Monday, April 11, 2011

Website Reseller Hosting For One

Most people think of a website reseller hosting account as an easy way to get into the hosting business with a private branded turnkey operation. The other obvious use for reseller hosting is for the web designer who builds many small sites for local businesses and maintains them for a fee. But there is yet another important application for a reseller account. It’s highly flexible hosting that you use all yourself.

Screen Shot of a portion of the cPanel for reseller hosting. Click for packages and prices.What sense does this make? The more domains you have, the more sense it makes. Back in the early days of the Internet, domain names were expensive and most businesses were happy just to have one domain for their online endeavors. But over the last decade or so, domains have gotten cheap enough to build a collection. You may want a separate domain name for each of your product lines, each division of a business, or each outreach program of a charity.

The next step is how to put all those names to work. In some cases, it is appropriate to build one site and point each domain at a different page or section of the website. In other cases, you really want different sites with different designs. Each domain supports a single site. Unfortunately, each site needs its own hosting.

Some companies buy their own servers and set them up to host their domains. Fewer small, medium and even large companies do that anymore. Like domains, hosting has become inexpensive enough that it makes more sense to buy the service rather than trying to run it yourself.

Here’s where economics comes in. You can give each domain its own hosting account at anywhere from $4 to $10 per month typically. If you only buy a few domains over the years and just buy them when you want to start up a new business, this is probably the low cost way to go. If most of your activity is online rather that bricks and mortar, you may have a collection of domains that numbers from a half-dozen to hundreds. Many online entrepreneurs and large organizations easily have 50 or 100 domains.

You can see how the cost of hosting dozens of domains can run into the hundreds of dollars per month with individual hosting plans. What many companies do that this point is move up to business hosting plans that let you host multiple domains on one service. The way this works is that each site you build has its own folder in your account. The hosting company sets up its servers to know which folder to grab files from for a particular domain name.

Does this approach work? Yes and no. You still have only one account, so you have a single .htaccess file that works across all sites. It’s possible that you can do something to tweak one site that will affect another. If your sites are all pretty similar and simple in design, loading a few domains on one hosting plan may work fine. I’ve done this over the years with good results. Even so, there is something even better that gives you the flexibility of having multiple hosting services but at a price more like one.

That something is website reseller hosting. The beauty of a reseller account is that it is already configured to keep your individual sites separate. You wouldn’t want a hosting customer or retail client of yours to be able to do anything that would affect another customer’s site, would you? Of course not. With reseller hosting, what you do with one of your sites will have no effect on the others.

The way this works is that you have two control panels. Many companies selling reseller accounts running on Linux servers are using WHM (Web Host Manager) and cPanel. The WHM panel is designed for you as the administrator of the site. It allows you to create and modify the hosting for each domain. You can allocate each site the amount of storage and bandwidth it needs. WHM is the master control panel to monitor and control all sites.

cPanel, the control panel, is intended for the webmaster of the individual site. Each site gets it own separate cPanel. You can log-into the cPanel with its unique username and password so that you can work on a particular site. If you are hosting for clients who want to maintain their own site, you give them the username and password for their control panel. You can always get to any site at any time through either the cPanel or the Web Host Manager.

What does the cPanel do for you? It lets you set up forwarding email addresses or POP mail accounts for a site, FTP files to the server instead of using a separate FTP client, access the server logs for that site, password protect directories, deny access from particular IP addresses who are bothering you or trying to hack your site, set up and administer MySQL databases, install server hosted software, and set specific server handlers for that particular domain.

I’ve been using HostGator Website Reseller Hosting for a couple of years now with excellent results. I’m running a couple of dozen domains, each for a separate site, on their smallest reseller account with plenty of capacity to spare. What’s considered small today compared to a half dozen years ago is really quite impressive. For $24.95 a month, you get 50 GB of disk space and 500 GB of monthly bandwidth to share among your sites. I’d suggest setting up a variety of hosting “packages” of various size storage and bandwidth in your WHM. Then you can assign the little sites small packages and save the big packages for your larger or more popular sites. You’ll be able to monitor and adjust bandwidth and disk usage for all sites from your WHM.

One peace of mind I really like about a reseller account is that you can set up a new site on a whim whenever you want. Just buy a domain name from HostGator or other favorite registrar and by the time you’ve got your account set up and your first pages created, you’ll be ready to go live online. It can be 3 AM when the muse strikes. With your reseller hosting you can add new accounts yourself in a matter of minutes any hour of the day or night. The best part is that the incremental cost of adding another site is only the cost of the domain. There’s no extra cost for adding another site to your reseller hosting.

Does this sound like the kind of flexibility you need in running your online operations? If so, check out the various low cost hosting packages, especially Website Reseller Hosting, that you’ll find at HostGator.

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