Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tech Notes: web hosting and domain names

Recently, I was helping a friend makeover their website. In the process, they also needed web-hosting. There was only one requirement: that their money go to a Canadian company.

I thought I'd share some of my research and findings, in case any of you out there are in the market too. (And this give me a chance to document things on the off-chance I ever need it again!)

monthly webhosting as low as(*) domain registration available(+) domain privacy available(%)
canaca.com $3.95 no no
blacksun.ca $10.00 yes yes
stormweb.ca $2.99 yes yes
dotcanada-costco.com $99.00 per year yes unknown
(a division of StormWeb)
no yes yes

* the "as low as" packages typically require you to commit for a year or more at a time
+ typically, .ca domain names cost almost twice as much as .com domains. I've seen them "on special" as low as ~$10 for a year and as high as $40
NOTE: watch out if your purchasing a secondary domain that you wish to point to an existing domain... often obtaining the domain is inexpensive, but they fleece you when you decide you want to actually have the domain point to something
% as of this post, it is not possible to hide your personal information from the whois database if you've got a .ca domain (although I hear that's coming in the near future)

Lessons learned:
  • for privacy to be enabled on your domain name (so that people can't whois your phone number and address) you often have to contact tech support separately as the information isn't always apparent on the sign-up forms
  • check to find out what happens if you exceed your monthly bandwidth (network traffic). Do they charge you more or shut your site down?
  • find out what other services or widgets they offer that may or may not appeal to you
  • investigate claims or guarantees about service availability
  • if pre-sales support is shoddy, don't expect anything better after you buy
  • investigate tech support hours of availability
  • sometimes smaller organizations provide better support than the larger, well established ones
  • sometimes they don't


Beanie Baby said...

That's interesting. Back when I first got my domain name--oh, ten years ago, maybe--blacksun was the only Canadian host I could find who charged in $Cdn. Things have changed, I see.

Do they provide similar things? I guess I could look it up for myself. Never mind. ;)

Miche said...

I've added links to the sites to make research easier.

Also note, I've updated the text to add this:
NOTE: watch out if your purchasing a secondary domain that you wish to point to an existing domain... often obtaining the domain is inexpensive, but they fleece you when you decide you want to actually have the domain point to something

Beanie BAby said...

YOu are fabulous.

And that's so interesting--they can do that?

Miche said...

Aye. They can and they do. One of the places offers domain names for much less than the $40 it costs. But unless you're using that as a site's primary domain, they'll soak you an extra $36 a year so that you can point that domain to an existing site.

Buyer beware!

DaniGirl said...

Miche, this is FABULOUS!!! Thank you so much for this.

Can you explain to a Luddite what you mean about the secondary domain, maybe with an example? I just don't get it.

You've made me realize there is a lot more to this than I expected. What a great resource!

mamaloo said...

I use www.liquidesign.com. It's a company run by two women and a bonus to me is that they are local (Hamilton).

They charged me Canadian. Even though I got .com extension, my entire package for the year came in at about $90, including domain reg and their smallest hosting package.

I'm pretty happy with their service, too. We had the whole thing done within 24 hours of my making an initial inquiry about the services.

Miche said...

Dani, I'm glad you find this post helpful.

I should add, that the list above isn't exhaustive for Canadian webhosters. They are just the ones we explored.

What I mean by secondary domains is this:
First, you register DaniGirl.ca as your primary domain. You buy your webhosting package to work with that domain.

Then you think, what if folks can't remember whether it's DaniGirl.ca or DaniGirl.com? So you go and buy DaniGirl.com too.

Some places will let you buy DaniGirl.com at a bargin, but will charge you an additional fee to have DaniGirl.com point to your DaniGirl.ca website. Other places will charge more for the DaniGirl.com domain, but let you point it to whatever website you want for free.

If you're not shopping for bargins or anything complicated, most places out there will deliver exactly what you need in one fell swoop. Just a reminder that the buyer should be aware of what they need and ask questions before locking into a deal that looks Too Good To Be True.

Welcome Mamaloo, and thanks for the tip about LiquiDesign!

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