Hosting is often misunderstood and when most think of hosting they are usually referring to 'Web Hosting'.
There are three types of hosting; "Domain Hosting", "eMail Hosting" and (finally ;-) "Web Hosting".
When someone hosts your Domain, they are providing at least two different Domain Name Servers (also referred to as Primary and Secondary DNS)
Domain Hosts also supply other services, including Zone Files, which include entries which can point to different Web Host(s) and Mail Hosts(s)
Domain Hosts can provide "third-level" domains like "Sold.YourDomain.com" or "FeaturedProperty.YourDomain.com", which can point to a specific page on your web site on any server. This is a great marketing tool. What this third level domain will do is redirect Internet Visitors who enter Sold.YourDomain.com in their browser to http://YourDomain.com/files/listings/soldlistings.html or (something like this :-) Sold.YourDomain.com could be used as a Sign Rider for your listings.... In any event, the long URL would be very difficult to put on any sign rider ;-)
Have you ever been to a web site that wouldn't work without entering the WWW? Domain Hosts can help to eliminate the need for the Internet Visitor to have to enter the "www" in the URL... a very nice addition to your marketing bag of tricks which lead you to your ultimate goal of Branding and Internet presence. For instance, if you can eliminate the "www" your URL now looks like this http://YourDomain.com
A question to ask your Domain hosts is if their two Domain Name Servers are located in two different locations, as you don't want them in the same location, for obvious reasons (if connection to building or geographic area fail... someone cuts a line... ;-).. and not so obvious...
eMail should be handled on different servers from the Domain Name Server(s)
eMail hosts should allow you to send mail using your Domain name and not charge extra as most Major ISPs do.. meaning there is no surcharge to receive mail sent to you @YourDomain.com. However, to send using the ISP's SMTP servers (simple mail transfer protocol) and being able to change the 'from' and 'reply' to You@YourDomain.com and not You@Earthlink.net, there is an additional charge... (currently $20/mth at Earthlink if you can clearly identify this service when unbundling their many packages ;-)
eMail hosts can also offer more storage space, which we are finding is more and more important every day as many are sending larger attachments, especially images from the new "2 and 3 mega-pixel" cameras... Ask your mail provider how much space you currently have available and the charges for additional space.
eMail hosts can provide "unlimited eMail addressing" sometimes called "star-forwarding". This feature will allow you to create eMail addresses "on-the-fly" without calling your eMail host... Use this marketing tool to create an eMail address for every listing.... 123RiverStreet@MikeBarnett.com ....
eMail hosts can provide "auto-responders" which is a reply (report) in text format which goes out every time a message is received to a specific address like... FeaturedProperties@YourDomain.com .... An AutoResponder will automatically send a report (can be dozens of pages, and can be changed whenever you want)... describing your current Featured Properties. This report (using push technology, eMail) could also include hot links to your web-site and other auto-responders. We suggest an AutoResponder for every listing... The best part of the AutoResponder I have saved for last... while it is a great marketing tool and customer service tool (delivering information around the clock 24x7x365)
it is also a great "gold-mining" tool as you will be sent the eMail address of the person requesting the Featured Property Report...
eMail hosts can provide a web interface where you can go 24x7x365 and
change your password if, for instance, you feel your eMail privacy has been violated.
change your vacation message which can be used to let people know when you are on vacation... A vacation message sends a reply "once" to each eMail address it receives. Since most REALTORS don't go on vacation ;-)... why not use this tool as a 'welcome message' to doing business with you electronically. This will go out the first time a message is received and can include links to your web site and other auto-responders.
change your mail forwarding... for your mail (or autoresponders)... so you can direct your leads to the right parties digitally ;-)
Web Sites should not be on Mail Servers or DNS Servers...
Although speed of the server and the connection is very important, it is not the most important factor of the web hosting... The most important factor is the location... This should not be a surprise to those in the real estate business where the expression "location-location-location" rules...
The closer to the "backbone" of the Internet, the better. The location we have searched and sought out for our servers has locations throughout the world with their headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. The company is called GlobalCrossing. Many of you know the company, but you might not know that they host Yahoo, Netscape and many of the other larger portals (and vortals).
Web hosts can supply web statistics so you can trace all the activity to your site like, what pages were the most active and which pages were the least active? How long did people spend on the site? What was the first page they came in on and the last page they visited before leaving? What part of the country or part of the world are they from? What browsers or operating systems are they using? The answer to these questions will help you to manage your site and build a better site.. and enable you to establish a criteria for charging for advertising on your site.
Web hosts can offer redundant servers -- if one location is to go down, your site will be viewable from another location.
For each of your hosts (Domain, eMail and/or Web Host), ask the following questions...
- What type of security to the building do your offer?
- Do you have biometric-hand scanners?
- Do you have security guards? Bullet-proof glass?
- Do you offer 24x7x365 monitoring?
- Do you offer redundant power supplies if electricity should go off to the facility?
- What about the fire systems?
- Do you offer a system that will eliminate all the oxygen in the room before the fire begins... so the sprinkler system doesn't go off (or should I say on ;-) and ruin the server and your web site (or your mail, or your domain pointing)?
There are many other facets for each of the hostings, and I could go on and on... but I didn't want to overstay my welcome here with this posting ;-)
For more detailed information on Hosting (of all types)... please contact me at Mike@InternetCrusade.com
Talk to you soon,
(one of the RealTalk hosts ;-)
VP Technology, InternetCrusade