this website later.  If you’re using third party plug-ins that use CSS it’s best to merge multiple CSS files into one larger CSS file. If a web browser has to read and download multiple CSS files it will take longer for the web page to load.

CSS checklist

  • Use shorthand CSS.
  • Remove any comments and white space from your CSS file.
  • Create one external CSS file – if you have multiple CSS files merge these into one external CSS file.
  • Take advantage of CSS sprites – if there are design elements that you can create using CSS this is worth doing. An example with CSS3 you can create navigation with elegant gradients.  Saving you designing navigation in Photoshop, but more importantly reducing HTTP requests.

Reduce HTTP requests

Where someone visits your website the web browser deals with a number of HTTP requests. An example of a HTTP request is when the web browser has to ask the web server for certain information including: an image, external hyperlinks or translate a PHP query.

Reduce the number PHP queries

PHP can be very productive for developers that are running larger websites. The blogging platform WordPress uses a colossal amount PHP scripting. Although, WordPress is targeted at non-technical people, there are some PHP codes that can be replaced by HTML. If you’re familiar with HTML you can hand code the web pages directly into your WordPress and leave the Widgets.

Think of PHP as a foreign language, the web browser doesn’t understand PHP, luckily the web server does. The web server is the translator for the web browser. The more PHP that your website uses the longer it’ll take for your website to download.

Use Relative URL paths

Throughout your website it’s important to use relative URLS where possible. A relative URL is a file or directory that’s related to your present file or directory location.

A relative URL is ideal for internal linking for example:

<a href=”aboutus.html”>About Us</a>

An absolute URL states the full URL as you’d type in the web browser for example:

<a href=http://www.intrahost.co.uk>Intrahost</a>

Using relative URL paths minimises the number of HTTP requests that the web browser has to read.

Use DIV tags

Building websites in tables is out of date and makes your web page heavy.  Tables contain a lot of information for the web browser to process.  DIV and CSS are lighter and easier to work with.

Use images wisely

can make a web design layout look brilliant. However, images can seriously slow your website down.  Design is important, but you need to consider if these images are necessary. If your main design layout is made up from 25 images that’s 25 HTTP requests on images alone. Consider what’s absolutely critical for your website.  Although we have broadband, you still need to reduce your image file size.

Place external JavaScript at the bottom of your web page

The web browser reads content from top to bottom. JavaScript takes the most amount of time to load. It makes sense for the rest of the website to load first then apply the JavaScript last. Chances are the JavaScript isn’t the most important element on your website.

When you develop a website always ask yourself: “what’s important for the web user?” Make the web page fast loading and relevant to the web user.

Minimise the usage of Flash

It is not advised to develop a full Flash based website. Google can’t read a Flash based website and people may not have the patience for the website to load. You can use Flash, however, it’s important to use it sparingly and when it’s absolutely necessary.

Invest in good reliable hosting

Depending on your budget the best option for fast web hosting is a Cloud server. You have access to unshared resources and reap the benefits of a fast loading website. However, if you have a small business and a small online presence this is not realistic.

To get the best web hosting for your money, it’s important to do some market research. Find out as much as possible about your potential web hosting provider. Telephone the contact support team. Ask people in your network which hosting providers they use.  Price is often considered as the number one factor for web hosting. Remember that quality web hosting comes at a price.

Benefits of using a dedicated server

If you have a business with a demanding online presence, chances you are using a dedicated server. In the world of web hosting you truly get what you pay for. In this article, you will read the benefits of using a dedicated server. If you’re starting to out grow your shared hosting platform and have a larger budget - a dedicated server is a worthy choice.

It is your own server

The dedicated server is an unshared web hosting platform where your website is completely devoted to your needs. You’re in complete control of your server. Although, shared hosting is cheaper it doesn't always mean it's reliable as dedicated hosting.

Use all of the server’s resources

On a dedicated server, you’re not sharing the resources with any other user. Many shared web hosting servers become overloaded and slow. The beauty of using your own dedicated server is that your users will benefit greatly from having a faster loading website. In addition, your dedicated server will be more reliable.

Your dedicated server is located in a secure datacentre

Some businesses’ have their dedicated servers located on their work premises. This is not the best choice of keeping your data secure. There are many potential risks in the work environment. Dedicated servers in an office can be vulnerable to fire or theft or accidental damage. It is crucial to keep your dedicated server in a cool environment and locked away and off your office premises. This machine will be running every second of day and must never be switched off.

The cost of setting up a dedicated server in your work environment is expensive and canbe risky. A datacentre is the best place to store your dedicated server.

You’ll have your own IP address

Every computer and server have their own unique IP address. On a shared server, you don’t know what other users are doing with their hosting plans. On a shared hosting server, you may be a victim of having your IP address banned. On a dedicated server, you have more control.

Upgrade as you need to

Your dedicated server can be upgraded with extra memory and processing power.  Your dedicated server can grow as your online presence grows.

Dedicated servers overview

Whether you’re a hardcore gamer and have your own dedicated gaming server or have an eCommerce web site, dedicated servers provide a higher level of reliability.

Reasons to have a self-hosted blog

A commonly asked question by new bloggers is: “What is the best option? Choosing a hosted blog or having a self-hosted blog?” Both hosting platforms have their advantages and disadvantages. The best option is choosing the self-hosted blog.

WordPress is the most popular platform for blogging. Many web designers and developers use WordPress as a Content Management System. The self-hosted WordPress platform can be customised to meet the requirements of the end user. WordPress also has an abundance of plugins available. Plus with a team dedicated of developers that are constantly enhancing the WordPress infrastructure, it is safe to say that WordPress will be around for a very long time. The Internet has a wealth of resources devoted to WordPress.

The hosted WordPress platform

The WordPress hosted-blog is great for those who want to see a demonstration of the blogging platform. The hosted blogging platform allows you to create pages and posts, however, to install plugins and configure themes you need to have a self-hosted WordPress blog.

The disadvantages of the hosted platform of WordPress

Many bloggers are inspired to blog to earn an additional income. If you are blogging for money, you will need a self-hosted blog. One of the ways that wordpress.com makes money is through Google AdSense advertising. The wordpress.com site relies on their bloggers to generate content in order to earn AdSense revenue.

The self-hosted WordPress platform

If you are serious about developing a blog with long-term potential the self-hosted option is the best route. You will need to purchase your own domain name and web hosting, however, the benefits are far greater.

Here are some of the benefits of the self-hosted WordPress platform:

  • Total control – Having your own self-hosted WordPress blog provides you with complete control. Want to create your own WordPress themes? No problem. A self-hosted WordPress blog allows you to configure to your heart’s content.
  • Free blogging platform – The WordPress platform is open-source (free). You can free to modify WordPress.
  • WordPress is easy to install – Web hosting companies offer an easy install feature of WordPress in their hosting control panel.
  • Enhanced functionality - You can install as many WordPress plugins and features as you choose.
  • You own the blog – The content on your blog belongs to you. If you have any affiliate ads you will earn and keep any commissions.
  • Professionalism – Having your own domain name makes you look professional. Having you blog URL end in wordpress.com is not attractive and makes you look like an amateur.
  • An excellent learning curve for managing your own blog You will gain a wealth of experience from maintaining your own blog.
  • SEO friendly – All WordPress blogs are SEO friendly. A self-hosted WordPress blog can you make your site even more SEO friendly. There are many SEO WordPress plugins available.

For a self-hosted WordPress blog you will require a domain name and web hosting, however, these are inexpensive and a great added benefit to your online presence. When you host your own blog you are in complete control.

For many, flexibility and total control are important for bloggers. In addition, you have opportunities to earn money from your content.

A free hosted blog at wordpress.com presents itself with a lot of restrictions. Although, you can create a free hosted blog  you will have limited functionality and restricted designs. As a blogger, you are giving away a lot of your content and blogging efforts to the WordPress community. If your objective is to develop an income through blogging, create a self-hosted WordPress blog today.

Are you looking to develop to a blog? Have you got a blog? If you have what experiences have you learnt from having a self-hosted blog? Please leave a comment. We look forward to hearing your experiences.

Free Web Hosting to 5 UK Charities

As providers of reliable business web hosting, Intrahost are offering 5 UK charities free web hosting. Five UK charities will benefit from our 24/7 technical support and high availability.

Complete this form if you are looking for free hosting for your organisation (charities only)

Please fill in all the boxes.

The closing date is the 31st May 2011.

[si-contact-form form='1']

Struggling with the contact form? Alternatively you can send your expression of interest to:

enquiry [at] intrahost.co.uk

We would be very grateful if you would promote this offer to your friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Many thanks

James

<p>As providers of reliable business web hosting, Intrahost are offering 5 UK charities free web hosting. Five UK charities will benefit from our 24/7 technical support and high availability.</p>

<h2>Complete this form if you are looking for free hosting for your organisation (charities only)</h2>

<p>Please fill in all the boxes.</p> <p>The closing date is the 31st May 2011.</p>

The misconception of unlimited web hosting

Thousands of web hosting providers are available and many promise: unlimited bandwidth and unlimited disk space. It sounds fantastic, a web hosting company that provides unlimited resources, right? In this article we will expose the myths of unlimited web hosting. After reading this article, I’ll guarantee that you’ll have a better understanding of how the web hosting industry works.

The reality of Unlimited Web Hosting

The web hosting industry is extremely competitive. Many hosting companies offer unlimited bandwidth and unlimited disk space at a low price.

Take into account the cost of the: server equipment, cables, electricity, security systems, air conditioning, fire suppression systems, purchasing bandwidth and the remaining overheads to run a web hosting company, can a web hosting provider offer unlimited hosting? The answer is no.

Reasons why unlimited web hosting is advertised?

Unlimited web hosting is a marketing strategy to entice customers to purchase web hosting. To plan, build and develop a data centre (secure environment to host computer servers) costs millions. This is an enormous start-up cost for any business. A web hosting company needs to be making profit as soon as possible.

Let’s be realistic. If YouTube decided to move to a web hosting company that offers unlimited hosting, there is absolutely no way this would happen. YouTube spend millions of dollars on hosting bandwidth per month.

Web hosting companies that provide unlimited bandwidth realise that a majority of their customers only use a small amount of bandwidth (bandwidth is the amount of traffic your website or blog uses) each month. The chances of a small business being cut off due to exceeding bandwidth are slim.

When choosing a web hosting company that offers unlimited bandwidth make sure that you read the terms and conditions very carefully. Assess the requirements of your online presence.

What are your web hosting requirements?

Are you publishing videos online? Does your website have a huge number of visitors? Does your website use a lot of audio content? These are all factors to consider in the short-term, mid-term and the long-term.

If you have a high traffic website and your online presence is your main source of income, it is vital that you choose a web hosting package that states the monthly bandwidth allowance. If your web hosting package exceeds the monthly bandwidth allowance you may need to upgrade to a dedicated server.

Look at the terms and conditions carefully before purchasing a web hosting plan. Try and find a web hosting company that can accommodate a growing online presence.

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Reasons not to host your website on your home computer

Back in 2005, I had an interesting conversation with someone who wanted a website. In order to save costs the person asked: “Instead of purchasing web hosting, can I host the website on my PC? It’ll save me money on web hosting.” The answer yes it is possible. However, there are many disadvantages of hosting on your own personal computer. The one main advantage is that you are in control of your web server, but with responsibilities you encounter problems.

In this article, we will discuss why it is not a great option to host a website on your home computer.

You need to know how to set up a web server

Developing a web server requires knowledge on using: Apache, MySQL and PHP. In addition, updates to software must be made as required to ensure your web server is operating at optimum performance. Running a secure web server is a full time job.

Is your home based web server secure?

How secure is your home based web server? All servers require a secure firewall. This is to protect your server from hackers and viruses. Choosing a web hosting company offers peace of mind for security. A datacentre is a highly secure environment where thousands of websites and online applications are stored.

The datacentre is heavily guarded both physically and virtually. CCTV cameras capture movement throughout the datacentre 24/7 and guards are on-site around the clock. The latest in software technology is frequently installed for superior security.

Is your home based server in the best environment?

A datacentre is a well accommodated environment for web hosting. Your web server must run and be online permanently. If you switch your web server off, nobody will be able to access your website.

Some serious questions to consider:

  • If your web server crashes do you have an alternative web server in place?
  • Do you have the best equipment available for your web server?
  • If your server crashes at 3am are you able to fix it?
  • What happens if your web server overheats and causes an electrical fire?
  • What happens if you have a power failure, do you have an alternative power supply?
  • Do you have an air-conditioned environment to keep your web server cool?
  • Does your Internet Service Provider offer dedicated bandwidth?

A standard broadband connection is not ideal. You need stronger connectivity than your home broadband supplier offers. Again this is more added cost, which could be spent on developing a great website.

All of these questions need some serious consideration and especially if you have an e-commerce website. A datacentre is a very expensive infrastructure to set up. There are an abundance of benefits for using a hosting company.

The benefits of using a hosting company

  • You rent the equipment in the datacentre. If there is a problem with the equipment the web hosting company will sort it out.
  • The datacentre have alternative backup procedures such as: diesel-powered generators and reserve air-conditioning systems.
  • In the event of a fire, the datacentre uses fire suppression systems, where gases are used to extinguish any fire.
  • Reliable web hosting is guaranteed. Web hosting providers need to offer a service level agreement, this is a guarantee for a reliable up-load time.
  • Using a datacentre saves you an abundance of time and stress on repairing your web server.
  • Using a datacentre saves you a fortune on purchasing: new hardware, the latest software and saving money on electricity and maintenance bills.

Summary

Web hosting is a requirement, however, using reliable web hosting saves time and money. If you are running an online business, how much would it cost your business if you don’t use a reliable web hosting provider? It could mean the difference of success or failure.

Choosing reliable web hosting is a priority. It is the foundation of any successful online presence. You wouldn’t build your house on sand, right? Just like building a house you need a solid platform. A solid, reliable hosting platform is critical.

Hosting your website on your home computer maybe considered as saving money, however, when you weight up the pros and cons, it is wise to invest in a reliable web hosting provider.

Don’t buy any web hosting until you have read this!

Selecting a reliable web hosting provider is a real challenge. There are thousands of web hosting companies available. Many companies provide white label hosting where web designers and Internet marketers are capable of starting their own web hosting business. There are many variables that create a reputable web hosting provider. In this article, we will expose the important aspects of selecting a reputable web hosting company.

Web hosting speed

Web site users are inpatient and expect content to be accessed instantly. A good web hosting company must have a rapid response time. Ask your potential web hosting provider on how they maintain a speedy web hosting platform.

Does the hosting provider have a limitation of the number of websites located on one server?

Matt Cutts, the Head of Google’s web spam team recently stated that Google are incorporating site speed into the search engine rankings. Reliable web hosting will not overload their servers by adding too many web hosting packages to one given server. Overloaded servers will become slow and cause frustration for the web user that will lead to the web user leaving your site.

Web hosting price

Just because the cost of web hosting is cheap, it does not always mean you are getting the best service. A £100,000 car is more expensive due to the quality of the vehicle. The same principle applies to web hosting. You do not need to spend a fortune on reliable web hosting. However, it is important to find the best web hosting package to suit your budget.

Web hosting location

If your business is located in the United Kingdom, you must have your web hosting server located in the same region. Google establishes your business location from where your website hosting is located. Invest in reliable web hosting that is located as close to your business premises as possible.

Although, cheap web hosting that is internationally located sounds appealing, it may jeopardise your search engine ranking potential.

Web hosting bandwidth

What level of bandwidth does your web hosting provider offer? Depending on the requirements of your online presence, your bandwidth will vary significantly. If you have a website that has a wealth of website traffic and streaming video you will require more bandwidth.

If you are not sure of the amount of bandwidth that you require start with a small bandwidth package and upgrade when required. A majority of web hosting companies will provide a number hosting packages with different amounts of bandwidth. Therefore, allowing you to save money on your bandwidth.

Web hosting technical support

If you have a problem, can you contact technical support immediately? Does the hosting company have a good response time? These questions must be all taken into consideration. A vast number of hosting companies provide 24/7 technical support mostly by a ticket system or a live chat feature. You must research the reliability of technical support before purchasing any web hosting.

Web hosting server backups

It is crucial that your hosting company keeps multiple copies of your files. Imagine if your web hosting server went down? Would the web hosting company have multiple backups on different servers? As a precaution, it is highly recommended that you have your own backup.

Dedicated web hosting or shared web hosting?

Dedicated hosting is where the customer rents an entire server that is not shared with anyone. This option is beneficial for larger businesses that require more flexibility with their web hosting requirements.

A majority of the economic hosting packages are known as shared hosting. Be cautious with shared hosting. Some web hosting companies will overload their hosting servers to increase their profitability. Overloaded hosting servers can jeopardise the performance of your website or blog. If your website is the main source of income, it is vitally important to purchase the very best web hosting that you can possibly buy.

Web hosting money back guarantee

A web hosting company that provides a 30 day money back guarantee will be very confident with the services that they provide. A 30 day money back guarantee provides creditability for all their customers.

Avoid outsourced technical support

In recent times, companies have started to outsource services to save on their overheads. However, this may be cheaper for the hosting company, but it does not always provide the best service for the customer. A reputable web hosting company will provide up to date customer support on-site. One of the most important factors with any hosting company is the after sales support.

An easy to use control panel

There are a number of web hosting control panels available including: Plesk and Cpanel. A majority of website owners would be small business owners. How easy are these control panels to manage and use?

High reliability

Does your potential hosting company provide a service level agreement? Most web hosting providers will have a 99% upload time guarantee.

Summary

A reliable web hosting provider is an asset to your business. Do some conductive research on the best options for your business. Take into consideration the type of website that you have. Research some local web hosting providers for your business.

Ask your potential hosting company the following questions:

  • What technical support does your potential hosting company offer?
  • Can you phone your potential hosting provider and speak to a technical support team member if required?
  • Does the hosting provider offer a money back guarantee?
  • Are there any extra features included with the web hosting package?
  • How does the hosting company maintain fast, reliable and highly available web hosting?

If you are interested in purchasing reliable web hosting please contact our sales team free on 0800 321 3812. Intrahost will be more than happy to assist you with any questions that you may have.

Plesk 9.5 hosting now available from Intrahost

We're pleased to announce that our compatibility testing is complete and that Plesk version 9.5 is being deployed across all of Intrahost's servers. We announced the release of the Plesk 9.5 control panel last month.

The new, advanced features of the Plesk 9.5 server control panel are available across our range of hosting solutions for consumers and businesses.

Whether you are looking for simple shared hosting, or a powerful cost-effective virtual dedicated server Intrahost can now offer Plesk 9.5 on all these products as standard.

Even if you are looking for a UK-based dedicated server for your hosting needs we now offer Plesk 9.5 as an optional extra.

Plesk is highly flexible with regard to operating systems so we can provide its unique benefits to our customers whether they desire Windows or Linux-based servers or hosting.

With its advanced features and easy-to-use interface, we're sure that Intrahost's customers will enjoy the extra features of this market-leading control panel.

For a more in depth look at this excellent product here is a link to the Plesk 9.5 publisher's website

Plesk 9.5 coming to Intrahost soon!

We are delighted to announce that Parallels' Plesk 9.5 control panel will be coming soon to Intrahost's VDS solutions. Mike Tree, MD of Intrahost has just confirmed that Intrahost will be introducing the exciting new version of Plesk 9.5 to our product range.

Mike said, "Clearly this version of Plesk 9.5 offers some interesting advancements over the current version and we are keen to introduce it for the benefit of our customers.

"Naturally, before we can do that we have to test it on our servers to confirm that existing customers can be upgraded without problem and that we can continue to provide our high quality tech support to Plesk users."

We'll announce here on the blog when we'll be introducing Plesk 9.5 to our virtual dedicated servers.

Meanwhile, here's our blog about Plesk 9.5 and its features

Parallels releases Plesk Panel 9.5

Parallels has today launched Parallels Plesk Panel 9.5 This latest version of Plesk includes significant upgrades, such as support for most virtualization platforms, self-diagnostic tools and automated bug fixers, Google Services for Websites, PCI compliance,and free installation, migration and upgrade support. "Parallels Plesk Panel 9.5 is the most feature-rich and easiest control panel for shared hosting," claimed Jack Zubarev, President at Parallels, at the launch.

Parallels, founded in 1999, is a worldwide leader in virtualization and automation software. They have made Parallels Plesk Panel 9.5, the number one control panel for shared hosting in the world; it is also the first commercial control panel to offer Google Services for Websites which enables hosting companies to monetize the applications available through Google Services for Websites.

For dedicated and shared hosting companies, the new updates will have some appeal. The broad support for the leading virtualization platforms such as Parallels Virtuozzo Containers, Parallels Server Bare Metal, Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESX, Citrix Xen and KVM hypervisors allows flexibility in offering diverse virtualised services.

The self-diagnostic and automated bug fixers allows small businesses to resolve problems quickly and efficiently while reducing the work load on hoster's help desk analysts.

The Plesk 9.5 PCI Compliance ensures security of transactions.

For more information about the Plesk 9.5 control panel for shared hosting, please visit Plesk 9.5 home page.

Here at Intrahost we offer the Plesk control panel as an option on our VDS and shared web hosting products.

10 tips on choosing a web host

When you begin to look for a host for your website or dedicated server you are immediately assailed by numbers; hard drive space, CPU speed, amount of dedicated RAM, bandwidth and more. Hosting companies today try to sell you hosting on the back of the technical specification.

It's easy to believe that a good understanding of maths is all you'd need to pick the best web server hosting company. However, to make a good choice you need to resist the urge to leap for the best spec offered at the lowest price.

In fact, the numbers are just a minor part of the equation that you have to solve to find a good website or server host. The human element of the hosting company and the written agreement between yourself and the web hosting company are equally as important.

Here's what to consider when choosing a web host:

  • Service levels - What you get for your money is largely determined by your host's Service Level Agreement. Make sure you read it BEFORE things go wrong, so you know what will happen to correct a problem and what rights you have. Beware, I've seen a number of UK companies offering shared web hosting WITHOUT an SLA - you should avoid such offerings entirely. It's like buying a car without a guarantee that it'll even start up! For more info on Service Level Agreements click the link.
  • Tech support - You need to find out if support is 24/7, provided by phone and/or email. Is the telephone support number a premium rate line? Are the support staff trained engineers or is it outsourced to an Indian call centre? Here at Intrahost our lines are manned 24/7 by qualified engineers - in fact, they also provide the telephone IT support for some of the UK's biggest companies.
  • Contract length - Beware of web hosting companies that tie you into long-term contracts for simple hosting like shared web hosting or VPS. Where's their incentive to provide you with good service if you cannot terminate the agreement easily. Intrahost's agreements below dedicated server level are from month-to-month so you are not tied into a long-term deal.
  • Scalability - This is tied to the flexibility of your agreement with your web hosting company. If you need to change your hosting requirements how easy is it to do so? Is there a financial penalty for doing so?
  • Nature of your hosting company - Is your hosting company a real host with their own servers in a dedicated data centre or are they merely a one-man band, reselling space on someone else's servers that could be located anywhere in the world?  Are you comfortable with your info being stored on a web server in say, Russia? Do they have the expertise to solve a problem or are they relying on a supplier's engineers? What happens if the one-man band suffers illness? Will he be there at 3am or during public holidays? Perhaps worst of all, what if the host company goes under? Will your data remain accessible in that event? What happens if the server is repossessed by a leasing company or the data centre shuts off connectivity or power?
  • Location - often overlooked, but you are far better off having a hosting company in the same country as your own location. If you are in the UK you have a raft of consumer legislation and local government departments dedicated to ensuring you get a fair deal for your money. All of which is lost if you go outside the UK. Even if you choose to host in advanced countries like the USA do you really want to try and resolve a legal difficulty from three thousands miles away in another time zone? Another reason for choosing a local host is that search engines like Google are becoming far more localised in creating their SERPs, and the physical location of your web server can play a major part in the decision by the search engine of when to display your results.
  • Data centre qualities: The web host's servers must be housed in data centres rather than, for example, their own offices. The UK data centres are graded and you are looking for Tier 2 or greater. The grading represents qualities like:
    • Resilience - In order to guarantee 100% network uptime the centre needs at least two connections to the internet
    • Security - Has the data centre taken fire and intruder security measures?
    • Power - has it alternative power supplies? Usually UPS and diesel generators.
  • Performance monitoring - you should try to obtain performance data on your proposed web host - this is often displayed on their website
  • Testimonials - these are used by many sites; don't be afraid to look up the people providing testimonials and ask them to confirm they still feel the same way about the host. Look up their website and gauge for yourself the end user experience of a website served by your proposed hosting company. I've lost count how many times I've looked up testimonials and received a 404 error page!
  • Guarantee - the SLA should offer a money-back, uptime guarantee - if there is no money-back then it's NOT a GUARANTEE is it? Intrahost's SLA contains its 99.99% server uptime guarantee.

Joomla 1.5.13 security release now available

The Joomla Project has announced the immediate availability of Joomla 1.5.13. All designers should take note that this is a security release and the Joomla Project is advising an immediate upgrade for the popular CMS

Despite the fact that Joomla 1.5.12 was only released three weeks ago this 1.5.13 security release contains 26 bug fixes, two moderate-level security fixes and one low-level security fix!

This security release plugs a critical vulnerability in the Tiny browser (included with the TinyMCE 3.0 editor) that allowed files to be uploaded or deleted without a user needing to be logged in!

The Joomla content management system is available as part of the Fantastico package that is supplied by Intrahost in its Linux cPanel web hosting packages. Fantastico enables the automatic installation of Joomla on your web host account. You can also install Joomla manually on your web hosting account by downloading from the following links:

Download the full Joomla 1.5.13 package

Download the Joomla 1.5.13 update

Remember, if you should find a bug in Joomla 1.5 report it the 1.5 Joomla Bug Tracker.

The benefits of a Virtual Dedicated Server

Mention a Virtual Dedicated Server and many people will struggle to explain what one is let alone the advantages of one. (This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that they can also be referred to as a VDS, a Virtual Private Server, or a VPS). However, most people are familiar with the concept a dedicated server; a computer that you share with no one else; to which you have root or superadmin access and can install on it whatever software you what and can reboot it at any time.

The benefits of a dedicated server are clear when compared to shared web hosting; no sharing it with other users' websites to slow down your website(s), no dodgy websites sharing your IP address, having the ability to install your own SSL certificate for e-commerce and the generally higher level of security that comes with having your own server rather than the traditional shared web hosting where you may be one of hundreds sharing a server.

The major downside to a dedicated server is simply one of cost; all that speed, security and exclusivity comes at a relatively high price.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a compromise where you had most of the benefits of a dedicated server but much less of the cost?

Well there is: that where a virtual dedicated server comes into its own.

Essentially, what we do here at Intrahost is take a well-specified dedicated server, the HP ProLiant DL360 G6, and install the VMware virtualization software on it. This software enables the creation of a number of separate virtual servers on this one computer. Each one of these virtual servers can run its own different OS i.e. Windows or Linux, each can reboot individually as needed, each user has root access to the virtual server so you can install the software that you want on your virtual server.

Perhaps most most importantly, unlike shared web hosting (the most common kind), each virtual server has a guaranteed share of the resources of the underlying physical server, i.e., CPU processing time, RAM, hard disk space, and even bandwidth. Just like a dedicated server you can be sure that when you need them the resources that you have paid for are ready and waiting for you. Thus, each virtual server is prevented from hampering the performance of another virtual server on the same host machine.

Security of a virtual dedicated server or VPS is like that of a physical dedicated server. Each virtual server is separate for the others and even if a VDS on your physical server were hacked your VDS would remain untouched.

The cost benefit? Here at Intrahost a Virtual Dedicated Server is available for around a third of the cost of Dedicated Server. Direct comparisons are difficult because of the many options available but suffice to say that the existence of VDSs means that many more businesses, web designers and their customers can enjoy the benefits of a dedicated server without the substantial monthly overhead.

Someone asked me why, instead of creating a VDS, didn't hosting companies buy less powerful and cheaper servers so that customers could have a server each instead of sharing one physical server as several VDSs?

There are two main reasons: firstly, that approach would still produce an expensive dedicated server rental because that low-powered dedicated server would still cost the hosting company the data centre's rackspace rental and power charges but those would fall on the just the one dedicated server owner. Whereas, by buying and virtualizing big powerful servers the hosting company will face the same data center rackspace and power costs but those would be now shared by more users and so the monthly rental per user comes down substantially.

Secondly, the more expensive servers used as VDS host machines are far more technologically advanced, powerful and greener than the cut-price, end-of-line, cheap dedicated servers offered by many companies based outside the UK and EU. However, the capital cost of the top-of-the range servers is again shared by a number of VDS clients which keeps the cost down per user when compared to funding the capital cost of even a relatively cheap web server by one user.