Fed Up with Hosting?
"Some alternatives for your hosting"
If you've invested in a hosting service and have decided, after this last malware attack, that you've had it up to here with hosting Web sites, Linda offers some alternatives for you in this article.
Rackin' Frackin' Hackers
Many moons ago, my partner and I decided to use a hosting service for our Web sites. Along the way, we erroneously decided that hosting other Web sites on "our" server would pay for our own hosting and, perhaps, provide us with a bit of income. We were dead wrong, for several reasons:
- We ended up hosting to friends. Don't host friends, as you may feel bad about asking for monthly payments, especially when you know that they're down on their luck.
- When we didn't host to friends, we ended up hosting some of the worst options for payment known to mankind.
- Constant upgrades on software and anti-virus, anti-malware, firewalls, etc. kept us busy on a daily basis.
- Time, which equals money in this household, was sucked up like cat hair in a vacuum cleaner with all the issues, including coaching site owners on how to use various software or control panels.
In all, I cannot tell you how much time and/or money I've lost over the years in this process. But, I will say that, if you have the time, the technological knowledge and the fear of a higher power inside you for hackers, you may be cut out for hosting Web sites. If so, you need the best hosting service around PLUS safeguards to protect those sites when your back is turned.
This past week, after the redirect virus hit all the sites on my server and after a few of those sites also were attacked by malware injection, I decided to quit the hosting business. In the process, I had to find options that would meet my needs as well as the needs of all my friends' sites. This article is that story.
Do You Really Want to Move?
While this story is directed more to those individuals who have Web sites at hosts who rent out server space, it is also directed to the person who maintains a Web site on a server through an intermediary or directly from a hosting company. Even if you think that hosting isn't an issue for you, because your site is located on WordPress.com or Typepad or Posterous, you might want to pay attention. You might learn that your site is no safer nor less vulnerable than any other site out there.
That's why you need to ask yourself if you really want to move that site(s). Moving a site from, say, MediaTemple.net, for instance, is no harder or easier than moving a site from WordPress.com. Transferring a site from one server to another means that you're moving from one can of worms to another, especially if you think you have no responsibility to take care of your own site.
And, it is a responsibility, even if that Web host is a friend. In 8 cases out of 10 in my situation, the sites hosted on my server use WordPress. In that case, the person who owns the domain name and the site (not me, unless you pay me) needs to learn how to upgrade WordPress, needs to know which plugins are safe and keep them upgraded, and needs to learn how to watch for warning signs for hackers, hacking and hackiness in general. To that end, I have some solutions for you.
Best Choices (IMO) for Self-Hosting
In the sections below, I'll provide you with my choices on where to host your Web site. While you have tons of options available, I've learned over the years what works for me, and that's what I'll share with you. If I learn about any other options, I'll let you know in an article down the road.
When You Want Responsibility
From my experiences over the years, I can tell you this: If you plan to host your own site on a server so that you can maintain maximum control over your site's layout, advertising capacity and ability to grow, then you might consider what I have to say: Move your site now to MediaTemple, and use Sucuri to protect that site.
Neither business is paying me to push their services, which should make my message even more powerful. I'll tell you why this move might be smart for you, beyond throwing in the towel completely to go with a service like WordPress.com or Tyepad:
- In all the years I've hosted with MediaTemple, their service was superb. No matter the time of day or night, I could call and get personal help on the phone.
- While $20 per month may be more than you're paying with another hosting service, you have complete control over your site and you may – as I did, learn that you can host other sites to help pay for this service (just do a background check on that person who wants to share a server with you first).
- MediaTemple, unlike some other hosting services, goes out of their way to make sure sites are secure. They have a wiki, a knowledgebase and other tools that can walk you through issues, as well as a team that tries to stay one step ahead of problems that could occur with cloud servers.
No hosting service is perfect, which is why you need to stay on top of things, too. In fact, this redirect virus his WordPress sites across a wide range of hosting services, not just MediaTemple (it also hit sites on GoDaddy). To that end, you might think about using Sucuri to help you keep abreast of any issues that could occur. If you decide to host with MediaTemple, Sucuri has special prices available for MediaTemple folks. But they can work with you, no matter where you host your site, to scan, help eliminate and destroy malware (or what Google calls "malicious software") and viruses from your site.
I did not have contact with Sucuri until today, when I needed their services desperately. Within the past week, every single site I hosted at MediaTemple was hit with the redirect virus. This was not MediaTemple's fault – it was my fault for not being aware of the issue until it was too late.
While I was blissfully unaware that my sites had been hit, MediaTemple already was working behind the scenes to learn more about this virus and how Web hosts could eliminate it from their sites. While I was able to use MediaTemple's solution to clear up 60 percent of the affected sites, I waited too long to fix some others. If you let your site go too long with that specific attack, it can open the site up to malware injection. Then, within a few days, Google will come along and slap a "WARNING" sign on your site, delist that site from their searches and shut that site down.
Andres Armeda and a friend, Daniel, founded Sucuri in 2008 after working for several years with security and software with networked sites. They are working with hosting services and with individuals to help them stay one step ahead of malware injection, viruses and more. Within an hour after I had paid for their services and submitted tickets, the sites were clean. Additionally, they submitted my sites to Google so Google could take its fancy sign off my sites and restate them into their search engine. That last step will take up to 24 hours; however, it's a load off my back – Sucuri solved my issues in less in less time than it would take to visit my psychiatrist.
Hosting. It costs money. It has its headaches. It's not the most glamorous part of creating and maintaining a Web site, but it must be done. Without hosting, your site doesn't exist. When you use a service like Sucuri, you can scan your sites regularly to learn about issues before they escalate. And, you can use Sucuri to clean up the issue so you don't have to spend the time doing it yourself. They say:
In simple terms, we clean up the mess. If your site got hacked, blacklisted or infected with malware, we fix it for you. If your site is clean, we monitor it to let you know if a problem ever happens. We work fast, we are affordable and we get things done.
And, I'll say "amen" to that.
If you don't want to learn how to host a site at a service like MediaTemple, you have a few other options. I'll talk about three of those options below. In all cases, just know that, eventually, you will be putting out some cash for hosting. It's not free. And, in all cases listed below, you lose some risk, but you also lose some freedom.
Linda Goin carries a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing, and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on site at archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in creating social media environments.
Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.