Hosting Information For Your Website

This article was written by Tony Roocroft and explains the importance of having your own details and being in as much control as possible of your hosting.

Will your web site survive a bankrupt host – or will you win the fight with an non-performing domain registrar?

Seoza News June 19 2004 Number 405   About 2 years ago I created a site for a landscaper in the UK called Peter J May. Peter is a fine water gardener, Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winner, and author of “The Perfect Pond Recipe Book” amongst others. He happens to be a friend of mine and has done a series of lectures in South Africa on my behalf.

Peter had always used me to keep his web site updated with content he supplied.

He wrote to me this week and said his web site was “missing” … when I checked sure enough there was the 404 error … site cannot be found.

Peter was unable to do anything about this disappearance and was concerned that all the effort and work put into the site had also disappeared. Fortunately for Peter I had gone through a similar experience 2 years ago, and learned from it. We discovered the site had vanished on Monday and he had first seen the the loss of his website on Wednesday.

Now my question to *YOU* … what would *YOU* do if the same thing happened to your website today?

And it is certainly true that it is happening to many many websites all day every day. Read William Kelly’s article below and then maybe *YOU* will realize that you must do something about your own situation immediately to ensure that *YOU* in future will always be in total control of your own website.

Do *YOU* know your website DNS details? *YOU* must!

DNS is something of a mystery to the average Internet used. It’s bandied about by those in the know as something of an elitist segregation tool – if you don’t know what it means then you are classed as “pre Internet savvy”.

You should know by now that we don’t stand for this nonsense. Empowering you is our goal and one of the most important things that you need to understand is what DNS means to you.

DNS stands for Domain Name System. This should immediately explain a great deal of its importance.

Your website www.yourcompany.com is a domain name. There is no distinction between .com, .net, .org or even .co.za. The last bits at the end of a domain are called TLDs or top level domains. Hence .com, .za and .org are TLDs. They end the name and represent the broadest categorisation of domains.

There are moves afoot to expand the base of TLDs to include things like .sex (go figure) .live, .tv, .wildlife etc. This in my opinion is not a good thing but it will happen. Why not a good thing? Because the role of search engines will be increased dramatically! If you have trouble remembering www.cocacola.com imagine trying to remember www.cocacola.drink!

As with things Internet we’ll see in short order what happens.

Back to DNS. Computers cannot understand language. Language is translated into numbers and DNS represents the translation of language into numbers for domains. In other words, each and every domain has a DNS number associated with it. For us mere humans it is of course the opposite … it is easier to understand and remember http://www.seoza.com than it is http://64.112.59.37

This DNS number is an IP (Internet Protocol) number such as above 64.112.59.37. IP is the universal language of the Internet – any machine that can understand IP can understand the Internet. This is the reason why so many differing computer types (Apple Macs, PCs, Unix Systems etc.) can all see and understand the same thing.

Your domain name thus has a DNS number assigned to it. Anybody looking for your domain will first have their browser go to a Name Server to find out what this number is. It then looks up that number on the Internet, finds it ON A SERVER and displays your site.

NO DNS, NO SITE! ….. NO SERVER NO SITE!

DNS is thus vitally important. If your site has the wrong DNS assigned to it or if the server is down, your site will not be displayed. If you change the domain to a different server (like when you change hosting company) and you do not update your DNS to reflect this move – your site will not be found!

DNS hosting in South Africa … It is absolutely critical that you know the DNS of your domain and more importantly, that you and ONLY you have the ability to change it. Any updates to the DNS of the domain hosting should only ever occur with your consent and full knowledge.

This is why you should NEVER host with the company that registered your domain in the first place. If things go wrong and they go belly up or have a dispute with you, and you don’t know your DNS, you can do nothing. Do read this sentence again

If the domain is paid for by you as the owner but NOT registered to you in such a way that it is yourself that is listed as the technical and admin contacts, you are asking for trouble. Why? Because updating a domain (for instance if you want to move hosting companies or change service providers) requires a series of votes to approve the change. These votes are sent automatically to the domain owner (which may be you) and the technical contact and the admin contact (ie 3 emails are sent). A single NO vote halts the process and the update will not take place. Since you have only 1 vote you are seriously disadvantaged … and if you ‘re fighting with the people that have their e-mail addresses on this domain as technical and admin contact, guess what’ll happen?

Your hands are tied if you do not control the email addresses. The host company or domain registrar will if allowed always place their own email addresses in technical and admin contact fields.

This is the trick used so often when a FREE web domain is offered as part of a hosting package. You are told that the domain belongs to you and strictly speaking maybe it does … you are not however provided with the DNS details and the admin and technical contact email addresses remain with the host.

Below you will find a typical example of what DNS information might look like … there must always be two as below …

NS1.ABCDEFG.COM

NS2.ABCDEFG.COM

You don’t need to know HOW DNS works. You need to know that you have total, complete unfettered control over your sites DNS.

We can find out for you and advise what you need to do to rectify any potential problems you may already have without even knowing it.

This brings me back to my story about Peter J May …. and yes you have guessed it. Through me Peter had total control over the DNS so I quickly arranged a new host, which cost him about R75 a month set the DNS details to the new host’s server and he was back in business without any charge being made either unlike South African hosts who typically charge R50 to change DNS settings.

There is always a short time to wait for propagation of new DNS details after a change like this … these new details identifying Peter’s new location must be fed to all web servers worldwide.

Now imagine if Peter had not been able to rely upon me. Also imagine what would have happened if the old host had also provided Peter with a free domain … not only would he have lost the web site the domain name would no longer be available to him either. In short a total internet disaster for him.

Most and I mean at the very least 95% of website owners do not know what we have shared with *YOU* here.

Hits and visitors and page views

Next week we will alert you to the value of these log based statistics. For time being we would like to alert readers to what HITS mean to you most of the time … and NOT MUCH is the answer.

HITS are used quite incorrectly in general conversation on the internet … HITS when misunderstood can serve the purposes of trying to impress other people. It is a fact of life that in some cases the intent is deliberately to mislead and in others it is a plain misunderstanding

Clarifying the HIT situation

A single HIT means that the web server hosting the domain has returned to the person viewing a web page a single file. Now if a web page has 10 pictures (each picture is a file with .jpg or .gif ending normally) on it then seeing that single page ONCE registers 10 + 1 hits, namely 10 image files + 1 page html file.

If the same visitor (eg the website owner in testing his/her site for example) came back 2 hours later and viewed the same page then a further 11 HITS would be recorded. You can see the potential for misunderstanding.

HITS do not buy anything … visitors on the other hand just might. So the obvious question is:

How Many Visitors Does Your Web Site Attract? Do *YOU* know this number every day?

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