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TrainWeb Hosting Disadvantages
Although TrainWeb will host your non-commerical rail related website for free, there are a number of disadvantages to having your website hosted at TrainWeb. Please review these disadvantages before requesting to have your website hosted at TrainWeb.
If you wish to have a simple website with just HTML pages, photographs and graphics, then what TrainWeb offers might be all that you need. If you wish to use more advanced web features such as frames, CGI scripts, forms, a database, or feature downloadable movies or files, then the simple web hosting provided by TrainWeb might not meet your needs.
TrainWeb has just a small staff. There are a lot of features on the drawing board that we plan to implement on our own website at TrainWeb.com. We wish to spend most of our time building these new features and adding new content to TrainWeb for our visitors. We do not have adequate staff or funding to spend much time providing support to the non-commerical websites hosted free at TrainWeb. We do want to provide free hosting for non-commercial rail related websites and we want to provide exposure for those websites as a service to the rail community. But, we have to do this in a way that will not add a significant amount of extra work to our small staff. Thus, we have decided to only provide simple web hosting which requres the most minimal of support from our staff.
TrainWeb does not offer shell or telnet access to your hosted web account. You can use FTP to upload your HTML pages, and your JPG and GIF photos and graphics.
TrainWeb does not support CGI scripts or any sort of server based programming. If you wish to use web counters, forms, guestbooks, etc., we suggest that you link to those provided by outside services such as BraveNet.
TrainWeb provides an initial allocation of 10 megabytes of disk space when we set up your account. This is adequate for most simple websites. When you attempt to exceed your disk quota, you will get an error message. We will grant additional disk space as needed, but we will check to make sure that you are using it for rail related information, photographs and graphics. We prefer that you post photographs that are no larger than 640x480 pixels with a file size between 30,000 and 70,000 bytes each. Webmasters that run out of disk space quickly are those that upload many large high-resolution photographs. These type of photographs not only eat up disk space quickly, but they are also a pain for dial-up users to view since they take so long to download. I have noticed that the newer megapixel cameras actually encourage photographers to capture larger higher-resolution photographs. If you are really determined to post megapixel photographs that quickly eat up disk space, then we encourage you to host your website elsewhere. We are very hesitant to provide additional disk space to webmasters that upload many photographs where many image files are over 100,000 bytes each. Almost all of the thousands of photos posted by the TrainWeb staff, ourselves, are under 70,000 bytes each.
TrainWeb does not have a telephone support staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Actually, we don't have any staff assigned to telephone support! The only way you can communicate with our technical people is by e-mail. Your e-mail will go into a queue and they will answer it when they get a chance, which may take a few days. If the topic is urgent, such as a notification to us that our web server is down, it will be handled quickly. The only topics that our technical people will deal with are reports that there is something wrong with our server or something wrong with your web account. We do not provide any technical support related to questions of how to create or modify web pages. Other than directing you to a page that explains how to upload files to your web account, we do not provide instruction and help with uploading files to your website. If you need any help with these basic issues, you should consult with an experienced webmaster that can help you through this learning curve. We'd like to help you in this area, but our small staff just does not have the time available.
TrainWeb does make a backup copy of the servers onto tape on a regular basis. However, TrainWeb does not make any guarantee that a recent copy of any part of your website can be recovered from these backup tapes. The primary responsibility for having a backup copy of your website rests with you. You should always keep a copy of every file of your website on your own computer. If necessary, you should be able to recover your entire website by re-uploading every file from your backup copy on your own computer. If you accidentally delete an individual file from your website, we CAN NOT recover the deleted file for you from our backup tape. The effort to locate and recover one particular file from our tapes is too time consuming for our small staff.
Many large commercial web hosting companies have "hot" backup servers and mirrors. A major hardware or software failure on one of their servers might only bring your website down for minutes or hours. We don't have the luxury of having redundant equipment. Fortunately, there has been very little downtime on any of our servers. However, we did have a hard disk corruption in September of 2001 and it took 5 days for us to restore our web server. Thus, all the websites hosted on that server were down for 5 days. We expect our servers to continue to remain quite reliable, but if you could not tollerate your website being down for a number of days in the event of a major system failure, then you would be better off having your website hosted at a major web hosting facility rather than at TrainWeb.
Most large commercial web hosting companies have an OC-12 connection to the backbone of the internet or better. TrainWeb currently has 2 connections to the internet, each of about T-1 speed. Adding bandwidth is very costly so we try to make the most efficient use of the bandwidth that we have. Most websites hosted at TrainWeb just feature HTML pages, photographs and graphics. Viewing these web items usually takes very little bandwidth. Sound and movie files take up a lot more bandwidth so we ask webmasters to keep these features to a minimum. We ask webmasters to keep any unusual features that are likely to use a lot of bandwidth off their websites.
E-mail and Dial-Up Access:
If you need dial-up access to the internet or if you need POP3 mailbox services, TrainWeb does not offer either of those services. If you do not already have access to the internet, you need to obtain your access from some other provider so that you can upload your files and view your website. TrainWeb can provide you with web based e-mail through RRmail.com. You can select any available name that you wish and your e-mail address will be yourname@RRmail.com.
You will find existing sites at TrainWeb that have some of the web hosting features that we said that we do not support. There are a lot of sites that started with us when we used to offer these features. When we first started offering free web hosting, we wanted to offer everything. We learned through experience (1) the amount of support these features required, (2) the potential harm to system security, and (3) the drain some of these features can place on the server and bandwidth. We plan to phase out the additional web features from these older sites over time, but these features will not be provided to any newly created websites at all.
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