Official Spam Filter - Bayesian Filter to Fight back Spammers

by: Micky Sing

The most prolific and path breaking innovation of last century had been the developments in the communication field. It literally changed the business working, product marketing, support services and most importantly, the advertisement campaigns.

But just like all goods things comes with a price, so was the communication. It brought in the problems of Spam Emails. Automated mailers with mass mailing capabilities, growing marketing dependencies on this tool have seen the large losses in terms of time and money.

There have been many ways of targeting spam mails like blacklisted domains, banned IPs, words in subject and many more. The spammers have always found out a way to change their identity. But here is the catch. The spammers are being paid to send the message. They can change their Domains, IPs, subject lines, but how much they can play with the contents? And that’s where content based filtering comes into focus. Now we can understand that by targeting and focusing on message body, there is a better chance of filtering spam emails.

Apart from the usual spam emails, the new menace has been created by the "phishing emails" targeting primarily eBay and PayPal accounts. These emails come as a "Last Warning", "Attention Required", "Password Change Required" or "Your account is suspended" among many more. These mails appear to have come from eBay or PayPal and provide a link to their own page.

These pages are designed just like the original pages and the unsuspecting user ends up providing his/her sensitive information like username/password or Credit Card Information to these duplicate pages. Here I would like to add one piece of advice to all users that you should always see where the link is taking you by seeing the tool tip and then if sure, follow the link.

The role of content in marking the mail spam or not spam has been achieved using the Bayesian filter. Together with the Black List of spammers and White list of trusted emails ids, is the best technique to counter the spam. The most interesting fact is that Spam Filter with Bayesian algorithm is a self learning filter. The more you use, the more secure you shall be within a matter of few days.

The spam filter integrate easily with popular emails clients such MS outlook and Outlook Express. With due course, up to 98% of the spam mails can be stopped from entering your Inbox. The Spam Filter for Outlook Express and Spam Filter for Microsoft Outlook, with the features of White List/Black List and properly used Bayesian Algorithm will help prevent spam mails, phishing mails and fraud mails from bothering you further.

There has been a considerable increase in the spam mails containing Non English Characters also. The Bayesian Algorithm based Spam Filter also must have the capability to parse non English characters and mark as spam mail.

To get rid of continuous spam mails, phishing mails, fraud mails and Non-English mails, you might like to try Official Spam Filter for Outlook Express 1.2 and Official Spam Filter for Microsoft Outlook 1.2. Official Spam Filter has the capability to seamlessly integrate with MS Outlook and Outlook Express and provide following features:

• Bayesian Algorithm for Anti Spam Filtering

• Auto Learning Bayesian Filter to challenge Spam Emails

• White List of Trusted Email Address

• Custom Black List

• Individual Marking of Spam/Not Spam Emails

• Optional feature to block Non-English Emails

• Complete Mail Header Information

For more information, visit

AviPreview/VideoLan/DivFix - For incomplete video files...

by: Parth Barot

I am very fond of downloading avi movies from net using p2p (peer to peer) softwares like Kazaa Lite k++,BitTorrent etc.I am using this for downloading new movies which are of full DVD quality and in very less size than the original DVD.They are comressed with Divx/Xvid codec in AVI file which is MPEG4 video compression format.And for Audio, different formats like mp3,ogg,AC3 can be used.Due to this, its size decreases in a big ratio of Bitrate per Second of both Audio-Video.So these files are of "MAX QUALITY MIN SIZE" we can say.

What the main problem here is we don't know about the quality of movies until we can see some part of it.I mean to say if we are downloading and say 15 MB downloaded then how you will see it?You have to see to know the quality of video and Audio.So here is the answer.

You can use AviPreview for viewing incomplete AVIs.Yes it is good tool because it is very small in size and no need to install.You just have to load the file in it.Before,you must stop downloading the file and then load it in AviPreview.And you are done!it will show you the movie upto it can.And you can decide what to do.

Now say AviPreview is not able to play the file at some point( At certain Frame in video if some error is there then it will stop playing file after that frame.).then what to do?I have the solution.

It is called DivFix.Yes,This tool is used for Re-Indexing of the AVI file.Don't need to install it.Just load the file and it will make new AVI file for you.Then you can see it and decide to stop download or not.

Another good player is VideoLan player.Setup of this player is about 10 to 19 MB.Yes too big but it is very useful.It contains all the codecs for Video-Audio and can play any file(Except .RM - real media files. May be newer version has inculded .RM support.).It can even play any file if it is incomplete. Yes you heard it is avi/mpg/dat/wmv don't worry.VLC can play the file which is incomplete also.And it also plays direct streams from Internet URLs if your net connection speed is enough to take load of streaming!.

See more tutorials on my blog

Clearing Common Errors on Your Printer

by: Karlos Smith

Ever have blinking lights on your inkjet or laser printer that just will not go away? Ever install a new ink cartridge in your printer and it still thinks the old one is there? Well, instead of just getting angry at the printer or hunting around for your manual, you can try one simple thing: unplug it.

This technique has a few names that all mean the same thing: cycling the printer, resetting the printer or clearing the printer’s memory. Now unplugging your printer may seem like a low-tech solution to complex problems, and in reality it is. But, for problems like blinking error lights it is the only solution and also, it is typically the first one that will be recommended to you by a technician working for HP, Lexmark, Epson etc. They will recommend it right away if you install a new cartridge and it is registering as empty. If your printer isn’t registering it full, then that means it still thinks the old cartridge is in there and the memory needs to be cleared by unplugging it.

The first thing to remember about this solution is that unplugging the printer is not the same as turning the printer off. If you have error messages or cartridge communication problems, then turning off the printer is not going to do anything. It has to be physically unplugged from the wall or the back of the printer itself (you don’t have to unplug the printer from the computer). The second and most important thing is that the printer must be unplugged for at least one minute. It takes at least one minute for all the electricity to be cut off from the printer to allow it to completely reset and clear its memory. If you just unplug it for a few seconds, when it comes back on it is going to pick up right where it left off.

While this technique will not fix every problem, it is still a very quick and easy solution to a lot of annoying printer problems and it is always the best place to start when one of those problems arises.

Fight The Hunters - Get A Shield Against Spam

by: Ted Peterson

In their residential laboratories they cook industrial amounts of spam following special spam recipes and use these dangerous weapons to waste your days and living powers!

Meet it face to face: spam - unsolicited, unwanted, mass broadcast of advertisements to newsgroups and email addresses. Often used by con artists, crooks and pornographers. Steals bandwidth and clogs email boxes… convincing enough.

Their army grows day by day and soon you can easily observe a continuously increasing amount of junk mail which shows up in your email box or on your favorite news group. They are specialists in cosmic intrusions and their single concern is to get your attention a-la Machiavelli: every way fits to serve the “glorious” purpose! They hunt your precious attention ignoring all ethical rules of advertising, abusing your email and clogging your channels of stellar communication.

This kind of war is apt to raise envy of the Star Trek producers as the number of victims is larger by far: the recipients and the entire Internet commerce are irreversibly affected.

It would be fair enough to surf safely the web and enjoy its usefulness. But unfortunately safety means caution, thus you cannot freely join Internet mailing lists or Usenet groups and sometimes you might consider surfing the web anonymously. Sounds more like hiding instead of fighting…

Until you reach the information you need, you will be kindly informed about the last sensational pornographic achievement of the world known actress (really world known; as spam makes it possible), about the latest discovery in the household tools field and the lowest prices for airplane tickets of the magnificent South African airline company. This is how your life gets fulfilled with an endless flow of world events and your winter nights do not seems so empty anymore!

Whatsoever, those who not enjoy this certain kind of “entertainment” form coalitions and build a strong resistance against the impertinent intrusions of “the Others”. Not all of them are computer experts but everybody needs the Internet space and its unlimited resources. They are not powerless as long as they get help from the military center of software creators ready to serve peaceful folks in their needs for productive communication.

Now serious! The simplest way to fight against the junk mail is applying for software specialized in filtering your mail and detecting the spam automatically. Such programs are able to make you partially or entirely free from “marvelous” but useless data by isolating junk mail sent to your mail box. Your freedom and productiveness depends on the powerfulness of the program you choose. So, stop victimizing and get equipped!

And if you aren’t really that good in the specific computer matters, you might try Spam Monitor 2.5, a program designed especially for you, dear non expert. Besides all, with it you’ve got the power!

Microsoft Office Users are at Risk of Information Disclosure

by: Mykola Rudenko

By publishing Microsoft Office documents on the web or by sending them via e-mail, you are at risk of information disclosure.

Since Microsoft Office is so widely accepted, Microsoft Office documents are an extremely popular way of Business-To-Business information exchange. While it is important to provide your partners or customers with extensive and easily accessible information, every company always has private information that shouldn't go outside and is intended for company employees eyes only.

Numerous case studies suggest that most of the companies that use Microsoft Documents, are not aware of the potential threats contained in the files they send outside or publish on the Internet. Let's do a simple experiment: Start Microsoft Word, create a new document and type "Hello, World!". Save it and take a look at the file size. I've got 20 kilobytes with my MS Word 2003. How is it that 13 characters of text require a 20 thousand character file to be saved on your disk? What are the other thousands of characters used for?

Every Microsoft Office document is a Structured Storage, a universal data format developed by Microsoft. Structured Storage may contain various pieces of textual and binary data. This is how they save images and text into the same file, for example. In addition to your text, its formatting, images and embedded objects, your Microsoft Word documents also contain technical info that is usually referred to as metadata.

You can get a very simple example of the information contained in your documents metadata by taking a look at the Document Properties Dialog (Main Menu: File/Properties). As you can see, some of the fields in this dialog are automatically filled in and automatically saved with your document: Title, Author, Company, Last Saved By, etc. Even these, the most basic metadata examples, may put your company into an embarrassing situation. You may not want to publish the names of your subcontractors, or unveil your information sources, etc. But, you should also know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the information contained in your documents is normally not shown. Yet, it can be easily extracted by your recipients with metadata extraction utilities or simply by turning on specific options in the Microsoft Office applications.

Metadata may also contain your company employees notes, corrections and even previous versions of the document that were for some reason rejected. Office documents incrementally collect info about the authors, correctors, editors and their contributions. Normally, your comments and the rejected versions of a document are not intended for the document recipient's eyes. However, a person that is sending out your documents or publishing them on the web may not be aware of the additional info contained in the metadata. Typically, you do not create agreements, contracts, invoices, reports and more from scratch. You use another document as a template. This way you can easily unveil the details of the contract that were used as a template. In some cases, this may cause serious financial or legal problems to your company.

OK. Now, you are aware of the problem. But is there a standard workaround? Unfortunately, no. Microsoft does not provide a standard feature to clear the metadata. There are guides available on the net that teach you how to check and clear the most threatening pieces of metadata. I think this is not a good idea. Manual processing takes time and there are no guaranties that you haven't missed something important.

Recently, I've came across a 30 dollar utility that can potentially save you millions by protecting your company from getting sued by your customers or beaten by your competitors who could use the metadata from your office documents against you. Smart PC Solutions offers for $30 their Document Trace Remover...the product that inspired this article. This utility is a great leap in securing your office documents. The program automatically analyzes your documents and allows you to either remove certain pieces of metadata or substitute them with the info that you would like to present to your recipients. Document Trace Remover can also operate in a batch mode. This allows you to easily check and secure multiple files at once.

I believe it is a good idea to start checking your documents immediately. Visit the Smart PC Solutions web site for more info about Document Trace Remover:

or use the following link to download the program directly:

It is a free download. They offer a 30 day trial.

PC Protection, The Latest On PC Threats

by: Glenn Munn

Every single computer on the internet is at risk from PC threats which include viruses, Trojans spyware, adware, key loggers, the list goes on. Most people genuinely try by buying an anti-virus program or an anti-spyware package which will help but there are still many other problems that need to be addressed.

More and more people are using PC’s these days for internet banking, paying bills, online shopping, using programs to manage financial information, and much more. It’s great to be able to do all these things without stepping out the door, but what people are actually doing is storing some of their most valuable information on PC’s and if the proper precautions are not taken hackers can have a field day.

Hackers and virus writers are getting increasingly sophisticated every day. At the same time, people are storing more and more confidential information on their computers. A good hacker can enter an unguarded PC through your browser, download your, credit card numbers, social security numbers, your entire identity is there for them take and use at there discretion.

Most people realize that they should be taking some type of security measure, but they don't know where to begin. Before you ever risk all the data on your computer again, you need to know exactly where to begin locking your PC down or you are taking some serous risks.

I have been working in the IT industry for many years now and it has been a scary experience to see how PC threats have evolved. People need to seek good advice and put a system in place to protect their computers and themselves against the many PC threats.

I recommend people to use the Windows update feature, a trusted anti-virus package, a trusted anti-spyware package, and make sure they are set to auto update. These three things will certainly help guard against many of the nasty PC threats but other precautions still need to be taken to insure your PC protection.

I suggest people download and put to use the free information provided at

Digital Printing vs. the Traditional Method in Photography

by: John Sollars

Over the past years, technology has been continuously evolving and it has brought about improved graphics, artworks and printing. Newer breakthroughs in technology have also made printing affordable and easy to use.

For photographers too, printing has been made very easy and consultative. More photographers have switched from the old style to the modern enlarged printing with the use of digital inkjet printers.

With the modern use of digital cameras now taking into effect to make perfect digital shots, photographers no longer have to go through the process of scanning of the negatives from the pictures taken This is the one of the main reasons more photographers have switched over to the digital age technology.

Digital image printing is developed in corresponding software such as PhotoShop, CorelDraw and may other types of software. However, among them all, Photoshop is the most commonly used software application to meet the demands of clearer and precise digital prints. In fact, it has now become difficult for photographers to sell the equipment formerly used in the darkroom.

With the growth of printing technology, new issues have also sprung up, such as whether digital printing is really as aesthetic and long lasting. Critics wonder if digital printing can contain the same level of output as that of traditional images. For others, printing in inkjet printers is akin to imitating the original as they are printed with the use of ink, while the traditional method contained natural mixture for photography purposes. Nevertheless, even with the advancement in digital photo printing, a number of people still appreciate the old technique of printing.

In case you’re wondering about when the debate of digital printing over traditional was sparked off, it started with doubts over the long-lasting effect of inkjet prints over emulsion printouts. Critics have questioned if inkjet prints can endure the exposure longer and maintain their quality. However, some have proven that the traditional prints have not lasted as long and have slowly been fading in time as well. This observation strengthens the belief that no image can withstand exposure for a long period of time yet. Given that the developments in digital technology are ever increasing, questions and issues regarding its performance have been lessened for it has played its role well till date.

Inkjet prints have greatly contributed to giving an eventual effect in the uniqueness of images. The technique of inkjet printers involves spraying a number of tiny dots onto the paper, making the image sharper and more defined. This is perhaps a simple example of how the new printing technology has played its part of contributing to creativity and has now defined its own field of artwork.

The acceptance of inkjet prints has been quite unpredictable so far. In some exhibitions and art galleries, inkjet print designs are easily allowed, whereas some follow strict rules against the display of such prints. Alternatively, some designers still prefer the traditional emulsion prints to be part of their artworks. For those who rely on digital printing, the choice is based on practicality and reverting to the traditional technique is not longer financially viable. Digital printing has also made enlarging of prints and images much easier than traditional printing. It has been suggested that in time, when digital printing will continue its rise in the world of technology, many will make the switch over from the traditional method to the digital one.

The use of digital printing requires refinement in art skills, and accuracy and precision should be followed and maintained. To enhance printing abilities, the aid of Photoshop, or similar types of software can prove to be very useful for acquiring spectacular prints.

Cyan And Magenta Explained

Moving on to ink cartridges used in printers, anybody who has purchased these cartridges would know that there is no blue or red ink. Cyan certainly looks blue and magenta definitely looks red — but have you ever wondered why they simply don’t call them blue and red instead of cyan and magenta?

Here’s the explanation — both monitors and printers use different ways to produce colour. While a monitor is a light source, printers are light reflecting. The only common ground between the two is something known as dithering. It is the process of approximating a colour that cannot be displayed with uniformly dispersed dots of other colours.

This technique assigns differing colour values to adjacent pixels, thereby reducing the contrast between dots of different colours or shades and generates a more flowing, natural impression. When viewed from a distance, these colours seem to blend into a single intermediate colour. Dithering is similar to the half toning used in black-and-white publications to achieve shades of grey.

Coming back to the discussion, both monitors and printers use primary colours; however, a monitor uses primary additive colours red, green and blue, while printers use the primary subtractive colours cyan, magenta and yellow. In both cases, the primary colours are dithered to form the entire colour spectrum. Dithering breaks a colour pixel into an array of dots so that each dot is either made up of one of the basic primary colours or intentionally left blank to create white.

Cyan and magenta are in fact old printing terms for blue and red, but since some form of differentiation is needed between the additive and subtractive spectrum, cyan and magenta are here to stay!

Traffic Using Expiring Domains

by: Ainuddin Mohamad

Thousands of domain names expire everyday and can be used by others. If you want more traffic or want to resell the domains for profit, these expired ones can be a valuable resource.

An expired domain may have been used by one or more persons in the past. They may have designed a website, advertised it, linked it to search engines, done business deals on it and even had reciprocal link connections with other websites.

Why are valuable domains ever allowed to expire?

Many reasons, including but not limited to:

• Not enough funds to renew them
• Invalid contact e-mail address
• Loss of interest in online world
• Closing down of business
• Lack of knowledge about value of domain names
• Being away at time of domain renewal

There may have been any of the aforementioned reasons or any other cause, but whatever the case, the domain is now an available option for you. You can use it by designing a website on it or divert traffic to your existing website.

The main advantage of taking over an expired domain is the traffic. There may still be visitors who, on finding the better alternative offered by you, can redirect their business. It is not impossible to know the exact amount to expired traffic to a particular domain. However, the analysis of some specific aspects lets you gauge the amount of expired traffic. They are as follows :


This will give you an estimate of the number of portals or web pages that are linked to the expired domain. The more the number of links, the higher is the possibility of future traffic. Also, a higher link popularity betters the probability of quality traffic.


An Alexa toolbar keeps tabs on the number of hits for a domain and then awards a rank based on this. If the site has had no traffic for the past three months, it is automatically dropped by Alexa. So, look for an Alexa rank to get an idea about the number of visits and the domain’s worth.


The PageRank is a value that Google gives to a web page, based on the number of and quality of incoming links.

The popularity of a web page is ranked on a scale of 1 to 10 and this is called a Google PageRank. This ranking system takes into account the number of quality web pages that have links to the web page. Normally the homepage of a web page would have the highest PageRank.

About PageRank, Google says:

“The heart of our software is PageRank(tm), a system for ranking web pages developed by our founders Larry Page and surgery Brin at Stanford University. And while we have dozens of engineers working to improve every aspect of Google on a daily basis, PageRank continues to provide the basis for all of our web search tools.”

A Google toolbar is required to obtain a Google PageRank. You can type in the website name in the address bar of your browser and get the PageRank.


A domain may have been indexed by search engines. The domain owner may have paid for registrations on search engines like Yahoo and LookSmart. A domain also may have been approved by a Dmoz editor. If you take over a domain, these listings are automatically transferred to you. You can do your own research by visiting these search engines and typing the full URL in the directories section. Your results page will show you whether the domain is listed with them or not.

An inclusion in the top search engines does not ensure continuous visits but it certainly increases the chances of receiving worthy traffic. If you do not want to use the domains yourself, you can easily turn it around and sell it. It will certainly be profitable if the domain is registered with the top ten search engines.


There are many sources but the author considers to be the best where he managed to get many valuable domains.

Happy hunting!

Getting Your Domain Name

by: Ainuddin Mohamad

Since thousands of domain names are registered everyday it is a really very difficult to get a domain name of single phrase in English language and other major languages. Given below are some tips to guide you to decide a domain name of single phrase.

Avoid Messing around with the New Domains

Most of the good domain names are already registered and owned by someone. Don't settle for number-ridden or a hyphenated domain name unless it is really unavoidable. Don’t despair because with some lucks you would be able to get some good domain names by backordering domain names about to expire in anticipation that the domain would be deleted and made available again.

So what are the resources which you need to know and understand to find expiring time of domains?

1. A good source for domain names already deleted, about to be deleted with info about rank popularity and many other useful advices and tips.

2. This website has a search feature which helps you to see on-hold domain names and expiring domain names by keywords. This is most important and a core resource for finding those domains that you want to own and which will be expiring soon.

3. It is another great website for viewing the domains which are soon-to-expire. This website also offers backordering service and a keyword search.

4. This website is providing an original backordering service. As soon as you find a domain name that attracts you go to and from here you can ‘backorder’ this domain name for $69 only. This confirms that the price for backordering is $69 per domain name and this is registration fees of first year if the domain name is acquired by you.

Other Tricks and Tips

Since many people are using same tools to acquire best expiring domains you should be fast enough to acquire an expiring domain name. Additionally, will only allow one backorder prospect for one domain name. Therefore, you should act quickly when a domain name is available for ‘backordering’.

Patience is important since your ideal name may not come for months. But you should not worry because each day there will be a fresh set of domain names expiring and you could get your choice any day.

Happy hunting!

Get Yourself Reliable Web Hosting Service

by: Ainuddin Mohamad

Unsatisfied with free web hosting services provided by Geocities, Angelfire, and Fortune City? Easily forgotten long domain name full of dashes and slashes which will fail the Radio Test, Pop-ups, banners making your life miserable! You start looking for a real professional hosting service for your beloved website. You start searching over the Net. Suddenly the possibilities are immense! $20 a month and 20MB space. Fantastic, isn’t it?

Is it?? Read on. Way back, when I was a real novice, when I was amongst that typical “The Internet is so wonderful” optimist, I signed up with a paid web hosting service provider. I thought I found the perfect solution. I was provided a chunk of webspace, a web address and content for my site. But before I could even realize what’s going on, I found out that the space was a useless chunk which won’t work properly, the address wouldn’t connect, the contents warped and too much downtime.

Wiser I grew as an year passed, I labored my way up to get a working website, having a helpful lovely support team. I knew what I wanted for my website. How did I achieve it? I had the advantage having a lot of wonderful friends who are working for several web hosting companis. But what about you? You see a world of opportunity waiting to be tapped and just dive-in into the vicious circle of money loss and disappointment!

I don’t seek to be the angel of all odds, but I thought some useful tips and hints on how to get started in the web might help the ignorant and also save you from the misfortune. So what is it? I don’t want to repeat the “Know what you want” statement because that’s too clichéd and not that simple to handle when it comes to the real thing. Sure you have a vague idea of what you want but what about the fine prints in all that, the “mumbo jumbo”, so to speak?

I don’t think you do! So relax, sit back and before you go jumping off to the last line, just read a bit.

MB of Space

What’s an MB? MB stands for MegaByte. Basically this is the storage place allotted to you. Before buying the space, spend a little time in thinking about your website’s requirements. Calculate approximately how much you require and then add another 50. Excess space will help you to add and alter and expand in the future. Always better to have too much in the bag than too little, isn’t it? Remember audio and video files need a lot of space.

Pricing (Monthly/Yearly)

The payment options are either monthly or yearly. Believe me it is wiser “test the water” first by starting with the monthly plan. Don’t be tempted by all the marketing talks about discounted rates for longer period of time and pay for the year (or more) at one go!

Domain Name Registration

What’s a Domain Name? It’s basically the This Domain name has to be registered so that no one else can use it. Most web hosts would provide domain registration as a package. If you already own a domain name then you surely have to transfer to the new host. Ensure that the host provides this service. Also ask for directions on how to do it yourself. If you don’t have a name already, then ponder for a moment and think how many names you would need. Will one be enough? No extra names to be attached to sub-domains? Do you need redirects?

While selecting the suitable domain name for your website, make sure that it is relevant to what your site would feature. It should not be that you talk about “woodworking” while your website name is “”. That’s very embarrassing!!

Email Accounts

There are quite a few options here.

Mail Servers: You think you would be getting substantial amount of mail through your website, then opt for a mail server. It is basically an actual online site, like, where you have your personal mail box. An email address like would be more professional unlike those free email addresses like

Mailing Lists: Do you want to promote your site through newsletters, promotional informations, sending emails to lot of people, then you might look for this mailing list option. However, lists are not always a “must-have” service option for the hosting company.

Mail Catch all: This service executes what the name suggests. It collects emails which have wrongly typed names (typo), wrong names etc but have your domain written properly in the email ID, like

Mail Redirects: If you want the emails, to be redirected from your email ID to another mail box e.g. to your hotmail account, then avail off this service.

There are many other options you might choose for your page. Like having multimedia, Front Page Support, Access/Database support, cgi bin, custom 404 error pages, search engine submissions etc. Think and make a list of your website’s requirements.

But before you initiate anything, send an email to the support team of the web hosting service provider, asking them whether they provide the services you require. Try to be polite and friendly and point to your specific requirements. Assess their feedback and response time, whether they are prompt or slow. This would give you a good indication of what kind of support you would get in the future.

Basically, the crux of the matter is that you think before you spend. Countless victims are there to tell their tale of woes and frustrations. I’m one of the one but I had grown wiser. Don’t be fooled by sweet talking marketing guys whop would spare no efforts to promise you everything. Are you sure they can deliver?

VoIP and the Communications Industry

by: Bob Hett

Are you worried about the costly long distance phone rates? Do you want to find some ways on how to call your loved ones in a cheap way? Are you a student who finds it hard to make a call with your parents? Is your company paying too much for long distance call? Have you heard how VoIP contributes in communication business? The waiting is over, VoIP is the answer.

VoIP can eliminate all those expensive long distance rates. To further discuss, VoIP is the newest and most advanced audio communications technology.

VoIP stands for Voice over internet protocol. This latest communication innovation which has a variety of different applications and features in order to give a clear and affordable conversation all over the world.

How does VoIP work?

Many people are quite amazed on how VoIP works. Well, its features work on a revolutionary technology. It has a communication method that streamlines the sending analog audio signal. The signal is converted into a sound to be sent digitally over transmission lines through the internet.

According to the service providers of VoIP, by using this technology the user can have free “by minute charges”. That is one of the great things about VoIP plans.

If the “by minute charges” is consumed, the user will have to pay the monthly fee and make all the calls they want over the computer.

The VoIP procedure is very simple but an elegant and simplistic way of communication. It can be the greatest solution for long distance call problems that everyone is waiting for.

The VoIP works on several ways, in communication, like circuit transmitting, data pocket exchanging and retrieval of information by using the computer.

This communication system can also send the information by finding the open channels that are available rather than out-and-out lines. The information transmitted simply assembled at the source location. Comparatively VoIP works more efficient.

In order to be aware of how VoIP works, it is first important to know the basic concept of traditional analog audio communication. The analog audio communication can be very helpful in terms of VoIP communication.

The basic analog phone calls are actually made on the fiber optic communication network. These networks can make a voice communication by collecting voices communications. The voices are delivered directly to the destination, while the signals are also converted to analog.

VoIP can assure a cheap or even free telephone call for the users. For some companies, it also means generating income. This is good news for the companies who want to cut some of their expenses. Most of the companies spend thousands of dollars per year just because of long distance calls alone.

Now, if the company would like to have far-reaching consultation call, VoIP can make more sense when it comes to that issue. It can also combine conference options like sharing of documents and multiple conversations.

According to some statistics, most of the companies that patronize VoIP has earned 80 percent of its revenues compared to other telecommunication that only gives 55 percent.

The great shift of VoIP is starting to hit top rating national telecommunication industry and international mobile corporations.

As a conclusion, VoIP is indeed a very interesting breakthrough when it comes to communications. It is the most well-organized, accurate, efficient, and much less expensive way of talking to the people you need to communicate to. Why not try VoIP? It can be the answer to all of those communication hindrances.

Beat the Printer Scheme and Save a Ton of Money on Ink or Toner

by: David Picella

Before you buy another printer, make sure you read this article. The printing manufacturers actually don’t make any money on the printer itself. Instead, the real profits are made on the ink and toner. In general, the cheaper the printer, the more you will get gouged when it comes to replacing cartridges. But this is not always the case. The high end printer manufacturers are ready and willing to jump deep into your pocketbook. And if you let them, they will stay there for very long time.

-The Microchip Scheme -

The primary way in which the printing companies gouge your pocketbook is by placing a small microchip on the ink or toner cartridge. The cartridge will stop working when you print a fixed number of pages (usually around 5,000) even if you have plenty of supply remaining. Sometimes the chips are also programmed to stop working after a fixed period of time (e.g., six months) regardless of how many pages you have printed. The chips are usually patented so as to guarantee that you will always buy a new cartridge from the original manufacturer.

Just to illustrate how costly it can be to buy the wrong printer, here is a personal example. I fell for HP’s marketing scheme and bought a “low cost” HP 1500 Color Laser Jet two years ago for $499.00. I just checked with and the cost of replacing all the toner cartridges and drum including tax (free shipping) is $597.33.

-Is there a way around this? -

Yes! If you do not have a chip on the cartridge then you can simply look on the internet and find a refill kit. This will work quite well. However, as a general rule, printing quality will decrease after approximately five refills.

If you have a microchip on your cartridge, there are a couple of options. First, with many cartridges you will be able to find a “chip reset” kit on the internet. Buying ink or toner and a chip reset kit is usually much cheaper than replacing the cartridge. You will be able to use the reset kit over and over again, so it will pay for itself. If you can’t find a reset kit for your cartridge, you can probably find a replacement chip. The microchips are usually glued on the side of the cartridge, so you can just pry off the old chip and glue on a new one.

-The “Nuclear Option” -

I saved the best for last! If this works, it is your best option, but you might have to do a little bit of internet research on your specific printer. What the printing companies don’t want you to know is that there is usually a way to configure your printer such that you are able to reset the chip memory. In some cases, you can completely disable the printer’s use of the chip. Getting back to my HP 1500 Color LaserJet, I was able to do this by holding down the big green button for 20 seconds when the power is turned on. On this printer, this causes what is known as a “hard reset” of all internal memory settings. Whereas I should have been forced to replace all of my toner and the drum, I have now been printing for months in normal operation without a glitch and with no error messages!

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will be able reset, replace, or bypass the microchip on your printer’s cartridge. Every year, it seems that the printer manufacturers become more and more skilled at preventing you from taking charge of your machine. However, now you are armed with a little bit of knowledge—and knowledge is power. The next time your printer runs out of ink or toner, don’t be so eager to go out and buy a new cartridge. Remember, if there is a way around it, you can find it! The personal satisfaction you get in saving money and beating them at their own game will put a little bit of excitement in what might have been a depressing and costly situation.

Optimizing Flash Files For The Search Engines

by: Mike Goldstein

What is a Flash Movie?

A flash movie, or shock wave file (SWF), is the file format published when a Flash movie is exported. A SWF file can also be exported by several other Macromedia or Adobe Products. The SWF is usually an animation, dynamic menu, or highly interactive web-based application embedded into an HTML page. Flash files, when exported correctly for the best web-based optimization, are compressed, thus making their file size lightweight. The SWF format is ideal for presenting vector-based, interactive and animated graphics with sound and video for the web. Vector images are ideal because they will not “pixilize” if stretched or compressed. Flash files can also contain text which can be animated, static or dynamically populated from external sources, such an XML file or a database. Text embedded in a Flash file, for many years, could not be read by search engines. However, recent updates by Macromedia are making this a possibility.

Problems with Flash and Search Engines

Historically, it has been difficult to get Flash content indexed and ranked by search engines. In the past, search engines, such as Yahoo and Google, did not spider Flash content as they could not read the compressed file and much of the text inside the SWF appeared as graphics to the search engines.

The main page of a web site, if Flash-based, rarely ranked well, unless off-page factors such as link popularity or link reputation were sufficient enough to carry the page. Flash files that were indexed by Google, Lycos and other search engines, which did not have any text or key words associated with them in the search engine results pages (SERP).

Techniques Used in the Past to Make Flash Visible to Search Engines

Traditional Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques would help your site get indexed, but not rank for search terms. Every web site needs at least one HTML page to load into a browser. For a web site developed completely in Flash, developers would embed their flash files into an HTML document and then create the meta tags in the head section of the HTML file. They would also add descriptive HTML text for the search engines in the body section of the HTML page, then use CSS positioning and percentages to load the Flash move in a pixel-perfect location over the top of text. This particular technique should not be used any longer, as search engines will view this technique as an attempt to add hidden text, and hidden text will incur a penalty from the engines.

Another technique which could help your Flash ranking is to not compress your SWF files. One of the reasons search engines could not read flash files in the past is that the files are compressed. If the SWF is uncompressed, search engines can read the static text. This technique can be accomplished easily. Upon exporting a Flash file, you can set the compression to "not" if you want your text inside the Flash movie to be readable by the search spiders. However, this is not a good practice, as not compressing your SWF will increase the file size, consequently negating a major benefit to Flash file – a lightweight file.

What Macromedia has Done to Make Flash More Visible to Search Engines

In the past, Google did index Flash files. Anyone can test this fact out by searching in Google using the “filetype” operator to restrict your search. For example, try the following search: "Casino Games filetype:SWF”. The SERP will include over 200 Flash files, which are indicated by the “Flash” text to the left of the listing.

Some search engines are now using the Macromedia Flash Search Engine SDK (Software Development Kit). For example, Google, AllTheWeb, Lycos, and other sites can readily display links to Flash content. Flash Search SDK is and open source tool that allows search engines to modify it to suit their needs. With this level of customization, it is likely that the major search engines will modify SDK, making it difficult for website owners to know exactly what information will be pulled out of the SWF file or how it will impact actual rankings.

The Macromedia Flash Search Engine SDK can be found at According to the Macromedia/Adobe web site, The SDK includes an application named 'swf2HTML'. Swf2HTML extracts text and links from a Macromedia Flash SWF file, and returns the data to an HTML document. Swf2HTML is provided as a compiled application and as a static library for linked library implementation. SDK can interoperate any links that are in the action script so long as adhere to the following criteria:

• The link is contained within single quotes (' ') or double quotes (" "), and

• The link prefix is HTTP, and

• The link suffix is HTM, HTML, CFM, SWF, JPG, JPEG, MP3, or WAV

By default SDK extracts the following text from your flash file:

• Text on stage in the current movie (dynamic text, static text, or input text that has an initial value assigned)

• Text on stage in a movie that is called with movieClip.attachMovie()

Google can see certain text in Flash files now, but how and where certain text gets extracted depends on what you do with that text in the Flash presentation. For example, text that is static or is used in a motion tween can be read as a single instance with SDK. However, some animation involves converting text into a symbol and then using multiple copies of that symbol to achieve a desired effect. This will create duplicate instances of your text to the SDK output, which may be viewed as duplicate content and not given much importance by Google.

Using the SDK tool, any developer can get the text output from the SWF and see how search engines view the extractable text of any SWF. On a Windows operating system, you can go to the DOS prompt and execute the swf2HTML application very easily. The following is an example from the DOS prompt: C:\sdk\swf2HTML -o test.HTML C:\sdk\crt_webfiles\test.swf

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques Used Historically for Flash

Each Flash file does not need to be uploaded independently and called as a SWF file; rather a Flash file can be embedded in a standard HTML document. One of the best techniques is to create a modular web site, where there are several Flash files which make up the web page combined with standard HTML elements. A hybrid site such as this, works especially well, if your navigation uses traditional HTML links. You can use cascading style sheets to give the appearance of flash text links. This type of hybrid site will always rank better than an all Flash site – all other factors being equal. It's also important to have your HTML page title correct, regardless of anything else. Several search engines look at meta titles first. In addition to the page title, you can add meta tags to the head of the file. Outside of the actual HTML page, off page factors are important. There has been much written in recent articles that reciprocal links are not as important any longer, but certainly, one-way links pointing to your site from highly relevant and high ranking pages will increase your page rank. In addition links from prominent directories, such as Yahoo and, placed in the most relevant categories will help. One-way inbound links from relevant sites is still the best way to increase your ranking with or without Flash.

There are programming techniques which work while in the Flash authoring environment. While you are in the Flash authoring environment, with your FLA F12. It will generate the HTML page for you. Look at the code of the page; it creates a place for you to put the text and URL's used in the Flash.

New SEO Techniques for Flash

Today there are many techniques which can overcome the limitations of the past, where Flash files are concerned. With the inception of the new Macromedia Flash 8, there are techniques which can be implemented to greatly increase the ability of search engines to index Flash files and even rank for key words.

In the past, SWF files could not have titles. This is one important reason why Flash files didn't rank well. This title limitation has now changed. Flash 8 does allow you to input meta data. Flash 8 defines two fields with meta data for all Flash files. These two fields are Title and Description. You can access the meta data fields under Document Properties. To add meta data, fill in the text fields and the search engines will know what info to display about your Flash file.

SDK is fairly intelligent in terms of recognizing text and links that are embedded in the file. If text is static or dynamically driven by an XML or text file, it can be read. If your content is dynamically driven it must be done so using the latest version of ActionScript 2.0. The SDK does parse ActionScript 2 byte code looking for links. It could conceivably find the link to the XML file that way and hand it back to a search engine.

As referenced earlier, certain text can be modified into a symbol rather than strait text. For example, a button might have the text output two or three times. Alternatively, tweened text has motion associated with the action. Tweens result in a single occurrence in the output from the extraction process. You should also notice that the link text in the Google results page is identical to the first couple of lines of text at the very top of the text extracted by swf2HTML. Armed with the knowledge of how SDK parses your content, you can manipulate text in your Flash Movies more carefully and make your content key word dense, easily indexable, search engine friendly and, with a little more skill, even optimized.

What is the gist of all this? Flash is still not the best solution for a pure SEO-based project, but their have been giant leaps forward by both the search engines and Macromedia in allowing your flash files to be indexed and even rank for the key word phrases you covet.

Choosing The Best Keywords To Drive Traffic To Your Website

by: Craig Broadbent

Getting a website to appear in the first page of search engine results is a common goal for most webmasters, yet few possess the skills to actually achieve it. There are many steps to take in order to be found for terms related to your site, and taking your time to research the best possible phrases for your site is an important step on the ladder.

Many webmasters make the mistake of assuming that a ranking for one generic term related to their site will turn their website into a profitable success. Although that one generic term may provide a good stream of traffic and brand awareness, this doesn’t mean the traffic will convert into sales or leads, and the costs of targeting that term will tower over your return on investment. It is best for the webmaster to target multiple terms that not only drive traffic, but also lead to that all important conversion.

First of all you need to consider who your target audience is and the purpose of your site. Do you sell products online? Do you offer services? Is it more content focused? There are all sorts of potential visitors which will have varying ways of finding your site, so understanding your audience, and the reasons they will visit, will help focus your efforts.

With this in mind, you can now consider those generic terms that you think people will use to try and find your site. It shouldn’t just be one term - a trap that many webmasters fall into is assuming that one term will provide enough traffic to sustain business and are surprised that business doesn’t increase if they do achieve that ranking. Consider all of the possible phrases and themes of your site, even using a thesaurus to find related terms or checking competitor websites for ideas. It can be surprising just what terms your potential visitors will be using!

Once you have put together a list of short generic terms, you can start using tools to gauge how popular and competitive those terms are, and also refine those generic terms to be more targeted to your site’s purpose. The first step is to find out the popularity of terms, which can be done using various keyword suggestion tools.

Keyword suggestion tools tell you which terms were typed into searches, and how many searches were conducted on those terms. Typing a phrase in and will return a selection of alternative phrases that contain your generic term, alternative suggestions with a similar theme and also an estimate of how much traffic the phrase provides per month. These tools can be flawed as they query different search engines and the traffic estimations can be inaccurate, but they are still good for getting a ball park estimation of the amount of searches conducted, and for suggesting multiple terms you may never have thought of targeting.

The Overture Keyword Tool, located at, is free to use and gives you a list of suggested terms as well as the amount of searches conducted on the Yahoo! Search Marketing network during the last month (Yahoo! Bought Overture and rebranded it Yahoo! Search Marketing).

A similar tool is located at Wordtracker queries the meta search engine Dogpile so may not be representative of what is being searched on the web as a whole, but is still good for suggesting alternative phrases and related phrases. Wordtracker has a subscription service, with which you can order between one day and one year’s access.

Trellian’s KeywordDiscovery at is a relative newcomer to the keyword suggestion market. KeywordDiscovery can query multiple search engines across the world and provides similar results to Overture and as well as other services, but with subscriptions starting at $32.50 per month this premium option is geared more towards search marketing professionals.

The next step in picking the best terms is checking how competitive they are. Ideally you want to find terms that have high volume traffic but few websites competing to rank for that term, and you can use various tricks to judge this. Any page that is optimised for a term will at least have that term in the title tag and in anchor text of links pointing to the site, so by going to Google and using the queries intitle:“phrase here” and inanchor:“phrase here”, you can figure out how many other pages have optimised for your chosen phrase. The lower the number for these searches, the less competitive the term is. For more information about what these Google advanced search operators do, go to

Using these tools should have now provided you with a list of terms that are much more targeted than your original generic phrases. These can include breaking your term down by geographical location, or a specific product. You will be able to optimise your site for multiple phrases – remember that search engines index web pages and not just websites. That means all of the pages in your site can be found in search engines, which in turn means all of those pages can be optimised for different terms!

You may also want to consider the “long tail” of search phrases. These are obscure multi word phrases that are only searched a couple of times, but are so specific they can end up being the most targeted terms and carry with them higher conversion rates. The best way to target the long tail is to have a content rich site – the more content you have the more likely you are to be picked up for obscure terms that can be found in your copy.

So you should now finally have a list of the best possible targeted phrases for your website! As you can see, the process of choosing your keywords isn’t something that should be taken lightly, and there is a lot of work to do if you want to maximise the ability of your site to attract natural search traffic. With your final list you will now be ready to optimise your pages to be found for those terms, but that is for another time...

Spyware. Different Types

by: Leif Wheeler

Spyware is more dangerous than a virus. It can steal personal data and track your internet habits. It might be concealed in a free screensaver or other software that you download. Computer safety expert Leif Wheeler advises us to be aware of any offer of free software. Many times, spyware is hidden in legitimate software. Be cautious of deals offered by well-known companies. Crooks and thieves often create web sites that resemble Adobe, Google or Microsoft, says Wheeler. They instruct you to download upgrades which secretly contain spyware. Common sense should tell you to download things like screensavers or wallpaper only from a company's registered web site. Have a safety talk with anyone who uses your computer. Run an anti-spyware application. The schemes for stealing are the same, notes Wheeler. What's changed is the technology. The rest of us have to try to stay one step ahead.

There is a type of spyware that the New York Times has labeled as “Stealware” and what spyware researcher Ben Edelman refers to as “Click Fraud”, also known as “Affiliate Fraud”. The most notable vendors of this kind of spyware are 180 Solutions and WhenU. This spyware redirects the payment of the rightful affiliate’s commission to the account of the spyware vendor.

An instance of spyware rarely "exists" alone. An afflicted computer can rapidly become corrupted with a lot of spyware devices. Frequently, users will notice erratic behavior and a decline of the system’s operation. Spyware contamination can cause considerable inappropriate CPU activity, network traffic, disk usage and the slowing-down of the legitimate uses of these resources. Stability issues, system crashes and application crashes are also very common. Spyware which disrupts the networking software normally causes problems connecting to the Internet.

A Trojan horse, by definition, sneaks in a danger-some program cloaked as something acceptable. Many spywares get spread in this way. The representative of the spyware presents the program as a suitable utility, for example, as useful software or as a web-accelerator. Users then install the software not suspecting that it could do harm to their computer. A classic case of this is Bonze Buddy, a spyware application designed to trick children, claims that: “He will explore the Internet with you as your very own friend and sidekick! He can talk, walk, joke, browse, search, e-mail, and download like no other friend you've ever had! He even has the ability to compare prices on the products you love and help you save money! Best of all, he's FREE!”

Often times, spyware programs are revealed by visibly presenting advertisements. Some spyware simply displays pop-up ads on a pre-determined schedule. For example, a pop-up may appear when the user opens a new browser window. Yet other types display ads when the user visits a specific type of site. Spyware developers use this as a selling point when pitching their wares to advertisers who want to buy ad placement in pop-ups shown when the user lands on a particular site. It is also one of the reasons why spyware programs collect and store information on user behavior.

Spyware and Microsoft Windows

by: Leif Wheeler

The largest target of spyware is without a doubt Microsoft's Internet Explorer. It is the most widely used web browser and it has a long history of weak security. Its deeply integrated into the Windows operating system and its scriptability make it very susceptible to intrusion by malicious software. Browser helper objects can easily attach to Internet Explorer. These helper objects redirect traffic and add toolbars.

The most common cause for users of the Microsoft Windows operating system to seek technical support from internet service providers or computer manufacturers is the infestation of spyware. In most cases the user has no comprehension of spyware and thinks that the system’s stability, performance, and/or connectivity issues relate to Microsoft Windows, hardware, or to a virus. Occasionally, owners of seriously infected systems end up purchasing an entire new computer system because their existing system "has become too unreliable or slow". Extremely infected systems sometimes require a clean re-install of all their software to allow the system to function properly. This is a highly time-consuming chore, even for accomplished users.

Normally, a single piece of spyware does not make a computer unusable. However, an infected computer almost always has more than one piece of spyware installed. AOL did a study in 2004 and concluded that if a computer has any spyware at all, it will be infected by dozens of different pieces. Its the cumulative effect of the different spyware components that cause the problems reported by users. The computer slows down to a crawl, overpowered by the many power-draining processes running on it. Similar to an immune deficiency disease, some kinds of spyware disarms anti-virus software and firewalls, and/or lowers browser security settings, which subjects the system to additional infections. In addition, there have been cases where a spyware program has disabled a competitor’s spyware program already installed on the computer.

There are some forms of spyware that modify system files to make themselves very difficult to remove. For example, Targetsoft changes the "Winsock" Windows Sockets files. Removing the spyware infected file "inetadpt.dll" will interfere with networking usage. For the sake of convenience, a Windows user generally has administrative-level system privileges. Because of this, any program which the user runs, intentionally or not, will have full access to the entire system. Spyware, along with other various dangers, has caused some Windows users to change to other platforms such as Apple Macintosh or Linux, which are less frequently targeted by spyware authors.

The most common complaints about spyware are Pop-up advertisements. Displaying and/or downloading ads can overwhelm a system. Its very rare for an infected system to have only one spyware program running. More typically, the system will be infected by dozens of applications. So, while one of the programs may display ads infrequently,the cumulative effect on the system can become overwhelming.

Most web users dislike offensive or irritating advertisements. Just like banner ads, some spyware advertisements use flickering banners or animation designed to get the user’s attention — because of this they are very distracting. Pornography Pop-up ads often display indiscriminately, this even includes when children may be using the computer which is in violation of many anti-pornography laws.

Spyware. History and Description

by: Leif Wheeler

The first known use of the expression “spyware” occurred on October 17th, 1994 in a post that joked about Microsoft's business model. Spyware later came to allude to snoop equipment such as diminutive cameras. In early 2000, the man who started Zone Labs used the term in a press release for a new product. Since then, the computer-community has used the term in its current definition.

Spyware often comes wrapped-in with shareware or other software, and with music CDs. The user installs a program, for example, a file-trading utility or music program. The installer also installs the spyware. Even though the acceptable software itself may not do harm, the wrapped-in spyware does. Occasionally, spyware authors will pay shareware creators to wrap-in spyware with their software. An example is the Gator spyware distributed by Claria. There are instances when spyware authors will repackage desirable free software with destructive installers that add spyware.

Another way of propagating spyware is by tricking users. A program will manipulate a security feature that is supposed to prevent harmful installations. Internet Explorer is designed to stop websites from starting an unwanted download. Alternately, a user action must normally trigger a download (like clicking on a link). Nevertheless, links can prove misleading. For example, a pop-up may look like a normal Windows dialog box. The box contains wording like "Do you want to improve your Internet experience?" with links that look like real buttons reading No and Yes. It doesn’t matter which button the user selects, a malicious download will start, installing the spyware on the user's computer. Newer versions of Internet Explorer offer better security against this tactic.

Many unscrupulous spyware creators infect a computer by going after security weaknesses in the Web browser or in other applications on the targeted computer. When the user arrives at a Web site controlled by the spyware creator, the site includes code that forces the download and installation of spyware or infiltrates the browser. This kind of spyware creator will have broad knowledge of commercial-quality firewall and anti-virus programming. This is commonly known as a “drive-by download”. It leaves the user an unfortunate onlooker to the intrusion. Conventional "browser attacks" target security weaknesses in Microsoft Java Runtime and Internet Explorer.

Another problem in the case of some kinds of spyware programs is that they will replace the banner ads on visited web sites. Spyware that acts like a Browser Helper or web proxy can replace a site's own advertisements with advertisements that benefit the spyware author. This can seriously affect the revenue stream of advertising funded web sites.

There have been instances when a worm or virus has delivered a cargo of spyware. For example, some attackers used the W32.Spybot.Worm to set up spyware that caused pornographic ads to pop up on the screens of an infected system. By re-routing traffic to commercial sites that are set up to funnel funds to the spyware creators, they can profit even by such obviously illegal actions.

What to look for in a web host

by: Rob Ferrall

Finding a web host can seem like a daunting task, but it really doesn’t have to be. I’ve filtered through no less than a dozen hosts in my 4 years online, and have been with one host for about 2 years now. For me, the important features of a prospective web host:

* Reliability
* Support
* Affordability

Reliability is a very important thing if you’re running a website for profit. It would be difficult to keep a membership if your web site was consistently unavailable. I had 2 web hosts that were plagued with downtime. One of them was great for the first few months, almost no downtime - but then it’s like the bottom fell out. Support started getting backed up, 20 minutes to 2 hours of downtime every few days. . . Eventually the company was gone.

Support is crucial. If you are trying to run a business and you’ve got a problem with your website - you want someone to talk to or someone to respond in short order. There are so many web hosts around that you simply do not need to choose one that only offers email support. My current webhost offers 24×7x365 support by phone, email and live chat. They are available whenever you need them, and most of the times when I have a question or issue (and send an email versus using live chat) it’s normally handled within an hour or so. You can’t beat dependable support.

Finally - Affordability. Having a great web host won’t do you any good if you can’t afford to keep them. Web hosting companies abound. There are so many that if you just do a tiny bit of searching you can find a good hosting plan with great support for between $5-$10 per month. The web hosts that charge $20 per month for 500MB storage and 10GB bandwidth are most likely either small reseller hosts (where their support might lack) or they are catering to the people that don’t know any better. You do not have to pay an arm and a leg for good hosting.

My suggestions for finding the best web host for your money:

1. Only choose a web host with a $0 setup fee. There is no point in paying a setup fee unless this particular host has something unique to offer.

2. Only choose a host that allows month to month payments. Just because your service starts out great with your web host, doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way. Things change and it could happen to your host. Keep your options open in case things go south.

3. Only choose a host that offers true 24×7 support. If the web host states 24×7 support but doesn’t provide a phone number, send them an email in the middle of the night. See how quickly they respond. If you don’t get the response for a day or two - Stay away.

If you stick by these basic guidelines you should be able to find a web host that works without losing a bunch of money in the process.