and Domain Registration Facts
Get Educated:The Facts About Hosting Services
Hosting companies often advertise a lot of technical and sometimes misleading information. Our philosophy is simple. Educate you on the “real” facts about Web Hosting, review our pricing, then give us a try. You can read all the information available on WWW information systems and hosting companies but the real test is how will they perform. There are some issues that you should know beforehand which will guide you in determining which companies to “give a try” and which to stay away from.
First – What was the Internet
Historically, the Internet began with packet switching projects in the late 1960’s, most notably the Advanced Research Project Agency’s ARPANET. During the 70’s this network grew to support many organizations in the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies. It also began to support university and research organizations. The Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) was developed as a packet protocol that would allow connections across a variety of physical mediums including satellite connections, wireless packet radio, telephone links, and so on. It was included in a popular release of the Berkeley Standard UNIX, which was freely distributed through the university community. This was a rather loose development of technology, and in no clear sense a network of any kind.
In 1985, the National Science Foundation funded several national supercomputer centers. These included the Cornell Theory Center at Cornell University; The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois; The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center; The San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California; and the Jon von Neumann Center at Princeton University.
The NSF desired to make these supercomputer centers available to the research community in universities across the country. Many state and regional universities had already developed local and regional networks and some were even TCP/IP based. The National Science Foundation funded a 56 Kbps network linking these five original supercomputer centers, and offered to let any of the regional and university computer centers that could reach this network physically connect to it. This was the “seed” of the Internet network as we know it today and the original reason to connect to it was to access supercomputer facilities remotely.
A number of universities did link to the NSF network to gain access to the supercomputers. But beyond research, they found that the network was useful for other things such as electronic mail, file transfer, and newsgroups. The traffic on the network rose fairly dramatically. In November 1987, the National Science Foundation awarded a contract to Merit Network, Inc. in partnership with IBM, MCI and the State of Michigan, to upgrade and operate the NSFNET backbone using 1.544 Mbps T-1 leased lines connecting six regional networks, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, the five existing supercomputer centers, and Merit at the Computer Center in the Univeristy of Michigan. No one had ever attempted a data networking project of this scale. Barely eight months after the award, the T-1 backbone was
completed on July 1, 1988 linking 13 sites. It carried 152 million data packets in the first month. Merit, IBM and MCI also developed a state-of the-art network operations center at the Merit site in Ann Arbor, Michigan and staffed it 24 hours a day. The new NSFNET T-1 backbone started with a total of 170 local area networks from the supercomputer centers and regional networks served. On July 24, 1988, the old 56 Kbps NSF network was shut off.
In January of 1989, the Merit/IBM/MCI team presented a plan to upgrade the network to higher speed T-3 (45Mbps) lines to handle the rapidly increasing network traffic. IBM developed the first router capable of handling T-3 speeds using their RS/6000 worksatations running a subset of UNIX. These were eventually capable of routing some 100,000 packets per second.
In September 1990, Merit, IBM and MCI spun off a new independent non-profit organization known as Advanced Network and Services, Inc. (ANS) to operate this NSFNET backbone and tackle the challenges of moving to 45 Mbps backbone speeds. IBM and MCI each contributed $4 million, and ANS acted as subcontractor to Merit. The backbone was expanded to 16 sites and the final T-3 router was installed in November of 1991. The new T-3 backbone now connected some 3,500 networks.
This then was the National Science Foundation Network backbone. It reached such a critical mass of participation/population, that it become itself a thing to connect your private network to. The more small networks that connected to it, the more attractive it became. The term “Internet” was first used in 1983 to describe this concept of interconnecting networks. And ten years later, THE Internet was largely defined as having connectivity to the NSFNET national backbone.
The New Internet
In May, 1993, the National Science Foundation issued a solicitation for bids that would radically alter the architecture of the Internet. The NSF was getting out of the backbone business. In its place, the NSF designated a series of Network Access Points (NAP’s), really quite similar to the CIX concept, where private commercial backbone operators could “interconnect” much as they had using the NSFNET backbone. But rather than connecting to different points on an intermediary backbone, they would directly connect at a series of single points. In this way, anyone could develop a national backbone for the connection of LANs, sell connectivity to it, and use the NAP as the physical point where they interconnected and exchanged traffic with all the other service providers. The NAPs would be based on a high-speed switch or LAN technology. No content or usage restrictions would be placed on traffic. The NAPs would serve to connect multiple providers, to allow the set of providers to suffice as a replacement for the current NSFNET service.
In February, 1994, NSF announced that four NAPs would be built. One would be located in San Francisco, under the operation of PacBell. The second was in Chicago, operated by Bellcore and Ameritech. The third would be in New Jersey operated by SprintLink. Metropolitan Fiber Systems received the award for the fourth NAP, MAE-East in Washington, DC. Merit was awarded a contract as Routing Arbiter to maintain a database of information regarding the issues of interconnection. On April 30, 1995, the NSFNET backbone was essentially shut down and the NAP architecture became the Internet.
A brief side trip might be in order to describe what we mean by backbone. Basically, the entire Internet is a logical construct made up of packet routers that can be connected in almost any fashion, including wireless, satellite, or landline. These routers are connected in a matrix with each router typically connected to two or more others. The router examines packets and based on their “address” sends or “routes” them in various directions intended to get them closer to their ultimate destination.
As a practical matter, landlines of either copper or fiber provide the best performance and allow transmission of the highest data rates. And so most routers are connected using telephone lines from the existing telephone network. These lines can, and often are for small businesses
and individuals, simply Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) analog voice lines with a 56 Kbps V.90 modem on each end. For higher speeds, the routers are linked by leased permanent lines often with higher data rates. You can typically lease a Data Service – 0 (DS-0) 56 Kbps line from any telephone company linking any two points within its system. Similarly, you can lease, at somewhat higher cost, a 1.544 Mbps data line from any telephone company – usually referred to as Data Service –1 (DS-1) or T Carrier Level 1 (T-1). And yet for a bit more money, you can lease a 45 Mbps line Data Service-3 line variously referred to as “DS-3” or “T-3”.
With regards to fiberoptic lines, Optical Carrier level 3 (OC-3) provides a 155 Mbps capacity while OC-12 provides a 622 Mbps capacity. These are just a few standard, off the shelf data line products typically offered by telephone companies.
Currently, backbones are generally formed from DS-3 (45 Mbps) or faster leased lines. But this is a gross oversimplification of any backbone. In addition to a half dozen or a dozen major metropolitan areas that a backbone operator may link using DS-3 lines, they will likely extend dozens or even hundreds of less expensive 1.544 Mbps T-1 or DS-1 lines to surrounding communities from the major backbone cities. And they may further extend from those points with yet less expensive 56Kbps leased lines. The whole makes up a rather complex network often linking hundreds of cities large and small. Generally, we refer to all the nodes of the network owned by the national service provider as points of presence or POPs. Business customers then lease their own telephone lines from the telco to a POP and connect to the Internet. For the purposes of this text, we will show national backbone providers at the very top high speed T-3, DS-3 or faster logical backbone level, and then list all known POPs at the bottom level to show the “foot print” of the network. But note that there is often a very complex subnetwork extending this logical top level top level backbone to those POP locations.
Bandwidth refers to the “pipeline” you have which connects your server farm with the outside world. Hosting companies run and maintain their own “intranet” of servers. Think in terms of the “self-storage” facilities you see scattered throughout your communities. What you see is a facility, usually protected by a fence, containing several buildings, each having varying sizes of garages. You, the customer, rent one of the garages to store items. The only difference with web hosting and self storage is that you, as well as others, invite the public to view the contents of your garage. The space still belongs to the owner of the storage facility but you have the exclusive rights to the smaller garage.
The hosting companies “intranet” is everything within the fence of the storage facility. Inside the facility roads connect different buildings and offices. All designed to give access to each individual garage. There is usually a gate, which regulates access to the storage facility and an
access road connecting the facility to the main road.
Hosting companies maintain servers (high end computer systems) which are connected together to form a community of servers called an intranet. These servers communicate with each other and form the basis for the “storage garage” example. There is however an added twist. If hosting companies remained an “intranet”, none of the “tenants” would be able to show the public at large the contents of their storage area. That’s why one of the most important features of a hosting company is the “access road” leading up to the storage facility.
Server capacity largely depends on the type of server you are running. The better way to judge the hosting companies server capacity is to ask them directly. Information such as: “At what percentage of cpu, memory, and disk usage do you consider the most a single server can handle ?” Most companies do not drive their systems over 50% of cpu and memory usage, and more than 75% of total disk usage. It’s also important to remember that the cpu and memory usage would be the “baseline” usage, not the normal peaks and valleys often experienced throughout the course of a day’s worth of activity. It’s possible to drive cpu usage to 100% momentarilarly, without effecting the quality of service to your customers. If you are running at or close to 100% all the time however, there will be sever access problems no matter how fast your internet connection will be.
Don’t be discouraged by the type of servers your hosting company might be running. Some companies that have been in business a long time are running systems that seem to the average person to be older and not as fast as what you might buy as a consumer in the local PC store. Bigger is not always better. In this industry, there is a lot to be said for redundancy. Smaller servers are just as effective if their resources are not overloaded. Resource planning by your hosting company is more important than changing servers to the fastest processor available, every two months.
Memory is important. Servers which seem to be un-impressive in terms of processor speed can often times make up for it with memory. It takes centuries (in computer time) to access a disk as opposed to accessing RAM.
Finally, what types of sites does your hosting company accept. One of the most resource depleting types of sites are membership adult sites. Find out if your hosting company accepts adult sites and if so, do they isolate them on separate servers, and better yet, on different bandwidth.
IP vs. Header Hosting
The internet works because each and every computer connected to the internet has a physical address. Information travels from computer to computer over the internet using TCP/IP protocol.
What is TCP/IP
TCP/IP stands for “Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.” It is a set of protocols enabling computers to talk to each other over the networks. TCP/IP only applies where there is a network. Each computer on a network that wants to use TCP/IP has a number called the IP address that looks like, for example, 188.8.131.52.
The IP Number
There are four parts separated by periods. Each one corresponds to a byte. The entire IP address is four bytes long. The range of number in each byte of the IP address range from 0 through 255.
How do we use TCP/IP
Lets look at a server from the outside. We have a box in which there is a computer, software, and a connection to the outside world – a piece of Ethernet or serial line to a modem. This connection is known as an interface and is known to the world by its IP address. If the box had two interfaces, they would each have an IP address, and these address would normally be different. One interface, on the other hand, may have more than one IP address.
A Hypertext Transport Protocol (World Wide Web HTTP) request arrives on an interface. The HTTP request arrives at the interface because it was directed to the interface by it’s IP address. Attached to the IP address is an additional two byte “Port” number which identifies what type of request is being submitted. For standard HTTP requests, the port would be port 80.
Based on the fact that the IP address is assigned to the interface physically located in the computer system, and the IP address has appended to it an HTTP request port, the software on the server handles that request by sending it to the WWW server to retrieve the web site requested.
But I don’t use IP addresses, I type in www.myrequest.com ?
IP addresses would not be easy to remember nor would they provide for any meaningful information about the destination you are seeking. Much like phone numbers, it’s easier for people to remember names, or look up names rather than identify people by their phone number.
When you make a request to view www.aschwebhosting.com, the request is broken down into pieces. Reading from right to left, the .com portion of the request is called the top level domain (TLD). The aschwebhosting portion is the actual domain, and the www is considered the “host”. This is where DNS takes over. DNS refers to Domain Name Servers. These are computer systems throughout the world that act as translators (phone books). Through a series of lookups, the http request you entered is broken down and identified. Eventually, the entire host, domain, tld, is broken down into the IP address of the computer or service hosting the request. This all happens without your intervention. Once the request is broken down and identified by the DNS servers as an IP address, your request can then be routed to the appropraiate destination.
What Is Dedicated IP Hosting
Each servers nework interface card is capable of handling requests from many assigned IP addresses. In order to route the httpd request to the proper web site, the web site is “bound” to the IP address. IP address binding is performed by the web server running on the particular server. IP binding was necessary in the past because the only information about the individual domain that was transmitted to the server by the client’s web
browser was the IP address information.
HTTP/1.1 improves the virtual hosting business by including the hostname as a header rather than forcing the server to work it out by IP address. This means that the server can support multiple virtual hosts without wasting IP addresses. If you are running a browser that support this feature of HTTP/1.1 (Netscape Version 3 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 3 and all higher versions) your site can be viewed by header and not IP address.
HTTP/1.1 accounts for over 95% of the browsers running today. There are more important security reasons for upgrading older versions of Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer rather than using old versions.
Do I need Dedicated IP Hosting ?
If you are hosted by a Linux (Unix) system with a web server capable of virtual hosting using headers, there is no reason at all for needing a dedicated IP. The IP address of the machine is enough to allow you access to your site using FTP or Telnet, and browsing your site with
HTTP/1.1 compliant browsers is not a problem. There are no measurable speed or access restrictions experienced when hosting with headers rather than IP’s.
Some service providers will force you into hosting with a more expensive IP option rather than host headers claiming that speed and access will be greatly diminished. This is simply not true.
NT brings another problem to the table. Services such as FTP and Telnet are native to Unix (Linux) based operating systems. They are not native to NT server systems. In fact, telnet is not allowed on our NT servers because the security is weak. The FTP service is handled by the Internet Information Server rather than the operating system. In order to set up an FTP server on NT, you need to either bind it to an IP address, or change the standard port from port 21 to some other port number. If you as the site administrator will be the only individual using FTP, then assigning a different port number to the FTP account will not present a problem. If you wish to allow anonymous access to a folder, you cannot do this without using a dedicated IP address.
NT vs. Linux
The question of the day. No matter how many articles you read or ISP newsgroups you subscribe to, you will never get a definitive answer. Some honest issues:
1.Unix based systems are proven to be more stable than NT based systems. NT based systems however can be configured to operate in a very stable fashion depending on the number of services running on any given server. Many providers run into trouble when they rely on a single server running NT to operate all the services including DNS, Mail, NNTP, and IIS.
2.NT based systems are easier to administrate and usually offer more services to the average user.
3.NT based servers are native to ASP, VB Scripting, and FrontPage® Extensions.
4.Unix based systems are native to scripting languages such as Perl. Almost all scripts found in the shareware/freeware databases were originally written to operate on Unix based servers making them easy to implement.
5.Unix based systems operate with less overhead and require fewer resources than NT based systems.
6.Unix systems are easier to backup, rebuild if necessary, and configure.
Domain Name Registration
Which Do I Choose ?
Are you in need of Visual Basic Scripting, mSQL Server 7, minimal Perl scripting, Microsoft Active X support, you should be on an NT server. Do you like to program in Perl, cgi scripting, need a telnet account, want mySQL, go with Linux. Regardless of which service you choose, you will ge the same reliable service and technical support. And, you can always switch, free of charge for any reason.
Beneath the second-level domains, you will be assigned additional individual TCP/IP host names to further identify your site. These host names are variable however the most common name is ‘www”. We allow for multiple host names. Example of host names are:
These last expressions are examples of Fully Qualified Domain Names, or FQDNs. Thus for example in the FQDN www.asch.com we have:
The host www
The second-level domain asch.com
The top-level domain com
Registering Your Domain Name
Domain name registration is required if you wish to be recognized on the Internet. As with most hosting companies, domain name registration is performed by the hosting company free of charge. In order to register a domain name you must have a valid domain name choosen which is not already registered. Most services offer a feature on their home page which you can use to check the domain name you wish to register. If the domain name is returned with all the registration information, this name cannot be used by your company.
During the order/registration process when you sign up for a hosting account, you provide all the necessary information for your hosting company to register your domain, or transfer your domain from the current hosting company to the new company.
Registration with InterNIC is mandatory and you, as the domain owner, must pay for the use of your domain name on an annual basis. The current charge for domain name registration is up to $35.00/year. Network solutions will charge you for the first two years in advance. So expect a bill from Nework Solutions for $70.00 for two years worth of registration or alternatively, register through other registrars which charge lower. The hosting company that registers you does not receive any portion of the annual fee paid for your domain name. Be Careful … You might not own it.
How can an unscrupulous hosting company screw you out of owning your domain name. It’s easy. When you ask a hosting company to register your domain name, they put themselves down as the “Registrant” of the domain. You might never know it unless you review the registration
information, which most people don’t do. InterNIC requires four different contacts. The contacts are as follows:
The registrant (owner of the domain)
The administrative contact.
The Technical Contact
The Billing Contact.
In theory, all four of the contacts can be the same person. They usually are not. You will always find that the technical contact is a representative of the hosting company or of the company performing DNS for the hosting company.
The billing contact needs to be the person who will pay the registrar, and the administrative contact is the individual that InterNIC will communicate with when modifying the registration. Watch out for the following. Try to check out your hosting company. Don’t be afraid to ask for reference domains. The hosting company registers your domain name and puts themselves down as the “registrant”. You decide the company isn’t performing up to par and want to move to another hosting company. The hosting company refuses to allow InterNIC to transfer your domain. When your hosting company listed themselves as the owner of the domain, “registrant”, they effectively stopped you from moving that domain. They may offer to re-register the domain under your name for a fee, or move it for a fee, or even offer to sell the domain back to you. Check your registration when it is completed. If you are not the “registrant”, file an immediate protest with InterNIC.
Can I Register My Own Domain?
You can register and park your own domain wit hout having a website, or even a hosting company. You can visit the Network Solutions home page and register your domain and park it with them. They charge an small fee for the registration. Any reputable hosting company will agree to register and park your domain for free. If you are talking to a provider who won’t do this for you, find another hosting company.
You can also register your own domain name with InterNIC and not park the domain, legitimally at least. When you register a domain name, InterNIC requires that you provide two domain name servers that will host your domain. These domain name servers are owned by companies such as wwwhosting.net Inc. Information concerning the domain name servers for companies such as ours is available on the internet. You should not however use the domain name information without informing the company that owns the DNS systems. What’s the best thing to do ? Visit our home page. We will register your domain name for free, park it for free, and convert it to a webspace or transfer it at will any time you wish.
Lets say for example you want to register a domain name but don’t have a web site. Why would you do that ? Well, if you have a domain name in mind for a future website and you don’t want to take the chance that someone else will take the name you should register it immediately.
Do I have to pay for a website to house the domain name before I finish my site ? No. Asch WebHosting Inc. allows you to register your domain, and “park” it on our servers for free. What we will do is make an entry in our DNS servers which will point to a “Under Construction” web page. Everyone who enters your new domain name will be directed to the under construction page. This protects your domain and preserves it for your use in the future.
If you decide not to host with us, we will move the domain to the company of your choice, free of charge.
Reselling webspace can be a good thing, and can be a bad thing. There are many companies who have the resources or knowledge to place their company on the Web. Some companies don’t want to be bothered or are simply concentrating on the business they perform, not web based business. Everyone knows however that they need a website.
Companies in this position often go to a web designer that offers a complete package to satisify the companies needs. They design the site, publish the site, and maintain the site for the company at a fee. These companies usually “re-sell” our services by registering a web site for their client, maintain the site, then charge a higher fee than the company would have been charged if they purchased the web space directly from us. They are however getting a service for the extra fee.
As in any other business, you will find re-sellers that are doing nothing more than renting a web space from us, then reselling the space to you at a premium price. They don’t perform any other service other than acting as a middleman. These are the types of resellers you want to stay away
Danger Signs … Things to watch out for
The great bandwidth scam
We have often been asked the question, what type of connections are you using. Most providers advertise their connection to the internet. A real example of misleading the public comes in the form of describing their connection to the internet. One such company advertises their “Brand New PSI Net OC48 Connection to the Internet”, leading people to believe that they actually have a OC48 connection to their servers. If they tell you that this is true, let them know you know their lying. Remember, your connection is only as fast as your slowest link. The PSINet OC48 connection is their backbone. Nobody including us has this OC48 running into their server farm. We subscribe with PSINet also and are connected to the backbone which is an OC48 however our connection is a much smaller bandwidth connection. Everyone connected to the backbone is ultimately connected to a high speed link.
Here are some questions you should ask your hosting company:
1.How removed are you from a major backbone provider ? You should not be more than one or two hops away from the backbone. If they are, they are being re-sold services from several other companies and this could effect the reliability and speed.
2.What type of connections are you using to connect to your ISP ? Ask them specifically what type of access is provided up to their
in-house router. Multiple T1’s and T3’s are common and very effective.
3.Is your provider using digital switching or are they relying on routing to get you on the backbone ? Routers can easily cause downtime. If you are routed out of one single point and there is a problem in that router station, your out of service. If you are digitally switched, there is
4.significant protection against a single point of failure.
Your hosting company might not actually be a hosting company. Many of the hosting companies out there are nothing more than a desk in an office somewhere. What these companies do is sell you a website that they rent from an actual provider.
If you are not receiving any other services from this company, such as web design, you are being overcharged for your website. Ask your provider:
1.Do you actually own and administrate the equipment ? If you suspect they are not being honest with you ask them to prove it. We have methods that can prove we operate our own equipment and can be done while you are on line.
2.Ask your potential hosting company if they are doing their own DNS. You can usually check this on-line by performing a whois against their domain name. Most hosting companies have a service on their home page which allows you to look up information about domains.
Put their domain in the lookup and see what is returned. At the bottom of the return information you will see at least two references to DNS servers. These references are usually owned and identified as those of the hosting company.
3.Watch out for companies selling you
www.theirname.com/yourname. This is called non-virtual hosting and again, can be purchased directly from the hosting company usually at a lower price. The only thing you have purchased here is a web site underneath the domain owners web site with absolutely no control.
Setup fees are un-necessary. We never charge a setup fee for any of our services. Frankly speaking, it doesn’t take very much effort to setup your account when you sign up. Most everything is automated. Companies charging for setup are offsetting the unbelievably low price you see in their advertisement.
Setup fees may be a sign that the hosting company is re-selling your account. Sometimes, a hosting company does not have the ability or the expertise to do DNS in house and they rely on the upstream service provider to do the DNS for them. Most ISP’s charge for DNS records and
that charge will usually be passed along to you. The phantom company
Stay away from companies that don’t give you a phone number to call. Search the net, we did. There are companies that do not have a telephone number. We were on one such site that has a huge button labeled “Contact Us” on their home page. I pushed that button and got their e-mail address in my mail client.
If they give you a phone number, call it. It’s worth it. If you get an answering machine, leave a message. Answering machines are actually a good thing. See how long it takes to get a return call, if you get one at all.
Send E-mail, lots of it. Find their sales, webmaster, and technical support e-mail addresses and just say hello. See if you get a response.
We have one customer who moved from another hosting company to ours. It took 6 months for this individual to stop the old hosting company from billing them. The credit card company couldn’t contact them because they didn’t have a phone number. Finally, the only way to stop them was to cancel the card. Find out what their billing policy is.
The 99.xx% Guaranteed Uptime
Tell them to put it in writing and send it along to you. Also ask them what is the guarantee and what will they provide you with when they don’t meet that uptime.
Guaranteed uptime is another misleading quotation. Here is an example on how we can mislead you into thinking that your site will be up 99% of the time. If we run 15 web servers 24 hours/day, we have a total of 21,600 server minutes. Say your server goes down for two hours. We are still operating at 99.4% uptime. If you calculate that on a daily basis, you could
be down two hours a day and still maintain a 99% uptime on a daily basis.
Guaranteed uptime is fictious and meaningless. No company can make such a guarantee because many of the things that cause downtime are out of the control of the hosting company.
You are hosting a website, not buying life insurance. There is nothing more miserable than being stuck in a contract with a company that is not performing. There is no need for contracts in this business. Either you perform and keep your customer, or you go somewhere else.