Developing Genealogy Web-Pages/Site Hosting Information

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Site Hosting[edit]

If you are interested in making a family site, having a way for your family to keep connected and see the progress on your family tree, read further. In this scenario, family members could share old photos and copies of documents.

Let's begin by examining the various packages and sizes that some companies offer. There are a variety of sizes and even more confusing is the bandwidth, domain parking, subdomains, storage space, and more. Let's go over some of these terms.

Remote Hosting This means that some company is providing space (similar in concept to space on your computer's hard-drive).

General Terms[edit]

Let me cover some of the terms and what you should look for:
Storage Space
5-75GB (or GIG); generally 5-25GB is more than enough for a basic web page. This can differ based on your site usage (that is, storing LARGE images will cut into your space; 1,000 photos will easily store in a 1-2GB space)
Domain Name
There are several basic concepts that apply here. A domain name is the address that people type in to get to your page.
Domain Parking
This is a method of registering a domain name without having it point anywhere (generally it points to you hosting storage space); this is a method of ensuring you have it in the future.
Subdomains
Generally you get 10 of these; the simplest explanation is that they replace the www (ie. my domain is www.fornal.org and my subdomain is bob.fornal.org)

Pricing[edit]

All prices listed are US Dollars.
When considering Hosting companies, the simplest method is "word of mouth." Generally, go with a company that you know (the next best thing is a company that someone close to you knows) that is inexpensive and reliable.
What is inexpensive to me and you are probably two different things; same with reliability.
A good price is about $5.00/month (that's $60.00 per year). You generally can register a domain name with the hosting company and it is included in the cost, but it can be registered independently and simply redirected the hosted space.
Separate domain registration is about $35.00 per year; these can decrease is paid in bulk - 10 years goes for about $180.
This is a good place to point out one other thing to watch for. When looking at a hosting company, make ABSOLUTELY sure that the registered domain name is yours - that you take it with you if you switch companies. Some of the hosting companies will register it for you (included in the cost), but you can't take it with you when you leave them.

Storage Space[edit]

Let's take a look at the "space" issue ... how much space do you need for a web-site. Years ago, when PCs were just coming into their own, a friend asked if a 10MEG (NOT GIG) hard drive would be enough ... my response at the time was, "that's more space than you'll ever need ... you can store TEN books in that amount of space."
There might be a good amount right now, but as we all know, computer technology continuously changes and tomorrow ... next month ... next year, that will change.
Also remember, that unlike most personal web-sites, sites designed to display genealogy information have a lot of content and can often be around for the long-term ... I'd like my kids (don't have any yet) and grandkids to be able to access the pages I am designing right now.

FTP and E-Mail Accounts[edit]

Another two items to consider are FTP and E-Mail accounts.
Generally when you are using a remote hosting company, you can configure an unlimited number of emails to your domain name (you can have an account for yourself, your father, your wife, brother, and sister-in-law). These accounts generally allow for 10MB of emails, but this does vary slightly from host to host.
Also, you can generally configure FTP accounts where individuals can create their own web pages and upload/download files. This is relatively straight forward - you generate a username and password that is linked to a folder that you created. The person that you give the account information to logs in using some FTP software (ws_ftp is one) and they can then transfer files (you mentioned pictures - this is one way they can get them to you without bogging down an email account).

GIG Transfer[edit]

GIG Transfer indicates how much information can be transferred per month.
For example, assume that there is a single web page that is 1k (1,000 characters) in site with two images, one being 20k and another being 29k in size. These three files are 50k in size total.
If 200 people got on this month and downloaded this page (which includes the images), you would have transferred 10,000k (or 10MEG) of information.
The transfer can be kind of nerve-wracking for someone just starting out. You want slightly more than you think you need an in both these cases, it can be difficult to estimate:
  1. How much is transferred on average and
  2. How many people per month are going to download files and     
  3. Which files are going to be accessed most frequently.
It often comes down to a best-guess, but also remember that you will be starting slow. Generally, you can generate about a page per day of content (you can generally estimate about 50k of non-image files). And, you also have to remember that people then need to find your site and it will take months, or even years, for a good following and consistent transfer of files.

GIG Transfer/Linking[edit]

Linking to other sites does not affect transfer, but when they link to your site (ie. images) it can.
This brings up a point ... if you have the images stored in another location (say a site that hosts images free), you can sometimes place that image on your page without having to have the image actually on your site. This is called "hot linking" and some of the image sites will not allow it (because it affects their transfer rates).

Subdomains[edit]

Subdomains point back to a folder within the hosted site that can make the domain name much shorter and cleaner (for example, http://bob.fornal.org/Genealogy instead of http://www.fornal.org/Bob/Genealogy/). It also provides the capacity to have multiple users/accounts on one hosted site:
  1. My site: bob.fornal.org
  2. My wife's: jen.fornal.org
  3. My brother: tim.fornal.org
  4. My sister-in-law: kristin.fornal.org     
These subdomains also have the added benefit of looking much more professional. For example, if you intending to use your space as a virtual resume, you can post the following on correspondence:
Resume: name.surname.org
E-Mail: name@surname.org     
... which looks better than ...
Resume: www.surname.org/name/Resume.html     
E-Mail: name@surname.org
There are other uses for subdomains; it comes down to your creativity ... another that is useful is configuring: images.surname.org as a subdomain which allows all site images to be placed in one location and use a MUCH shorter path.

Redirection[edit]

Redirection is a concept where you enter a web address and you are provided pages from abother address ... for example, you enter www.fornal.org and get pages that are located at www.i-cuhere.com/~bob/genealogy.

This basically means that you host the pages and someone else can make it display the information as if it were somewhere else.

Cloaking[edit]

Cloak a URL means that the address from the example, www.i-cuhere.com/~bob/genealogy, can be hidden so that the end-user does not see it. If you entered www.fornal.org to get to the pages, that is all you see in the address at the top of the browser.