Monday, August 30, 2010

Where to get VPS hosting?

I still seriously think that the best Windows web hosting you can find is at your home. Now when internet service providers lock port 80 on a regular basis, this turns out to be a little expensive. However, if it comes to the utmost control and flexibility of the options, self-hosting is the best. I might even write a post sometime in the future about that. But... the best alternative to self-hosting turned out to be VPS hosting for me.

Bad quality. Sorry guys at 1and1, I tried my best and have to cancel it now. The major issues are - slowness, frequent crashes, inability to open any ports easily without going through the Bangalore customer service, extreme complexity in order to install anything. I mean.. come on, I have the same .NET code running on a dozen of various hosting solutions - from dedicated servers to basic Windows hosting. Nothing gave me so much trouble as the VPS hosting at 1and1. Once they set it up for you... there is nothing working on it. .NET Framework does not work, you have to initialize it yourself (aspnet_regiis), there is no SQL express, all ports are closed completely. Internet Explorer can't even get to Besides that, the price is way higher than competition. And the worst thing is their customer service, especially on weekends. You open ticket Friday afternoon, the server is down through the entire weekend, and they close the ticket automatically for you Monday while the server is still down.

Instead of getting VPS with 1and1, try their dedicated server. I am hosting a large traffic site with them for more than a year already and it appears to be extremely stable and consistently fast. Costs a tad more than VPS though.

Ok quality. I had to maintain a couple of VPS servers on vpsland and even ordered one for myself there. Not cheap (about the same as 1and1) , same as slow. The good thing the ports that you normally need are open (80, 81, 8080), and IE works. You will still get hard time to install SQL express on their servers, I guess they lock you out intentionally so you order a SQL package from them or something. The good thing the server is more stable that 1and1 and they use Parallels control panel where you can reboot your server. 1and1 does not use Parallels, they have their own buggy Java user interface.

Now this is a good one. Costs 3 times less than 1and1 ($26 vs $75) for the same specs, comes with working .NET framework and SQL express right out of the box. All ports you need are open, IE works out of the box. Everything is really fast, clean and neat. This is how I would set up the server if I did it. That's the place where I'm moving my old 1and1 VPS to.

Where to get domain name?

I've been buying domain names for a few years already and I hope I know something about that process. In the domain business the most important features are
- how quickly and easily you can book the domain name,
- how quickly they update the DNS,
- how easily you can sell or transfer domains.

I ordered a domain name 3 days ago at 3 days and the domain is still nowhere in sight. Not even in my Control panel. Answer - don't use for buying domain names. They say they have the cheapest domain names among competitors (currently less than $7), however they have a "renewal fee" which makes domains cost a few dollars more next year than the initial registration. I am talking about .com domain names.

I have been using for buying domain names. These guys really shine when you need to snatch a good name quickly and make your site up and running.  It almost seems like they own one of the root DNS servers also, which brings DNS updates to a record setting 2 or 3 hours. They are not as good in hosting, especially in VPS. I will talk about this in my next post.

1and1 is also good for hosting private domains. You can't beat the price - private domain hosting is free at 1and1. I never owned any trademark domain names, so I don't know how friendly 1and1 is when it comes to ownership rights. I will appreciate if anyone can post a response here about this.

In regards to transferring domain names from 1and1, they have some issues here. First and the most annoying is that they charge you the full price of the domain again shortly after you transferred it to another provider. I've seen it several times on my domains and 1and1 billing department will not reply to your questions.
Second, their user interface is not user friendly and outright buggy when you need to change something in the domain properties. I get 'server error 500' on a regular basis when changing domain lock/unlock, contact info, and so on. I had to write to customer service and wait for 2 weeks until they fixed my domain transfer once. But again, if you need to snatch a domain name quickly - they are pretty good at that.

Spammy. That's the first word I would use to characterize their user interface. Another word would be Expensive. These guys make money on every single click you make with them. And most of the charges they do are recurring. They charge you for private registration, they charge you extra for renewal, they charge you for email address.

There are two things they've done right - their user interface works very well, however it appears to be really spammy with all those optional features they sell you all the time. In most places you don't have to opt-out of anything, but you have to watch them - they sometimes turn those options on and off.
Another good thing - they have domain auctions. This is what 1and1 lacks. 1and1 has Sedo service, but they are unusable for me, because they charge you $75 or more upfront for each listing. Godaddy charges you a couple of bucks a year for auction membership and that appears to include unlimited domain listings. I just listed two domain names for sale, the auction will end in about a month. I will post the update once I figure out if that worked for me.

I bought two domains from some guy who hosted them with Namecheap. It was more than 2 years ago and I can't recall the details, but I remember that transferring the domains to 1and1 was pretty easy. Please post some comments below if you know anything good or bad about namecheap.

And.. if you know any place where I can safely host domains and have the free or inexpensive private registration, please let me know also.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

People, don’t buy web sites on eBay

Hi All,

it's been awhile since I posted anything here. I think I am back in business and have something to write about.

Recently, I've been thinking about selling some of my websites. I have quite a few of them now and would prefer to concentrate my efforts on a handful of the profitable ones rather than on a bunch. In case you are curious, I have a custom affiliate publisher script written in .NET and a couple of other pretty cool scripts such as a modified proxy and an url shortener which I thought I might sell to offset some of my recent expenses.

Naturally, I went to eBay to check if there are any competitors and to check out the price brackets on comparable offers. Well, all I can say is that the picture is grim.

Let's open eBay and type 'affiliate web site' in the search bar. Narrow the results to 'business and web sites for sale' on the left in the search results. We will see sites that cost $0.99 and sites that start at $49.95. There is almost nothing in between, however there is a small amount of sites over $100.

Web sites for a dollar

Let's look at the first type of a 'deal' - the sites for a buck. It's nice to see that there are some bids on them, that just indicates there are still some people in that world that still believe in miracle or free cheese perhaps.

The sites for a buck do not invent anything new. They all have a small but colorful screenshot right on the eBay ad page, you know the one that you can't zoom in at all. There is a lot of bright green or pink text around explaining how you can become a millionaire by making money at home. You might even ask yourself a question - how these people can make money selling such a cool looking web work for a buck? Don't worry, they don't sell you just a web site, they sell you hosting. Here is how it works. You pay them a buck, they send you a login and password to the web site that is hosted with their very own hosting company. Hosting with them is not too expensive, but it's not cheap either. It starts at about $10 a month. In case you didn't know, anybody can partner with Godaddy or Hostgator and open a reseller hosting account for a small percentage of profit. These people do exactly that. They register with Godaddy and you essentially buy the website for a buck and hosting for $10/month.

It's relatively cumbersome to get rid of that hosting package or move the site you think is yours to another provider. The most honest of those people do not restrict you in your move, but there are some sellers that are ridiculously hard to deal with. The problem is that you don't know who they are when you buy your website for a buck on eBay.

Free Amazon sites

The second type of affiliate sites sold on eBay may cost you a tad more up front, but in most cases they don't come with hidden charges as hosting. You however should thoroughly read the item description. These are the 'sites' for $49.95. Here is how this business model works.

These guys go ahead and sign up with Amazon for a free affiliate account. It's free and you can do it yourself in about 5 minutes. Amazon approves everyone these days.

Next, they click a couple of buttons and Amazon generates a 'site' for them, such as this -

Last, they go to eBay and sell you this site for $49.95. Very easy money. This is how these people technically can earn $100 per hour if they were selling 2 sites like this an hour.

The most advanced of them move a step ahead and buy a domain name such as which points to... where do you think? Same Amazon built-in store. This will cost you an extra $10 bucks a year, which is an ok price to pay for a nice domain name consisting of good keywords.

So... is there anything you cannot do yourself here? No. Should you buy this junk from eBay? Yes if you want to part with some of your hard earned money for the profit of eBay and some shady businessmen around it.