Reselling Space on a Dedicated Server

Reselling Space on a Dedicated Server: What Are Your Options?

Every business owner, whether they’re a freelancer or the head of a team of hundreds, wants to maximize revenue without having to overextend themselves. It’s often a careful balancing act between wanting to bring in as much money as possible without wearing yourself or resources too thin. Often, people start wondering how they can start making more “passive” income.

 

Right off the bat, passive income is largely a myth and it often sounds too good to be true because it is. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add another service to your business that won’t require a tremendous amount of time, but still bring in a decent amount of additional revenue. Make no mistake, being a hosting reseller takes work. You will have to provide customer service. But, you can turn it into a profitable addition to your business is you properly dedicate yourself to it. Many digital-based businesses have invested in dedicated servers with the goal of reselling the space on it to host clients’ sites. Many businesses have found success with this model, which is why so many hosting companies advertise their reseller deals. Here is what you need to know about reselling space on a dedicated server.

 

Who would benefit from reselling?

 

Nearly any kind of digital based business can add hosting to its portfolio of services. Naturally, you should offer some kind of web design or development service already in order to seamlessly add the hosting component to the package. You don’t have to be a full-time web designer, though. You may also be an SEO consultant, marketer, or public relations professional that includes site building as part of your list of services provided. Any situation where you’re helping a client design a site or improve their site is an ample opening to also offer hosting. You can easily add it as a line item to your monthly retainer. Or, you may now get to offer a monthly retainer.

 

Choosing the server

 

There are a good variety of high performing servers out there that can help you reach your goals. Ultimately, the question comes down to using a VPS vs a dedicated server. While a VPS costs less and may have enough horsepower to provide a sufficient hosting environment for multiple informational sites, you’re better off going with a dedicated server if you’re serious about running a hosting reselling business.

 

Dedicated servers provide more resources, which is better for scaling as you take on more clients. They are also more flexible. Additionally, if you’re looking to install any specific operating systems or software to help you more easily create a shared hosting environment, the hosting company you partner with may restrict what servers they allow this software to be installed on. A dedicated server may be the best option by default. VPSes are great to be sure, but you might as well go for the safe bet for a few extra dollars a month.

 

The next piece of software may be of particular interest to you if you’re planning on running a Linux server to support your business.

 

Why CloudLinux may interest you

 

You’ll have to choose between going with a hosting company that offers hosting on Windows servers or Linux servers. Linux does allow for a bit more flexibility and customization. Assuming you do go with a Linux host, you may be interested in installing CloudLinux on your dedicated server. CloudLinux, as a company, offers a variety of products. As a reseller, though, what you’ll primarily be interested in is CloudLinux OS as many of the other management tasks will be handled by the hosting company. Installing CloudLinux OS on your dedicated server will make it easier to create a shared hosting environment for you to manage and divide out to your clients.

 

CloudLinux offers features that improve stability, density, and security. It better isolates each client so that allocation of server resources remains “fair” and doesn’t negatively impact other clients on the server. If you’ve ever used shared hosting for your own site before, you know how other sites’ traffic can affect your performance.

 

What you need to be familiar with

 

If you already successfully manage your own site, you’ve already got the technical knowledge required to start your reselling business. You’re no doubt already familiar with how cPanel and WHM work. All you’ll need to do here is go into WHM to create a cPanel environment for each of your clients’ sites and give them the administrative access they need to manage their site. The rest is up to them. Of course, there is one big skill you’ll need in order to successfully run this hosting reseller business and isn’t so much a technical skill, but rather a customer service skill.

 

When you purchase a server with the intention of reselling space on it, it’s usually done (and should be done) under a white label agreement. That is, the original hosting company’s branding isn’t anywhere to be seen. For all intents and purposes, you are selling server space on hardware that you own. However, the downside to that is any issues your customers have aren’t going to be handled directly by the hosting company. They will be handled by you. What that means is, the hosting company you’re paying for a server won’t field your customers’ service tickets. You’ll have to accept them, then contact the hosting company in order to get things fixed. Being comfortable in that middle man role is going to be essential to running this reseller business.

 

Preparing your business

 

Depending on what you already do primarily with your business, preparing your business to take on the role of web host may be simple or it may be time-consuming to get off the ground initially. Either way, it will certainly add somewhat to your regular workload. If you’re lucky and you work strategically, it shouldn’t take up too much time and the extra income every month will far outpace the amount of time you need to spend doing any really difficult work.

 

You’ll need to set up a ticketing system to process any requests that your clients have regarding troubleshooting. This will also involve setting up some sort of help desk type interface somewhere on your business’ current site. Also, be sure to get any kind of legal paperwork prepared including proposals, agreements, and terms of service. When it comes to hosting, these things are important and you need to protect yourself. You may already have a lot of this already prepared for your current business and it’ll just take some tweaking.

 

Conclusion

 

Web hosting is much more adaptable and profitable to your business than you may realize. While many people think of their hosting solution as just a way to keep their business website online, which is important, there are many opportunities to expand your portfolio of services and make additional income. While it may not be explicitly “passive” it’s certainly a great way to make extra revenue every month as a billable item. If you’re interested in signing up for a dedicated server to divide and resell space on, contact us today. At KnownHost, we’re dedicated to providing you with the business solutions you need to grow.

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Why is Shared Hosting Like Taking the Bus on the Information Superhighway?

Public transportation allows people who can’t afford cars to get where they need to be, and it means you can sit down and read rather than having to focus on the road. In other words, it’s cheap and easy. Those are positive aspects of a vehicle that is structured to fit many people. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a wise idea to put your business website on the bus.

 

What’s the “bus ride” for web hosting? The similarly cheap and easy solution is shared hosting. While shared hosting is the most affordable and accessible type of hosting, it suffers in the same way a trip on public transportation can: security and speed. Let’s look at those two issues in detail.

 

Sharing a Ride Makes You Vulnerable

 

Security is kind of a boring topic to many people, so it’s critical to know why this issue generally deserves greater attention. Even back in 2013, the National Cyber Security Alliance found that:

 

  • – 20% of small businesses get hacked or digitally assaulted every year; and
  • – Of firms that do get targeted, 3 in 5 are bankrupt half a year later.

 

Those statistics are disturbing certainly, but how relevant are they to your situation? Some small businesses are more likely to be attacked than others. Bear this in mind, though: attackers will sometimes go after certain industries, but the key factor in why companies get hacked is not related to industry or value; rather, it’s simply the presence of vulnerability.

 

“Most small business owners still don’t get security, don’t think it’s an issue, and are pretty defenseless,” explained Think Security First consultant Neal O’Farrell. Owners and managers of SMBs often think that a hacker would have to select their company out of tens of millions of others, he said, “not realizing that the attacks are automated and focused on discovering vulnerabilities.”

 

What are the biggest security concerns related to taking the “information superhighway bus” that is shared hosting? As the numerous visitors and internal users of sites share the resources of one server, it makes sense that would be an environment in which there would be greater security risks, both from outside the server and within it.  Think about it this way: the server itself is under greater threat based on the number of sites running on it.

 

“No matter how you try to institute security measures with a shared hosting environment,” noted Web Hosting Provider List, “the fact is that, it is plainly not possible to ensure a 100 percent airtight protection.”

 

The sites on a shared server are positioned on different domains and obviously have disparate login credentials, but they are using the same operating system as other users and typically even share an IP address. Sharing resources cuts the costs of these hosting plans, so they look attractive to startups, nonprofits, and others on shoestring budgets. However, the sharing of resources in this manner means a greater likelihood that your data or services will be compromised.  Major security issues with shared hosting include:

 

  • – An attacker can use reverse IP lookup to get a list of all the sites on a shared hosting server. This method is fast and simple, actually: you can find the information through free services (example tool), the Dig command on Linux (Dig –x <ip address> +short), a search engine (Search Query: ip: <IP Address>), or using a script to automate it.
  • – The behavior of other users that share your IP will impact your online reputation and the continuing strength of your domain. If another site sharing the IP gets blacklisted for spam, your site will get blocked as well.
  • – A hacker can enumerate the CMS installations on the shared server. This tactic is often used because CMS software like WordPress includes the name and version information in the HTML. A vulnerability scanner such as WPScan can be used to gather data on the site, including a list of its plugins, themes, TimThumbs, and usernames. “An example attack would be to bruteforce the admin account of WordPress using a list of commonly used passwords,” explained a report by c0d3inj3cT for the InfoSec Institute. If you don’t have a captcha set up on your admin login page, it could actually be compromised by WPScan using brute force.
  • – Using a shared server puts you at greater risk of malware attacks. Malicious script can be uploaded to other sites, which in turn means that your site can be quickly compromised. The malware may occur because one of the other sites is vulnerable. It provides a channel through which the intruder can steal data.
  • – Customers may have PHP, Perl or shell accounts that make it possible to hit the other sites on the server with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
  • – Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks may target another site that shares your IP address. In this case, you are hit with a DDoS attack essentially as collateral damage of an effort to hit someone else.
  • -DDoS malware could be loaded onto the server, which could put the hacker in control of the entire server for launching attacks.

 

You Can’t Step on the Gas

 

Taking the bus of shared hosting isn’t just a security concern. It can also significantly slow down your site and dampen the growth of your business. When other riders on the bus have needs, the driver meets them. Just consider the stop-request cord: in this manner, every rider on the bus has a democratic ability to grind it to a halt. You see the same ability of individuals to slow down the ride on shared hosting – with resources handed out “first come, first serve” to all sites, which can lead to slow loading on your site when another site peaks.

 

Security is an issue on shared servers because, basically, there are too many accounts without enough isolated designation of resources; and the same is true of the slow speed that can occur in these environments.

 

Speed is one of the primary arguments many experts mention when they advocate for VPS over shared hosting. Speed and other benefits of the virtual private server are all related in some way to the isolation and pre-allocation of resources that VPS plans allow – versus the “first come, first serve” nature of shared hosting.

 

On a VPS, it doesn’t matter what another customer might be doing on the server; your speed is guaranteed. If you have two CPUs dedicated for your use, then those CPUs will always be there for you to use. The allotment of RAM for which you pay within a VPS are always set aside for you, no matter what other tasks might be running on the physical hardware.

 

Ajeet Khurana of The Balance noted that on shared hosting plans, the performance of a website will fluctuate throughout the day based on how much activity is shared by all the businesses using it. “This never happens on VPS services,” he said. “Your resources are dedicated to your… website.”

 

Getting into the Fast Lane with Managed VPS

 

Do you want to improve the security and speed of your website without having to worry about managing the server yourself? At KnownHost, we offer ultra-high VPS performance with unparalleled support by professionals. See our fully managed VPS plans.

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4 Reasons Why Shared Hosting is Like Fast Food

Everyone wants a great deal. Getting as low a price as possible, within reason, is essential to power your business with a shoestring budget. It’s easy to have a feeling with a business that the cheap solution is necessarily the best – you’re treating the challenge pragmatically, with as little investment as possible. Plus, the most affordable option is often the most widely available, since everyone wants to control their costs.

 

When we need hosting, as with any other business service, we want to quickly get the plan without any hassle. In wanting to check “get hosting” off our list and keep moving forward, it’s easy to set aside the health of our site. It’s a similar challenge to driving along and needing a bite to eat. The highly processed choices of fast food chains are available immediately, right on the side of the road. We can get a meal quickly, and we know it won’t cost us much. However, we know the health benefits can be devastating.

 

Steve Woody of Online Mastery suggests that shared hosting is digital junk food for your online presence. He says he feels that many people are not being cautious when it comes to the infrastructure they use to back their sites. Understandably, people who used shared hosting for their businesses are “[t]rying to increase the bottom-line and reduce cash-flow,” he says, adding that “[i]t’s easy to play naive and deal with the consequences later.”

 

Here are four reasons why it’s a good idea to go another route than shared hosting:

 

Reason #1 – You are expendable.

 

Want to be treated like a king? Unfortunately, you won’t get VIP treatment as a fast food or shared hosting customer. Shared hosting companies make money off their volume of customers – so they could really care less about whether one account stays or goes.

 

With a shared account, “there is only so far a host will ‘bend over backwards’ for you,” explains Jonathan Bailey of Bloggingpro. “If you want a host that is willing to do more for you and work with you more, you need to consider spending more money.”

 

Reason #2 – The information is misleading.

 

Shared hosting may be sold as if it is designed for smart and healthy business growth. However, like fast food, the hosting companies that focus on shared hosting are simply trying to cut costs and sell as many of plans as they can. Does the burger you eat ever look like the one in the picture? Similarly, your shared plan might not live up to the way it’s sold. One example of unreasonable shared hosting expectations is the notion of unlimited resources, which is protected with “fair use” clauses in fine print.

 

Reason #3 – Performance.

 

A shared server cuts costs for all businesses by allowing numerous people to share the same resources. It would probably annoy you to be reliant on the same cellular data plan that is being used by all the other people on your block, but that is essentially the idea with shared hosting.

 

What if you suddenly need a huge amount of resources? Think about that issue of scalability. “If one website is taking up too many resources these servers have a failsafe and the website gets shut down to prevent others from being affected,” says Woody.

 

How is this like fast food? Well, fast food is intended, like other food, to provide you with energy. However, it may be likelier that a low-nutrition meal filled with additives will leave you with symptoms of anxiety and chronic fatigue syndrome. Don’t feed your site so many French fries and chalupas that it can’t get up off the couch.

 

Reason #4 – Security.

 

Security should really be viewed as a necessary priority in an era of increased hacking and open sourcing of DDoS botnet code. You may think you don’t need to worry about hacking until you grow more. However, it’s important to know how vulnerable a site of a small business is if it does get compromised: 3 in 5 small businesses are bankrupt six months following a hack.

 

A shared server does not have the kind of distinction, separation of data, that any business should really want. It’s not a particularly careful way to host sites. What if a malicious threat such as E. coli comes along and wants to enjoy your site? Don’t let your site get food poisoning from shared hosting.

 

Why Shared Hosting is Dangerous – Exploration of Attack Steps

 

My point in this article is of course not simply to draw this parallel with fast food. It’s to suggest that shared hosting is not the right choice just because it’s simple. Like the perils of eating the wrong types of food are best explained by looking at specific issues, as explored in Fast Food Nation or Super Size Me, it helps to look in a granular way at shared exploits to understand why these servers present a weak front.

 

The InfoSec Institute looks at the shared server from the perspective of the process through which someone might compromise a site. Here are the basic stages through which a hacker might go after your site:

 

Reverse IP lookup

 

Before a hacker actually goes after your site, they will perform what’s called reconnaissance. In this manner, you can see what domains are on the shared server.

To see all the sites that are running on your server, you can use various methods, including search engines, the Linux dig command, or a free service such as YouGetSignal.

 

Server CMS enumeration

 

The next step for an attacker is often to find sites with certain types of content management system (CMS), such as WordPress. A CMS is a standard point of entry for cybercrime.

 

To understand the typical path of an attack, you want a list of the sites that are using a certain CMS. You can get a list very easily – the platforms place their name and version information in the source code.

 

You (or a hacker) can actually just build the IP and CMS lookup into a script if you want.

 

Waging a CMS attack

 

Once you have a list of sites running a CMS, you can divide it up into ones that are running WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.

 

You can use a vulnerability scanner to check for weakness on any CMS installation. Another place to get information is exploits that are on file at services such as Exploit Database.

 

The vulnerability scanner will quickly give you basic details that would be helpful in attacking the site. For instance, let’s look at the use of one for WordPress, WPScan. WPScan brings up the following information:

 

  • Active plugins
  • Active themes
  • Any detected TimThumbs (a known security issue)
  • List of usernames.

 

Note that one key way an admin panel is beaten is through brute force, leveraging the fact that many websites don’t use complex passwords. This method could use a list of the most popular passwords. You can even brute-force using WPScan if the login page doesn’t have a captcha in place.

 

“Based on the strength of your wordlist there is a high probability that the passwords of wordpress admin accounts will be cracked successfully,” notes the InfoSec Institute report.

 

*****

 

The above issues with shared hosting are disconcerting – especially since it’s clear that the security protection is insufficient for businesses. Luckily a shared server is not the only option on the market.

 

Do you want to drive by the fast food options and get hosting that will instead improve the strength and vitality of your business? At KnownHost, our high-quality managed VPS hosting plans offer fast servers and a 99.9% uptime guarantee at great prices. Compare plans.

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How Does Shared Hosting Fail Web Designers?

  • Avoiding possible “fail videos” of web design
  • The fast food of infrastructure
  • Clients crashing in your dorm room
  • Lawsuits as a legitimate threat
  • Your insurance against a hosting fail
  • VPS for better web design hosting

 

Avoiding possible “fail videos” of web design

 

As humans, we seem to be a little mesmerized by both success and failure. The winning team helps us remember to dream big, while the losing team reminds us what not to do so we don’t arrive at a similar fate. We aren’t always learning lessons from the losing party, though. We are sometimes exploiting them and laughing at their expense. In a “fail video,” for instance, somebody gets hurt.

 

Major hacking incidents get a lot of attention in the press, probably for the same two reasons. We want to correct ourselves and learn from the experiences of others – the highly constructive aspect of such coverage. On the other hand, we may also be a bit entertained by the idea that the victim is getting skewered on the nightly news.

 

It’s all, really, a matter of perspective. Here’s the scenario in which no one enjoys a fail video: when they’re in it. Similarly, no one is amused by watching themselves get, effectively, eviscerated in every newspaper in the country.

 

When you take that major hacking incident trending on Twitter and bring it down to earth in the context of web design, you don’t want your clients to think you failed them with poor security. Just as it’s miserable to be in a fail video,  it isn’t enjoyable to see your web design company hit with hacking.

 

The fast food of infrastructure

 

It is common for web designers to start out on shared web hosting, for a few reasons:

 

  • It’s the cheapest form of hosting
  • It’s widely available
  • It’s the most heavily promoted.

 

In other words, shared hosting is fast food. We all know fast food is not the healthiest option; it’s the low-budget “quick fix” for hunger, which in turn means that it is easy to sell.

 

With hosting, it’s important to remember that the widely available, low-cost market option is not usually the safest or most high-quality. Just like fast food may not be the wisest decision in terms of potential negative consequences, you may want to reconsider the use of shared hosting for your web design business.

Clients crashing in your dorm room

 

Other imagery has of course been used to describe the potential down-sides of shared hosting. For example, hack recovery pro Jim Walker described the shared model as “an open bay college dorm room, or an office building where all of the internal office doors share the same key.”

 

No one would advertise the infrastructure backing their service as “a dorm room where businesses can crash,” but that could be an apt way of describing web design based on shared hosting. Most web designers understand that they are prioritizing convenience and affordability over safety. However, the simple decision to use dorm-room-style hosting means that if someone enters the server to steal a roommate’s belongings (i.e., the data of another tenant), they will thereby have access to your clients’ things as well. Clearly, that degree of exposure could come back to haunt them, and possibly you as their trusted provider.

 

Lawsuits as a legitimate threat

 

Back in the 1990s, David Letterman had a bit on CBS’s The Late Show With David Letterman called, “Oh No! We’re Gonna Get Sued.” It was a popular segment. However, just like fail videos, no one likes to get hit with a lawsuit.

 

Along those lines, it is worth considering possible legal ramifications of shared hosting environments. Let’s say you have thirty clients on shared hosting. One of them wants to upload something to the server. The question then is, do you give that client FTP access? If you do, then they are able to access all the databases and other files of the rest of your clientele.

 

How? Maybe someone who gets FTP access has some hacking skills. Or, perhaps you just have a plugin on any of the sites that has a security hole. With a security hole present, the hacker’s job is straightforward.

 

Walker explained the hacker’s perspective: “[A]ll I have to do is use that to install a back door script, like FilesMan,” he said, “and I’ll have total access to everything within your account, from files, to images, as well as read and write access to all of your clients databases.”

 

What is the reputation of your web design firm? Are you known for operating ethically? If you use shared hosting, is it your responsibility to inform clients that a hack of another user could easily compromise their site? These are at least questions worth asking.

 

Walker points out that it would take under 3 minutes for a malicious intruder to delete all of your clients’ content and other data. Business decisions are always multi-faceted, but the risks of shared hosting are real.

 

Your insurance against a hosting fail

 

Yes, shared hosting is affordable. We know that part. As established above, it is also problematic.

 

Beyond hacking, there are other reasons why people choose virtual private server (VPS) hosting over the shared variety, according to Ajeet Khurana:

 

  • Isolation from other users

 

The strict delineation between the different users of a VPS is a benefit beyond security. While a shared hosting “roommate” might crash the server and take down your site, the owner of another VPS that’s on your server wouldn’t be able to do that.

 

  • Speed guarantee

 

You will continue to experience high performance on your site – i.e., fast and reliable loading – no matter what other VPS users do.

 

“If you have two CPU’s allocated to you, then you will always have those two CPU’s available to your operations,” said Khurana. Similarly, your RAM is unavailable to other accounts on the physical machine.

 

The speed of shared hosting, on the other hand, is variable. Resources are fundamentally being offered as they are available, rather than guaranteed, within that context.

 

  • Stability guarantee

 

We all know that reliability is a cornerstone of business credibility. Is your web design business reliable? Shared hosting is known for being unstable. For this consideration, VPS is again an upgrade.

 

  • Space guarantee

 

Disk space that is truly 100% unlimited does not come with shared accounts. A host that describes space of shared plans as limitless typically writes a “fair use” clause into their contract, noting that resources must be equally available to all users. It is like setting down party pizzas and giving you the “fair use” to grab your meal.

 

VPS means you don’t have to grab up the pizza before someone else gets it. “You have an agreed upon disk space that is paid for monthly and is reserved exclusively for you,” said Khurana. You either use it or not, but it remains allocated to your account regardless.

 

VPS for better web design hosting

 

As you can see, VPS is a big improvement over shared hosting. Are you looking for a strong infrastructural choice to fuel the growth of your web design business? At KnownHost, we offer fully managed VPS hosting with incredible support. Compare plans.

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