Tips and Tricks
Written by Sean Valant
Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
What is WHOIS? WHOIS, in a literal sense, is a protocol used to query databases that store registration information relative to Internet resources. Sounds complicated, but for our purposes at this time, WHOIS is simply a means of finding out who owns a given domain name. There are countless websites that allow you to run a WHOIS search; any domain registrar, for starters. You can essentially choose at random from a quick Google search for WHOIS.
When you do perform a WHOIS search on a domain, you find all sorts of information about the registrant of the given domain. In a nutshell, you’ll see all of the publicly available information relative to the given domain. Here’s the truncated results from a WHOIS search for HostGator.com, which is a perfect example:
We see when the domain was created and when the current registration period expires. We also see the nameservers to which the domain is pointed. The most important piece though is the name, address and phone number of the registrant. The information shown here for HostGator.com is essentially all publicly available information already, so it’s really a no harm and no foul situation.
However, when any given citizen registers a domain name they are putting their full name, address and phone number out there and attaching it to the various domain names they may have registered. If you are unaware of this circumstance and have currently registered domains, you might want to WHOIS your domains and see what you see. Do you necessarily want your personal contact information out there, attached to your domains and viewable by anyone?
It may occur to you to use false or otherwise incomplete information when registering a domain in order to maintain your privacy, however the WHOIS information legally and contractually determines who has control of the domain. For more information regarding this, please see this helpful link from our KnowledgeBase.
So, here is the situation most of us find ourselves in: we must use valid information on our domain registrations, but we don’t want that information freely available to the public? This is where domain privacy, or WHOIS protection comes in.
HostGator offers WHOIS protection on any domain we register. Domains registered via eNom utilize a service called ID Protect, while LaunchPad registered domains use Privacy Protection. The functionality for both is the same; protecting your personal information from being displayed publically within WHOIS searches.
Any time you register a domain via HostGator, you have the option of enabling WHOIS privacy. Conversely, if you have purchased domains in the past, you can contact us at any time to have this service added to your domains. Privacy is serious business in today’s world and we are happy to be able to offer this service. HostGator recommends WHOIS privacy for all of your domains.
Written by Sean Valant
Monday, December 10th, 2012
Monetization of a website can be tricky business. Some individuals seem to have the golden touch, while others simply can’t manage to profit the proverbial two pennies to rub together.
Fundamentally, monetization is the process of converting website traffic into revenue. Theoretically, there are many ways in which to accomplish this; we’ll discuss a small number of them. Be aware that the stories of failure, on the whole, outweigh the stories of success. Without risk though, there is no reward; some people are able to make their living entirely by the means mentioned below. At the very least, perhaps you can end each month with a few more coins in your pocket.
Clearly one of the most popular means of generating revenue with your existing website it to sign up for a service like Google Adsense, whereby you add additional code to your website that facilitates the placement of contextual ads within your site, in hopes that your visitors will click on them. How much money you stand to make depends on how much traffic your site generates and how many of your visitors do actually click on any given ad.
Banners are essentially clickable graphics that you place on your website that advertise and link to another site, which then generally pays you for each visitor that clicks the banner. Conversely, some agreements are contingent upon the person not only clicking the banner, but then also making a purchase on the target website which could then potentially earn you a commission for that sale.
Essentially what affiliate programs do is to pay you to refer people to them. As an apt example, HostGator has a rather successful affiliate program whereby we pay you to refer Customers to us: http://www.hostgator.com/affiliates.shtml …you simply place a link on your website that someone then clicks on to sign up with HostGator, and we then pay you.
If you feel the quality of your website is worthy of people simply handing you money, then by all means you may certainly ask for donations. Paypal makes it incredibly easy for people to give you money with the simple click of a mouse.
There are numerous other means of generating revenue online, some more respected than others. For example, you could run pop-up/pop-under ads, but those are generally considered a more of a nuisance than anything else. You can offer memberships to premium content, if that is applicable. Offering something for sale is always an option; perhaps even an ebook on how to monetize websites.
Written by Sean Valant
Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
The phonetic alphabet is a very easy to learn and can be immediately employed in a variety of circumstances in order to facilitate improved communication. Particularly in regard to conveying domain names and passwords via telephone. The phonetic alphabet is designed to alleviate any confusion on similar sounding letters, such as: B, D, P, T, etc. Especially these days with Voice Over IP telephone systems, sometimes the call quality can be lacking in clarity and the use of the phonetic alphabet can be the difference between clear and concise communication and total frustration on both ends of the line.
A – Alpha
B – Bravo
C – Charlie
D – Delta
E – Echo
F – Foxtrot
G – Golf
H – Hotel
I – India
J – Juliet
K – Kilo
L – Lima
M – Mike
N – November
O – Oscar
P – Papa
Q – Quebec
R – Romeo
S – Sierra
T – Tango
U – Uniform
V – Victor
W – Whiskey
X – X-ray
Y – Yankee
Z – Zulu
Use of the phonetic alphabet basically consists of replacing the letter you want to say with the actual word from the list above. So, “A – B – C” is thus said “Alpha – Bravo – Charlie.” It’s as easy as that!
Next time you find yourself on the phone with HostGator support, consider using the phonetic alphabet to assist us in better understanding your ticket number or domain name upon first hearing; this will help us assist you faster and hopefully get your issue resolved as quickly as possible.
If you have any suggestions or protips for improving communication, please share them with us in the comments.
Written by Sean Valant
Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
No one wants their identity stolen. For our discussion, let’s define identity theft as the illicit creation of fraudulent accounts (be they with a web host, a bank or any other financial institution) using unlawfully acquired credentials. In 2011, more than 11.6 million adults in the United States fell victim to identity theft. The average amount of time each of these individuals spent repairing damage due to the creation of fraudulent accounts was 165 hours. An additional 58 hours was spent to repair and resolve the subsequent issues with their previously existing accounts. The best estimates indicate that an identity is stolen every three seconds; frequent enough for the FBI to consider identity theft “America’s fastest growing crime problem.”
At HostGator, we deal with fraudulent account sign-ups every single day, without exception. Some try to use comically fake identification, others use legitimately stolen documents. As a result of our continuing efforts in preventing these sign-ups, we slowly but surely became experts in the many ways that criminals will attempt to perpetrate fraud. There is no absolute way to guarantee immunity from identity theft, but you can certainly hedge the odds in your favor by exercising a slight degree of caution.
Exercise caution when browsing the internet:
Phishing is essentially the creation of a very legitimate-looking website that exists solely to trick people into providing their personal information. Imagine a website that looked exactly like FaceBook, but perhaps had one letter different in the domain, like “faecbook,” which was specifically chosen in hopes that you would perhaps accidentally misspell the name yourself when attempting to browse to FaceBook. Now, if you don’t notice the mis-spelled domain and you enter your legitimate FaceBook login, you have now provided your login credentials to phishers. Now, imagine if the same thing happened with your bank account login.
Exercise caution when making online purchases:
Not everyone knows what an SSL Certificate is, but it is a key piece in the prevention of online identity theft. An SSL Certificate facilitates an encrypted connection between two machines; your computer and the server on which you are making an online purchase. Any time you ever enter any credit card information on any website, for any reason, be certain that the address bar of your browser shows “https” and not just “http.” That “s” stands for “secure” and without it, your information is unencrypted and ripe for the taking by any number of dastardly folks on the prowl to steal identities.
Exercise caution even when making physical purchases:
Skimming is the act of running a credit card through a small, easily-concealed device that simply stores the information held on the card’s magnetic strip. Perhaps a skimmer takes a job as a waiter at a restaurant for the sole purpose of being able to handle your credit card for a few moments, unobserved when ostensibly taking the card to facilitate the payment of your bill.
The goal here is not to increase paranoia, but to raise awareness of the potentialities that exist and the means by which these methods are executed.
Your Social Security Number should be memorized and the original card kept in a safe place, not your pocket. Don’t print it out or write it down unnecessarily. Only provide it in an official capacity to legitimate recipients, such as a credit card or loan application or your employer. Always provide your SSN with caution.
You likely receive mail that contains information that could be useful to malicious people; bank statements, credit card offers and bills all contain personal information. Perhaps use a paper shredder for both sensitive documents and junk mail, rather than just tossing them in the trash. If your purse or wallet is stolen, notify your bank or financial institution immediately and report any credit or debit cards as stolen. These are just some basic pro-tips, though a quick Google search will turn up countless websites that cover this topic in greater detail.
Please educate yourself further; do not be a victim of identity theft.
Written by Sean Valant
Monday, June 4th, 2012
It is no secret that the web hosting industry is the target of a lot of fraudsters, scammers, spammers and various run-of-the-mill riffraff. The anonymity that the Internet can provide seems to be far too fertile of ground for those simply looking to take advantage. It would be fantastic if everyone was always honest and never attempted to proverbially hoodwink those that are either more honest or less naive than themselves. However, the world we live in is one in which many things simply cannot, and should not, be taken at face value.
Fortunately, the Internet is also an excellent tool for exposing various scams and raising awareness such that less people are prone to being taken advantage of; the pyramid schemes that Grandma fell for (it’s true, she did; ask her about it) via snail-mail back in the day are simply not possible these days. So, schemes and scams have evolved. As HostGator has grown over the years, we have become a larger and larger target for scammers.
We like to think these days that it’s pretty hard to get one over on us, we’re pretty sharp cookies with pretty keen eyes. This wasn’t always necessarily true. The scam that I am about to describe to you, when it was first perpetuated on us, did initially cost us about $20,000. We were ultimately reimbursed these funds, but lesson learned!
In it’s most simple form, the scam works like this: Scammy McScammer targets a business or an individual and engages in the act of purchasing an item from them. Let’s say the item in question costs $500. Scammy will then send a check via FedEx or Priority USPS for $700 and contact the seller to inform them that they either “accidentally” or for some other made-up reason sent a check that was greater than the amount due and request that the balance be returned to them, in some way convincing the target that they should go ahead and send the amount prior to the initial check actually clearing… because it won’t. The target sends the scammer a good check, which the scammer promptly cashes. The fake check of course bounces and the scammer then has the target’s money. Where does the scammer get these fake checks? Anyone can easily purchase check-making software from virtually any office supply store and begin printing checks, be they for legitimate or illegitimate purposes. If you have ever seen the movie Catch Me If You Can, it’s basically a modern day version of that scenario.
Where does HostGator fit into this scam? We definitely didn’t receive fake checks and then mindlessly send out real ones. What happened was scammers made fake HostGator checks (with real account and routing numbers) and sent those to their targets. There are now multiple safeguards in effect to prevent this from ever being successful, so please don’t use this blog post as a how-to for beginning your scamming career. We do receive about a dozen fake checks each month that are used in an attempt to scam an innocent individual or business.
The most recent attempt to utilize this scam involved a $2,850 check and the request to purchase a $100 Toyota Tundra factory stereo on Craigslist. Essentially, the scammer said “here’s a $2,850 check, please deposit it into your ATM and take out the cash, keep an extra $100 for your trouble and send the rest to me via Western Union.” Seriously. If you’d like to see the actual email, click here.
The intended target of this scam smelled a rat and contacted us, as is what most often happens in these cases. We now have not only the email that I shared with you, but also the original check and even the USPS envelope that was used by the scammer. We also have a very healthy relationship with various levels of law enforcement.
Do not let yourself fall victim to an Internet scammer! If something seems too good to be true, then it is. If something seems like a scam, it is. Don’t fall prey and don’t hand your hard-earned money over to any two-bit trickster. Notify the proper authorities and let’s put criminals where they belong.
Written by Chad Bean
Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
At HostGator, one of the most popular web sites created on our servers these days are blogs. People use blogs not just as a diary, but as a quick way to publish information and articles. The most popular blogging software is WordPress, which happens to be the platform of choice for Gator Crossing (this blog) and can be installed with a couple clicks directly from the HostGator Control Panel.
We had a custom HostGator inspired WordPress theme drawn up recently and would like to make it available for free to our customers and non-customers alike. Below you can view and download the theme made available in four different color schemes:
|View Free Theme 1||View Free Theme 2|
|Download Theme||Download Theme|
|View Free Theme 3||View Free Theme 4|
|Download Theme||Download Theme|
Written by Justin G
Wednesday, December 26th, 2007
Branding livestock goes back to around 2700 B.C. Even paintings in the tombs of Egyptians show hieroglyphs of people branding oxen. This branding confirmed the ownership of the livestock. You may not be branding livestock, but this certainly applies to your website. It needs to be brandable so people will connect your website with a product, service, or other type of value.
Do you know how many people call HostGator and refer to us as GatorHost? A good number of people, but its our logo that people will never forget, this is just another part of branding yourself. If you surf the internet on any given day you will see the HostGator logo at some point. I can almost guarantee you that because it has been established across the internet. There are many aspects to branding your business besides the obvious sometimes. With that in mind, the following 5 tips will help you get on the right track to branding yourself better on the internet.
- Branding With A Domain
Have a domain which describes the name of your business as best as possible. Shorter domains are easier to remember. People can return to your website if the name is catchy and memorable. Avoid long domain names if possible, which detracts from the professionalism of your business.
- Create A Logo Thats Memorable
Make or have someone create a logo for you. This is also key for branding yourself. Remember, A picture is worth a thousand words. A logo, or image on your website will help connect customers, as well as potential customers with what your website is selling or promoting. You want to brand an image in peoples minds so they think of your business first when there is a service or product they need, or that their friends need.
- Have A User Friendly Website
Make your navigation simple and easy to use. A lot of people don’t realize that the user friendliness of a site is a part of branding. When you go to a website that is disorderly as well as looking and feeling complicated, would you rather stay and figure it out or find another resource that is simple and user friendly? If your website is simple and easy to use to purchase something, then people will come to you first over your competitors.