- What do I need in order to have a website?
- Domain Names
- Website Design
- What about "Free" Webhosting?
- I hear that low-price hosting companies "oversell" their servers. What does that mean?
- What services does Buffalo Web provide?
- I can't see my website!
- I made a change to my website but I don't see it!
- I've uploaded my page, but I still see your "Welcome" page!
- Why must my site's main page be called "index.html" or "index.htm"?
- Why must my files go inside /public_html/? What is /public_html/ for?
- I uploaded my site, and some links or images are broken/don't appear, but they work fine on my computer. Why?
- My password is not working!
- How do I publish my site with FrontPage?
- How do I publish my site with Dreamweaver?
- What is a site map?
- How do I get my site ranked with Search Engines?
What do I need in order to have a website?
In order to have a website that can be seen by others, you will need to have three basic components:
- Domain Name
- Website Design
- Web Hosting
A domain name is your "address" on the internet that signifies your location on the world wide web. You need to register a domain name through any company (registrar) that is approved by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to do so. Registration of a domain name gives you exclusive rights to use a domain name on the web, for email addresses, etc. The cost of the registration varies between companies, and is renewable on an 1-year, 2-year, 5-year, or 10-year basis. Buffalo Web Services offers domain registrations for $15 per year (or less if you decide to register for a term longer than 1 year). Once your domain name has been registered, we assign your domain name to a numeric IP address (eg, 184.108.40.2060) which is the "behind-the-scenes" actual address of your domain name. It will then take 24-48 hours for this domain information and IP number assignment to be "propagated" across the internet. Propagation is the process whereby every ISP (Internet Service Provider, eg, AOL, Earthlink, etc) updates their databases with the information we send to ICANN, so that their customers will be directed to the correct location when they type in your domain name.
Website design refers to the process of creating the pages which others will see when they go to your web address. There are many third-party software programs available which you can use to create the graphics and coding necessary for your site. Some of the more popular software packages available for creating web sites are FrontPage and DreamWeaver. Some webhosting companies also offer online site creation tools (such as Buffalo Web Services's SitePro) which will allow you to create your website without having to understand HTML (hypertext mark-up language), the programming code needed to translate a web page on the world wide web.
Once you have a domain name registered and a website created, you will need to rent space on a web server which can host your site. A web server is a high-performance computer that is located in a high-security, controlled environment, and is connected to the rest of the internet via multiple secure telecommunications lines. Pricing of web space will depend primarily upon the amount of web space you are renting, the amount of traffic or "bandwidth" you will need, and the various other services you may choose in conjunction with your hosting package. Buffalo Web Services offers a wide range of hosting packages, sized to fit the needs that are typical of most customers.
What about "Free" Webhosting?
There are many companies that offer "free" hosting. The truth is that in most cases, "free" hosting is simply a ploy to collect information about you and your visitors in order to build a database for sale to junk mailers. "Free" hosting companies need to make money to cover their costs somehow, and if they are not selling your information to spammers, then they will often support themselves by running their banners and advertisements on your website.
Further, their free offerings tend to attract a multitude of fly-by-night spammers, who can sign up for little or no money, and use the same server that you are on to send out their massive mailings for next to nothing. The volume of mail that they send will crash or severely cripple the server. (Of course, the spammer doesn't care - they simply move on to the next free host). Not only could this bring a sudden halt to your website, but once the spam which they have sent gets detected by the increasing number of companies that monitor spam activity, the entire server which the spam originated from will be banned from being able to access or communicate with other networks. In other words, your site will be banned from being accessed by millions of users as well!
I hear that low-price hosting companies "oversell" their servers. What does that mean?
There are many companies that "oversell" their web servers in order to offer services at greatly reduced prices. Overselling is a well-known marketing gimmick, similar to the practice of airlines overbooking their flights. It basically means that they are selling beyond the limits of capacity - in other words, selling something they don't have. For example, let's say that a web hosting company has a server with a 300GB hard drive and 3000GB of available monthly bandwidth. They sell hosting packages with 10GB of disk space and 100GB of monthly bandwidth for a very cheap $4.95/mo. By the time they have sold 30 packages, the total amount of sold disk space will be 30 x 10GB = 300GB, and they have likewise sold all of the server's bandwidth. That's when the server should be full and no more accounts should be created - right? Wrong! Since they know that very few customers will actually use their alloted disk space and bandwidth, they decide to sell more accounts on the server. Typically, an "oversold" server might have as many as 500 customers on one server. So if everyone actually used what they had paid for, the server would need to have a 500 x 10GB = 5000GB hard drive and 50,000GB of bandwidth. Of course, no such server exists - they simply hope that no one will decide to use all of the disk space or bandwidth they have purchased. Imagine what will happen if all users decide to use all of their disk space purchased instead of using just a small amount.
Most important for you to keep in mind though, is the sub-standard service and performance offered by these hosting companies. By overselling the space on their servers, they are overloading them, and this will eventually result in extremely poor performance for your site. Further, their "rock bottom" prices tend to attract a multitude of fly-by-night spammers, who can sign up for little money, and use the same server that you are on to send out their massive mailings for next to nothing. The volume of mail that they send will crash or severely cripple the server. (Of course, the spammer doesn't care - they simply move on to the next free host). Not only could this bring a sudden halt to your website, but once the spam which they have sent gets detected by the increasing number of companies that monitor spam activity, the entire server which the spam originated from will be banned from being able to access or communicate with other networks. In other words, your site will be banned from being accessed by millions of users as well!
With this in mind, you need to be confident in who you are dealing with when selecting a company to host your website. See what existing and former clients have to say about their experiences with them. Have any existing customers granted them permission to post their testimonials? Most importantly, call any prospective host (make sure they have a phone number) and talk to them. Any reliable hosting provider will be happy to spend some time answering your questions. Remember, you get what you pay for, so kick the tires and make an informed decision!
What services does Buffalo Web provide?
Buffalo Web Services provides domain registration, web design, and webhosting services. We offer a broad range of additional features and enhancements to these services such as online site building tools, user control panels, etc. We do not currently offer ISP services such as dial-up access, DSL, or other broadband internet access.
How does the sign up process work?
To sign up for services, simply go to our Order page to begin. The order wizard will start by asking you to choose a hosting package or a "Domain Registration Only".
For "domain only" orders, you will select whether you are registering a new domain or transferring an existing domain to our registration service. For hosting orders, you will similarly be asked whether you need to register a new domain name to host, transfer an existing domain to our registration service for hosting, or if you will keep an existing domain name registered through your current registration provider (in which case you will need to update the nameservers to point to our servers yourself).
Next, the system will confirm that the domain name you selected is available to purchase, transfer, or use based on your previous service selections. (Transfer orders will require you to enter a transfer authorization code which you must obtain from your current registrar).
You will then be able to select your billing cycle, and hosting orders will allow you to select additional features, such as our SitePro system to build your site.
You will then be shown the total for your order, and new customers will then need to fill in the form with their contact information (it is best to use a "permanent" email address that is not hosted on our servers for your primary email address). You can also choose to enter different contact information for your domain registration, or to use your default contact information. You then need to enter a user name and password for your hosting account, and will enter your billing information (please be assured that this is a secure connection, so you are safe to enter this information!).
Finally, you will be asked to verify and submit your order.
Where do I login?
Please refer to your Welcome email for your correct login information! You can have your Welcome email resent via the "My Emails" link in the Client Area.
You may have multiple places to login with your new account, along with differing usernames and passwords. For example, you may have a login for our main Client Area, as well as cPanel, SitePro or Buffalo Web Builder, Webmail, or others depending on the various services that you use. At signup, you will have received a Welcome email that contains the locations for you to login at, along with the appropriate usernames and passwords associated with each login.
Here are some of the more common Logins that you would have with us and a brief explanation of what is managed at each:
- Client Area - View/Pay Invoices, Manage Domain Names, Link to your Control Panel, Keep your contact info up-to-date, Keep your credit card up-to-date
- cPanel - Manage your Web Hosting Space, Add/Manage Email Accounts, Access Features, View Statistics, More...
- SitePro or Buffalo Web Builder - Build/Edit your Web Site
- WebMail - Check your Email, Send Email, Manage an online address book
How long will it take for my site to be live?
It usually takes less than 30 minutes for us to activate your webhosting account after you have placed your order with us. Once your account has been activated, you will receive a "Welcome Letter" which will provide you with information on how to access your site and the various features of the services which you have ordered. Eventhough your site may not be viewable until your domain name has completely propagated (as explained above), you will still be able to access it via it's numeric IP address.
I can't see my website!
Many new customers will report that they can't reach their website during the first few days after they sign up. This is normal in most cases for the following reasons:
- You may have lost your internet connection. Make sure that you have a connection to the internet by going to a site like http://www.yahoo.com. If you cannot view their page, you are not connected to the internet, and you will not be able to connect to our mail servers.
- If you have registered a domain name within the past 24 - 72 hours, it is normal for the domain name to not be resolving yet. When you register a domain name, we assign it to a numeric IP address (eg, 220.127.116.110) which is the "behind-the-scenes" actual address of your domain name. It will then take 24-48 hours for this domain information and IP number assignment to be "propagated" across the internet. Propagation is the process whereby every ISP (Internet Service Provider, eg, AOL, Earthlink, etc) updates their databases with the information we send to ICANN, so that their customers will be directed to the correct location when they type in your domain name.
This also means that you may not be able to use the domain name for any "connection" purposes. That is, you can't use the domain name to connect to your account via FTP, you can't check your email by using the domain name as POP3/SMTP servers, and you can't publish via FrontPage by using the domain name. You must use the IP number to connect to your site or account until your domain has fully propagated (this IP number is provided on your "Welcome Letter"). So, instead of typing "http://www.mydomain.com" into your browser, you would need to type in "http://18.104.22.168/~username/" until your domain has propagated.
- Transferring your domain name to our registration service is also affected by propagation as described above. Your domain may still be configured to "point" to your previous web host until it has fully propagated. So, if you try to reach your site via the domain name, you will actually be reaching your previous web host. Further, you may reach your site intermittently on both our servers or your old host's servers during the propagation period. Since each connection you make between your PC and the web site may go through various routes to get to your domain, and since some hubs may be updated before others, you may travel through an updated hub one time, and one that is not updated the next. To ensure that you reach your website on Buffalo Web Services's servers during the propagation period, use your site's IP number as explained above.
I made a change to my website but I don't see it!
If you are sure that the change was made correctly (eg, others can see the changed site, but you see the old site), then you are likely seeing a "cached" copy of your site. Your browser (eg, Internet Explorer, FireFox, etc) is by default set to retain a copy of each page you view in your own PC's local memory. This is done so that you do not have to wait for your browser to go out and "fetch" the actual current page every time you go back and forth from one page of a site to another. To force your browser to grab the actual current page, you can press Ctrl+F5 (hold down the "Ctrl" button on your keyboard while pressing the F5 button). You can also check your browser's help files for instructions on changing your cache settings.
I've uploaded my page, but I still see your "Welcome" page!
This is usually due to one of the following reasons:
- You did not name your home page "index.htm" or "index.html". Your site's home page (the one that appears when someone goes to your site by typing your domain name only - "http://www.yourdomain.com" - without a page name after it), must be called either index.html or index.htm. When the web server receives a visitor to "yourdomain.com", the file the web server will display is a file called "index.html" (or "index.htm" if there is no "index.html" file present). When you connect to your account for the first time and enter the directory /public_html/, you'll see that there is a "index.htm" file in there. That's the default "under construction" page which Buffalo Web Services puts into your account when you sign up (this is the page that says "Welcome to the future home of domain.com"...). You can either overwrite this file with your own home page, or create a new file named index.html which will then be displayed rather than the default index.htm page.
- You are uploading your website to the wrong place. When you connect to your account via FTP to upload your site, you will see a directory called /public_html/. Go to that directory (double click on it if you are using a graphical FTP client) and upload your files there. If you don't put your files inside /public_html/, they won't be accessible via the web.
NOTE: if you are using FrontPage, please read our FrontPage FAQ.
- You have a "caching" problem. When you go to a page on any website, your browser will store that page (and its images) on your computer's hard drive. The next time you go to that same page, the browser will just pull out the copy on your hard drive instead of pulling it off of our server. If you replaced a file on the server and you still see the old one, you may therefore be seeing the local copy. To solve this on Netscape, hold down the SHIFT key and click on "RELOAD". In Internet Explorer, hold down the CONTROL key and press F5. If you still see the old copy, then empty IE's cache: go to the "Tools" menu, then "Internet Options", then click on "Delete Files" on the "Temporary Internet Files" section of the "General tab".
Why must my site's main page be called "index.htm"?
When someone goes to "http://www.yourdomain.com" (without specifying a particular page's filename, like home.html, aboutme.html, etc), the server knows that it must display your site's main page. However, if the main page does not have a specific name, the server wouldn't know which page to display. So, a standard was established which dictates that the main page would be called "index" and that it must go inside the /public_html/ directory.
Why must my files go inside /public_html/? What is /public_html/ for?
As above, standards dictate that your publicly viewable files would be in a directory called "public_html". When people access a file on your site, it is being accessed from inside /public_html/. Anything that you upload to a directory that is not inside /public_html/ is only accessible via FTP or Telnet.
I uploaded my site, but some links and images are broken/don't appear, even though they work fine on my computer. Why?
This is most often due to case sensitivity. On a web server, Myfile.GIF and myfile.gif are not the same. If you are linking to myfile.gif but the file is actually called Myfile.GIF on the server, the web server will just generate a "404 - Not found error" and the image will appear broken. The same applies when you make links to files.
Tip: It is good practice to always name your files using lowercase letters. It will make your life easier!
How do I publish my site with FrontPage?
To learn how to publish via FrontPage, check our FrontPage FAQ for details.
What is a site map?
A site map is simply a list of pages that are in a website. Similar to a book's table of contents, it defines what pages are in the site, and how they are related to one another. Some sites may include a site map page within their site to allow visitors the ability to quickly the location any page in a site. However, this can become counter-productibve with large sites as they would have so many pages to list. Further, the ability to quickly find a page should be accomplished primarily by having a well-thought out navigation menu.
When you are just beginning to build your website, creating a site map is an essential step in that it forces you to think through how you will present information to your site's visitors, for example:
- Home: general introductory text along with some images
- About Us: text about the history of our company along with some images
- Contact Us: address information with an online contact form
How do I get my site ranked with Search Engines?
- List your site in the Open Directory Project. This is a volunteer organization whose editors literally read through every site submission to check them for relevance before listing them in their database. The ODP is super-critical for one reason - it's a little known fact, but EVERY major search engine (Google, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, Netscape, etc) get their databases directly from the ODP! So, if you are in ODP, you will eventually make it to all of the major search engines, and since ODP sites have been manually reviewed by a human, the search engines give preferences to the ODP listings. Keep in mind though that the search engines may only update their databases every 45-60 days, so it may take some time to start finding your site.
- Although the major search engines will find you and list your site eventually (typically in 60-90 days by the time they find you and get your site's URL published), it's not a bad idea to make sure that they know where you are. To get your site added to Google, click here. For Yahoo, click here.
- Make sure that the content of your pages is coherent and on target for the subject matter. Search engines like Google will "spider" your site and "read" each page. If your text appears to be about apartments for rent in Erie County, it will list you higher than the next guy when someone searches for "apartments for rent in Erie County". Just make sure that the text you are using is on target. Be careful though to not try to trick the system by using a term over and over - most search engines are now smart enough to figure out where a keyword is being used out of context, and will penalize you.
- Get other sites to link to you. The more sites that Google finds which reference your site, the more it assumes that you must be important. If there was for example, a site that listed real estate sites in the USA, and you were listed with a link to your site, that would be VERY helpful to you. But don't get links from just anyone - they don't help and may work against you. (We also provide a link to all of our local clients at http://www.buffaloweb.com/portfolio.html which would also be helpful to you since we are an "important site about Buffalo" in the eyes of Google, and therefore your site would be considered more relevant)...
- If you want to guarantee that you are the top listing for a given search term, there is ONLY one way, and that is to pay for it. The two major services out there are Google AdWords, and Yahoo! Sponsored Search (formerly Overture). If you use their services, you would get listed in their "Sponsored Sites" area at the very top of their search results pages, and pay a fee (typically starting at $0.10) every time someone clicks on your link. The price per click is determined by basically bidding against your competitors - if a lot of people want the same search terms, the price will be bid up, if no one else wants it, it will be very low. This can get pricey - some sites spend thousands of dollars per month advertising their products, but many more pay < $50/month.
How do I enable cookies in my browser?
Many web pages require "cookies" to be enabled on your web browser, especially those requiring you to login to access account information. The "cookie" is a small file that gets saved to your computer to enable your browser to "talk" to the web page (eg, "who am I logged in as?"). Some browsers are set to not accept cookies by default. Here's how to enable cookies:
Microsoft Internet Explorer (6+, PC Only)
- Select "Internet Options..." from the "Tools" menu.
- Select the "Privacy" tab.
- Drag the slider down to any level other than "Block All Cookies".
Firefox (PC and Mac)
- Select "Options..." from the "Tools" menu on the PC or select "Preferences..." from the "Firefox" menu on the Mac.
- Click on the "Privacy" padlock icon.
- Select the "Cookies" tab.
- Check the box next to "Allow sites to set Cookies".