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  • Low-cost SSL Hosting for your Facebook Page Tabs

    Heads up, page admins! As Facebook announced back in May, beginning October 1 any iFrame page tabs not hosted on a secure server under HTTPS will not be displayed to users.

    To help page admins locate a budget-friendly and secure hosting solution for their page tabs, I did some digging and located some great hosting companies offering low-cost secure-hosting solutions. There are certainly others, and I have provided some guidelines for making the right hosting choice.

    I have also laid out some of the basics of hosting and security certificates.

    Facebook and Secure Browsing (HTTPS)

    In February, when Facebook introduced the “Secure Browsing (HTTPS)” option, page tab content not hosted securely was not displayed to those using the secure-browsing option, and page tab creators had the option of providing a “Secure Page URL” to display to HTTPS users.

    But as of October 1 a secure URL is mandatory, and page tabs not hosted securely won’t be displayed to any users.

    What is Secure Browsing (HTTPS) and How Do I Get It?

    Facebook SecurityWhen a Web page is hosted on a server enabled with the SSL (“Secure Socket Layer”) protocol via a security certificate, content sent between a user’s browser and the server hosting the secure Web page is encrypted, and no one can intercept confidential information such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, or any other information you type into your browser.

    All Web hosting companies offer security certificates in most of their hosting plans, either a Shared SLL certificate, where all sites on a single shared server are sharing a certificate, or a Private SSL certificate, available to websites with a unique IP (Web address).

    For Facebook page admins, the Shared SSL is a low-cost and workable choice.

    Shared SSL v. Private SSL

    If all you need is an affordable option for hosting your page tab’s “index” page (the iFramed page you host yourself), you can consider plans that offer “Shared SSL” on a shared server, which is the cheapest option.

    Although not a good choice for an e-commerce site, Shared SSL is fine for meeting Facebook’s requirement for a securely hosted page.

    Beware File-Size Restrictions on Shared SSL!
    In researching this article, I did notice that Bluehost and HostMonster (both owned by the same parent entity) put a file-size restriction of 100kb for each embedded file on your page (images, audio, video, etc.) which would be far too restrictive for most iFrame page tabs. But I didn’t see this Shared SSL restriction anywhere else.

    Some Popular Web Hosts that Offer Low-cost Secure Hosting

    The following hosting companies all offer low-cost hosting, and most include a Shared SSL option. I did some informal polling on the HyperArts Fan Page and the following companies stood out.

    Note: “Bandwidth” is the total amount of data transferred from the server each month and this number increases as your website is accessed more often; Disk Space is the total amount of storage space that is provided for the files associated with your site, including log files and MySQL databases (but not email).

    DreamhostDreamhost has been around for years and is generally well regarded. However, Dreamhost doesn’t offer Shared SSL, and their phone support, which costs extra, is minimal.

    Minimum for Secure Hosting: $14.15/month
    (Hosting: $8.95/mo. + Private SSL: $1.25/mo. + Unique IP: $3.95/mo.)

    Bandwidth & Disk Space Unlimited

    Support: 24/7/365 email support (response within 24 hours); Premium Support (3 phone callbacks/mo + unlimited live chat): Add $9.95/mo.

    Hosting Plan Comparison

    BlueHostBlueHost offers a full array of budget hosting options. Although they offer Shared SSL, there is a file-size limit on each page of 100kb per included file, and BlueHost warns that “any embedded data (images, audio clips, etc) larger than 100kb will be truncated.” So this limitation may not work for you.

    Minimum for Secure Hosting: $5.95/mo. (with Shared SSL)
    Minimum for Private SSL: $12.20/month
    (Hosting: $5.95 + Private SSL: $3.75/mo. + Unique IP: $2.50/mo.)

    Bandwidth & Disk Space Unlimited

    Phone Support: 24/7/365

    Hosting Plan Comparison

    HostGatorHostGator is a popular budget hosting company in Texas that’s been around since 2002. They offer several very low-cost hosting plans, including the “Hatchling” plan beginning at $3.96/mo. and the “Baby” plan for $6.36/mo.

    Minimum for Secure Hosting: $3.96/month (with Shared SSL)
    Business Plan (includes Unique IP + Private SSL): $10.36/mo.

    Bandwidth & Disk Space Unlimited

    Phone Support: 24/7/365

    Hosting Plan Comparison

    LunarpagesLunarpages, although it seems more geared to business-level hosting, does offer a “basic” low-cost hosting package, but no Shared SSL.

    Minimum for Secure Hosting: $18.15/month
    (Hosting: $4.95/mo. + Private SSL: $8.25/mo. + Unique IP: $4.95/mo.)

    Bandwidth & Disk Space: Unlimited

    Phone Support: Mon-Fri 7am-7pm PST; Sat-Sun 7am-3:30pm PST; Email Support: 24/7/365

    Hosting Plan Comparison

    InMotion HostingInMotion Hosting is another popular hosting company that offers the full range of hosting services, including budget packages.

    Minimum for Secure Hosting: $5.95/month (with Shared SSL)

    Bandwidth & Disk Space: Unlimited

    Phone Support: 24/7/365

    Hosting Plan Comparison

    GoDaddy Although GoDaddy states that its primary business is domain registration, they have also become a popular hosting company, offering the full range of hosting options. Although I tend to like hosting companies whose primary business is hosting, GoDaddy seems to have a pretty good reputation.

    However, they do not offer a Shared SSL plan.

    Minimum for Secure Hosting: $14.99/month
    (Unique IP + Private SSL)

    Bandwidth: Unlimited; Disk Space: 150GB

    Phone Support: 24/7/365

    Plan Comparison

    HostMonsterHostMonster, located in Utah, has been around since 1996. It appears that HostMonster and Bluehost are owned by same entity, although their prices and offerings differ. Like Bluehost, HostMonster offers Shared SSL but has the 100kb file-size limitation which may be a non-starter for those considering this company. They offer just one hosting plan, with optional upgrades and add-ons.

    Minimum for Secure Hosting: $5.95/month (with Shared SSL)
    Minimum for Private SSL: $12.20/month
    (Unique IP: + $2.50/mo. + Private SSL: $3.75/mo.)

    Bandwidth & Disk Space: Unlimited

    Phone Support: 24/7/365

    Hosting Features

    1&1 Hosting1&1 is another popular hosting company offering low-cost options. Although they don’t offer Shared SSL, you can add a Private SSL certificate to any plan. I think their Business Plan is the way to go.

    Private/Dedicated SSL Secure Hosting: $9.99/month
    (First 6 months free)
    I recommend the Linux server option, not Windows.

    Bandwidth & Disk Space: Unlimited

    Phone Support: 24/7/365

    Hosting Features

    What to Consider When Selecting a Hosting Company

    When choosing a hosting company, the devil’s in the details. Here are some things you should consider:

    • How many domains can be hosted under the account? This can range from one to unlimited;
    • Does the hosting include free domain registration? Many hosting companies are also registrars and offer a free domain registration when you sign up;
    • Does the hosting company offer 24/7/365 phone support? Most, if not all, will offer 24/7/365 email support, but I’m much more comfortable if I can get someone on the phone when my site goes down;
    • What are the restrictions on bandwidth and disk space? These days, many plans offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space, or at least very large limits;
    • How do different plans compare? For each host, go to their plan-comparison page and study it carefully.

    For those who would like to read more about Facebook Secure Browsing (HTTPS), check out my earlier article on the HyperArts Blog.

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

    Comments

    1. Hi, helpful article and blog! Now I’ve a big issue: i need an hosting space for:
      • my resume (included a domain name),
      • an e-commerce with private SSL for make downlodable an app/webapp (included a domain name),
      •  hosting space for iframe tab with PHP 5 support as specified in: http://www.hyperarts.com/blog/customizing-facebook-iframe-application-signed_request_reveal_tab/
      • and other web room for storage costumers jobs.

      Other questions: why you didn’t mention Amazon web services in this article? Their S3 service is not the best for Facebook iframe, but does they offer a better working service for Facebook HTTP POST request?
      I heard about git hub, do you know something about it? it works also for hosting?

      ———————————-
      Giacomo Secchi
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/HTML5-for-Publishing/295535163841057

    2. The problem with S3, as you note, is that you can’t host your Page Tab index page there because of POST requests.
      As for finding a host, you can just Google around for the best deal. Or read my article about budget SSL hosting options I wrote for the Social Media Examiner.

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