Green Factor – A Must Have Condition for Hosting?

When people look for web hosting services, they consider several parameters like hardware specifications of the server – storage space, processor speed, memory capacity, bandwidth, and so on.

There is however another important factor that needs to be considered, but often gets omitted from the list of requirements – that is – how environmental friendly the hosting service is?

When people think of performance, they only think in terms of computational performance. The ecological effects or green performance is never really thought about.

Do you know web hosting industry is estimated to be as polluting as the airline industry in near future?

According to Amenworld’s recent study of over 3,500 web servers, a single web server needlessly consumes 1,000 kWh on average, producing more than 630kg of CO2 annually. The figures are certainly shocking – it’s hard to believe hosting websites on the Internet can cause such damage to our earth.

Fortunately we are seeing more hosting companies taking up their responsibility in reducing the level of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by moving towards green energies.

My writer, Timothy Shim, has found a few web hosts that offer green hosting services at reasonable prices. His list of trustworthy green hosting services is published here.

How do hosting companies turn green?

No, not this green.

When we talk about “turning green” – we think “employing natural and renewable energy sources”.

So when we say “green hosting”, the logical conclusion is that the web hosting companies are using electricity that is generated from natural resources.

But that is NOT the case for 99% green hosting companies out there.

What green web hosting companies actually do is buying Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) or Carbon Offset Certificates (VER) to offset their power consumption to reach zero carbon footprint.

Green tag = Marketing Gimmick?

The idea of green web hosting is (largely) aimed

at convincing internet users that there are no negative effects on their natural environment.

Yes, theoretically, it does reduce your carbon footprint and perhaps make you feel better, that you have done some good for the earth.

My personal opinions, with no solid fact support, the environment impact of switching to a green hosting is relative small. There are other much better ways to make our earth a better place. Small acts, such as stop using straws (yes!) and carrying a tote to grocery shopping, are more effective.


Hence – I do not take in the ‘green factor’ when I am searching for a web host. If hosting companies I picked are buying green energy credits to offset your “dirty” power consumption – GREAT. But that’s not mandatory.

Instead I emphasize on server performance, features, price, and after sales support.

Then again, that’s me.

Should you factor ‘Green’ in the checklist when shopping for a web host? That’s 100%  to you! 😉

 

Why VPS Hosting?

 

  1. Separated hosting environment with its own operating system and predefined resources. Hence, unlike shared hosting, any activities conducted by your neighbor on will not affect your site performance.
  2. Host more domains at the same time.
  3. One step below dedicated hosting. Cheaper and less tech skills required.
  4. Software flexibility – install and use custom software.

More On Web Hosting

Web hosting = Domain name?

Web hosting shouldn’t be confused with domain name.

They are two different entities.

In layman’s term, a web host is like a house where the house owner can stores furniture (web contents) in it; whereas, a domain name is like the address of the house. Web hosting is the “storage space”; while a website domain name refers to the “location” of your website.

See this.

Subdomains, top level domains, and addon domains

Google.com is a domain name.

The extension ‘.com’ is known as Top Level Domain (TLD).

Some TLDs are opened and free to be registered by the publics. For instances: .com, .net, and .info. Some TLDs, on the other hand, are governed strictly by government or cyber regulations. For example .gov can be only used by government organization. Some country code TLDs, like .co.jp and .co.uk, can be only used by websites located in that particular country. But that’s not always the case. For instance, you can get a British Indian Ocean Territory domain (.io) easily with most registrars. Personally I live in Malaysia and own a number of .io domains.

Some TLDs are intended for certain special purpose, for example .org is intended for organizations’ website. Though it’s widely misused by personal websites.

Subdomain is the name in front of a domain name.

For example ‘mail.google.com’, the word ‘mail’ is a subdomain. Subdomain is often confused with an addon domain. An addon domain is the second, third, fourth… independent domain name added in a single hosting account; a subdomain, on the other hand, is a secondary domain appears in front of a domain name.

Addon domain requires the owner to renew its registration; while creating subdomains require no cost at all.

Types of web hosting

Web hosting comes in different forms and shapes that can be categorized into five major groups, namely: shared hosting, virtual private server hosting, dedicated hosting, reseller hosting, and the cluster hosting.

Shared Web Hosting

As the name refers, a shared hosting server is shared by multiple websites. Typically, websites on a shared hosting share the same server resources (such as CPU and RAM) and IP address.

Virtual Dedicated Hosting

A virtual dedicated hosting is also known as Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting. Virtual dedicated hosting separates the server into several smaller independent servers. Each website hosted on VPS hosting will have its own isolated hosting environment (hence own root folder) and unique hosting features (such as firewalls and SSH access).

Dedicated Hosting

The entire server is used by only single website (or customer) in a dedicated hosting. A dedicated hosted website enjoys better flexibility and web security. Users get full control over the server including bandwidth allocation, server operating system, and other custom web server features.

Reseller Hosting

Reseller hosting services allow users to become a web host themselves. The server in reseller hosting is parted into smaller pieces (shared hosting) and can be sold to others.

Cluster Hosting

Cluster hosting is also known as cloud hosting. A cluster hosting is the perfect solution for websites that require massive amount of processing power (such as complex web applications or huge web traffics) as a cluster-hosted website has access to a number of connected servers’ resources.

Unix Hosting vs Windows Hosting

Unix hosting normally refers to web host running on Linux or FreeBSD operating system.

Windows hosting, on the other hand, runs on Windows OS like Windows Server 2003 or 2008.

There are both pros and cons running a website on Unix or Windows hosting – Unix OS is open-source software, thus it’s free and tested widely; Windows OS on the other hand is critical if you need to run Microsoft web applications (such as asp.net).

 

 

 

The Rationale Behind Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates

Trust is a perennial issue on the Internet – it has always been and (probably) will always be. But the reality is that today’s technology has made online business transactions more the norm rather than the exception.

From the end-user’s point of view, convenience against security presents a dilemma.

  • How do I know I’m looking at a legitimate website?
  • Is that really my bank’s website I’m looking at on my browser?
  • Is there real business behind the site that offers such insanely cheap price?
  • Those questions and other similar ones are common enough – and certainly valid.

From the perspective of the business owners on the other hand, such mistrust and ambivalence is bad for business. Understandably, everyone seeks guarantee and assurance when they do business online.

The Basics of SSL Certificate

Secure Sockets Layer or SSL was developed by Netscape in 1994. It’s a worldwide standard security technology which creates encrypted link to ensure all data that passes between the web server and the web browser remains confidential and secure. Millions of consumers recognize and associate the “padlock” displayed on the browser as the icon of trust on the website.

E-business providers protect their customers and guarantee that online transactions are kept safe and private through SSL protocol, which they can only use upon issuance of the required SSL certificate. This certificate, which is issued by the Certification Authorities or CA, provides the opportunity for e-Business website owners to demonstrate their trustworthiness; thus, leverage an increased level of trust among visitors and turn them into paying customers.

What the Customers See

URLs with an SSL connection use https instead of just http. The “s” at the end obviously stands for “secure”. When the customer clicks on the Padlock your SSL Certificate and company details are displayed.

Company details

SSL Certificates typically contain your domain name and company name; your address, inclusive of city, state and country; details of the Certification Authority responsible for the issuance of the Certificate; and the expiry date of the Certificate. Take note that only certificates issued by High Assurance Certification Authorities actually display company details; which is another assurance that customers may be looking for when making an online purchase.

Expiry date

When a browser connects to a secure site, it does three things: It retrieves the SSL Certificate and check that it has been issued by a Certification Authority that the browser trusts, that it is being used by the website for which it has been issued, and that it has not expired. Failing on any one of these checks causes a warning to be displayed to the end user. Some customers also get concerned when they see that the certificate is soon to expire. It is important therefore, to renew your certificate with ample time to spare before the actual expiration date. A smart alternative is to purchase a multi-year certificate to minimize set up costs; plus, your customer will find it reassuring that you will still be around in the years to come.

Why You Need SSL Certificates?

Face it; people never buy from salesmen they don’t trust.

Majority of consumers these days expect security to be an integral part of any online service they use; they require that details they provide on the Internet are kept private and confidential.

And, beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”.

For most customers, the only time they will ever consider purchasing products or services online is when they are assured to full satisfaction that their detailed information is safe and secure. Thus, you need to allay consumer apprehensions by providing trust indicators. Just like the real world, it is natural need for people to feel confident before going down an unknown path. The SSL Certificate guarantees your customers that you take their security seriously and this gives them the confidence that you have eliminated the risk usually associated with online transactions.

The EV Certificate – Do you really need one?

Extended Validation or EV Certificate, which was introduced in 2007, is a significant update of the SSL Certificate validation process that introduced substantial changes to verification methods used in authenticating the identity of online businesses. It provides consumers with a higher trust level while online by identifying which websites are legitimate businesses with verifiable credentials. These new certificates are indicated when the address bar on a visitor’s browser turn green.

SSL Certificate Authorities are already performing thorough and meticulous checks to validate the legitimacy of businesses. However, various CAs currently using non EV certificates employ varied types and levels of authentication; sometimes creating online security vulnerabilities that are frequently exploited for fraud, identity theft and other Internet crimes.

In contrast, the validation process for EV Certificates requires all CAs to rigorously scrutinise each business, using a prescribed set of sources and methods, before certificates are issued. The new certificates oblige businesses to complete a comprehensive and methodical documentation and verification process of current business licenses and incorporation paperwork. The CAs has to verify the accuracy of the data through additional sources; which may include on-site visits to the business, in some cases. This is aimed at resolving the variations in validation process; thus enhance Internet security features.

To the end users, this means that e-Businesses that have EV SSL certificates are much more likely to be legitimate entities, compared to those that only have the standard SSL certificates, which can be obtained by anyone even without verification.

The bottom line

Extended Validation SSL certificates are the latest secure certificates that offer the highest level of outward security to end users on the market today. So if you ask if it is worth it to have an EV SSL Certificate, the answer is: Absolutely, YES!

Free Hosting: Myths vs Facts

Myth #1: Very limited data transfer and disk space with free web hosts

Fact: Free web hosts provide sufficient disk space and bandwidth in general. You’ll get 500 MB – 5 GB storage and 5 – 50 GB bandwidth with most free hosting providers.

The capacity is good enough for most individual blogs and small business websites for start. You can start free and look for a host in later stage.

Myth #2: Free web hosts don’t support anything besides HTML

Fact: Free web host nowadays do not limit their service for static HTML websites. In fact most free hosting providers support PHP, MySQL, CGI-BIN, SSI, ASP, and even email hosting features.

Myth #3: All free host comes with awful advertisements

Fact: Yes – back in early 2000 this is what many companies usually do – clutter clients’ websites with unwanted ads to justify the ‘free’ cost.

Not in 2018 anymore. Many free hosting providers are now offering free website hosting services without the banner ads.

In case you were looking – here are 15 free web hosts tested and reviewed by my friend Timothy. Have fun!

Pssst. Are you a student? Some companies offer free domains and hosting for students. Examplest here, here, and here.

What’s managed in managed dedicated hosting service?

There’s no clear guidelines nor industry standards set to define the management role of dedicated server providers.

However, in most cases the server hardware is owned by the dedicated hosting providers where in some cases, they will provide support for your operating system or applications. Thus for such kind of managed dedicated hosting, users get full control on the server via web based control panel on top of a team of technical personnel readily available to handle all server and network related functions and problems. These dedicated hosting is sometimes known as the ‘managed dedicated server’.

As per listed in Wikipedia, server management can include some or all of the following:

  • Operating system updates
  • Application updates
  • Server monitoring
  • Simple Network Management Protocol hardware monitoring
  • Application monitoring
  • Technical support
  • Firewall services
  • Antivirus updates
  • Security audits
  • DDoS protection and mitigation
  • Intrusion detection
  • Backups and restoration
  • Disaster recovery
  • DNS hosting service
  • Load balancing
  • Database administration
  • Performance tuning
  • Software installation and configuration
  • User management
  • Programming consultation

Dedicated hosting providers define their level of management based on the services they provide.

In comparison, fully managed could equal self managed from provider to provider.

InMotion Hosting: What you need to know as a customer

What types of service do InMotion Hosting offer?

InMotion offer Unix hosting in shared, semi-dedicated (VPS), and dedicated servers.

How can I pay InMotion Hosting as a customer?  

InMotion accept all sort of credit card payment (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover), check, money order, but not PayPal and cash.

Do I get a free trial with InMotion Hosting?

Yes. InMotion offer a long 90-day money back guarantee on all shared hosting services; and 30-day money back trial period for VPS and Reseller hosting.

However, you’ll have to provide your credit card information and pay up front when you signup. If you are unhappy with their service and decide to cancel your account within the trial period, you can then ask for a refund.

Domain name registration fee is non-refundable. This means if you obtain a free domain from InMotion during signup; that registration fee will be deducted from your refund.

There will be no refunds upon completion of the 90th/30th day of subscription.

They good?

Excellent. Server stays online all the time and network speed is above average.

I ran three rounds of tests at WebPageTest and the average Time-to-First-Byte (TTFB) is below 500ms and rated A by the system. Details are published here in my InMotion Hosting review.

Can I upgrade my hosting plan with InMotion half way through my subscription?

Yes. You can always start small and upgrade your web host in later stage (when it’s necessary).

Bold Grid? InMotion Hosting?

BoldGrid is a WordPress-based site builder tool developed by InMotion Hosting. The tool comes free when you order InMotion Hosting.

Here’s a video tutorial on how to get started with InMotion’s BoldGrid.

After sales technical support?

Phone, email, and live chat support is available 24/7/365 at InMotion.

cPanel/Plesk?

cPanel.

Can I host adult websites at InMotion Hosting?

Nope, InMotion do not allow adult content (pornographic material), they do however, allow certain types of artistic material.

PHP 7? 

Yes. But it is not by default at this time of writing. Last time I check (~18 months ago), you need to contact support to initiate the update.

Special discount?

Students with a .edu email get 50% discount with InMotion Hosting.

Read more

Here – InMotion’s official FAQ section.

[Infographic] Data Centers Are Big

Data centers are something we are constantly reliant upon for everyday functionality, whether we’re online shopping, booking flights, and performing a cheeky Google search.

Computing demand at data center recorded more than 50% growth in the last 5 years.

And when data centers go down, the losses are crazy.

  • $69 trillion would be lost per hour if all data centers in the world go down at the same time.
  • 59% of Fortune 500 companies experience a minimum of 1.6 hours downtime per week, which could potentially lead to $46 million annual losses in labor cost.
  • Google’s 5 minute outage in 2012 has led to 40% drop in worldwide Internet traffic.
Source

 

What makes a good web host? Factor #3: Customer supports

Customer service is a tricky thing to gauge.

Most web hosting companies will respond to inquiries about new packages.

On the surface, the customer service department can seem friendly and easy to deal with, but what happens after you sign up for a web hosting package with the company?

If your site does go down, you want the assurance of knowing the customer service department will respond quickly and solve any issues you might have.

Here are some tips for making sure the customer service is stellar.

  • Are there multiple ways to contact the company? Look for a company that offers a 1-800 number that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You should also be able to file a tech support ticket via e-mail, a support control panel or even via a live chat.
  • Ask what their average response time is for troubleshooting problems.
  • Contact other clients and ask them if they are happy with the company’s customer support.
  • Visit any online forums you can access through the hosting company’s website. Often, customers will lodge complaints on the discussion boards about issues like customer service or response times.

Tip

I visited 20+ hosting companies’ website, asked for support via their live chat system, and recorded time taken to reply my requests.

WHSR users love that case study.

You can check it out here.

Spoiler: SiteGround stood out as the winner in this experiment.