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Web Hosting - Look Before You Leap Companies that offer Internet-connected servers that provide space and bandwidth for a domain, for one or more web sites, are called Web Hosts. Large companies have private networks that allow them to host domains on their own equipment and IP address range. But for the majority of those who want an Internet presence, a 'rented' web host is a necessity. There are a wide variety of hosting plans available. Some are free, others charge up to a $100 or more per month. Some provide nothing but a tiny amount of disk space and minimal network bandwidth. The web site owner is on his or her own for any thing else. Others offer a range of services, including server and email administration, backups, web site design assistance, troubleshooting and many others. In the world of web hosting, you may often find yourself sharing a server with anywhere from one to a thousand or more other web sites. That allows the web hosting company to keep equipment and staff expenses lower. Many web sites are simple and low-volume enough that the arrangement works fine. When you or one or more of the others grow, it may be helpful to consider a dedicated server. A dedicated server, as the name suggests, hosts only your domain. You can put one web site on it, or as many as you wish. You control the access. You may also, as an option, take over much of the server administration yourself. That may save you money on support costs, but cost you considerable time. If you don't have the expertise, you can end up costing yourself much more than you save. In order to carry out those administrative functions yourself, even if you hire help, it's desirable to have some technical knowledge under your belt. Some of that knowledge will be useful, even for day-to-day tasks apart from dealing with emergencies. FTP, email administration, backup methods and other technical areas are among the more common areas you'll need to be at least somewhat familiar with. When your web site grows to a certain size and level of complexity, you'll begin to find it worthwhile to look at implementing a database. But that brings with it a still higher level of ability, both technical and logistical or creative. Implementing a database can be relatively simple. Designing one that provides what you want, with decent performance and maintenance that doesn't become a nightmare, will take some careful thought. Not everyone has the temperament for that type of work, especially those who prefer graphical design, content creation or development, and the many other web site tasks that are part of every implementation. There are other, more low level administrative matters. Managing disk space, maintaining domain names, dealing with registration and changes, and a number of other 'utilitarian' tasks are also not everyone's cup of tea. Some understanding of how DNS works, as well as the design of the Internet itself, are helpful. That provides a good context for understanding the role of some of those tasks. When you begin to seek out a web host to implement a web site, consider all these factors and look in the mirror. What kind of web hosting you should pursue is determined by a combination of who you are and what's being offered. Look before you leap.

Sweepstakes Entries Can Garner some Freebies Are you ready to cash in on the web's best sweepstakes and freebies? When it comes to finding the best of freebies on the web, sweepstakes entries and freebies go hand on hand. There are many fine websites that act as repositories for free stuff and sweepstakes. Here are some tips for finding the best sweepstakes entries and cashing in on the best freebies to be found on the World Web. Tips and Hints for Finding the Best Sweepstakes on the Web There are many websites out there that advertise the best of the free web. These sites often list dozens (if not more) of freebies and sweepstakes. Unfortunately, there are good deals of disreputable and not-legitimate websites that offer erroneous information or simply dozens of outdated sweepstakes links. Fortunately, there are many easy to use tips that you can use to find the best in sweepstakes. Ordering Your Sweepstakes Entries by Category Part of the secret in winning sweepstakes is that winners are able to organize their sweepstakes entries. First, you want to order sweepstakes by category. What are you most interested in winning? Are you lusting after a brand new car, or are you coveting that full makeover and shopping spree? Remember—sweepstakes usually come in big packages, so it does not hurt to think and dream big. Of course, it is important to keep a healthy sense of perspective when you go about filling out sweepstakes entries, but you want to make sure that you are focusing on the right kinds of sweepstakes. Ordering Sweepstakes Entries by Entry Deadline Date Another easy way to bring order to the crazy world of sweepstakes entries and freebies is to organize all of your sweepstakes entries by the deadline date. The last thing you want to do is to focus your energies on sweepstakes entries that are already expired. Purchase a notebook with file pockets that allows you to organize all of your sweepstakes entries by category and date. Keep a calendar handy and make sure that you note the various deadline dates for submitting to sweepstakes contests that you want to enter. Keep an Eye on Your Favorite Companies and Sponsors Once you have been in the sweepstakes business long enough, you begin to notice a definite pattern—your favorite companies, businesses and corporations probably sponsor their sweepstakes contests on a regular schedule. Make sure you bookmark your favorites—those companies that are frequent sponsors of sweepstakes contests—and visit their site often. You want to get a leg up on the competition by knowing who will be holding a sweepstake contest at any given time. Make the Sweepstakes Directory Your Best Friend If you are serious about winning sweepstakes freebies, you will want to become very well acquainted with sweepstakes directories. The World Wide Web is a haven and treasure trove for sweepstakes directories. These are websites that contain libraries of links that can connect you to new sweepstakes. Thank the organizers out there, who feel the need to collect and label links for the rest of us. These websites can be great places to start your search for the perfect sweepstakes entry. Sign Up for Newsletters that Keep You in Touch with Sweepstakes Sponsors If you know that certain companies sponsor sweepstakes contests, consider joining the newsletters of the contest sponsors. Many sponsors use their free newsletters to promote sweepstakes contests. This is a good way to learn more about their giveaway patterns. You will also be the first to know whether about sweepstakes contests as soon as they go online. You can search the Internet for the best of these newsletters. Be warned that your inbox will quickly fill up if you rely on this method.

Free Fun Game Favorites on the Net The World Wide Web has become a repository of free entertainment. You can find everything from funny clips to interactive games. Where can you go for the best games on the Web? Here are some of the top sites for online gaming that is fast, free and fun. Ready to Play? Check Out These Great Websites Are you ready for the best in online gaming? There are many top gaming sites that can get you gaming and having a blast in no time. One of the top gaming sites is the MSN Gaming Zone. This site has over 100 free and fun games. They also offer free trials of the hottest games. This is where you can find some of the web's best gamers. Another popular site is Heat.net. You can bring the heat on this hot gaming website, featuring over 115 online multiplayer game downloads. This site is home to such popular games as Diablo and Warcraft II. In order to play most of the games on this website, you will need to download the software. Ready to get the hottest shortcuts? If so, you will want to head for GoCheat.com. Even the most honest soul needs to get their fill of cheat codes. As all true gamers know, cheat codes can provide you with a fun and easy way to maneuver around a game. You can save your game and jump ahead with the right cheat code. For those of you that don't care for complicated or violent games, head on over to Pogo.com to get your own dose of gaming fun. Pogo.com features classic board games and casino games, including bingo, poker and other classic games. Make Your Computer Your Own Movie Theater Do you have a couple of hours to kick back in front of the computer? Do you love movies and are interested in cutting edge film? If so, you will enjoy the entertainment that you can find on the World Wide Web. One of the most popular sites for short films is Atom Films. You can watch an original short (or long film) right on your computer. Atom Films is well known for showcasing innovative short films. Atom Films even featured the winner of the 2000 Academy Award for best live action short film. You can even find short works by famous stars, such as George Clooney and Jennifer Aniston. The Sync is another great site for video entertainment. The Sync offers more edgy film shorts than other online short video websites. Who Doesn't Enjoy a Good Puzzle? Work Out Your Brain at these Websites If crossword puzzles are your thing, you will surely appreciate, the selection of games put forth by yahoo games. This site contains a host of fun, classic puzzlers. Yahoo game gives you a shot at a daily puzzle. Another great place to check out if you are a puzzle fan is the Puzzle Depot. The Puzzle Depot has a neat pattern-matching tool that can help you in a crunch. Choose from a range of difficulty levels from your crossword puzzles. For a Bit of High Culture on the Web If you feel like treating yourself to a bit of high culture on the Web, take an art break with artmusuem.net. This neat website gives you a 3D experience tour of many of the finest museums in the world. This is much easier than buying a ticket and flying over to Paris. This website offers you the full experience of some of the world's greatest museums, including audio narrative, and a neat zoom-in function that gets you within a nose of some of the world's greatest masterpieces.

Web Hosting - Why Backups Are Essential One thing most web site owners have little time for is... anything! Anything other than focusing on their site content and the business or service it supports and the information it provides, that is. That means that administration often suffers, as it frequently must. There's only so much time in the day. But the one thing that you should never let slide are backups. They are like insurance. You rarely need it (you hope), but when you do you need it very badly. Performing regular backups - and testing them - doesn't have to be a nightmare. A little bit of forethought and effort and they can be automated to a high degree. And, they should be tested from time to time. Even when a backup appears to have gone without a hitch, the only way to know whether it's of any value is to attempt to restore the information. If it can't be restored, the backup is worthless. Even when the web hosting company provides the service, there is still some planning involved for the site owner. Hosting companies often rely on one or both of two methods. They backup everything (called a full backup), then backup anything which has changed since the last full backup (called an incremental backup). Of special interest are any configuration files that have been tailored. If you've modified the default installation of a software package, you want to be able to recapture or reproduce those changes without starting from scratch. Network configuration files, modifications to basic HTML files, CSS style sheets and others fall into the same category. If you have XML files, databases, spreadsheets or other files that carry product or subscriber information - about items purchased, for example, or people who signed up for a newsletter - those should get special attention, too. That's the lifeblood of your business or service. Lose them and you must start over. That can break your site permanently. It should go without saying that all HTML and related web site files that comprise visible pages should be backed up regularly. It isn't necessary to record every trivial change, but you can tailor backup software to exclude files or folders. Usually they're so small it isn't worth the trouble. But in some cases those small changes can add up in scenarios where there are many thousands of them. Here again, the backups are worthless if they can't be used. Even if the hosting company charges for doing so, it's worthwhile to test once or twice a year at least to ensure the data can be restored. That's especially true of database backups, which often involve special software and routines. Database files have a special structure and the information is related in certain ways that require backups be done differently. Developing a backup strategy can be straightforward. Start simply and review your plan from time to time, modifying it as your site changes and grows. But don't neglect the subject entirely. The day will come when a hard drive fails, or you get hacked or attacked by a virus, or you accidentally delete something important. When that day comes, the few minutes or hours you spent developing and executing a backup plan will have saved you days or weeks of effort.