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The Internet

On The Subject of Web Hosting 184

There's been quite a number of "incidents" over the last year with web hosting companies that haven't lived up to their end of the bargin, or have had other problems. The most recent was the CiHost Drama, which is now, happily, finished. One of many people affected by that outage wrote a short piece for us - but I'm interested in what everyone thinks about web hosting. What's the good places? What's the bad? What pointers can you offer to everyone else? Click below to add your thoughts.

Surviving Web Hosting
By Alan Cowderoy

Great, you've built your site. It's the best thing since Slashdot. The search engines rank it in the top ten hits for just about every keyword on the planet, even Yahoo lists it. The javascript rocks in any browser you care to name and the graphics go ascii for Lynx.

Then your hosting service takes you out because you've got too many hits, or toasts your email, or restores an old copy of the database or just plain simple goes down for days on end....

There's a problem and it's not one that's going to go away or at least not for the hundreds of thousands of sites who are necessarily dependant on hosting services.

Many in the newsgroups immediately reply that the answer is to rescue those linux cd's from under the bed and do it yourself.

For the majority of small sites doing it yourself is just not an option. It takes serious levels of expertise to run secure/resilient unix boxen not to mention the cost of the bandwidth. Given this, and assuming you don't have the cash or expertise to run your own, third party commercial hosting is the only real option. (Ok i would love somebody to come up with an alternative here. Community hosting? Special interest group hosting? Dunno you tell me.)

Meantimes, how should we build some sort of resilience into our sites and not get wiped off the net when the provider screws up?

The immediate reaction to this question tends to be "choose a good hosting package". Unfortunately that is easier said than done.

If the recent CiHost problems have taught us anything it's that choosing a hosting company recommended by the web hosting comparison sites is no guarantee that you are not going to have big problems. And if you can't trust them you've not got a lot of other criteria to fall back on.

Some warn against buying from 'resellers' rather than direct from hosting companies who have their own server farms. I may be missing something here but I admit that I can't see what is *necessarily* better about buying direct from the company owning the kit. What is so bad about reselling?

Apart from that other reliable criteria for choosing a hosting service are very thin on the ground.

Now there's free hosting packages, cheapo hosting packages and expensive hosting packages all touting for your traffic. In any case they are all commercial packages from commercial operations who have agendas that may or may not coincide with yours.

The fact of the matter is that keeping your site on the air depends on some third party not screwing up.

That means we need to look at damage limitation and what we can do to survive hosting problems. Like any damage limitation exercise its all about 'graceful degradation'. Lovely phrase. The idea is that when put under pressure you don't just die you sort of wither slowly. ie you hold out as long as you can not by accident but by design. You also hopefully hold out long enough to flower again somewhere else another day.

Now the bad news.

If the truth be known there's not a lot you can do.

Here's what I've been able to glean from the usenet and from my own experience.

The first bit is too basic to be true but has to be said... If you've not already done so (why ever not?) then the get your own domain name. Without your own domain you are wedded to your hosting service. In the worst case if you are not satisfied with your hosting package you will have to move. If you don't have your own domain all the work you have done to get listed on search engines and publicise your site will be wasted and you must start again. Once you have your own domain you simply have to move the files, change the domain details to point to the new host and after a few days the problem is solved. You may have suffered in the mean time but the damage is normally contained.

Even if you do have your own domain then make sure that you have backup copies of your site. This is easily said and done for static sites but much less obvious for sites running programmed backends and/or databases. That however is a whole other discussion. At any rate the comment stands.


I discovered this one by accident but it's fairly obvious, really.

If you put an email address on your site so people can contact you then make sure it's not on the same server as the website. Preferably make sure it's not even with the same hosting company.

Visitors to your site may well have noted your email and if your site is having problems will mail to find out what is going on. If the mail is in the same domain as the site then probably it's down as well. Similarly make sure that you have backup email addresses of your own you can use to contact people.

This sounds banal but it is in fact rather irritating. If you've just bought a domain name then presumably it's not just to have but as well. Now I'm telling you not to use the email address on your website. Sorry. Don't.

At the cheap end you can just use your normal ISP mail or one of the free addresses. For anything more serious you might want to invest in another domain and host it somewhere entirely different. This would allow you to generate another branded email name and get round the problem described in the last paragraph.

If you do keep your mail in a seperate domain then of course the opposite also works, your site can cover for you and keep people informed if your email suddenly explodes.

In my view this is also a very good reason for not using html forms for mail. If you do then when the website gets toasted so does your incoming mail.

Multiple domains/multiple hosts.

It may be a good idea to split your site up into multiple domains handling different sections of the site and hosted with different providers. Whether this is realistic or usefull obviousely depends on the structure of the site. The downside is that it will probably be more expensive. It may not be much more expensive though and it could be a good way of limiting exposure to server failure.

It might also be interesting to split, and domaines to different suppliers. Two of them could be extremely minimal 'limited service' packages designed normally to route to the main domain but to provide limited back up in case of problems. This leaves the problem of how people are supposed to know to go to .net when .com is up the shat. Even so a set up like that would give you some chance of maintaining some traffic.


Mirror your site on another server - perhaps in another geographic region as well. Downside is cost again and if you're using databases you need serious technical expertise. Upside is that this has performance benefits as well. Probably only for the big boys.

DNS issues.

DNS contact on a different server. Your email contact address for your DNS details should *not* be in the same domain as your site. If you wish to change your DNS details the email request **must** come from the address registered for that domain. If your domain is down and the registered email contact is in that domain then you can find yourself in the situation of neither being able to access your site nor being able to move it!

It is also recommended that you not use your personal email address for this registration as this database gets trawled by spammers.

DNS on a different server.

Normally hosting packages propose DNS services 'in the bundle'. You are not obliged to do this though. You might want to have additional DNS servers hosted elsewhere. There is a free public DNS at There may also be commercial DNS-only hosting services. In this case the aim would not just be to host DNS at another site but to use the extra servers as backups to the normal ones. This from a post by Kent W.England to alt.www.webmaster. "Here's a radical thought. Ask your ISP to set up their two name servers as secondaries to yours. Put them both in the zone file, along with your server as primary and then register your name server as primary and one of theirs as secondary in the domain records at Network Solutions. Then you'll have three name servers, but total control of the zone file through your primary. Another option is to list both their secondaries in the Network Solutions database and leave your primary in the zone file. Almost same effect."

Thou shalt know thy ip addresses.

DNS resolution converts between names and ip addresses. If the DNS servers take a dive you should still be able to get to your sites via ip addresses. The fact that the DNS servers are down does not necessarily mean that the http, ftp, mail and telnet servers are out. (indeed they definitely should not be). This is no help at all to your visitors but does at least allow you to get at your sites.

I hope other people have some ideas as well because this all looks pretty thin to me!

And remember web hosting companies are now big business. When they screw up there's a deathly hush.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

On The Subject of Web Hosting

Comments Filter:
  • my website is

    They are an awsome provider.
    You get ssh. telnet. ftp. full control over your website. plus they are for for oss software developers.
    They also have plans for commercial websites(what funds them)

    I encourage you to check them out!

  • You don't have to result to using to keep email running on a different server. Part of your domain is the MX (Mail eXchanger)record. What this record does is tell your outgoing mail server where to send mail. Example: points to 192.168.323.864 Your MX record points to 324.53.6.211 That means that when a browser goes to, it goes to 192.168.323.864 When an email is sent to, the smtp server (outgoing mail server) sends the mail to 324.53.6.211, on a completely different server. This way you can have the safety of email on a different server, and the convience of
  • I think the bottom line is, you get what you pay for - if you don't want to spend cash on various mirror servers, back-up solutions, redundancy solutions etc. then it's just tough luck when your site gets bombed. It all depends on what you're hosting, if it's a 10 page website, with no backend functionality (brochure-ware iow) then you or you web design company should have a copy locally, plus a backup copy, so an expensive solution is not neccessary. If it's a database driven website complete with e-commerce, do a ton of research and spend money - it'll save you in the long run...
  • What company out there is better for this sort of product? I am looking into having a personal site hosted somewhere with a database as well, I will just go with trial and error if you can't really trust the comparison sites.

    Is there a company out there that people already know about that is strong in every sense of the word?

  • If you're a small site, this is about it. But if you have some resources or some expertise, most web-hosting companies or commercial ISP's will offer co-resident servers, where they give you some rack space, power, bandwidth and some low level of hardware support ("uh, Bob, could you hit the power on rack number 12 for me?").

    This lets you at least take control of your own backup and recovery, and system administration, which can be important for a database-driven site. You do need to have a professional level of skill to keep the crackers out, but if you're a business and you have internal servers, or you're building a site with a big database, chances are you need someone like that anyway.

  • by alannon ( 54117 ) on Saturday January 15, 2000 @04:30AM (#1369721)
    The most important thing about making ANY decision involving getting a service that your business relies on, web-based or otherwise is research!

    Research the company that you are considering using. Find out who their clients are. Talk to them. Reputations exist for a reason and they do not appear out of thin air.

    Find out something about their technical setup. Do they run their servers on PCs or Sparcs or what? Software quality aside, the quality of the hardware they're running DOES make a difference. Then, obviously, are they using a reliable OS?

    Do they recieve all of their bandwidth from the same providor, or do they maintain multiple routes in case one of them goes down?

    Here's a big one: What's their backup policy? Do they maintain daily backups or weekly? Are backups extra or standard?

    What happens when your bandwidth is exceeded? Are you simply cut off, or are you given fair warning and time to buy more?

    The list goes on and on: logging, cgi's, do they support servlets?

    My point: You can NEVER know enough about a service providor before making a decision.
  • Since we're chiming in with hosting service experiences, let me just say I use FutureQuest ( and have been delighted with them for the months I've been using them so far. They even support PHP3 and MySQL! (Which I use extensively on my site). Just my 2 cents.
  • I'm in the business. I use Debian on the best x86 and PPC platforms I can find, I offer shell access and emacs, and I donate boxes with Debian on them to young developers.

    On the other hand, I don't take porn sites, and I'm kind of picky regarding content (warez, etc). Anyway, if you want to host with someone who is interested in furthering GNU/Linux, check us out at, blah blah blah.

  • But what happens when your DNS server is out, and all the data have expired ? You are unreachable, even by email, because SMTP servers out there are unable to find the MX records for your domain. This is why having a secondary DNS server hosted somewhere else is useful.

    And for the problem of your server down (not talking about a DNS server), firstly, most SMTP servers will keep trying to send you the messages for a few days and secondly, having more than one MX entry can be helpful.

  • I think it's important to research web hosting provider's before you pick one. Make sure they have a good reputation.
    I chose Interland [] for my site [] after reading that they won Editor's Choice in PC Magazine's [] review of web hosting providers. Interland will host you on either Linux or NT, whichever you prefer. They allow cgi-bin scripts, database access, and other "extra" stuff you sometimes don't get with the other guys.
    I've been very pleased.
  • Just my 2cents.. I use and have never had a problem in the last 2 years. However I don't have a very large site, more of a personal one, but still nice to have it never go out :-)
  • by fegu ( 66137 ) <> on Saturday January 15, 2000 @05:01AM (#1369728) Homepage
    I am very concerned with uptime as my domain gets all my mail from my clients. I've tried three different hosting sites in the lower price range and have earned these lessons:

    -Call them before you sign up. If nobody answers (in office ours in their timezone), they're not worth it. You need to be confident that someone will pick up the phone and answer your questions when your site is down.

    -Mail them about some tech issue before you sign up. If they respond after a day or two, forget it.

    -Examine their site for uptime-guarantees. If it's worse than 99% or better than 99.999% they're not serious about it. One site advertised '100% uptime guarantee' but said that outages under 10 mins didn't count. These guys are clueless and just not worth your business. An uptime-guarantee usually only means that you don't pay for the months where it's not fulfilled, but it at least shows they know what uptime is all about.

    -Examine their site for bandwidth-pricing. If it's 'unlimited' they're just not serious and will kick you when traffic increases (or at least throttle your site down to the point of turning visitors away).

    -Examine their site for diskspace or bandwith overuse policy. If they just give your visitors a page with 'this site has spent its monthly bandwith quota' then stay away. What you want is to be billed for the extra usage (maybe including mild slowdowns), not turn visitors away.

    -Check out their references. Are they having a lot of customers? What kind of customers? Any kind of high-volume sites? Relevant reference sites means experience which in turn shows they know what they are doing. It also assures you that they have room for your growth.

    -Check out the company's start-up date. The longer they have been in business, the better.

    And last, but certainly not least: when trouble comes knocking on your door in the form of excessive downtime, lost mail or heavily delayed mail: don't hesitate, go somewhere else within 24 hours.

    Personal experience: - technically very good, but their lower priced accounts only serve static pages (no PHP or DB). They also take some time answering questions by mail. Have been in the business for some time. - very reasonable pricing, but they are not always picking up their phone and they are quite slow answering technical issues. Fairly recent start-up. - ok pricing, quick support and have been in the business for some time. Maybe 'rock solid', but not very sophisticated (although this is seen as a plus for many). If you sign up with them, please mention user 'feg' as your referral as it'll earn me a free month ;)
  • For those of you out there who have more pressing needs than a couple dozen MB of storage space and have the wherewithal to come up with your own backup mechanism (ie - those of you with entire servers worth of stuff to stick on the net), I strongly recommend Above.Net [].

    They are not your hand-holding, do everything for you but walk your terrier type provider... what they do give you is rock solid connectivity, excellent 24 tech support (with linux and BSD types handy to help you debug those remote-crash blues), proactive response to network issues, secured air conditioned (read: really fscking cold) facilities and BLAZING fast pipe.

    Obviously, this is the sort of thing for people who want to START a WPP (Web Presence Provider) for other people, or who have a behemoth site that needs enormous pipe (think streaming mp3s =). One contractor of mine hosts around 2 dozen machines there, and after the rather unfortunate escapades which occured at Exodus (another big pipe provider), the switch to was like a hit of pure oxygen after a smoggy LA summer afternoon.

    Be advised that this sort of thing doesn't come cheap though. Service and pipe like this comes at a premium... but if your site is raking in the big bucks and pushing enough bits that only top quality will suffice, they're definately worthy of examination.

    -- (remove the SPAM-B-GONE bit)

  • Here's my solution to the "different email" problem.

    First off, looks pretty fishy for a nice, reputable looking site. What, you mean you use a free web email account even though you have a spiffy, .com site? Here's how I'd fix it.

    Option 1- Make sure your host will delegate subdomains for you at no charge. It's a piece of cake for them to do, and you're already giving them your business. Make a subdomain and have that point to a different mail server than your hosts'. The bad part of this is that it still will rely on your ISPs dns servers, but it won't rely on their email servers.

    Option 2- Forward your emails out of their system to another account you have. forwards to my regular email, so nothing sits on my host's email servers. The advantage to this is you can assign a second or third dns server to your domain and have a semblance of redundancy.

    These are not foolproof suggestions by any means. The only way to have control over your site is to colocate with a good provider. Check out the company and the facilities (in person) beforehand. [] has a nice service when you sign up where you can look up company information based on name, city, and state. There are quite a few webhosting-type businesses in there. Also, I know someone who has had excellent reliability with colocatiing at Verio [], on a Linux box no less. 255 days of uptime and counting, and pretty good rates.

  • by thogard ( 43403 ) on Saturday January 15, 2000 @05:11AM (#1369732) Homepage
    The major points to web hosting is the DNS and http hosting side of it.

    You must have several dns servers. This means you must have three working at all times on at least two diffeent networks so when one dies, you've still got at least one left. This should have different MX records to stash your mail on a nice mailq somewhere till you get back on line.

    Telsta lost a major router that the main reverse dns for all of 203.*.*.* was on. Guess what that did to email all over oz-- telstra's bigpond internet service was deleteing messages because it couldn't reverse lookup addresses and assumed it was spam. Its nice when all your dns servers are on the same side of one router.

    The next is the http hosts....
    Web hosting compaines are everywhere but I run my own box. It may be on a slow modem link but I'm going to run my own server. If I need (or want) the speed, I'll mirror it on one or two other servers near MAE-(east|west). Its easy to build a cgi on a server to basicly webcopy an entire site so the main site only needs to very little hosting.

    So you've got the worlds best site and need to up no matter what so what do you do?
    1) set up your source site
    2) set up your development/stage site (you don't work on the live one do you)
    3) set up your dns servers (at least two plus your main site which is the "master" and you don't tell the nic about it)
    4)get an account on one of the big players. Don't let them dns for you. Don't let them do email. They are only there for hosting.
    5) copy your site to big site and wait for the hits.
    6) have a plan in place to deal with your big site going away.

    So what about databases?
    Run them on the big server and have it send you changes every 15 minutes (or what ever you can afford to lose) to your source site. That way your "offical site" is someplace safe under your full control but a very good copy is off somewhere running fast with a big pipe.

    Then there are all the security issues but I think thats a different /. discussion...

    For thouse that care... is a sparc 1 with 24m on a T1 somewhere in KCMO. usualy points to three servers including the main server and mirrors at and Jumpline is running some sort of smp beast that has lots of bandwidth which I pay $15/mo for. I've been having problems with cqhost so they are out of the loop for now. Dns is done by the main server, an isp in Oklahoma, and one in the bay area. I've got current zone backups on two other servers ready to roll should I need it as well as a backup of the complete site here in oz. And this is only a personal site.

  • I have been a sysadmin at various large (top 100) sites on the net for 4 years now. Besides who runs their own data center, the other sites have been hosted at Frontier Globalcenter and Level 3. Both are a power, rack, and AC setup. You provide the boxes and you provide the sysadmin expertise. Both have been very reliable with small amounts of downtime usually related to a screwup somewhere else on the 'net. I also know some sits who run off Abovenet who have good luck with them. I don't work for any of these companies, just a reasonably satisfied customer.
  • Re: Multiple providers, there's something to consider here. Having multiple upstream providers from the hosting service is fine for reducing number of hops to the end viewer. If true redundancy is an issue, you also need to verify that the hosting service has their data lines coming in at multiple entrances to their facility. Having two DS-3 circuits is great, but if the LEC provisions them both on a single OC-3 Fiber entrance to the building, it still only takes one backhoe to kill them both.

    Another question you need to ask, who are the upstream providers? If your hosting company is buying upstream from tier one backbones (UUNET, Sprint, etc.) that's one thing, but if their upstream bandwidth is coming from Joe's Bait-n-Tackle, ISP, and lumber yard, you can bet there are going to be problems down the road.

    In the rush to verify server reliability and redundancy, don't forget to look at the network engineering aspect...
  • by turg ( 19864 ) <turg AT winston DOT org> on Saturday January 15, 2000 @05:16AM (#1369735) Journal
    I started out using a small webhosting company -- two or three guys with a server in the garage, or something like that. Customer service was awesome and the prices were dirt cheap. Then one day they had a major technical disaster and recovery required about an hour's attention to each of their hundreds of webhosting customers. That math didn't work too well.

    So I switched to one of the big companies. They kept the servers running, but customer service was abysmal. They were overwhelmed by their tens of thousands of customers and couldn't provide actual answers to questions of the sort that they couldn't post on the FAQ site to start with. The had an 800 number and a big phone room, but the customer was of the scripted type (i.e. all about things I might be doing wrong, and no clue about what actually goes on in the server and no idea how to recognize a description of something that was actually wrong with the server). If I convinced the "customer service" people to actually pass me on to "tech support" (which seemed to be the extension in the server room), I got someone who knew their stuff and something about it but who, um, was not skilled in customer service. The last straw was one occaision when my site was down for 24 hours -- but the outage wasn't the problem. I called when the site first went down to ask what was up and once we established that it wasn't my fault, the phone rep called the server room and told me that Unix Server #10 (where my site was) was down and would be up again soon. After a few hours I called again to ask how things were progressing. This phone rep started taking me through all the things that I could be doing wrong, so I asked didn't she know that Unix server #10 was down and had been down four hours? She didn't and didn't believe me but patronizingly said she'd check it out. There were a few keyboard tapping sounds and then "Whoah!... It is down!" On subsequent calls I had to start all over. Once they actually passed me on to the techs, who weren't real keen on discussing their troubles with some pesky customer.

    So now I'm with a "reseller" -- a guy who has his own servers on the networks of large companies. He provides the great one-on-one customer service, and the large companies provide the technical reliablity.

    While I'm plugging him anyway, he's at []. His name is Mike (and yes, he'll give me a referral bonus if you say I sent you, but so would the places that sucked).

  • This is good advice, and it shows that the person has hosted with companies before and researched the issue, but I have some other advice for potential hostees:

    Ask questions to your provider about their infrastructure. Ask them what kind of routers they use and if they are flexible with changing the MX records to forward mail to another domain. Ask them to tell you the current uptime and load averages of the machine your site will be hosted with, especially if you will be on a virtual host.

    You should also look at the type of online support offered by a hosting company. If they have a short FAQ, this isn't sufficient. If they have a knowledge base which appears to be updated and modern, this is a good sign. If a hosting company doesn't look like they make good use of technology on their own site to convey information then it is clear they don't "get it."

    Finally, ask these questions to See how long it takes them to write back. will write back quickly, but this isn't an indicator of the company's committment, but their support is. Even if you consider yourself to be an uber-geek and don't think you need support, when the site is down or there is some router problem, there isn't much you can do. At that stage you have to hope they respond quickly and professionally.

    That said, I would like to make a small plug for my hosting company, SpinWeb Net Designs []. I would be happy to address questions you have regarding hosting with us. Don't hesitate to email me directly [mailto].
  • y, i done this with Pair.Net []. i suspect they don't get many requests for this.

    anyway, if you have .site.domain, and create and subdomain then the web and mail DNS can be hosted by different organisations, as well as the web and mail itself. this gives you ultimate redundancy and tolerance.

    if you have problems with any provider, you can change immediately, usually before users notice. additionally, i forward my EMail to two different sites. (y, you can have multiple lines in your .forward.) this allows me to check EMail if my usual EMail server is off line.

    Dean Swift [mailto], [mailto]
    DNS Administrivia
    Xirium []
  • But what happens when your DNS server is out, and all the data have expired ?

    Of course at least you should have different DNS servers, preferably also in different geographical regions. Then the data can't expire, if there is still at least one of your DNS servers around the world up and running.

    And with the MX records: as somebody stated before, you don't have to have different domains for your email and your web server, as long as the A record for web server points to a completely different server than the MX record for your email.

    And, another important thing, you should also have at least two MX records with completely different servers behind them, perhaps also in different geographical regions. This way you still get email (at least with some delay) when the first MX server is down.

    See you at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo []!

  • This assumes the DNS server is working. If it goes down, then nobody can get the MX records to find your mail service. That's why your site contact should be in some other domain: If you DNS service fails, you can still be mailed.
  • I had a *really* bad experience about 2 months ago. It made me angry enough to write a report and post it on my site. Basically my hosting provider killed my site without explantion, they "lost" the back ups and all my scripts, and their customer service sucked completely. My site was down for three days. Argh! If you're interest in the full "report", here it is...

    How ProWebSite Stuck it to Me []

    John S. Rhodes
    Web Design and Usability Guru Interviews []
  • If you go to [], you can get an easy way to find a web site hosting service based on certain criteria (price, OS type, ftp/shell access, CGI, etc). Granted, it doesn't cover every hosting service, but it is pretty good.

    From my research with FindAHost, I ended up choosing CubeSoft Networks ( []). For $10US, you get upto 5 accounts, with email, shell, and ftp access. They use Linux and BSD on their servers, so shell access should present no problem. You get unlimited email aliases, CGI, PHP, MySQL, Java suport, Perl, Python, C, etc. Unlimited space for text and html files, 50 megs for binaries. Not bad. And cheap.

  • This is an idea I've been mulling over in my brain for about a year or so, and am not sure if it's practical, but thought I would share it so I can get feedback on what my idea of an ideal webhosting company should be.

    I also have been down the road of hosting with different companies and none of them have ever lived up to my expectations. Now I am the webmaster/head developer/server admin for a rather large commercial site (who shall remain nameless at this point) and have developed several internet applications such as a shopping cart, auction, forums and so on.

    I think the ideal webhosting company would set the price per month based only on the amount of traffic your site recieves. The way I look at it, disk space and server cpu space is relativly cheap, but it's the bandwith that costs. Most hosting companies therefore actually don't want your site to succeed, becouse then you use more traffic, costing them money.

    I want a webhosting company to do what I believe to be the right thing, and do everything possible to allow their customers sites to succeed by giving them the same tools that everyone else has, such as the aformentioned programs. By charging based on bandwidth used both the customer and the hosting company would be winners whenever an hosted site takes off.

    I would also release all the code that makes up the site under an opensource license, so that it could enjoy the advantages of per review. I am a big fan of the GPL, however I am leery of releasing the code under it at this point, becouse what would happen if one of the other large webhosting companies uses it, under the GPL they would be under no obligations to return it back to me, as they wouldn't be redistributing it, they would just be using it internally. So a license with restrictions to prevent that from happing would be perfect. I wouldn't care if they used it so much, as long as they were required to submit thier changes back.

    I am not a lawyer so I wouldn't know how to set this up, but I would also like the company to function as a cooperative, so members could vote on different issues, such as what new feature we should implement or what is more important, a new mail server of a new database server.

    Ok, you say, so why haven't I done this already? Two reasons. One I don't have the funds to keep the T1s running for more than a few months. And two I am not quite ready to quit my job and embark on this 'crazy venture' as my signifigant other terms it.. I do have most of the programs written however, so someday you may see this idea become a reality.

    So tell me what you all think. You can email me at [mailto]

  • Nice offer... but an address off Sounds like either a dialup or some PPP over Ethernet type deal.

    From PacBell you can get five usable IPs and the service agreement says you can run servers. I got that and I get to run my own domain, with reverse DNS even. :)

    Still, it is gracious of whoever that is to offer free shells. I just wouldn't rely on it is all.

  • Yes, my company has a developer account specifically for this purpose. You can find details about it here:

    SpinWeb Developer Account []

    Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of any help.
  • I think you guys should check out
  • I've been using this site for a while to host my site. They are fairly cheap with a few nice options. For anyone who does not know their way around a linux system, they offer a control panel type service so you can change settings on your website without having to SSH in (Telnet is disabled). The also do not allow dynamic ip's to send mail through your mail server. You must provide them with a list of ip's that can send mail(Cuts down on spam). They offer 10 gb of bandwidth on most plans and if you go over, they do not cut your ascess off. They simply bill you for the used bandwidth. They also have a quick technical response time. During their daytime hours (9 to 5 CST) you can always call someone. Outside of that you can usually e-mail up to 4 or 5 hours past 5 o'clock and receive a response. All in all I've been pretty satisfied with them.
  • I co-own a website design company, Summersault, Inc [], that also provides hosting services. We mostly do this as a convenience to our design clients so that they can get the "one stop" package. As a result, we don't really bill ourselves as a "100% uptime, able-to-survive-nuclear-winters" service, but instead focus on the personal touch. There's just two of us, but we return all e-mails personally within 24 hours (often sooner), we're on call 24 hours a day, and we have come to think of most of our clients as friends instead of anonymous bill-payers. Sure, maybe we're down a little more often, but still have 99.6% uptime, and we personally care about your hosting account.

    People seem to prefer this kind of service over the cheap places that host thousands of domains but don't give you any sort of helping hand or personal service.

    I'm also amazed at hosting places that guarantee you service X for life. "E-mail address for life" or "free web hosting for life", etc. just seems like a ridiculous thing to promise in this age, where mergers, changes in technology, and the whims of the end-user changes the standards of service on a daily basis. It's incredible to me that these firms might have considered the long-term resources involved in providing a service to someone who is 20 years old today, guaranteeing that it will be there when they're 80. In many cases, I doubt they *do* have a plan.

  • Something else to look at is security.

    For example: With the success of Linux there are all sorts of "We'll build a Linux server for you AND host it" places.

    Well, that's a neat idea until you find that by Linux they mean stock Red Hat 6.0 and no updates.

    Recently, one of these firms built a "new" box for another tech news type of site and even though we're talking LAST WEEK, it was Red Hat 6.0 and no updates. Not only that, all the stock (and unnecessary) services were running and open.

    The security implications are stunning. A quick scan of the same subnet found over 50 similarly setup machines that the average script kiddie could have down in a matter of minutes.

    So do some security checking on the company that hosts you as well. If they don't know what they're doing... you'll pay for it later.
  • Is that not one reason why the "rules" require each domain to have 2 DNS servers which must not be hosted on the same network. So that there is mush less chance of both being down or unreachable at any one time.
  • As the article points out there is a FREE backup DNS server available at

  • See also - they have even more free features, but like Linuxbox it's for OSS projects only.
  • A couple of things no one has mentioned...

    DNS.. Always list YOURSELF as one of the contacts.. usually the billing contact so you can change your Internic information quickly to move your site. The hosting company should be listed as the technical contact, sometimes they change DNS servers etc and they need to be able to update it as well.
    DNS.. Always have your DNS contact information using an email address not attached to the domain. Use an address that will not change, if possible. I know with people changing ISP's on a daily basis, it an be hard.. but someone somewhere will give you or sell you an email address cheap, so use that one and keep it forever. When making changes to your DNS info with Network Solutions, they must have an email from your registered email address. If your site is down, and you cannot send them an email from your site.. it takes forever to get it moved.

    I run a hosting company myself, a small time operation, it runs totally on Linux, and I have it set up with my colo company so if something happens, I can run a script on one of my linux boxen on my cable modem and poof, its all moved over. I have a linux box at home on my cable modem that has a complete mirror of my hosting computer, and if the company grows, and I need more machines, I have plenty of backup machines to mirror those as well. The cable modem may not be as fast as the DS3 my servers are sitting on, but it will get you up and running until we can fix the problem.

    You should be able to get uptime and load statistics from your hosting company, I have a page up that pulls it from a CGI script, so its always available, and you can check it any time you like.

    I also have free hosting for open source sites. :)
    Check it out.. Click here []

  • *ad*
    I just had to jump in here. I work for a hosting company ( We have a dedicated server located at digitaNation, the best dedicated server host we could find. They offer 4 physically seperate dns servers for us to use besides our own. They email us the exact SECOND that ftp/dns/www/telnet/ssh/mail goes down. They have physically seperate connections coming into the building. Its a pretty inpressive setup. Anyway...

    We offer small packages for little websites (10 megs of space, 500 megs of bandwidth: $6.00), another one for bigger sites (50 megs of space, 1.5 gigs of bandwidth: $13.50). One for medium large sites (75 megs, 2.5 gigs of bandwidth, $19.95) and one for large sites (250 megs of space, 4 gigs of bandwidth: $26.50)

    We offer,
    anonymous ftp
    apache 1.3.6
    web admin
    cgi-bin (w/ perl)
    online web stats
    mailing lists
    java chat rooms
    preinstalled cgi scripts
    subdomains (varies by account)
    frontpage (coming soon, still evaluating security)
    ASP (coming soon)

    All accounts are hosted on a 400mhz machine with 128 megs of ram running rh6.1 and a dedicated 10mbps switched connection to digitalNation's backbone. We will NEVER have more than 50-60 accounts on a box. At that time (or when we deem nessicary, ie: large site moves in and is extremely processor hungry) we will be purchasing another machine so that they dont get over loaded. If there is expressed intrest we might add a NT machine later this year.

    Any perl modules you want installed will be installed and our admins are down to earth guys who know you may not fit any one of these plans. We'll work with you to create the best possible web hosting plan.

    In short. We are a great hosting company. My web design company (who is hosted there) has been between several hosts before. This services offers us all we need.

    if you want a detailed pricing plan you can go to:
    i know our website isnt up yet but we have been busy building our control pannel and getting the machine ready.

    give us a try:


    stay FAR FAR FAR away from WHHQ ( were gonna switch there but after 4 months of waiting for them to setup our account we cancled payment and found another host. Using their poorly written control pannel i was able to get a list of accounts. ~10000 domains on 1 machine..and its slower than can be

  • I'm part of a MacOS developer group, and we've had our website on a subdomain of for three years, and it has never, at least to my knowledge, been down.

    Another thing, if you want free webspace with a subdomain, check out You get your own subdomain or something similar. There's one annoying banner you have to tolerate, but if you pay $5 a month you can get rid of it. I've used this to set up a number of sites.
  • Enormous ISPs have enough resources to handle things properly - basically, enough spare cash, which hopefully translates to enough servers, enough bandwidth, enough staff. They're also usually dirt cheap. On the other hand, that very fact that they're so damn cheap means that 90% of their customers are morons. It certainly does make a difference if you're on the same physical server as some college student with tons of pr0n on his site, with the added effect of inviting script kiddies to break into the server. (Of course, if the pr0n is good, and the server disk crashes, your data might be among the first to be recovered :) Customer support usually sucks, after all, too many cooks spoil the broth, esp. if all but one of the cooks don't have a clue what they're doing.

    Then there are ISPs consisting of a 486 in someone's bedroom. These people (in general) work their asses off to offer good customer support, you can call their mobile phone at 3am on a Saturday, they are usually very competent, and your virtual server neighbours are a friendly bunch. Who care's if they're a bit more expensive? However, infrastructure costs money and these outfits don't have too much of that.

    So, which one to choose? It's a hard question, and one without easy answers. I've found the best bet is someone in between the two: Some company with 4 years experience, 20 staff, refused several takeover bids from Netcom,... basically, not small, not huge.

    What do you guys think? Experiences?
  • I have a domain hosted with and I've found them to be extremely helpful and efficient. On several occasions I have emailed them about various issues and without fail I have received a reply within a few hours (i'm in australia, they aren't - that's impressive). I regard anything below a day to be an exceptional turnaround, and I am a happy customer because of this.

    The only downtime was a planned outage when relocated its equipment to a new facility to allow for more growth. This was made known to me well in advance and only lasted for a couple of hours.

    My only wish is that custom cgi was included in the hosting package, but given the small amount that i'm paying per month i am not disappointed with what I'm receiving. The opposite is the case. My web site is a hobby and ego thing, nothing more, and i wouldn't expend more than a minimal sum to maintain it.

    I have dealt with various commercial sites in the past and present, and i am well aware of the impact that "mission critical" outages can cause to customers and businesses. I am confident in pair's abilities and seriousness about the job, and would feel quite comfortable putting the hosting for a commercial venture in their hands.
  • I have used many provider before. (I learned the hard way), but the one I'm with now is the fastest and most reliable yet.... []

    They offer perl, php3, mysql, shopping cart, secure server, pop, ftp, majordomo, telnet and 350 mb webspace. (+frontpage for dummies)

    And the fee you pay is for life.... I'm paying now 2/3 of their current rate actually.
    Ok, it's still pricy, but on company level it's a small cost to make.....

    BTW: I use [] for aditional domains (mx records) and [] for secondary dns. My uptime is 99.998%

    my $0.02

  • i remember the days (around 1997-1998)...when i was hosting my domain with Netcom. site management was pretty easy..since it was webbased, but 2 things i regret the most was the poor customer service reponse and the price i had to pay each month. it took at least 5 days before i could get a reply from one of their server administrator - for instance, when i requested that they allow me to use my custom ".htaccess" file or add a subdomain.

    at any rate, when i found out about - aside from the very affordable prices they offer, performance and stability of their servers (they run FreeBSD too) imho, their customer service support is top notch. i'm satisfied by the fact that if and when i encounter a problem, i know when i can get an answer/solution.

    i have been hosting my personal website with them for the past 5 months. they're great. too bad, they still don't accept credit card based accounts, heh.

    anyone else want to share their experience with other webhost?

    stay cool.

    stephen caturan
    chye-fhut /

  • Sumo Inc. founded the Web Host Guild (WHG) on July 4, 1998 with the goal of setting an industry standard that would benefit all hosting companies and protects consumers as well. The WHG is comprised of seven Board of Director members who preside over the Guild and are charged with inducting new Guild members into the WHG. The Board of Directors consists of 5 leading web hosting companies and NetMechanic, a server monitoring company. Jonathan Caputo, C.E.O. of Sumo Inc., serves as Chairman of the Board.

    Our goal with the Web Host Guild is to make web host certification a part of doing business on the Internet. Our mission statement is to protect consumers from unscrupulous hosts, and to help identify the honest, legitimate host companies that exist. We have always been focused on aiding the Internet community, and it is with great pride and pleasure that we present the Internet with the world's first and only web host association, the WHG. It is our hope that the Web Host Guild will become one of the most-used resources on the web for both web hosts and consumers.

    See their members: click here [] (the one I use was approved recently :-))

  • 1. None of the pages below the top one seems to work, at least none of the five I randomly tested.

    2. You page was generated on Jan, 15 100? You guys REALLY have to update more often. :-)

    3. Your subdomain, seems to be somewhere on the far side of operational.

  • ...M6 Hosting. []

    If you want NT webhosting, they've got most of the bells and whistles (ASP, databases, index server, unlimted mailboxes, big account sizes, let you use custom components, etc.) pretty cheaply. The tech support is good, and I've ALWAYS got an answer within 24 hours.

    Very good pricing structure too--like it's a one time (small) fee to register a component, and any updates changed to it are free. Most of the stuff is like that--small up front fee, no montly charge. Better than some places (which will go unmentioned) which charge HIGH monthly fees for everything.

    Oh, and I'm not affiliated with them. :-)

  • I believe you can have the best of both worlds. My company, Spinweb [] is quite small when compared to the giant hosters, but we lease our servers and bandwidth from heavy players (Verio and Digital Nation). I'll try to keep the sales pitch to a minumum, but what this means is that your interface for support has the benefits of a small company, but the architecture of the servers has the benefits of the large company. contact me [mailto] if you have any questions about this arrangement.


  • Not quite, the correct address is GraniteCanyon.Com []
  • Like I said..
    our webpage isn't complete. We decided that making the control pannel and getting the server ready is more important than the webpage. Would you rather have us spend all of our time on a good high quality webpage and let the server slide or work on customer service and maintain the server?...i'll tell my boss to get off his lazy @$$ and finish the page though :)
  • Ouch! Interesting that I am unable to access both the author's referenced website and that of his provider. Maybe it wasn't such a great plug after all ;-)
  • I'm seeing a lot of posts here along the lines of "well, they might not be huge, and they don't offer much bandwidth, but they have all these features...". That's cool- I'm with my current hosts for exactly those reasons. However, there's another sector of hosting requirements that I've never seen mentioned anywhere, and being that I just moved into it, that's a problem.

    The sector? Simple site (static pages, no CGI, blah), HUGE bandwidth.

    A bit of background: I'm the editor and maintainer of [], which has just launched and is getting a huge amount of traffic. We've got, or rather we had, a large file archive, which I prefer to host seperately from the site to avoid massive slowdowns when I lot of people are downloading files (and given that we hit over 30Gb traffic in one day last week, that's a real concern). However, I've had to move the archive (remember that 30 Gb traffic? My former hosts do.), and I've been shopping around for somewhere to put it. With very little success.

    I can't believe I'm the only one in this situation, but it does seem to be pretty much insoluble without spending vast quantities of money. So, does anyone have any suggestions for people in this fix?

    (Oh, yeah- quick plug for good webhosting company. I'm currently with DSVR []- all the services I need (shell account, access to root, access to httpd.conf and all the rest, PHP, MySQL, PERL...) and superb technical support. If you're in the UK I'd currently highly recommend them.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Dealing with most of the large ISP's, I've found that they all have problems - frequently just growing pains. Most "hosting" (your web site on someone elses servers) companies suck by the basic fact that they try and offer the same solution to everyone. This basically means that none of them will exactly fit your individual needs. I have found the best option is to co-locate your server at a minimum of TWO different major ISP's in two different geographic areas, and perform failover with a DNS based solution. If this is not feasable, setup at one of the better ISP's, and bring in another T1 (or faster) from another ISP and do your own failover (DNS again, unless you want to manage your own BGP router.)
  • I think the idea behind the WHG is great! Future webhosting consumers need to keep in mind that just because the company is in the WHG it doesn't mean quite as much as they claim. Example: CI Host is a charter member...!

    Just a warning.
  • I'm running my own webhosting company (insert blatant plug here) []. The biggest problems I've seen haven't been my servers or my mistakes (although I am human and have made a few here and there), but the biggest problems I've seen have been with the local telco. There is no alternative around these parts, so I'm kinda stuck with what I have. I'm not so sure getting a 2nd T1 would help, because I'd still have to go thru my local telco for everything to get connected, of course going with a different ISP (the big guys like UUnet, Qwest, etc) could help matters, but then again they make big mistakes too. I think it was Qwest that screwed something up about a month or two ago and lost access for Virginia, parts of Maryland, and New Jersey for several days. Given, everyone makes mistakes and even if you did go with more than one webhosting provider, and a seperate email account somewhere, who is to say that all your companies won't be using the same major ISP (if everyone is using, say, UUnet and UUnet screws up bigtime, you're out of service).

    No webhosting Company advertises who they go thru for you to make a logical decision, because if they did, people might get the notion to look up the bigger company and see what kind of deals they can get thru them instead (bad news for little guy). So how does a small company compete with the bigger companies? They can't really offer better service, but they can charge somewhat lower prices and offer better and friendlier service. I've found that a one-on-one service has been a better selling point than big company "one night stands" where they lure you in, get your money and forget about you. An occasional *personal* email to your customers asking how their service is and getting their feedback goes a long way.

    There is no *inexpensive* foolproof plan for webhosting, as long as there is human error involved, but you can pick out who treats you good as far as getting service goes. Who do you think will treat you better, the guy who's means of putting food on the table is his own webhosting service or the guy who works for a large company that makes millions from everyone and you are just another few megs of space on a server?

  • The [] has good support (by mail and via the pair.* newsgroups) and also CGI (with many Perl-modules pre-installed), MySQL and PHP. No mod_perl though. They use FreeBSD. Blues News [] and Sharky Extreme [] are their custommers too.

    They are not clueless - shut up my account quickly when I tried to run some daemon. I had to remove it :-( the dedicated server is yet too expensive for me

    I run Pref News [] there - a russian-speaking e-zine devoted to Perl, Python, Java and PHP-programming. 8 people post interesting links and code snippets almost daily. We are looking for more enthusiasts.


  • I'm a believer in Interland []. They are a BIG web hosting company, have Unix and NT options available and are fairly good about their customer service. One neat thing they have is a HUGE forms-based support area, so that you can go in and set up your own email accounts, ODBC DSNs, subwebs, user accounts, real audio links, etc. It all happens pretty instantly.

    They are also pretty reasonable. I just upgraded from a "Plan 1" basically FrontPage account to a "Plan 2" which is ASP, ColdFusion, SQL Server 7, RealNetworks streaming, etc. The Plan 1 was about $260 a year, and the Plan 2 must be around $600 a year total. (I'm sure the prices are on their website.)

    They host something like 50,000 domain names. They have the drill down pat. We have like 5 domains with them in total, and in two years we've only had unplanned downtime once when they moved the website to a different machine without updating the DNS. It was accessible only through IP addresses for a day or so, and then it was back.

    There's my $.02 worth...YMMV
  • David Manifold (aka Tril) offers free hosting for open source projects at Bespin [].
  • I think sites like yours are going to be the absolute wave of the future. I'm a director for a consulting firm and Net incubator down south, and probably 20-30 percent of the dot-com ideas that come across my desk are related to broadband access and rich media (video in particular).

    The thing about these guys is that their bandwidth requirements are enormous although their applications are not all that big a deal. I spent all week helping out one company in figuring out their architectures and partnerships, because we're forecasting their bandwidth growth rate at somewhere around 2.5 TERAbytes per month.

    The mid-tier ISPs had better get on the stick and realize that this is coming, or the big guys (MCI, Qwest, Intel, etc.) are going to take all business in the next big landgrab on the Net--the reinvention of the Web as a video tool.

    I truly believe that we'll be laughing at the Net we have today in five years, kinda like we chuckle about TRS-80s and Apple ]['s today...

    - Crash
  • I've set up a few major commercial sites, and so far I've hosted them all at AT&T Cerf Net.

    It aint cheap, but the addage is true that you get what you pay for.

    Which isn't to say that AT&T is without critisism, for one their sales people are completely clueless, and by and large it's their sales people that you have to start with whenever you want something done.

    Cerfnet is physically located in San Diego, which means I get to have regular jaunts to lotusland. This is a good thing, I live in Cleveland. :)

    On a more serious note, They offer 24/7 access to the hardware, have 24/7 security services on site, to the point that when you need access to your box, a security guard will be there to open the cabinet. Ring their door-bell at 3:30 am on a sunday night, and you have access.

    As for security, they seem to have enough policies in place to avoid being socially engineered, but you have to take responsability for the software-level security - this is despite what they advertise.

    They offer complate hosting packages to the point where they'll order the hardware, install the OS, install the server (IIS, apache, etc), and just leave you a place to drop your content. Despite what they advertise, they leave these boxes in increadibly unsecured states. Any competent person hosting with them would be a fool not to tighten the security on the boxes after Cerf'net is done with it.

    Advantages are near %100 uptime, complete fail-safe systems including diesel generators, UPS, tape and redundant net connections. On top of this, they'll set up a second box in New York in the case of a catestrophic failure of the California location.

    These are the "big boys", and the advantages and draw-backs are what you'd expect.

  • Well, I offer Linux based hosting on the cheap. We had over 350 days of uptime until this summer, before a kernel bug forced us to upgrade. I think our prices are quite reasonable. We get billed by the bandwidth, so we charge by bandwidth usage as well. We use a colocation provider that's proven very competent and stable over the past 2 years.

    I think it comes down to if you can trust the person/company that's hosting your site. Some feel more secure paying more money to a bigger company, some feel more secure paying less money to a smaller company that will give them a little more individual attention. []

    Are you a webmage?

  • I was going to post a message stating a lot of the same points you did... I think your way of looking at this question is right on.

    We ( have co-located our ever-growing herd of servers at a local, medium-sized ISP ever since the inception of our on-line presence in 1996. They're small enough that we're among their largest customers (our site traffic is similar to Slashdot's), but large enough to have the finances and resources to accommodate our ever increasing needs.

    Perhaps the best advantage to choosing a "medium" sized local ISP, however, is that my staff and I have been able to develop a close relationship with the actual sysadmins and network geeks that are paid to watch our boxes. We take them out to lunch, send over free boxes of stuff every once in a while... anything we can do to keep us foremost in their minds and attentive to our ever-growing needs. This way, when we DO have some sort of crisis, I know I can call someone at home on or on a private cell line and get immediate attention, rather than wading through a service department phone tree and hoping someone's around at 11pm on a Sunday night.

  • The method I used to select a web hosting service was simple - I picked one because they had a banner ad on Slashdot that mentioned Linux and Apache. Not a very sophisticated consumer research method, but amazingly, its turned out well and they now host a half-dozen domans for me... is the service, by the way.

  • - very reasonable pricing, but they are not always picking up their phone and they are quite slow answering technical issues. Fairly recent start-up.

    I've done some hosting with and found them to be very reliable. I've never had to call them, but they answer their email fairly speedily. Hosting starts as low as $2 a month. :)

  • I wrote this little diddy detailing how the Web Host directory/idexes "actually work". It can be found here
  • Pair recently moved their headquarters, and the amount of information [] that they provided during their (as brief as I could ever imagine) outage was stunning. (It was obviously hosted on another site during the move).

    Pair's pricing doesn't seem as cheap as some places, but there will come a day when you need you host to come through for you. When that happens, Pair will be there for you. The cheaper host's staff (oh, yeah, it's a one man/woman operation) will be unavailable.

    I don't work for pair, but happily host a site [] there.
  • Wht dose everyone know about off shore hosting? i.e. I expect to be sued so I'm puting this in another country. It would be interesting if there were hjosting services which were in the US but had a deal with a hosting service in Russia to handle any sites which drew legal fire. If this was not too much more expencive it would be a good idea for some people (contraversal artists like Mike Z.). Dose anyone know anything about the legality of moving your site to another country when you have been issued a restraning order?

  • Communitech has nice features for your bucks but their TOS sucks, just like most webhosts. If you use too much resources (which they naturally haven't defined) you get suspended without warning. That is the site is shutdown and it takes them about a week to get it open again.
  • is that they may have so many clients and so few support staff folks, that when you go over various limits, they might not catch it.

    Example, I was hosting on a terrible web host with a 2 GB monthly transfer limit, and had 8 times that traffic throughput, but was never charged a dime.

  • DNS.. Always list YOURSELF as one of the contacts.. usually the billing contact so you can change your Internic information quickly to move your site.
    The way I read NSI's descriptions of the different type of contacts, the billing contact does not have this authority. The tech contact and administrative contact can submit changes (While the registrant has the ultimate authority, exercising that authority can be difficult if the registrant is not also one of these two roles). The billing contact is just the address to which NSI sends the invoices.
    • NSI's definitions of:
    • p.s. I know there are other registrars now (yay!), but NSI still has over 90% of the market, so this should be relevant to most.

  • Careful shopping can do wonders. Some things are hard to know just by comparing offerings unfortunatley. IMO one of the most important features you want to look for in a web hosting outfit is customer service and accessibility.

    For what its worth we've had very good luck with World Wide Mart []. Good prices, good equipment, excellent reseller package, good connections and very good customer service.
  • The company I work at has a number of web mirrors distributed worldwide. They are a pain in the ass to manage, and nothing is going to change that.

    Try a service like Akamai to reduce this pain. They basically filter your content throughout their network of servers, and requests are redirected there. It works great and is an obvious alternative to maintaining a long list of mirrors. Of course you may want one or two mirrors for your own edification, but maintaining twenty-thrity is really a job better left to a caching provider.

  • Yup , technically it can be done but normal webhosting company just like to monopoly everything . i found many registration form at webhosting company asking to 'transfer domain' or 'register new'why must they handle DNS. and some of them also dont allow subdomain hosting. they prefer everything on their box and using same script (to generate conf. file) that give "unlimited email forwading" and of course the MX point at the same box . i dont like this.
  • We moved away from CubeSoft because of unreliable service. No apologies and no/few ack's. And he (Julien) counts uptime as when the server is up. Not when your site or mail is accessable. He screws up the config quite regularly, ISTU.
    I couldn't recommend them.
  • I've been using them for about three months. I do heaps of java servlets + mySQL (whole site is entirely dynamic).

    just wondering if anyone has any positive/negative experience with them ..... but as I said, so far so good.

    PS they run solaris on sun
  • Your email contact address for your DNS details should *not* be in the same domain as your site. If you wish to change your DNS details the email request **must** come from the address registered for that domain. If your domain is down and the registered email contact is in that domain then you can find yourself in the situation of neither being able to access your site nor being able to move it!

    Not nessecarily true. Last time I checked (circa 1997), InterNIC used to provide several levels of authentication. The simplest is to rely on the return address. If a request to change domain registration info comes from an address other than the one listed for the domain admin, then the request is ignored. That's the simplest scenario. However, you can choose password based authentication. This way it doesn't matter from which email address your request comes. As long as you provide the right password, you can change your domain registration info.

  • So is a nice fault-tolerant solution to have DNS at your hosting provider and at and have both MX records specify the same IP (but a different IP than your web server) as your mail server? Does anyone know of another place that provides free DNS service? (In order to be more fault tolerant it would be nice to have 3 DNS servers instead of just 2.)
  • *Warning* Not for the sharks in the sea, for the tunas */Warning*/

    I heard about this site NoMonthlyFees [] some time ago and didn't believe what they were offering! One time payment of $200/- u get 200 MB space for lifetime ! No monthly fees at all. My site is hosted there for some time now and they have not given me much to tell against. Good service, good uotime, good support. Some days ago they changed their offer a bit. Check website for more details.

    What I would like to hear from fellow ./ers is , How does the company pull it off ?? In the beginning I wasn't sure whether it was just another fraud, but many months into the hosting, they still stand tall as ever and I havent paid a single cent more than the initial $200/-.

    Is this the way things will be in the future ?
  • Courts generally are not amused when people try to execute end-runs around their directives

    This is was I suspected, but there still seemed to be some protections. You could also go with an oversees company which "would not allow you to take down your own site" after it had been set up, i.e. you pay them up front for a few years of hosting and they keep backups of you site. If they get any complaints about you removing your own site then they put it back up and lock you out. You would go to this service when you recieved a sease and edesist letter, then by the time the jugde ourdered you to stop it would be too late. I suppose the judege could aways site you with more damages and NSI could take away your domain name if it is a US one, but if you do not have anything away and you do not mind moving to .ru or something, it's a good plan.

    Realistically, it cheaper to just post it to slashdot and let the world mirror it for you (if there were some way to protect the domain).. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here are some comments from "Pair Networks Insider Volume 5 Number 1 Issue 49 - January 2000"

    One note about redundancy - a host who purchases multiple leased lines
    is only truly redundant if 1) those lines connect to different providers,
    2) those lines are purchased and installed through different telephone
    companies (this is uncommon, as most buildings are served by only one
    telephone company), 3) the lines connect to multiple routers in a
    redundant configuration, 4) an intelligent routing algorithm such as BGP4
    is employed, and 5) the telephone companies use diverse fiber entrances.
    If any of these conditions is not true, it would only take one accident
    or mistake to interrupt all connectivity to that host.

    What kind of connectivity does pair Networks have? Our telephone
    company is Bell Atlantic; they have OC-12 and OC-3 fiber gear directly
    in our datacenter (they do this for major customers with high-quality
    space). We have DS-3 circuits to UUnet, SAVVIS, Sprint, and Digex
    (currently not completed). A DS-3 circuit to GTE/BBNplanet is on order,
    and an OC-3c circuit to UUnet is on order as well. Two additional
    telephone companies will be building their own fiber to our space, via
    diverse entrances, within the next six to nine months.

    In future months, we'll take a look at local network configurations,
    server configurations, power protection, fire protection, data backup
    systems, and everything that else that makes a good datacenter both
    hard to find and expensive to build. We want our customers to know that
    we know what we're talking about.


    If I'm not wrong, php (without sql access) does come with the lower prices accounts. I think its built into every one of their apache servers and you can just upload php and it will parse it. I could be wrong though, I have a higher priced account.
  • I used to be a customer of Concentric network, which also hosts

    Anyway, traderspain spammed me twice, and I complained both times. Nothing happened. Concentric ignored my followup e-mails, including the ones that said if I don't get a reply I'm going to cancel my service. Concentric continues to harbor this spammer.

    I voted with my feet. Concentric is a company that I absolutely cannot recommend to anyone for anything.

  • Yes that's correct. I spotted it shortly after I wrote the article.
  • I entirely agree with this post. I'm sure following it would be sensible.
    The problem I realy wanted to raise though is that it's not just a question of finding a competent reliable hosting company.
    I was trying to find what options sites themselves had of increasing their resilience to their hosting companies failing.
    I further wanted this to be advice that did not presume that the user was a unix hacker
    Some posts mistakenly suggest that this is a problem only with 'cheap' hosting companies. This is false. Even those paying for 'expensive high quality' hosting (in quotes) should be asking themselves these questions.
  • I agree!

    I don't like this advice at all.

    I'm hoping somebody will come up with a clear explanation of how to avoid this one.
  • That's odd. I had no problem getting through to either. And my own site,, is still running. Of course, I get my mail elsewhere, and my site isn't real high-traffic, so keep that in mind...
  • I've seriously been thinking about starting my own recently. It would obviously start very small, 1 ISP. What all would I need? Machine or 3 and bandwidth. The machines would damn sure be Linux. What about bandwidth starting out? I would love to here your input on this. If you have any ideas, would you please email me directly? thanxs
  • I have been happy with Hurricane Electric ( but I have not put them through extreme demands, etc. But, for a cheap site with lots of functionality and good uptime, I've been happy.

  • I too think a professional association for web hosters is a good idea.
    I was suitably impressed when I saw that CIHost were a charter or founding member of this guild and that was influential in me chosing to host with them. (I presume we are talking about here)
    Since then I have had problems with CiHost as have 10s of thousands of others.
    Now I see that although cihost home page ( still has a link to them the WHG's pages no longer make any mention of Cihost at all, whereas a month ago they featured prominently.
    CiHost have also been removed from the list of Charter members (members who founded the organisation). Now tell me how do you stop being a founder member of something. Either you are or you aren't. If the WHG has a problem with CIHost then perhaps it should explain.
    In the mean time my opinion of them has gone down the tubes along with the hosting review sites. They have clearly failed to give a credible guarantee as to the quality of service of their members and that stands for all the other sites they recommend as well.
    Ps Gasman=Alan Cowderoy author of the original article.
  • by Lars Clausen ( 1208 ) on Saturday January 15, 2000 @02:27PM (#1369842)
    > Example: points to 192.168.323.864 Your MX record points to 324.53.6.211

    Look! He's solved the 32-bit limitation on IPv4! Gazillions of IP numbers are ours! Hooray!

    -Lars :)
  • How many good technical people are out their in Slashdot reader land who could put together a solid and reliable web hosting, colocation, and/or internet access facility, IFF you could just find the right financing and marketing partners to make that end of the business (such as getting enough starting capital and new clients to make it fly), and make it absolutely rock?

    I would bet there are quite a few of us.

    Now ask the same question from the perspective of the finance guys or the marketing guys who might be looking for techies? Would there be people in that group who would feel they are the best at what they do and are looking for the best techies to be partners with?

    Every poorly performing business I have seen seems to have problems in almost every area. But the biggest problems seem to be in committing the resources to the facilities sufficiently to avoid the kinds of problems that make customers leave. Sticking a T3 into a Cisco router and attaching a couple servers just doesn't cut it. And there are some hosters which aren't much more than that.

    Finance and Marketing types should hang around /. and pick up some techie partners that know what they are doing.
  • I've been hosting my own and client sites since 1995. You can do it without paying a ton of money, although some start-up costs are inevitable. Here are a few suggestions.

    1) Bandwidth is expensive. Be realistic. You can get an ISDN Centrex installation with 32 or more IP addresses for $300/mo. An ISDN router like an Ascend Pipeline is probably less than $600. It's not a T1, but chances are your site is NOT going to get 600K hits per day. If it's just you or you and a few friends, you'll find the bandwidth quite adequate for the majority of users which are still hitting with 33 or 56k modems. Of course if your 5 friends all want to run streaming video, forget it.

    2) You don't need the fastest machine in the world as a server. You will want a lot of memory, but a 200 or 300 Mhz PC is fine for many situations. For heavy database use you'll want faster.

    3) Backup to tape, backup to CD-RW, and backup to another hard drive if you can. A typical PC may run for a couple or three years w/o a hardware failure, but you'll be happy to have backups when it happens. If possible have a second machine with the same server s/w. You can swap them over anywhere between a few minutes and an hour depending on your prep work, and it makes a $20k high-availability system unnecessary.

    3) Setup a firewall. Setup a firewall. Setup a firewall. Look into one of the new "firewall appliances" if it intimidates you. A Sonic Wall with 10 IPs is about $400. You will be amazed at the number of idiots that will try to hack your little web site. I've been able to use the logs to get 2 French, 2 Germans, and 2 Californians warned or suspended by their ISPs. If they're coming in via cable modem, they know one more complaint and their nice fast line gets turned off and they're back to a lousy dial-up. Also, I blocked their IPs specifically. This is the best money I've ever spent on a pice of equipment.

    4) One of the major points of having your own domain is having on the website. I disagree with the article about this. Where you might want to have a different address is on the Internic admin record for the site. You want to make sure you can always update the DNS servers to a new ISP if your current one goes bad. If possible run the mail server on a different machine than the web server. That way if the web server goes down you still have email, and people can notify you there's a problem. Also, you can still get to tech support, usenet, friends, whatever to get help.

    5) Don't bother to do your own DNS unless you have a T1. The ISP will do it for you, often for free. DNS is critical. This removes the requirement for another machine, more backup, etc.

    There's nothing like being in control of your own universe. You're free to use whatever OS, database, and hardware you like. Have fun.
  • Simplenet does it right. They charge very little ($15/month) for a basic suibdomain with unlimited space and bandwidth outbound. They are always connected. They are also part of, which is part of something bigger now ... so they will be around for a while. The only drawback is that they don't give you dialup access, so you need another account to get to them via ftp - but that won't be a problem for anyone who can read this. I'm a happy customer. See:
  • Have been sampling hosts for 5 years now, and finding the best is always a long search. The sub $10 category is one that I know well.

    If you want NT cheap, take M6 Technologies. [] Mediahouse site stats 5 are outstanding, a nice control panel to add/delete/config your emails, database at no cost, more megs and bandwidth than you'd ever use, cgi-bin is there and runs perl scripts well (something have had problems with NT hosts elsewhere). Speed is good, support good (though they don't work weekends). $10 setup, $10 a month. Superb.

    If want *nix cheap, Hurricane Electric [] is the best in town. PHP over mySQL database tossed in. $9.95 a month, $19.95 setup. Support pretty good, though their $9.95 is advertised as "self-serve", and this philosophy pretty well holds. Noticed they have started running adverts (the 'groovy' banners) on Slashdot also lately.

    All the best, Robert

    "And the beast shall be made legion. Its numbers shall be increased a thousand thousand fold."

  • I just joined up with CubeSoft (on the basis of recommendations in the last web hosting discusion here) and am not impressed. I'm just doing a vanity site so the low price and plentiful features make it worthwhile, but it's really slow. FTPing a trivial setup with an index.html and 2 small GIFs took forever. They've had an outage in the three days I've been there. And to add new pop accounts, you have to email them with the username and password! And they took 2 days to respond to a simple email question. I'd be leery about this if I were using them for a business.

    Plus, I thought their prices were in $CDN!
  • >> For example???
    > FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, and family. Dumbass.

    Well derr... He was asking for examples of Linux instability. dickwit.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've found that the best route is to go with a small, reliable provider. I've had my site hosted by Rackhenge Networks for about a year now and couldn't be happier. On the rare occassion I have a problem (or question!) I just get the owner on the phone.


  • I'm saddened by the slow evaporaiton of sites that give you shell access. I can't code a page worth crap if I'm not in the ditches using pico (emacs flames directed to /dev/nul), reloading, fixing, reloading, etc. FTP'ing a page back and forth is a royal pain in the ass, and replicating a directory structure locally is as well, especially if you're working across platforms...

    When I ask a hoster if they give shell access, they tend to have one of two responses, either, 'huh?' (...but these folks support frontpage extensions!) or 'Why, you a hacker?' [sic].

    I recently had to find a home for [] and settled on a small outfit called TranSonicNet. Linux and BSD servers (they're pretty security-conscious) with not-that-great uptime, but clued tech support with reasonable email reply-times. The price was right ($10/month), and the feature set is good. They claim unlimited bandwidth allowance, but I can't say for sure what really happens when you start chugging gigs through their servers.

  • DNS Hosting is indeed a sticky business when not handled correctly. If you need to host both primary and secondary DNS entries at the same location, here is a tip for moving servers that will assist in the change-over...

    Some background...
    DNS entries are held by the primary and secondary DNS servers. These entries list the IP address of the server, and the domain name. Additionally, they contain a "TIME TO LIVE", which will tell other DNS servers (like your ISP's) how long to retain the IP address before refreshing. The TTL ensures that the DNS information will only be requested by a server after a specified period, preventing volume problems on the DNS server.

    Before the move:
    At least 48 hours before you intend to move a server, check the TTL on your DNS entry... if you do a 'dig' from a unix box, you can determine the TTL of the DNS entry. If it's set to a day, it will take a full 24 hours between DNS refreshes.

    If your box is going to change IP address, have the sysadmin change the TTL to something short, like 5 minutes. This will cause all external DNS servers to refresh (also called obtaining an 'authoritative response) from the primary/secondary DNS server.

    Once the full TTL time has passed (since changed) all global servers should be seeing a 5 minute TTL.

    Now - move the box (or more appropriately, after moving the box and getting it ready to go live, move the DNS entry on the primary DNS server from the old IP address to the new IP address).

    After the move:
    Now that the new box is being seen when servers do DNS refreshes, you will want to have the sysadmin change the TTL on the DNS entry, back to 1 day. This will again take the load off the DNS Server, and all traffic will see the new box.

    Not true... Some of us didn't. Until we had to deal with the problem...

    Consider yourselves INFORMED. :)

  • With cable modems and some RBOCS there is that restriction, but with most CLECs, like Covad, you can indeed get an SDSL (or other DSL) and host your own servers.

    Part of the problem is when your telco bundles the DSL with ISP services, they can't handle it. What you have to do, is get your DSL as a curcuit only, then sign up with an ISP that will allow hosted servers. You can't do that in every city, but you can in several.

    Even with my USWorst DSL at home, I'm able to host servers, because our upstream provides the pipes on the other side of the DSLAM. I have a 2GB/month limit imposed by the ISP, and only a single IP address, but I'm able to purchase more of either, if I desire.

    In this case, it's just like a regular data curcuit, where the telco provides the curcuit, and the ISP determines the extent of the usage.

  • For security reasons, most name servers won't allow zone transfers to slave servers in non trusted domains. If your host has a problem allowing custom DNS configuration, chances are they aren't going to allow a zone transfer to another domain, let alone one that is not trusted.

    I suppose you could hand seed your slave name servers, but a key ingredient of DNS is dynamic updates between the primary and slave name server. If for some reason your host was to change IP addresses for your site, or the email server, then those changes wouldn't be reflected in the slave name servers record. If your primary name server went down, your slave wouldn't have the right data in the zone file.

  • to have the bandwidth available to run our own small server at home? A T1 would be fine for a small personal website, even half of a T1 would be nice. My problem while looking for a web host is to find a site that has the features I want while still being affordable. I've yet to find a decent web host with personal websites in mind. They either don't offer enough space or don't have extras like a telnet account or ssh.
  • What do you expect? Most low-budget hosting operations are run on minimal (if not nonexistent) margins, staffed by unhappy people, and managed by slavedrivers. The hosting business sucks ass until you get into the revenue-generating parts (like offering e-commerce features) because there is so much competition that any non-essential service gets reduced to come in under the competition.

    Competition is good, but you guys have _got_ to stop using hosting services that shaft you, otherwise you're proving that price is more important than service.

    Kee-rist, it's _not hard_ to run a hosting service, as long as you get your technology and TOS right (don't handle porn unless you have a pipe big enough, force CGI protections thru cgiwrap or suexec, don't use M$ ;) ....

    Your Working Boy,
  • Yes, but this assumes that the path to the domain works.

    Example: Your domain is (I'm deliberatly picking an invalid domain to avoid /.'ing some poor shmuck). The server for .foo gets mis-configured, and no longer points to your name servers for (this happens with distressing frequency). Yes, your name servers are OK, and if I could point my machine at your servers all would be well, but since the link from the .foo servers to your server is hosed, you cannot get from here to there.

    The simple fact of the matter is that in good system design of any sort, you don't want to have a single point of failure. If, for what ever reason, your domain cannot be resolved, you want to be able to be notified about it.

"Well hello there Charlie Brown, you blockhead." -- Lucy Van Pelt