Web Hosting FAQ
Q: What is webhosting?
A: Webhosting is what every website needs in order to be "on the internet". It's the act of providing a place to store websites. Webhosting is provided by a webserver, which is a powerful computer continuously connected to the internet, running software designed to serve websites to internet users. When people type your domainname into their browser, their browser finds the webserver your site is stored upon, downloads your website from it, and displays it onscreen.
Q: What is a domainname?
A: A domainname is a unique internet "telephone number" - when people wish to access a given website, they use the domainname specific for that site to access it. Unlike a webserver, possessing a domainname is not necessary in order to operate a website, however there are numerous tradeoffs, not the least of which is a lengthy, obscure URL which promotes your ISP - since you usually end up with an address something similar to http://members.xoom.com/_littleprairie/downtown/~mike47833/. Other tradeoffs include no access the webserver logfile, no access to custom scripts (sometimes, no access to any scripts at all), no database access, no autoresponders, etc...
Q: Do I need to understand any of this in great detail, in order to be able to use blazingfibre products and services?
A: No, but we are more than happy to explain ...
Q: Do I need a domainname before I buy hosting?
A: Yes. If you don't plan on purchasing a domainname, then you should look for free hosting services.
Q: Which hosting account is best for me?
A: That depends on your website. If you don't have many pages, and don't see yourself making too many more, a smaller account will probably suit you better. If you have audio or visual content, or hundreds of pages, a larger account is probably more appropriate. The differences between hosting accounts are mostly related to available diskspace, bandwidth and POP3 accounts; these are in turn related to how big your site is, how large your mailboxes are, and how many mailboxes you need. Consequently, larger sites need larger accounts.
Q: What is multisite hosting?
A: Multisite hosting lets you serve multiple websites from a single hosting account. Each website has its own set of files in its own directory, and different domainnames point to each directory. Multisite hosting means you don't need a separate hosting account for each website you host. See our multisite hosting FAQ for more information.
Q: What is an upsizable account?
A: All our hosting packages, except the largest, can be upsized - this means that if you purchase a package and later, find you need more diskspace or POP3 mailboxes, you can upgrade your package to one with enough of the resource you need. If you upgrade, you only pay the difference between the price of the two packages, not the full price for the new package, and there are no other fees to pay. Upsizing from a single-site account to a multisite account is also possible.
Q: I have a website already, how would it be transferred to your server?
A: There are two steps to this. The first is to upload everything from your existing server to our server. The second is to change your nameserver records to point at ours. We can do both of these steps as part of the setup process, if you like (a fee will be charged, however). See migrating to a new hosting provider for more details.
Q: Where can I find more information about quotas applied to your servers?
A: For regular hosting accounts, please see About diskspace quotas. For Pro accounts, please see About diskspace and bandwidth quotas. Mailboxes have their own quotas, please see IMAP mailbox management for more information.
Q: What is a nameserver?
A: A nameserver is computer that tells the internet which webserver your domain lives on. Together, the net's nameservers form the DNS (Domain Name System).
Q: What sort of ecommerce support do you provide?
A: Each domain includes a free SQL database; we can connect you with Worldpay, or some other payment gateway; and our server supports SSL (secure sockets layer). Additionally, OSCommerce (a free, open-source shopping cart) comes ready-to-install with each account.
Q: What is HTTP streaming?
A: It is the ability to play (stream) media files (such as RealMedia and MP3 files) from a webserver without installing or using any third-party software (such as RealSystem) on the webserver.
Q: What's so important about a full logfile?
A: The logfile records the actions of each visitor on your site. If you analyse these actions, you can learn which pages are the most popular, the least popular, how many times you've been bookmarked, where your hits are coming from, what search words people are using, and so on. These facts are vital to successful marketing strategies. Without a full logfile, most of this information is not available, and unbelievably, half a logfile - or none at all - is exactly what some hosts provide.
Q: What's cool about blazingfibre scripting?
A: Some hosts don't allow scripting at all; others allow certain "stress-tested" scripts to be installed; still others allow scripting, but provide a limited set of scripts, or restrict the commands or libraries you can use. Our scripting lets you install whatever you want, and it lets you use the latest PHP4 and PERL5 languages.
Q: What's in the script library?
A: Each hosting account comes with a library of tools, ready to install. These include:
- Wordpress - a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability
- Joomla - n award-winning content management system (CMS), which enables you to build Web sites and powerful online applications
- OpenCart - is a powerful but user friendly open source online e-commerce solution
- OSCommerce - the leading Open Source online shop e-commerce solution
- phpBB - a high powered, fully scalable, and highly customizable Open Source bulletin board package
- MediaWiki - a popular feature-rich wiki implementation (as seen on Wikipedia)
Q: Why is a unix-based server an advantage?
A: Because unix is more reliable, more secure, is faster, has more features, and is better supported than any other operating system in the known universe.
Q: Do you support Microsoft at all?
A: No. We don't support Microsoft anything, including ASP, FrontPage extensions, .NET, or predatory market practices. If we did, we'd run a slower server, which would be more vulnerable to security threats, and provide less functionality. And it would crash every few days. But most importantly, running a unix box means websites designed for it use industry-standard technologies and protocols. This means there is no learning curve for users who know the industry standards. And for those that don't, the skills they pick up and the code they write and the tools they use and the resources they find will all be useful on the next unix box they work on. Why waste your life learning a large number of ever-changing proprietary protocols and standards, that are junked as soon as they become incompatible with someone else's marketing plan? With unix-based Apache the clear winner in the webserver marketplace, the success of Linux, and the inherent benefits of open-source software, it's surely obvious that industry-standard technologies make a better foundation upon which to build.
Q: What are subdomains?
A: These are usually addresses at your domain which start with something other than "www", such as http://sales.yourdomain.com/, http://service.yourdomain.com/, and http://admin.yourdomain.com/.
Q: Why is the catch-all mailbox permanently disabled?
A: The catch-all mailbox is permanently disabled because of the amount of spam this mailbox receives. Spam has, unfortunately, made catch-all mailboxes unusable.
Q: I have a spare computer and a broadband connection, why shouldn't I host my site on that?
A: It's technically possible, however, internet servers need to be online all the time. Does your computer crash? If so - it's not really suitable. If you host your own site, you'll be responsible for configuring and maintaining the server, including security and hardware issues. Additionally, broadband connections, even "business" packages, typically do not provide the 99.9% uptime required (that's 8.8 hours downtime per year) - and if your power goes off, your site goes down. Website visitors will almost certainly never return if your site is down. But it's not just reliability. Nor is it just bandwidth (five 56.6k/bit users simultaneously streaming files will saturate a 256k/bit ADSL uplink, which will make your site very slow to use). It's security: your server needs to be ready for the worst the net's crackers can think of. Managed hosting services, such as those promoted on this website, get around these problems by providing powerful, dedicated, hardened webservers on high-speed internet connections, located inside datacentres with climate control, UPSes and backup diesel generators. It's unlikely you will find it cost-effective to duplicate this level of reliability.
Q: I have a domainname and my domainname provider supports HTTP and email forwarding. Why do I need hosting at all?
A: First to discuss the HTTP forwarding, if you're happy to display the forwarded site when visitors access your domainname, that's fine, you don't need hosting yet. Second, email, if you forward your email to a webmail service such as Yahoo, your Yahoo address will appear when you reply - eg. if that's your business domainname and your private Yahoo account, then your customers, suppliers etc will all see your private Yahoo email address when you reply to their email. Then, your Yahoo address will go into their address book and they will reply direct to your Yahoo address. If you're happy with this, you don't need hosting. If you'd like to reply using an address at your domainname, you will need to use a POP3 client, and thus you'll need a POP3 account to receive the forwarded mail. This will not be provided as part of the email forwarding by your domainname registrar, and you will need hosting in this case (POP3 accounts are provided as standard with every hosting account). In conjunction with an advanced email client such as Pegasus Mail, you MAY be able to use a POP3 account provided by your ISP.
Q: What is a datacentre?
A: It's a large, climate-controlled building which houses many servers (not necessarily webservers, however). It has multiple redundant connections to the internet, backup electricity generators, and fire and security systems. It's where professional webhosting takes place.
Q: Does it matter where I host?
A: Yes. You should host where most of your customers (eg. users) are likely to be geographically located. This is because the further away your host is from your customers, the slower your website loads. Hosts based in the north-eastern United States (NY, Chicago), for example, can delay each packet by around 100ms for European customers - hosts based in the south-western United States (LA, SF) can add up to 200ms to each packet. As each click can result in hundreds and possibly thousands of packets being sent to the user, this latency translates into a visibly sluggish site, and a poor user experience.
Q: Can I get away with hosting in continental Europe?
A: Not really. In this configuration, visitors from the United States will experience latency. Packets originating from sites hosted in Germany, which is 50ms from London, must also make the 70ms trans-Atlantic crossing, in addition to being routed across the continental United States to their final destination.
Q: So, if I can't host in continental Europe or America, due to latency, where is the best place to host?
A: London! It's smack in the middle.
Q: What about visitors from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Australia?
A: A server located somewhere in Asia will best suit these visitors, and may well be the subject of a future acquisition.
Q: How can I verify the packet speeds quoted in this FAQ?
A: Use the traceroute command to locate a selection of hosts at known geographical locations. Then, use the ping command to measure average trip time. You'll see that once packets take that trans-Atlantic crossing (say, to www.yahoo.com), they have at least 70ms added to their journey. If packets are then routed across the United States as well (for example, if they are going to a host in San Francisco, such as www.sfchronicle.com) then a further 70 to 100ms is added to the average trip time of each packet. Then, ping a few hosts located in Europe - for example www.blazingfibre.net. On a broadband connection with no other traffic you'll see pingtimes as low as 11ms (and maybe even lower, on a good day). See also: use ping and traceroute to verify your connection