News analysis: If your ISP sinks, don't go down with the ship

The Buddha taught that all is impermanent, and Internet service providers exemplify his teaching perfectly. The recent collapse of large and small providers left thousands of users marooned.

When your ISP pulls the plug, you may lose more than just your Internet access; your e-mail addresses and Web sites could wink out as well. So how do you keep a failing ISP from taking your online identity down the drain with it? Don't put all your eggs in one basket: get your Internet connection, your e-mail address and server, and your Web site hosting from separate providers.

That way, if one of the companies goes belly up, the other services will carry on without interruption. If one service suddenly becomes a better deal than the other, you can dump one without having to print new business cards or losing Web site visitors. You may find that a local hosting company has what it takes to weather the ups and downs of the Internet economy, though it may not offer browser-based e-mail.

Of course, as the Buddha would tell you, no ISP is guaranteed to last forever. If you want to be completely sure that an ISP meltdown won't also vaporise your mail or Web site, consider creating your own domain. In addition to making your e-mail and Web site addresses more personalised and memorable, domain names are easily transferable from one ISP to another.

Splitting up your services among different providers and employing a domain name will probably cost more per month than going with a single all-in-one service. But if flexibility and a consistent online presence are important to you or your business, the few extra dollars per month may be money well spent.

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Scott Spanbauer

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