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New Top Level Domain Names for Web Addresses

Published on January 14, 2011
Tags: Web Hosting

If you’ve ever used the internet in any capacity at all, you’re more than likely to be aware of top level domain names. These are basically what allow you to view web sites and, for a long time, they’ve been relatively static. You’ll be aware, of course, of the most common domain suffixes such as .com, .co.uk, .gov, .net and .ac.uk. Most of the suffixes currently refer to countries or types of organisation (such as .org for nonprofits).

The issue here is that the current domains are getting crowded due to the massive expansion of the internet - both the number of websites that exist and the number of people who use the web, whether it’s for business or pleasure. This overcrowding of existing domain names makes it harder for web design companies and others to make the most of their search engine optimisation strategies, as all the best web addresses get snapped up really quickly.

As part of measures to combat this overcrowding, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is now beginning to introduce brand new top level domain names. ICANN is a private sector, not for profit organisation set up in 1998 that acts as an internet enabler, helping to keep the web free and democratic as well as maintaining those all important domain names.

The new top level domains are designed to allow web designers and businesses to include more specific key words in their web addresses. For example, the new web address for Hilton Hotels could be www.hilton.hotel. This allows web designers to be more specific and include key search terms within the web address. This is important, as search engines are currently being redeveloped to prioritise the new domain names, so, following the above example, hotel websites ending in .hotel would take precedence over those ending in .com.

Similarly, if someone types in a Google search for ‘New York City’, the first results to show up would be those ending in the new, specific top level domain of .nyc. The aim here is to make the search results more relevant as well as making the addresses more specific. It means that website addresses will fit more closely with common search terms in their related field and will thus yield more results, as well as benefiting the individual web users who will enjoy better tailored search results. It will also make it easier for smaller websites and businesses to stand out through specialised web addresses in an environment where they might otherwise be overlooked by search engine algorithms.

You can read more about the new top level domains from ICANN here.

By Chelsey Evans

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Google Gmail Down - Service Outage?

Published on March 1, 2009
Tags: Web Hosting

On 24 February 2009 at approximately 10am GMT we lost access to Google Gmail. We have an office in Greece where I'm based and Gmail was completely inaccessible. All other sites we access were fine. I then remote controlled onto a couple of servers we have in London, UK and tried from there. Both came back with identical messages; server error.

So, is the outage due to a Google Gmail issue on a large scale, or possibly due to ISP / routing problems? I've raised the issue with an account manager we have at Google, and if / when I hear more, I'll post it here for you!

11am GMT, 24/02/09 Update: PocketLint posted an article regarding the GMail downtime, and comments to the article appear to suggest this is a global problem affecting the Gmail site but not direct access via desktop email clients.

12.30pm GMT, 24/02/09 Update: Service appears to have been restored now, although no notification for the outage has been provided by Google.

More generally, as cloud computing and software as a service become ever more popular, one must wonder; is there a higher duty of responsibility and care upon service providers to ensure 100% uptime because we, as end-users / clients, trust our businesses to them?

By Chelsey Evans

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Web Hosting and the Data Protection Act

Published on December 9, 2003
Tags: Web Hosting

If you are based in the UK and store any information about an individual on your web site, you are bound by the Data Protection Act 1998 and other UK and European laws. The information you store could simply be a mailing list or a guestbook, or it might be more in-depth, such as customer orders through an online store, or an affiliate scheme. Either way, choosing the correct hosting provider then becomes a more serious issue.

So what does this mean for me?

Essentially, there are two key principles within the act that you must be aware of when choosing your web hosting:

First Principle:

"Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data."

The key to this principle is "Appropriate technical and organisational measures". Today, hacking of web sites in widespread, and the benefits of firewalls and other security measures well-known. Therefore, in choosing a supplier who does not value these elements of security, you are essentially negating your responsibilities for securing the personal data. In the event that anything should happen to the data you store (for example, if your web site were hacked), your clients may have recourse under the Act to demonstrate that you had be negligent with their information.

Ampheon believe that security is paramount. This is why our servers are protected with firewalls, covered by the latest security releases, and actively monitored for untoward activity.

Second Principle:

"Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area, unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection of the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data."

Why is there such a disparity in the pricing of web hosting? One reason is that some hosting providers have their servers in the United States, where the costs are less than in Europe. However, as the second principle above discusses, any data you collect should remain within the European Union (as an example of protection, the US does not currently have any federal laws against sending unsolicited mail). So, if your mailing list is stored on a server in the United States, you may be storing the data outside the guidelines of the Act.

Ampheon's web servers are based within the United Kingdom, and are therefore fully covered by this second principle.

Further Information:

By Chelsey Evans

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