Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rockin' Down The Highway

The Information Superhighway, that is.

I took the first step in moving my web site last night. I actually placed the order and requested the domain transfer.

When I first looked at Go Daddy, I saw they offered 5GB of storage and 250GB of monthly bandwidth (number of bits and bytes transferred to or from the servers). My current plan started with 3GB of storage and 100GB of bandwidth, which was plenty, but was upgraded to 4GB and 150GB during my two-year stay with them. With my current host, I was paying $4.00 per month on an annual contract. Go Daddy offered its basic shared hosting services at $3.79 per month with a 12-month purchase. PLUS, I had an extra special discount code from Geek News Central (todd20) that got me 20% off that 12-month price. Therefore, instead of $45.48 for a year of hosting, I only paid $38.29. (Yeah, I don't get why the math doesn't work out, either. I'm going to have to ask Todd about that one.) The increased size and decreased cost, plus their 99.9% uptime guarantee, are the primary reasons I chose Go Daddy. I would later find out that I did not get the promised 5GB/250GB. Keep reading.

My experience so far with web hosting has been to sign up with a budget hosting service, register my domain or make necessary adjustments to the domain record, and get free domain registration or renewal through the new host. Once the transaction is complete, I receive an email within a few hours with the necessary information to access my account. Then I log in to the cpanel interface, get a few things set up (like subdomains), then connect with an FTP client and get to work. No muss no fuss - easy as 3.1415927.

Prior to my purchase, I searched the Go Daddy FAQs and even sent a few queries to their sales and support departments. All of my inquiries were answered clearly and promptly. Good support, I like that. This looked like it was going to be just as easy as before.

Last night, I finally started clicking those "Add to cart" buttons and building my order. I was made aware very quickly that Go Daddy is in the business of making money by selling internet services. I was not taken directly to my cart. I first had to scroll through almost three screens of add-on services before getting to the Continue button. This I actually understand and I think some people, the people who would need and want to purchase these services, would appreciate it. Presenting a list of add-on services - enhanced email, SSL certificates, enhanced statistics, etc. - lets me know the services are available and are not automatically included and gives me an opportunity to add them to my order without having to go hunt them down after the fact. I just skipped them and clicked continue. All I'm interested in is a place to put my stuff.

Now, because I wanted to move my domain registration to Go Daddy instead of leaving it with my original registrar with whom I have not had a hosting or any other relationship for two years, I had to add the transfer to my shopping cart. I knew up front that domain registration and transfers were not included with the hosting plans so I was ready to pay the nominal fees associated with it.

Once again, when I requested the transfer, I was given all sorts of choices - all of which would cost me more. Do you want to register any additional domain extensions (.net, .org, etc.)? Do you want just the included 1-year registration extension or would you like to register for additional years? Do you want a public or private registration? How about undercoating protection? Martinizing? Starch? No, thank you, I just want the transfer and the one-year extension.

In the end, the one-year hosting agreement and domain transfer ended up costing me $40.48. Still cheaper than the $48.00 I was paying and I get more space, more monthly bandwidth, probably faster output, and an uptime guarantee. The requisite emails arrived and I started my journey.

When I logged in to my account I was a little lost at first. I had all of these different sections and different options I could choose. This was far from the cpanel interface I was used to. As I was perusing the choices, I noticed one labeled "Hosting Accounts" and realized I was looking at a control center that was a level above where I was normally used to being. This is where I could manage multiple services I might have with Go Daddy (shared hosting, dedicated hosting, domain registrations, etc.) and not just my web site.

I proceeded to request the domain registrant transfer. It was a rather painless process although their step-by-step instructions left out a few steps (such as clicking a checkbox here or there) that were easy enough, while looking at the page, to figure out I needed to or wanted to perform. As a bonus, it didn't include any advertisements or requests for additional services.

It was getting late by this time so i went to bed. When I got up this morning, I started going through the hosting account setup. Never had to do that before. I chose my user name, set my password, provided my domain name, and chose a few options such as PHP4 or PHP5. It was when I was presented with the summary that I got my surprise. Have a look...

Yes, you're reading that right. It says the disk space is double what I thought it would be and there is an additional 50GB of bandwidth than what I expected. I went back to the main page to double check and, sure enough, it's listed there, too. It means that somewhere between the time I first started looking at Go Daddy for hosting and the time I actually placed my order, they increased the offering. Now, I can't believe I'm actually going to say this but... W00T! With the nature of my site, chances are slim that I will ever fill that space or use that bandwidth but it does mean that I can post higher resolution photos without worrying about either of those two items.

Now that my hosting account has been activated, I have to wait until the processing is complete to be able to start uploading content. No problem, I have until mid-March before my other hosting account expires. This has all been a very different experience. The up side is that I have more control over my services and more flexibility in what services I have and how they are used. The down side is a little more complication and a lot more sales pitches. Once I get everything set up, though, I shouldn't have to interact at that level much.

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