The Small Business Administration – The Disaster during The Covid-19 Disaster

U.S. Small Business Administration Logo

I’ll start by saying that the company I own and operate has been in business since late 2007. In nearly 13 years of being in business we have never applied for funding through the SBA or anywhere else as we didn’t need it. Personally I absolutely hate owing money be it to a person or to an organization.

I have heard from other business owners that working with the Small Business Administration, or the SBA for short, isn’t easy and that even if you qualify you’ve got a 50% chance of approval. I do know a few small businesses that have SBA loans for business property.

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The Small Business Administration – The Disaster during The Covid-19 Disaster

U.S. Small Business Administration Logo

I’ll start by saying that the company I own and operate has been in business since late 2007. In nearly 13 years of being in business we have never applied for funding through the SBA or anywhere else as we didn’t need it. Personally I absolutely hate owing money be it to a person or to an organization.

I have heard from other business owners that working with the Small Business Administration, or the SBA for short, isn’t easy and that even if you qualify you’ve got a 50% chance of approval. I do know a few small businesses that have SBA loans for business property.

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From Leasing to Owning and Colocation

Dual 5620 ServerFor over three years my company has always leased its hardware from the facility in which our services were located.  For a long time we felt that it was better to pay a little more over time for the hardware in exchange for not having to make the large initial investment, not having to recycle old hardware when we upgrade, and not having to cover the parts and labor for replacing failed hardware.

Not too long ago we decided to re-evaluate our decision to lease our hardware and ultimately decided to obtain our own fully owned hardware and to colocate that hardware in a data center facility.  The initial cost is one of the largest barriers to get over when going from leased to owned and as an example we’ve spent nearly $25,000 in new equipment alone.  We’ve bought server chassis, processors, motherboards, RAM, raid controllers, hard disks, power distribution units, and switches in order to bring our systems online at a new facility.

There is a lot that goes into deciding which facility you’re going to go with and it requires a lot more research and time than choosing a leased provider.  When you’re leasing you can simply order new servers somewhere else, cancel the old servers at the old provider, and shift your data over.  When you colocate your own hardware it’s not so easy to make a change like this.  You either have to double your hardware to do live transfers or you have to take the sites and services offline to physically transport the hardware from one facility to another.  All of this makes it very important for you to make sure that you’ve chosen a facility you can trust and one that you plan on doing business with for a very long time.

We researched facilities for several months and looked at the pricing, power, cooling, transit providers, locations, redundancy, and remote hands and ultimately settled upon HandyNetworks LLC based out of Denver, Colorado.  This is going to be a learning experience for myself as well as those who work for me so I’m going to do my best to post my experiences, expectations, and any surprises we face along the way.  The hardware will be online on or around November 15th, 2010 and we’ll begin transitioning customers over to the new facility starting on November 18th.

If there is anything particular you’d like to know about the process of choosing the facility, the transfer process, or anything else having to do with obtaining hardware and colocating – feel free to comment this post or any future posts on the subject and I’ll do my best to address your questions.

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Jonathan Burdon – Apparently posting facts is a “Smear Campaign”

Jonathan Burdon of AlreadyHosting.com
Jonathan Burdon

I have written a pretty in-depth review of Jonathan Burdon and AlreadyHosting.com concerning their affiliate fraud campaigns here. I even discovered that Jonathan Burdon is directly using cookie stuffing to obtain fraudulent affiliate commissions.  You can watch a short video demonstrating the cookie stuffing for MDDHosting, BlueHost, HostMonster, and WebHostingPad in this video.  If you’re not very familiar with how affiliate systems work, the basic premise is that sites will use outbound links to the provider that place a cookie on the user’s computer to identify the referral so that the affiliate can be paid.

In an article about Jonathan Burdon [which is likely written by Jonathan] it is claimed that “There is one *unnamed* company on the web that refuses to pay Jonathan for his contract so they have launched a smear campaign against him, please ignore their comments,” and the article goes on to say “If users will take a few moments to visit Jonathan’s sites they will soon realize that his site is a great resource and that the individuals writing the slanderous posts about him are simply incorrect.” Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/branding-articles/jonathan-burdon-webmaster-2848333.html

It seems that Jonathan Burdon believes that I’m personally launching a smear campaign about him and goes so far as to claim my posts are slanderous.  What I find particularly interesting, is that I have only posted verifiable, factual information and even the email communications with Jonathan Burdon.  I’ve not posted or said anything that wasn’t simply true and verifiable.  To be entirely honest, I don’t care about Jonathan Burdon or his reputation but only that he doesn’t continue committing affiliate fraud and, as such, stealing money from other hosting providers.  I publicly challenge Jonathan Burdon to disprove any of the information I’ve posted about him or AlreadyHosting.com.

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Beware of “Web Hosting Review” and “Top 10 Web Hosts” Sites

As many readers of this site may already know I own and operate MDDHosting, LLC – a web hosting firm based out of Franklin, Indiana and we have been in business for over 2 years and 3 months as of the writing of this post.  Over the last 27 months I have seen just about every type of fraud, scam, and lie and in my personal opinion affiliate scams have to be one of the larger issues facing web hosting consumers today.

Anybody with enough experience in the industry knows that most “web hosting review” and “top 10 web hosts” type of sites are simply affiliate link farms where the goal is to pull in as many visitors to click on their affiliate links as possible.  Someone experienced in the industry who has “been there, done that” will often see through this and knows to conduct their own research and won’t fall for these tricks but someone new to the industry and turning to Google for advice won’t.  While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, what bothers me is when the site makes commission in a misleading way.  Some sites actually do write up a decent review of the provider and provide links to sign up which is entirely understandable but some are not so honest and straightforward in their dealings.

One such site that is operating in a misleading way is “AlreadyHosting.com” which is operated by Jonathan Burdon of Murray, Kentucky.  While going over our affiliate sales I noticed that one particular affiliate had an extraordinarily high conversion rate and to be honest I wanted to know what they were doing to achieve a conversion rate of 9%.

MDDHosting "Review" at AlreadyHosting.com Their site “reviews” as of this writing 111 companies which is not a lot when you look at the hosting industry itself as having thousands of individual providers.  When you look at any one of their providers that they review you may be surprised at the utter lack of any content or reviews (I certainly was).  I have pictured the page that I found was sending the affiliate referrals to us and commented directly in the image as to how their methods are misleading. Not only does every host that they “review” offer links to “Promo pricing” and “Coupon Codes & Promotional Links”, but every one of these links goes directly to the provider dropping the affiliate code without giving any promotional codes or pricing.

I contacted Jonathan (read entire conversation here) and explained to him that we felt that he was misleading his visitors by offering links to coupon codes and promotional pricing when those links actually just dropped them on the affiliate URL where no such information can be found.  We let him know that we were doing so pro-actively and that while we could have let him continue sending us visitors and simply refused to pay him any money at a later date but that we simply were not that type of company.

AlreadyHosting.com uses it’s SERP power to be seen for “[Hosting Company Name] Review” which means that the customer isn’t simply browsing for a list of providers but is looking for specific information on a provider that they are already considering.  At the time of this writing I did a Google search for “GreenGeeks Review” and in 9th place is “GreenGeeks Review & Coupon Codes | AlreadyHosting.com”.  Upon visiting this URL you will see that there is no review but there are links promising promotional pricing and coupon codes which anybody that is already considering that provider is going to click on.  As soon as the visitor clicks on the link they are taken to the provider’s site and should that visitor continue researching the company before buying – AlreadyHosting will obtain commission on the sale due to the visitor having been interested in coupon codes and promotional pricing.

In my conversation with Jonathan I explained to him that we were more than happy to keep him on board with us as an affiliate as long as he was willing to modify the page to actually link to the content it claims to link to (i.e. promotional information or coupon codes) or to simply not claim to link to such content if it isn’t doing so and rather than editing the review page to modify or remove the misleading hyperlinks Jonathan decided to respond with a threat:

If you do not reconsider we will keep your
review active and will tell our readers how you treat affiliates and will
directly recommend that they sign up for another company. I will also
invest a lot in SEO for that page to ensure that it ranks high for all of
your keywords.

Upon visiting the “MDDHosting Review” on AlreadyHosting.com after this email exchange I found that he has updated the page with an “Important Note” stating that we had discontinued his affiliate account with us, which we have.  I have no particular problem with this but what I do find interesting is the site claims to be a site containing the “BEST WEB HOSTING REVIEWS” which would lead the average hosting consumer to believe that they either have tried and reviewed the services they “review” directly or they have input from third parties who have done so and as such list them based upon their quality of service and support which is obviously not the case.  Should any of these “best web hosting providers” find that AlreadyHosting.com is misleading their potential customers and committing affiliate fraud by using misleading hyperlinks AlreadyHosting.com may end up having to place this notice on more pages than just ours.

At the end of the day I don’t suggest trusting any of the “Web Hosting Review” or “Top 10 Web Hosts”  sort of sites as they are all affiliate driven and a vast majority of them are simply misleading.  If you do happen across a site offering coupon codes or promotional codes and it turns out there are none to be had make sure to clear your cookies so that you don’t pay these crooks for misleading you.  I highly suggest a resource that is not affiliate driven for researching hosting providers such as the WebHostingTalk.com Forums.

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Jonathan Burdon – AlreadyHosting.com – Archive

This page originally contained an complete email conversation between myself and Jonathan Burdon however due to legal issues (copyright) I’ve been required to pull down those emails.  Fortunately this doesn’t stop me from speaking about Jonathan’s less than ethical actions including cookie stuffing as well as “reviews” lacking any sort of content or value.

Feel free to read about Mr. Burdon and AlreadyHosting.com’s less than ethical strategies to obtain affiliate commissions:

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The Day Michael Jackson Slowed The Internet

Many of my customers as well as many other individuals that have web sites of their own are finding out that the internet itself is running very slowly today.  When I contacted our datacenter that provides service for our servers here is the response that I received from the representative:

The issue is that the Michael Jackson funeral is the largest web event in history. This is causing sluggish response times everywhere.

David E
SoftLayer CSA

michael_jacksonWe have had several clients submit tickets saying things such as “My site is loading slowly or not at all” and in my testing I have found that it is difficult to make connections across the country depending on what backbone your internet service provider is using.  It seems that Level3 and RoadRunner are having some trouble with the amount of traffic being transferred across their backbones where as I am seeing beautiful performance out of the Comcast backbone myself.

Upon asking for further detail from our datacenter, SoftLayer, this is what the representative had to say:

We are getting reports of sluggish response from all locations. There is no point of origin. It is internet wide.

If you are browsing the internet right now and everything is running smoothly then you can consider yourself lucky.  If you do run your own web site and you are having trouble connecting to it or you are receiving reports from your clients that your site is down there isn’t much you can do but tell them that the internet is extraordinarily congested due to the Michael Jackson funeral today and that we will all just have to wait this out.

There is also a thread that has been started by a user having issues with the internet over at the good old WebHostingTalk.com discussing that they are having issues connecting to WebHostingTalk.com where as other users are reporting no issues at all.  There is no definite way to tell if you will or will not have problems and you may have problems visiting one site while not having problems connecting to another.

Are you having trouble connecting to your own site or a site that you frequent?  Post a comment and let us know!

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