Owning a web site can be confusing at times, especially for new comers. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of the various services providers that you employ to make your web site work can be hard to grasp, at first. I’ll try my best to help explain some of these roles to you in this article. But…there is another important factor involved…You! While it is our responsibility as a web hosting provider to lift 99% of the management duties from the shoulders of our customers, there are certain areas of website and hosting account management where you as a site owner or junior webmaster are required to take the lead.
You may not know it, but as a site owner, certain best practices should be followed when hosting your website, and you have certain critical responsibilities which might not be immediately obvious to you, but if not done on a regular basis, may end up destroying your web site. While some people have the idea that a web site is a 24/7/365 automated money making machine that never sleeps and never requires any maintenance, those of us that make money on our web sites for a living and primary source or even secondary source of income, know that the “Set it and forget it” dream is far, far away from the reality of operating a web site.
Moving forward, In order to set proper expectations around what GlowHost’s web hosting service can deliver, it is important for you to understand the role that we play in providing services to you. We also talk about 3rd party services and 3rd party software. But, you are going to want to read until the end because the last paragraph, regarding backups, is advice every site owner must know and live by…
GlowHost’s Scope of Responsibilities
One of our key responsibilities as a web host is to provide server space, web services, and maintenance of servers that our customers’ websites are hosted on. We maintain all of the technology that powers your website including general maintenance and upgrades to both server hardware and software. It is our responsibility to constantly monitor our servers to make sure they are fully functional and secure. It is also our responsibility to ensure that the software environment provided on the server side, such as Web server, database server, e-mail server, and FTP server, to name a few – are all fully up to date. We do this to prevent security problems, or to improve system performance. Very similar to the way that you update your PC regularly with updates from Microsoft, Apple, your Anti-Virus and certain programs, we’re doing the same thing on the server side.
We take responsibility for network availability within the GlowHost network, in all of the datacenters that we operate in. However, we cannot be held liable for downstream problems (for example, your ISP is down), or other problems outside of our service network (for example, network providers between your ISP and our Datacenter). Our guarantee is that our network will be available with 100% uptime. If we do not meet that target, there may be a service credit available.
Disk Space and Bandwidth.
It is our responsibility to supply you with enough disk space to store scripts, databases, programs, multimedia files, and other files residing on your hosting account. It is also our responsibility to provide a sufficient amount of bandwidth for transferring your files over the Internet easily. Your bandwidth and disk storage quotas vary depending on the type of hosting plan you have purchased with us. We will offer you an account upgrade once you reach your bandwidth and disk storage limit or you can request a more powerful server at any time you are ready.
At GlowHost we give you the option to create e-mail accounts that correspond with your own domain name. You can set options like e-mail forwarding and auto-responders for the e-mail accounts you create. In addition, all e-mails coming through a GlowHost server are filtered through our primary anti-virus and anti-spam technology. GlowHost email services support end-to-end email encryption. You may store your email on our servers indefinitely so long as you have a hosting plan with us, or download them to your PC, or both. Regardless of where you are storing email, you may want to consider backing it up from time to time, but we will get into backups, a little later in this article.
GlowHost offers free assistance in script or web app installation through our automated script installation systems. If you have a special request, we may quote you a price for manual script installation if the script is not featured in our automated script installation program. If you have a dedicated server or Cloud server, and you require special modules, servers, programs or other non-standard features, we can certainly help you with this, but depending on the request, this may be considered custom work, and administrative fees may apply. You may contact us for a price quote at any time, often times there is no charge for our service or we may elect to waive our fees in some occasions for preferred customers. (E.g. the ones that act nicely towards us, are generally polite, don’t make our lives miserable, and the like)
After any custom software installation, particularly web apps/scripts, you will need to make sure that custom software is always running the latest version. Upgrades can generally be performed by the script installation program offered by GlowHost, or as an in-built feature of the software itself. For example, the latest WordPress as of this writing now automatically updates itself. This is great, but it does not update any plug-ins you may have installed to increase the functionality of WordPress.
However, most programs require manual updates even for the core software, and it is your responsibility to keep your versions up to date to prevent potential security issues. Updates are typically an easy thing to do, once you know how to automate it, or manually do it. If you need help with this process, need help with learning how to do this, or have any questions about this at all, we are more than happy to answer them. Depending on the complexities involved in updating your custom software, there may be fees involved if we are able to do the work for you, or, we may perform the updates for free for you, in many cases we may ask you to seek the assistance of a web developer. We will never charge any fees without first providing a quote to you, and then obtaining a written confirmation from you that you agree to the fees.
As with all 3rd party software, we assume no responsibility for any software that we do not specifically write, nor do we support or troubleshoot 3rd party software you or your developer may have installed on your website. If you think about it, how can we? We did not write the code that may be causing the problem, we did not decide this was a good choice for you to use this particular software on your site, we didn’t design the site, and we didn’t install it. These are all choices made by you or your developer and software coded by a 3rd party. In it’s most simple terms, we simply provide the space, electricity, bandwidth and management for everything at the server level and above to run properly. Anything at the site level falls on your team’s shoulders. That may sound scary, but we’re not going to hang you out to dry either.
If the software you have running on your web site is throwing errors, we’ll try our best to find a solution for you, but keep in mind that an error on your web site does not indicate a problem with our servers. It indicates exactly what it is, a problem with your web site! This can be due to you running out dated software, which resulted in a hacked site, a defaced site, or simply that the software you are running on the site is too old to work with modern server technologies. Since we are constantly updating the back-end, you will need to do the same with your front-end to ensure ongoing compatibility. The moral of this section – please keep your software up to date at all times, doing so decreases the possibilities of site errors and hacks to almost zero. Which I suppose, is a nice segue to the next section…
As part of GlowHost’s hosting services you will be able to create your own website. We provide the space and set up the environment you need to run your website. The maintenance of your website is solely your responsibility. You will be provided with a control panel to have access to your website where you can upload files, add content, install applications, and monitor your traffic.
As a website owner you are responsible for uploading website files and setting up any website content. Our responsibility as your web hosting provider does not extend to adding, modifying, removing, updating or otherwise maintaining your website content. This includes adding images or files, changing logos, template installation, editing programming tasks and altering HTML, PHP or CSS code to customize your website. If you require these services, please seek the assistance of a web developer, web master, web designer, or similar title to help you.
As an owner of a domain name that you register or transfer to GlowHost, you are responsible for all aspects of the domain name including maintaining up to date contact information, forwarding, name servers, remembering your domain management log-in credentials, and etc.
We can assist you in taking the appropriate steps for domain name transfers into GlowHost, as well as domain nameserver changes, but we are not responsible for ensuring your domain name is transferred successfully to our servers, because, if we did not specifically register your domain name for you, it is beyond our ability to control it. In other words, If the domain was registered with a 3rd party, this is something you would work on with that 3rd party, typically this would be your domain registrar, perhaps your web master who set the site up for you, or another registration service. Once your domain is transferred to us, your hosting should begin working normally.
We’ll do everything we can to assist you to resolve any transfer issues, but please understand certain factors (like you had a fight with your old web master and no he does not return your phone calls) is beyond our control.
Backups – If your data is important to you, you need to read this.
It is your responsibility as a website owner to back up and retain your data which you have uploaded onto GlowHost’s web servers, database servers, email servers or an other server that we offer. Our servers are just that, web servers, database servers and email servers. They serve this content on the Internet. GlowHost servers such as shared servers, Cloud and Dedicated servers are not sold or designed to play a specific role as “backup servers.” This is an entirely different type of server, hosting, and service.
Though GlowHost servers may have backup functionality built in, this functionality should not be relied on for ultimate disaster recovery. They are there so that you may make periodic downloads, or for GlowHost’s internal usage. If your data is important to you, you should consider off site backups, and adding site backups to your local workstations as well. Any professional who has dealt with data loss will tell you that you should have your data in no less than 3 different, geographically dispersed locations.
Please always have backups! Servers can be hacked, zapped by lightning, a datacenter can catch fire or have a problem with their cooling systems. A datacenter may flood or be damaged in an earthquake or other natural disaster. If all of your data is in that one location and one of these unlikely, rare, but possible (and they do happen) events takes place, you will be up shit creek, without a paddle. Don’t be that guy!
In another situation, lets assume you accidentally deleted the site from your GlowHost server…Oops, or you just want to roll back to an earlier version of the site, we can help you with this. We will attempt to assist you in recovering your data from our backups, however, we make no guarantee as to the accuracy of the backups, the date of the backup, or that the backup data is intact. Again the backups we have are for our internal purposes so it is highly recommended that you utilize backup secondary options for your account, and keep copies of your data off-site for emergency purposes. There are many companies that offer backup services, but I would be amiss if I didn’t tell you that GlowHost does too.
If you are looking for an off-site backup solution in addition to your own local backups, please contact us. We always have off site backups available in USA or UK and there may be other locations available when you ask us. Off-site backups are an extremely affordable way to add an additional layer of data protection to your web site. But remember, you still should have that 3rd backup location.
Hopefully the above listed responsibilities are detailed enough to help avoid misunderstandings and misaligned expectations with regards to the services that we provide to you, that 3rd parties can provide to you, and your newly found responsibilities as a site operator. In light of that, I hope that you find the above information both informative and useful, and hopefully were able to crack a smile along the way.
Please feel free to contact us via telephone, email, and live chat. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have. I also love comments.