Choose a Good WebHost image 1

Choose the Best Web Host without being Fooled by Fake Reviews!

If you’re in the market for a new web host then you’ve no doubt noticed the many review-based websites all over the web quick to tell you which web hosts are better than others and which web host to choose over others.

Chances are, if you choose the name of any web host at random – and then a second web host name at a random – and then put them together with “vs” in between the names and Google the phrase – such as “iPage vs HostGator” – you will MOST likely find at least one review website or blog out there comparing both web hosts’ features, if not multiple.

So, what’s the deal? Shouldn’t picking a web host be easy? No, no it’s really not.

Lesson #1 : Do NOT Believe the Hype Created by Web Host “Review” Sites – They are Mostly Garbage!

Most web hosting review sites are just affiliate/referral marketing sites out to make a buck. The hosts they recommend are just the ones that pay them the most for sending customers to their site.

If awesome-web-host-#1 only pays a 10% commission of $80, and shitty-web-host-#2 pays a 40% commission of $40 – who do you think review websites are going to recommend you go with?? The one that makes them the most money!

Think about it.. Web host review sites generally have at least four main categories that they judges service providers on: Price, Features, Stability, and Support.

So.. theoretically, shouldn’t they have the four web hosts leading those categories being recommended to readers? Perhaps even eight web hosts, at most, if they recommend the top two web hosts per category.

This is not the case. Whether the ratings on the Web Host review sites are just “Editor’s Ratings” or cumulative “User Ratings”, they are almost always bogus, always the same, and EVERY web host listed will have cloaked links and probably some banners to send you to the web host’s site to spend money – even if they suck!

It's On the Internet - It Must Be True!
It’s On the Internet – It Must Be True!

Lesson #2: Learn How to Spot a Web Host Affiliate or Referral Link that Someone Earns Profit Through

As mentioned before, a “referral link” or “affiliate link” is a type of hyperlink that is tracked by a business in order to pay affiliates for their referrals to the business website that convert into sales and/or leads.

They generally looks something like this: https://www.earthvpn.com/billing/aff.php?aff=088 (My EarthVPN affiliate link – I make a buck or two a month per person that signs up using that link.)

If I was just sending you to Earth VPN’s homepage, it would be http://www.earthvpn.com right? So spotting affiliate links is easy, it even has “aff.php?aff=088” in the url which is obviously an abbreviation for affiliate. Wrong.

How about this: http://hidemyass.com/vpn/r13661:1/ (My HideMyAss VPN referral link which also earns me a buck or two per referral.)

The above link looks pretty innocent, right? Almost like I’m sending you to a specific page for a certain VPN. Nope – affiliate link.

What about this one: http://www.hulu.com/r/qE2WSw (My Hulu Plus referral link, it gets me 2 free weeks of of Hulu Plus when other people sign-up for Hulu Plus using it!)

That one looks pretty innocent. Nope – affiliate link.

How about these: EarthVPNHideMyAssHulu Plus

Some times you don’t have a full link url but instead just a word turned into a link. What then?

Spot an Affiliate Link
Spot an Affiliate Link

Always check the status bar in your browser to see where a link really leads

People will also cloak affiliate/referral links as internal links leading to another place on their site, such as this link: http://www.jsnowcreations.com/urls/EarthVPN

The above link is a 301 auto-redirect. Without being technically savvy, the best way to check the end location of any suspicious link like the one above is by running it through redirect-check such as the one found here.

Spot a Cloaked Affiliate Link
Spot a Cloaked Affiliate Link

You can see in the image above that my http://www.jsnowcreations.com/urls/EarthVPN link is actually a double 301 redirect since my link redirects to the affiliate link, and the affiliate link redirects to EarthVPN’s homepage!

Lesson #3: See Through the Marketing Gimmicks Web Hosts Use to Lure in Potential Customers

Does your computer have a magic hard-drive in it with unlimited space? Does your ISP give you an unlimited amount of bandwidth without limits or caps? Probably not.. So why would a web host offer all of those things?

They don’t. I mean, sure they might say they do.. but only if you pay more than what you initially started out paying.

Web-Hosts run on servers, which are commercial computers with all the same guts of a computer minus sound and video cards. They DO have limits. However, most basic websites won’t push the limits of a basic web host so they say things like this:

  • Unlimited Storage
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Databases
  • Unlimited Database Size

Sure, those things are unlimited.. but don’t expect to get them for free! When your website(s) hit the web hosts unlisted limits, you will get an email regarding a need to upgrade and your sites might even be disabled until you do unless you get back below the limits.

Some other marketing gimmicks Web Hosts say to lure customers in:

  • WordPress Hosting
  • SEO Hosting
  • Cloud Hosting

There is no such thing as “WordPress Hosting”, in order to host WordPress you just need PHP and SQL/MySQL which almost every host would normally have these days any way. “SEO Hosting” doesn’t exist because SEO refers to how you write the content of your site and what words you use, it is an action or technique, it has nothing to do with hosting other than being on the web. “Cloud Hosting” is an actual thing, but it’s not very useful to the average web host service user – it’s mainly a way of keeping your website safe from data loss by having it distributed over multiple remote servers – and many web hosts don’t offer a true cloud-hosting option and what they call cloud-hosting is just regular hosting with backups/snapshots stored on remote servers.

Another example of a tactic almost all web hosts employ is the “Free Domain with Hosting” gimmick. Sure, you get a free domain free for a year but then must renew it at a cost of $20 to $30 a year after that. You can generally skip the free domain during purchase and use a domain you already bought through domain registrar for around $5 to $15 per year. Plus, when your web host provides your free domain for a year, you don’t truly own it nor do you get full control of it!

Bought a New Domain Name Today
Bought a New Domain Name Today – I Guess You Could Say Things are Getting Pretty Serious

Lesson #4: Read Where the Actual Customers and Webmasters Post about their Web Hosts

If you want to know what actual webmasters and website owners have to say about their hosting – go where they go to bitch, give praise, and get help when they need help because their site is screwed up or they just want suggestions with an upgrade.

For example, pretend you are considering hosting at iPage. According to all the web host review sites, iPage is the BEST performance for the money out there. However, after just 20 minutes of browsing forums you will no doubt read the name “Endurance International Group” (EIG) and learn how they own iPage, BlueHost, and a slew of other web hosts to avoid due to bad services and support!

Here, I’ll lay it out for you:

  • Web Development/Design/Hosting Forums*
  • Forums of the Web Hosts
  • Social Media/Network Presence of the Web Hosts

*Remember, always keep Lesson #2 from earlier in this article when perusing these forums!

Web Development, Design, and Hosting Forums:

See what hosts people are honestly recommending in the below forums, then check out the hosting sites to see if they have a package that will suit your needs.

Examples:
Digital Point Forum – Web Hosting
Sitepoint Forum – Hosting
V7N forum – Web Hosting
Web Cosmo forum – Web Hosting
Web Hosting Talk Forum – Web Hosting

Forums of Web Hosts:

Once you found a few hosts to check out in the forums above, check out the host’s own forum to see how they treat customers and potential clients on their home turf. Also, having a forum for communication is a good sign coming from any web host, too!

Examples:
StableHost Forum
MDD Hosting Forum
Hawk Host Forum
Site5 Forum
a2 Hosting Forum

Social Media and Network Presence of Web Hosts:

Next, after checking out all those forums, go to the actual social network/media profiles of web hosts and see what people are saying! Seeing a bunch of nothing might be better than seeing nothing but pissed of customers, right? Haha

Facebook Profiles of Web Hosts:

Examples:
StableHost Facebook
CrocWeb Facebook
MDD Hosting Facebook
Hawk Host Facebook
a2 Facebook
SiteGround Facebook

Twitter Search for People Talking To/About the Web Hosts:

Examples:
#StableHost@StableHost
#CrocWeb@CrocWeb
#MDDHosting@MDDHosting
#HawkHost@HawkHost
#Site5@Site5
#SiteGround@SiteGround

After getting a handful of good web hosts honestly suggested from forums, weighing the features on their websites, checking their forums, and seeing their social media presence as well as interactions with customers – the choice for your next web host should be getting more clear!

Still Waiting For GoDaddy to Stop Screwing Around
Still Waiting For GoDaddy to Stop Screwing Around
Bonus! These might help you avoid some Endurance International Group hosts right from the start:

Good List of EIG owned Web Hosts

EIG Wiki

Lesson #5: Remember, These are Lessons – NOT Rules. A Little Good-Judgment Goes a Long Way!

Sure, you will run across a blog or website reviewing web hosts honestly but still using affiliate/referral links, and they might even be cloaked! You should at least be able to see through the “smoke and mirrors” and decipher what is legitimate and what is actually garbage being marketed.

There’s going to be some reputable web hosts out there offering good services that happen to have a landing page on their site dedicated to “WordPress Hosting” – more than likely it’s just there for SEO purposes in order to compete in the SERPs against shittier hosts doing the same thing. Can you blame them?

Use your best judgment, and if something seems too good to be true then it probably is!

And if after all this reading, you still want someone else to tell you what to buy..

I needed a new host recently and did a ton of research for a good shared-hosting solution that also had room to upgrade later if I needed it. Check out ANY of the hosts I LINKED to earlier in examples, they are all Non-EIG web hosts with strong support, good prices, and up-time over 99.9%. If you are wondering – StableHost is who I went with and I have been pleased thus far. 🙂

Want to make me some money as thanks for me keeping it real with ya? Use one of MY referral links!

Oh No You Didn't!
Oh No You Didn’t!

Yes I did!

My Affiliate StableHost Link
My Affiliate HawkHost Link (a buddy of mine uses HawkHost and swears by them)

I hope this article has helped shed some light on how things work in the web hosting world..

Leave a comment below if you have any questions or input. If you currently have a web host, let the rest of us know how happy you are with their services!

iPage 10MB phpMyAdmin Upload Limit 1

Get Around IPage’s 75000 Query Limit and 10MB phpMyAdmin Upload Restriction Using BigDump

If you’re like me, you started your website endeavors on a budget web-host just to get the hang of things before moving on to bigger and better things!

If you’re unlucky, like me, your starter web-host happened to be iPage, or some other crap web-host, with insane limitations and restrictions on all sorts of PHP and SQL/MySQL operations that aren’t listed openly on their website.

If you’re very unlucky, you’re still on your crappy web-host and are trying to restore a .sql backup via phpMyAdmin while being overly limited on the size of the backup you can upload. Well guess what.. chances are if they’re overly limiting your .sql upload size, they are limiting you on other important things as well!

Bummer, huh?

iPage 10MB phpMyAdmin Upload Limit 1
iPage 10MB phpMyAdmin Upload Limit 1

You’re probably seeing an upload limit like the one pictured above. So, like any smart person, you’ve looked into splitting your backup into multiple files to restore, but the SQL Dump File Splitter is either not working for your backup or you don’t even want to try it out of fear of messing something up.

BigDump Saves the Day by Automatically by Splitting your Database Import into Multiple Staggered Imports!

iPage 10MB phpMyAdmin Upload Limit 2
iPage 10MB phpMyAdmin Upload Limit 2

Now that you’ve found out about BigDump, you are 100% certain the day has been saved, right? Given how crappy your web-host is, prepare to have you dreams dashed!

iPage 10MB phpMyAdmin Upload Limit 3
iPage 10MB phpMyAdmin Upload Limit 3

You didn’t think your sub-par web-host was going to let you off the hook that easy did you? Ha, Never! The above image shows that the importing database user has exceeded an hourly max amount of queries.. What Now?

You could split your backup into multiple files and wait an hour between each import. Your web-host will surely tell you that they can lift/raise the limits placed on your PHP, or make the import for you, at a cost of course.

There is an Easy Way to get around the Low phpMyAdmin Upload Limit, and your Web-Hosts CRAZY low ‘max_questions’ limit!

Just make a few different users to your database, and each time you hit the max_questions limit using BigDump, just edit the BigDump.php script to use a fresh database user and then REFRESH the page where you hit the ‘max_questions’ error and the import should restart where it left off using the new database user added to BigDump.php! Repeat as needed until your import is complete. 😉

I’ve used the above method countless times on my old web-host and would have been screwed without it! I’ve contacted the creator of BigDump and asked him if he could add an optional feature to the script that will allow multiple database users to be used – hopefully he obliges. (Update: Since I’m the only person to ever ask him about adding a user-rotation to the script he has not done it, and probably will not unless more people request it!)

Let me know if you have any questions or if this post has helped you by leaving a comment below!

WordPress SEO - Titles & Meta - Types 1 - JSnowCreations

Fix Yoast’s WordPress SEO Title & Meta Variables with Types Custom Fields

If you are like me you insist on using Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin to control you WordPress website or blog’s page titles and meta tag data via the “Titles & Meta” settings page found in the WordPress SEO. If you’re really like me then you are also too lazy to custom PHP code your WordPress theme to have custom post types, custom taxonomies, and/or custom fields so you instead use a plugin to quickly and easily make all the custom post types/taxonomies/fields for you, such as the “Types” WordPress plugin!

Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin is a breeze to use even for beginners, and the Types plugin is also fairly easy to use for moderately experienced WordPress users. However, getting custom post types, custom taxonomies, and custom fields to work with the “Titles & Meta” variables within WordPress SEO’s settings can be tricky.

Allow me to clear up the minor issue I ran into with WordPress SEO’s Titles & Meta variables and Types custom fields.

If you look here or one of the many other WordPress SEO guides you will find many options to use on the Titles & Meta variables, but the three we are focusing on in this post are:

These three variables are used to input values from custom fields, taxonomies, and taxonomy descriptions into WordPress SEO Titles & Meta fields which then control SEO Meta Tags.

Custom taxonomies and taxonomy descriptions work just as you would think – replace “custom-tax-name” AND the surrounding “<” “>” brackets in the %%ct_…%% and %%ct_desc_…%% variables with your custom taxonomy slug.

Examples:

After using these variables correctly, your WordPress SEO Titles & Meta fields should correctly input custom taxonomy names and taxonomy descriptions into your site’s SEO meta tags!

However, the custom fields variable has a small issue with the Types plugin that might cause trouble for some.. It’s not even really an “issue”, just something many will overlook. Make sure to read below before you go searching “%%cf_%% not working with Types custom field” at Google!

The problem with WordPress SEO’s Titles & Meta variables and Types custom fields, and how to fix it!

WordPress SEO - Titles & Meta 1 - JSnowCreations
WordPress SEO – Titles & Meta 1 – JSnowCreations

Given how simple it is to get custom taxonomies and taxonomy descriptions made with the Types plugin working with Yoasts’s WordPress SEO Titles & Meta, you’d think getting custom fields from Types to work would be as simple as plugging the custom field’s slug into the %%cf_…%% variable such as %%cf_download-developer%%, right?

Wrong! The Types plugin, along with many other custom-field-creating plugins, adds a prefix to the beginning of custom field slugs and Types’ custom field slug happens to be “wpcf-“. So, in order to get custom fields created with the Types plugin to work with WordPress SEO’s Titles & Meta variables you must simply add the wpcf- prefix from Types to your Titles & Meta variables.

Examples:

After adding the extra prefix from Types to your custom field slugs entered in the Titles & Meta variables in WordPress SEO’s settings, your SEO meta tags should start correctly outputting custom field values! 😀

WordPress SEO - Titles & Meta - Types 1 - JSnowCreations
WordPress SEO – Titles & Meta – Types 1 – JSnowCreations

Yoast’s WordPress SEO’s Titles & Meta variables work great with custom fields made with the Types Plugin once you know what your doing!

I suppose it also helps if you find my post regarding the issue rather than blindly trying and getting things 99% correct like the guy here who just left in the “<" ">” brackets from WordPress SEO’s guide on Titles & Meta variables. Too bad the PAID support he got didn’t give him the easy, and correct, solution of just removing the brackets! 😮

Please, comment below with any questions of comments you may have about this post, or anything else regarding Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin or Types!

Pros and Cons of Using a Paid Domain versus a Free Domain or Subdomain

There is an endless debate going on the web between web developers and search ending optimizers as to how bad free second-level subdomains and free top-level domains really suck compared to premium paid domains.

Some will swear that “content is key”, no matter what your site’s URL, you will always be #1 in the search engine results pages (SERPs) as long as you have the most relevant, fresh, and abundant content. Others will put it on their mothers’ souls that if you don’t have a top-level domain (TLD) name, then anyone with relevant content that does will outrank you in the SERPs.

I’m Not Going to Fuel the Debate – I’m Just Showing You the Key Pros and Cons of Both Free and Paid Domains!

Subdomain Diagram - JSnowCreations
Subdomain Diagram – JSnowCreations

The Pros of a Paid Domain

With the purchase of a premium paid domain, you will enjoy the use of a full featured DNS manager to handle pretty much everything you will need of your domain. Paid domains generally have no guidelines or restrictions as to what uses the domain name can be put toward, unless you are severely breaking a law or code of ethics. Top-Level paid domains are usually easier to get ranked higher in the SERPs for high-traffic SEO keywords when the competition is mainly second-level subdomains. Your premium top-level domain will also look the most professional, be easier to remember, and be the most reliable as long as you remember to pay for it!

The Pros of a Free Domain or Subdomain

A free domain or subdomain is free, so that’s always a good pro point #1. Free domains only take a few moments to sign up for. Plus, it’s typically fairly simple to point your free domain to your web host or whatever IP address you need it redirected to using the tools provided by the domain registrar!

The Cons of a Paid Domain

A premium paid domain costs hard-earned cash, (unless you pay with Bitcoin – but that’s covered in another post,) so that’s definitely con #1. As white-collared as it may seem, the time spent to actually choose a paid domain, and then figure out the best/cheapest place to buy/register it, can be lengthy and tedious. Also, some premium domain registrars will have immensely over-complicated DNS managers, so configuring things can be a pain for some beginners.

The Cons of a Free Domain or Subdomain

Free domains and subdomains suffer from quite a few cons – the first and biggest probably the fact that you will have limited DNS features which could be problematic for an advanced user. Free domains usually have certain guidelines for the registry of domains regarding site content, use, and/or geographic regions. You might suffer in high-traffic competition for certain SEO keywords if using an irrelevant free domain or subdomain. Plus, your free domain or subdomain can give off a less-than-professional tone, be harder for users to remember, and perhaps even be unreliable if you ever forget to re-register it or the registrar/provider ever decides to stop offering free (sub)domains!

Pros of Paid Domain vs. Free (Sub)Domain

Pros of Paid Domain


Full Use of DNS Features

Limited or NO Guidelines

Appear Most Professional

Better Competitive SEO

Easier to Remember

Reliable

Pros of Free (Sub)Domain


Free of Charge

Easy to Acquire

Easy Setup

Cons of Paid Domain vs. Free (Sub)Domain

Cons of Paid Domain


Costs Money

Time Spent Choosing & Comparing

Confusing Setup for Newbies

Cons of Free (Sub)Domain


Limited DNS Features

Strict Guidelines

Amateur Appearance

Less Competitive SEO

Harder to Remember

Unreliable

Reasons To Use a Paid Domain:

  • Business/Company Website
  • Non-Profit/Organization Website
  • Large-Scale Marketing/E-Commerce Website
  • Professional Blog

Reason to Use a Free (Sub)Domain:

  • Personal Blog
  • Informational Website
  • Local/Community/Family Website
  • Game Guild/Clan/Alliance Website
  • Small-Scale (Niche) Marketing/E-Commerce Website

That about sums it up! If this article has swayed your stance one way or the other, feel free to check out the other posts on picking up a free top-level or second-level domain. Also, if you are ready to skip the free stuff and buy your premium domain, I recommend WebsiteSpot for the cheapest domains, GoDaddy for the most extras and features, and NameCheap for a mix of price and features.

How to Get a Free Top-Level Domain Name for Your Website, Game Server, or Remote-Desktop Needs

So, you want a domain name but don’t want to pay for it or have a lengthy second-level subdomain?

Whether using it for a website, a private game server like Minecraft or Ultima Online, or just using it to set up some sort of remote-desktop or virtual-computing protocol to your home or work computer, there are always a few top-level domain registrars out there handing out free domains to those that take the time to register. There may be some special rules or guidelines to follow with the free domains, but it’s still better than trying to run a website, game server, or use remote-desktop with just an IP address, especially if it’s a dynamic IP!

A Totally Free Top-Level Website Domain?? Yep, they work and are totally free!

In case I’ve already lost you – a website on a “top-level domain” (TLD) would be something like yahoo.com, where as a “second-level domain” (SLD) would be something like answers.yahoo.com – hence the reason second-level domains are generally called “sub-domains” or just “subdomains” (because typing hyphens all the damn time sucks).

Subdomain Diagram - JSnowCreations
Subdomain Diagram – JSnowCreations

Sure, having a top-level Domain is much easier to remember and prettier on the eyes than a second-level subdomain like fred.hopto.org or fred.mysite.com for example. Although, when picking up one of the free top-level domains from around the web, you still have to make certain sacrifices or compromises. Some free top-level domain registrars don’t give you complete DNS control over your domain, which might not be a big deal to some people. However, all free top-level domains are usually Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) which mean you won’t have one of the more recognized TLDs such as “.com” or “.net” but instead will have something like “.tk”, “.ml”, “.cf”, “.ga”, or “.gq” which are all the current free TLDs during the writing of this article.

These are the Best and ONLY FREE Top-Level Domain Registrar Directories on the Web:

  • GetFreeDomain.name – Get Free Domain for Your Website:
    They have all of the free top-level domains, as well as some decent free second-level domains to choose from too!
  • FreeNom.com – Register Your Free Domain Name:
    Only deals with Free top-level domains. Their site is a bit of a pain, but if you deal with the page refreshes it works. However, they add some domains before they are free, and keep some up after they are no longer free, so be observant!

It Only Takes Minutes to Get Your Free Top-Level Domain Registered and Ready to Use!

If you don’t want a random country-coded top-level domain or a second-level subdomain, but still want a top-level domain name for free, you will have to get creative! The best way I could recommend getting a non-country-coded top-level domain such as “.com” or “.net” would be signing up as an affiliate at domain registrar that does affiliation, then use your referral/affiliate link to get some other people to buy domains which will earn you revenue to use for getting your own domain name! Some domain registrars with an affiliate program I could suggest would be WebsiteSpot, GoDaddy, and NameCheap. WebsiteSpot is by far the cheapest domain name registrar on the web, Godaddy is by far the most reputable and widely known domain registrar, and NameCheap is a good blend of both affordable prices and a long history of satisfied customers!