Archive for March, 2011

Green Web Hosting

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Green web hosting is a new approach that many web hosting companies are taking with the way in which they are offering their services, providing businesses that are looking to cut down their carbon footprint with another way in which this can be achieved. Through a variety of different methods web hosting companies are able to reduce the carbon footprint of their web hosting services so that the use less energy without compromising the quality or the performance of the service that is being offered. Any web hosting company can take a few basic measures so that they can say that they offer green web hosting, but there are some specialist web hosting companies that go one step further and invest greatly in power generation technologies so that they are able to deliver a truly green web hosting experience to customers. Depending on how you go about it green web hosting may only be available at a premium, but most web hosting companies have now invested in power-saving equipment that uses less electricity whilst providing more power which will help to reduce their overall carbon footprint without having to increase the costs of their web hosting services.

What defines green web hosting?

Green web hosting is a type of web hosting that is defined by several different features that may differ between web hosting providers. These features consist of:

  • Power usage of equipment – the power usage of equipment can play a big factor in how green a web hosting company is because if they are using old and outdated equipment then this obviously wouldn’t have been manufactured to meet the current standards with regards to energy consumption – in order for a web hosting company to be able to provide green web hosting services, it is important for them to have invested in modern servers and networking equipment that are much more economical with the way in which they use energy and are able to provide a higher level of performance whilst using less energy – however, it is still going to be the case of the more powerful servers using up more energy than smaller, less powerful servers, but techniques can be applied to help stem the need for further servers such as the use of virtual machines
  • Where the energy comes from – one of the most important factors for web hosting companies to consider if they wish to promote green web hosting is where the energy that powers their servers and network equipment comes from because if it is provided by fossil fuel-powered power stations then this isn’t going to aid them with the promotion of green web hosting to any extent – many data centres are now adding wind turbines on their own sites as this will allow them to generate their any electricity, whilst any spare capacity can be sold back to the National Grid which will provide any data centre with the opportunity to generate an extra source of income whilst reducing their own electricity costs through the reduction in reliance on external power suppliers
  • Community involvement – some web hosting companies may choose to get involved with the local communities in which they are based with activities such as tree planting as these will allow the company to offset their carbon emissions to some extent by planting new trees that will be able to absorb the carbon dioxide produced by the web hosting provider’s activities – tree planting schemes can be costly and so for the most part web hosting providers don’t get involved to a great extent, but at the end of the day involvement in such schemes help to promote a positive company image and will aid them with the promotion of green web hosting services.

Are there any disadvantages to using green web hosting?

For individuals there can be some downsides to using green web hosting that need to be considered when weighing up the advantages of green web hosting. Such disadvantages may include:

  • Cost – because of the extra investment that takes place in more expensive technologies in order to allow web hosting companies to offer green web hosting services, the cost of green web hosting services can be more expensive than web hosting services that are hosted on older hardware appliances and less energy-efficient data centres and this can place green web hosting services outside the budgets of many smaller businesses that are simply looking to establish their web presence, as at this time it is generally larger businesses that are looking to develop their green presence in multiple ways as a method of improving their corporate image
  • Verifying green credentials – in some cases, particularly with smaller web hosting companies, it can be hard to verify the green credentials of the web hosting business because although some claim to be participating in tree planting schemes and using energy efficient hardware, verifying such claims can be very hard – however, most web hosting companies host their hardware in large data centres that usually put in efforts to offer green server hosting services meaning that if a web hosting company does claim to be using a data centre that offers green hosting then such claims are easier to verify than others.

In conclusion, green web hosting will allow businesses to reduce their carbon footprint which in-turn will allow them to improve their corporate image, especially to customers who are conscious of a business’s ethical and environmental policies. There are many different measures that web hosting companies can take to claim the green web hosting badge, but in order to offer carbon neutral web hosting services a web hosting provider will need to be actively engaged in community projects which involve growing trees and other environmentally tasks, whilst investment in modern servers and other hardware will need to take place to reduce a web hosting provider’s overall energy consumption. However, the investment will need to be passed on to the customer and so you may find that some green web hosting services carry an extra premium, this usually being with web hosting companies that specialize specifically in green web hosting.

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Using the Plesk Control Panel

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Plesk is the biggest player in the Windows web hosting control panel industry and as a Windows hosting customer of Storm Internet, you will be provided with access to Plesk so that you are able to manage your own web hosting account and configure it how you want it to be. Control panels are an integral part of web hosting because without them web hosting providers would be responsible for every aspect of account management, whereas with a control panel system in place most Windows hosting customers are able to manage their account without having to contact their web hosting provider.

Logging In

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 16.45.33 300x164 Using the Plesk Control Panel

Logging into Plesk for the first time is fairly simple. Once your Storm Internet Windows web hosting service has been setup for you, you will receive a welcome email that will contain the link to the Plesk control panel as well as the login details for your web hosting account.

Upon login you will automatically be taken to the Home screen from which you can select the action that you wish to perform:

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 16.50.32 300x161 Using the Plesk Control Panel

We will now go through several basic operations that you are likely to wish to perform at some point with your web hosting account and you will see how using Plesk will allow you to streamline the management of your web hosting account.

Creating an Email Account

If you wish to use email with the domain name that you are hosting on your Plesk web hosting account then you will need to setup either email accounts or forwarders depending on how you wish to use this service. For this example we’ll setup an email account.

The first step is to select the ‘Mail Accounts’ icon from the Home screen.

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 16.57.18 Using the Plesk Control Panel

You will then be taken to a page that will provide you with a summary of any existing email accounts that you have already created under your web hosting account and will allow you to perform operations of these email accounts if you wish to do so. In order to proceed with the process of creating an email account you will need to select the ‘Create Mail Account’ icon:

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 17.00.001 Using the Plesk Control Panel

You will then be presented with the following form that you will need to fill out in order to create an email account:

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 17.00.53 300x174 Using the Plesk Control Panel

The following details will need to be entered:

  • Mail account – this will be the name of the email address you want to create, your domain name will succeed this name meaning that “example” will become [email protected] if you are using the domain name example.com
  • Password – any email account should have a password applied to it to protect the contents of the emails that are received
  • Mailbox – checking this box will ensure that the mail account is treated as a mailbox rather than a forwarder or anything else
  • Mailbox quota – if you don’t have a default quota set then you will need to enter a custom amount in megabytes, it is important to set a quota for every mailbox so that a single mailbox doesn’t end up using up all of your web space.

Once you have filled the form out you can then click the ‘Next’ button for extended configuration options or ‘Finish’ to create the email accounts.

Adding a New DNS Record

If you are an advanced user then you may wish to add additional DNS records to your domain’s DNS file to facilitate the use of other web hosting plans or servers under separate sub-domains on your main domain name. In order to maintain your DNS zone you will first need to select the ‘DNS Settings’ icon from the Home screen:

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 19.11.24 Using the Plesk Control Panel

From there you will then be presented with the different DNS entries that form your domain’s DNS zone; these are effectively the backbone of your domain name and will dictate how other servers around the internet direct users to your website and deal with emails that are sent from your domain name. In order to proceed with adding a DNS record simply click the ‘Add Record’ button:

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 19.32.55 Using the Plesk Control Panel

You will then need to fill out the following form in order to create your new record:

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 19.39.03 300x67 Using the Plesk Control Panel

The following details will need to be entered:

  • Record type – there are different types if DNS record with simple A records being there just to act a pointer that will map a name to an IP address, whereas MX records will dictate where email for your domain name is sent and which servers handle all incoming mail
  • Name – this will be the name that you wish to precede your domain name and will form the subdomain that will become your new DNS record
  • IP address – if you are creating an A record then you will need to map a name to an address, but if you are creating an MX record then you will need to enter a hostname rather than an IP address.

Once you click the ‘Ok’ button your new DNS record will then be created.

Creating an FTP Account

FTP accounts allow you to transfer files between your desktop computer and web space using the File Transfer Protocol, a standard that many file transfer applications are based around. Plesk, like many control panels, provides support for FTP accounts as standard.

In order to begin the process of creating an FTP account through Plesk, you will need to select the ‘FTP Accounts’ icon from the Home screen:

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 20.53.20 Using the Plesk Control Panel

You will then be taken to the following summary screen:

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 20.53.46 300x86 Using the Plesk Control Panel

In order to create a new account you will need to select the ‘Add New FTP Account’ icon located at the top of the page.

You will then be required to fill out the following form:

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 20.58.29 300x103 Using the Plesk Control Panel

You will need to enter the following details in order to create your FTP account:

  • FTP account name – you will need to enter a username because this will provide you with a unqiue login identify
  • Password – a password will be required to keep your access to your web space secure
  • Home directory – set this option if you want to limit the access that you can have with a particular FTP account to a certain directory rather than having access to your entire web space
  • Permissions – you may wish to create an account that will only be able to browse your web space via FTP, but you do have the choice to add read and write permissions separately as per your needs.

In conclusion, using the Plesk control panel for the first time shouldn’t be daunting because as an application it will enable you to streamline the management of your Windows web hosting account and to make the most of what Windows web hosting has to offer.

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Developing Websites for Linux Web Hosting

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Linux is the most popular operating system for web hosting because it is able to offer a combination of reliability with a choice of open source applications and components that will enable web developers to create web applications that make the most of what the operating system has to offer. As a Linux web hosting customer you won’t have to pay much for your hosting package because Linux web hosting services are often the cheapest web hosting services available from most web hosting companies; however, you should still expect to pay a reasonable sum for VPS servers and dedicated servers. Developing a website for Linux web hosting will take time depending on your experience, with the most professional web developers having the ability to create a dynamic database-driven website in an incredibly short amount of time. The main tools of the trade for creating websites suitable for hosting on Linux are PHP and MySQL, with PHP being a popular open source scripting language and MySQL being a highly scalable database hosting solution; these features are common to all Linux web hosting services and are usually utilized in conjunction with the Apache web server to offer a capable and proven development solution.

Technologies for Linux Web Development

There are several different applications and technologies that will aid your Linux web development experience to allow you to develop highly useable and functional web applications, these include:

  • Apache – if you require a scalable web server application that will be able to cope consistently with high loads without putting pressure on the resources that you have available then Apache is the application for your website – as an open source application you won’t have to pay to use Apache on Linux, but one of the main benefits of this web server is that you can also use it for free on your desktop machine if you want to test your website before uploading it to a live environment – Apache is highly expandable with there being additional components and modules available if you wish to make the application more secure or if you wish to add support for an additional scripting language
  • PHP scripting language – in order to develop a dynamic website you will require knowledge of a particular web scripting language, with the recommended language for Linux development being PHP – this is an easy to use scripting language and will run without any issues from the outset on any server running the Apache web server – you can also integrate PHP web scripts with the features and components of Linux distributions with ease, an ideal solution for those wishing to tap into their server’s resources at a higher level to create more stable web applications that can offer greater functionality
  • MySQL database server – if you are wanting to create a truly dynamic website then it is important for you to have a database backend that you can use that will be able to store the information that you feel every web script will need to manage – MySQL provides you with a central location in which you can store all of the data that you require so that it can be accessed from any web script that you create that has access to the database – the benefit of MySQL databases is that you can easily password protect them using user accounts to ensure that only authorized users are able to see the content that is stored within your MySQL databases.

Hosting Websites on Linux

Hosting websites in a Linux web hosting environment will offer you a reliable hosting experience accompanied by access to features and components that will mean that it is easy to develop feature-rich websites. Linux provides you with the perfect platform for hosting simple static HTML websites or dynamic database driven websites, making a basic Linux shared hosting package ideal for beginners right up to the most experienced web developers. Any good web hosting provider will feature cPanel control panel access as one of the perks of using its web hosting services, with cPanel offering advance features for Linux hosting that just aren’t available with other Linux web hosting control panels. As cPanel is available with most Linux web hosting packages, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the control panel so that if you do come to use it, you will be able to make the most of it when it comes to using cPanel in the long term.

In conclusion, developing websites for Linux web hosting is easy for beginners as you can easily create a simple static HTML website. If you wish to take web development further then you can capitalize on the core features of PHP and MySQL to create dynamic database-driven websites that will allow you to take your business’s website to the next level. As opposed to static websites, database driven websites offer you the opportunity to develop web applications such as online stores so that your customers can order your goods or services online, providing you with an extra course of income as well as another way in which your customers will be able to contact you.

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