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Saturday, 4 June 2011

Don't let your web hosting company have the upper hand - tips for small organisations.

Most web hosting companies offer a sprat to catch a mackerel. They offer a free domain, and low charges for the first year. We use US hosting for our community newspaper and they offer longer deals. My present deal is a free domain and a three year contract at $3.95 a month. This includes scripting for, Joomla, Drupal and much, much more and, in fact, an awful lot more.

However, once you do this and then want to leave, some of the web hosting companies tell you, the domain is theirs as they had paid for it, and you can't take it with you.
You can avoid all this hassle for only £3 a year.

We purchased from for £6 for two years and then £3 a year. It is possible, by going into your control centre there to point this address at whatever domain name the hosting site gives you.

For example. You take out a contract and the web hosting site gives you a free name. I would ask for something like, easy to remember as you just follow the keys on your keyboard. Then I would go into the 123-reg control panel and click on the button which will replace with so that would be all anyone would ever see.

When the contract expires, and you move to another host, just go back to 123-reg and repoint your website to the new address.

Small organisations

I have come across several small organisations who have asked a colleague or small web company to run their website. Once you do this, it is often difficult to regain control of your site if you fall out with the people. Another problem is, because they manage your site on the cheap, they don't do the work very quickly and you end up with a website very much out of date.

There are two remedies here. The first one is as I described above, where you control the website's domain, and can repoint it elsewhere at any time. This should be done, but there are additional methods you can employ.

Most website pages for smaller organisations are HTML pages. Whoever is running your website won't want to give you control of these as you could easily cause damage.

Ask your webmaster to consider SHTML pages. Then he can create a subdirectory for your pages and give you access without fear that you can damage the website.

How does this work?

The webmaster creates the SHTML pages and keeps all the code outside of the body in the body of the HTML page. He then puts in more code which calls in the SHTML page in the special subfolder you have access to. It is as simple as that.

Then someone in your organisation who has a list of a few codes printed out, i.e. how to add a link, how to bold some words, or put them in italics, how to do bullet points etc. – you could learn all this in a few minutes - and your volunteer, or staff member, can update your pages whenever you need it.

You are happy because you can change any information immediately, your webmaster is happy because it saves him doing it, and at the same time, he is safe in the knowledge that you can't bugger up the website!

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