I’m a newish reseller for a certain hosting company that offers WHM AutoPilot as a free automated services center for hosts. This program is pretty cool – basically it’s a tool that exists on your site and lets people sign up for hosting and other services automatically. They sign up for what they want, pay, their account is set up and they get billed for it periodically all without the reseller’s input.

The control panel for WHMAP is pretty well done, it makes sense and is easy to get synchronized with the data you’ve entered in WHM (the hosting manager that integrates with cPanel). However, I found that integrating it into my site proved harder than first thought. My host is not using the latest version of WHMAP, but I’m not sure if that’s a factor here or not…

You create a header and footer template that matches the rest of your site and WHMAP feeds its data into the central area of the page, however you’ve defined that in a div or a (shudder) table cell. That went fine – it popped in nicely.

However, the problems started when I wasn’t happy with the way lines of text ran together. There are many spacing and formatting issues right out of the box, and applying CSS styles to some of these was just agonizing for me.

I probably spent a good 5-6 hours playing with just the first step of the order process and still wasn’t even close to making it pretty on the page. I knew that WHMAP has a big brother named WHM Complete Solution. I knew it wasn’t free, but I’d heard from other resellers that it was much easier to deal with.

I told my husband of my coding woes and asked him what he thought about me buying WHMCS rather than continuing to struggle with WHMAP. He shook his head and told me ‘go get it.’ Why waste so much time, he said, when I could probably be cruising along with the better product?

I downloaded the 15-day trial of WHMCS and had the thing loaded and running in about an hour. I’m not quite done with the integration, but it certainly was a heck of a lot easier than WHMAP and looks 100% better. I’m really happy with it, and the price tag ($166 I think if you buy a copy outright) is in my opinion extremely reasonable. It makes my hosting site look pretty professional, IMHO, and I hope to have it up and running by this weekend.

This is a question I’m confronting right now, as I’m setting up the new hosting section of my website.

To find out, I went through about a dozen of my clients’ sites to find out what they were using. Note that all of these sites are CSS, most validate fully for (X)HTML and are cleanly coded.

I have a few clients with pretty simple static sites of 8-20 pages, a few small (optimized) images but mostly text. Their sites were typically about 70-90 mb on the server.

I have one CMS (Joomla) site with a good number of photos and the equivalent of about 30 ‘pages’ of content; that one’s taking up about 130mb at the moment.

I have a photographer with an e-commerce solution, two databases and about 425 photos (all optimized .jpg’s); this site is around 250mb.

I have another photographer with no e-commerce but an open source image gallery. His image database contains around 900-1,000 images, some pretty good sized but all are (or should be) optimized. The site is around 10 pages plus the image gallery and is at about 750mb.

Finally I have my business website Parallax Web Design. I checked its size when it had 5-6 production sites running, and a total of maybe 8 MySQL databases. It was taking up around 1gb at that time.

So from my experience, I’m pretty confident that I can host a small static site with a 500mb disk allotment. My current host for all of these sites (except Parallax)  offers at a minimum a 100gb plan – this is totally unnecessary for any of my current clients.

Does this kind of measurement hold true for other web designers managing hosting their own clients out there? Do you have small business clients that really need 400gb of space, and if so, what kind of sites are they running?

My business site was back up at 9:00 tonight – 13 hours after the DNS change began. That’s about 4 times longer than it took when I set up the account, and the techs for my host told me that there was a mistake in the DNS when they switched it back this morning.

This is the first problem I’ve had with them, but it could have been a costly one, say, if I was a retailer. I’ll remember not to go changing any master domain names from now on.

Yesterday I confirmed with my host (twice) that changing the master account domain name would have no effect whatsoever on my business website, www.parallaxwebdesign.com, and I needed a different domain to oversee my hosting accounts. So I told them go ahead and do it.

Instead of moving parallaxwebdesign.com to its own account and creating an empty master account with the new domain name, they instead just changed my master name to the new domain name and left all of my content there – which was not at all what they said they’d do.

Now it’s going on 14 hours that my site has been nonexistent. I finally got them to just change the name back – that happened this morning while I was at a meeting with a client who found it odd that my own website couldn’t be found. I was not happy.

I just got home from being in Denver all day and lo and behold – my site is STILL not up. I am really getting angry, there’s no reason it should be taking this long. I’ve been so happy with this host, and this is the first thing that’s gone wrong with them but it makes me look stupid and careless when my website is down.

One more hour and I’m going to consider setting up a temporary account on another host. My business site has to be up. And I need my email. Now.

When I started my web design business and was looking for a host, I first learned about reseller accounts. The host I’m with now has a great one, but not everyone may be familiar with what this entails…

What is a reseller hosting account? Generally, that means that you purchase web server space with a host, then you’re free to sell that space in whatever increments you choose and at the price you set. And typically you’ll have some kind of hosting control panel where you can set up hosting packages and prices and manage your hosting clients – up to the point of monitoring the bandwidth they’re using each month, and upgrading/downgrading or suspending if necessary.

For example, if I purchase a reseller account with 20 gb of space, I can sell 20 1gb accounts or 40 500 mb accounts and so on to my web design clients. I pay for the original account, but my clients all pay me for their accounts too. It definitely pays for itself very quickly, and the ability to oversee my clients’ hosting accounts all from one control panel is a big time saving benefit.

This is so much easier than just setting up a client with their own hosting account and of course keeps me in the loop when they need to upgrade and renew!

Yes, I know it’s been way too long since I last posted. I do know. But things have been very busy lately; we were working on getting our retail site ready for the holidays, and holiday shopping is now in full swing.

Over Thanksgiving (and I mean all fricking day), we did testing on the speed of the retail site’s server and found it was performing at a level of ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ all the time. So I decided (maybe with not quite enough forethought) that a virtual private server (VPS) might be the answer. I thought we were bogging down due to the sum total of activity on the shared server and that switching to one where we’d have a guaranteed amount of space and bandwidth all the time might be better.

I’ve talked before about how happy I was with my current host. Their tech support was outstanding – until a few days before Thanksgiving when I opened up the VPS account.

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