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4th Dimension Hosting

Deep Sky Technologies, Inc., has been hosting 4th Dimension based online services since we first opened in January of 1997. And, the experience of the personnel within DSTi with hosting 4D systems online extends back more than a year before DSTi even opened. Within the first three months of operation, DSTi was already hosting 4D based online services for its clients, a service which we continue to offer to this day.

It is safe to say that no single company in the world has more experience or a longer history hosting 4D based systems than Deep Sky Technologies, Inc!

With all of the knowledge and experience that is available at DSTi for hosting 4D based systems online, your choice should be clear. Not only do we provide the most comprehensive package of services and support for your 4D based online services, but we are more than willing to guide and consult with you in making certain that your 4D based services are the most reliable and complete possible for all of your users.

Putting this experience to work for you is an invaluable asset to your 4D based online services!

Pricing

One issue to consider when hosting a 4D system is that it can not be shared on a machine with other customer's 4D systems. Basically, you must dedicate a machine to be running just your very own 4D application (e.g. 4D Server, 4D Engine, web based, etc.). From the nature of 4D's design, this is unfortunately the case.

Deep Sky Technologies, Inc., is able to provide a few different options to solve this, though. We always recommend Macintosh as the server platform, as it is much lower maintenance, much more reliable, and much more secure. And, in actuality, DSTi has to charge more for hosting any flavor of the Windows operating system because it is such higher maintenance for our personnel.

We have a few differ machine usage options on Mac to choose from (we are in the middle of phasing in a third option right now). We provide for access and control of the machine when you host on one of our servers:

CPU CPU Speed RAM HD Monthly Cost
G3 desktop 233 - 266 MHz 256M 4G+ $250 US
G4 tower 400 - 450 MHz 512M 20G+ $300 US
G4 tower 933 MHz 1G 60G+ $375 US

For all of these machines, we provide an average sized hard disk (whatever comes stock with the machine, like a 20G minimum for the middle end option). We make sure the latest MacOS is installed for your pleasure. And, you have full access to the machine for configuring and managing your server through Timbuktu Pro remote management software.

There is a remote restart capability in case of emergencies. And, of course, we are available 24/7 for your needs.

Basically, we make sure that you have what you need to setup, get running, and manage your services fully from a remote location.

Bandwidth obviously comes with this. Our bandwidth plateau is at 1G transferred a month. If you start exceeding this level on a regular basis, we will adjust the monthly hosting fees to accommodate the increased usage. But, we work with you to come up with the expectations and make sure that you have a flat hosting fee whenever possible. And, keep in mind, we do not include traffic used to update a server's systems into our calculations of your total bandwidth usage. Instead, we only include actual user traffic to and from your online services when determining what your total bandwidth usage is.

Just in case, 1G a month is a great deal of data to transfer. Every single client we have that has gone over this level is doing so much business that the extra bandwidth costs become irrelevant. We suggest working out the numbers yourself so that you see exactly what we mean here.

Contact us about details and exact pricing for special options on the comprehensive hosting services for 4th Dimension offered by DSTi.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Whose 4D/web license will be used?

You use your own. Since you have full access to the machine, it is your responsibility to make certain you have all of the software licenses you may need.

Q: Does the service include backup strategies? My first problem at the moment is how to backup a database that is continually being updated by clients.

For full machines, we run a backup once a week. We watch the usage of the machine and pick a time when there is little to no traffic (Sat. night/Sun. morning is usually a good bet). Everything is quit at a scheduled time and backed up. The machine is always "put back" to its original state then. This usually takes under 5 minutes to actually run.

One thing that we always recommend to clients though: assume that no backups are being made.

In other words, make your systems stable and reliable enough that backups are never needed. Make regular copies of your data file just in the Finder (a couple of times a week is usually good). Use 4D Backup if you reasonably can. Drag a copy of the data file off of the machine once a week or so to keep locally with you. Understand the use of the Flush Cache command and use it correctly and consistently.

These are all good things to do. Consider, to restore a backup, it will take us at least a couple of hours. As well, this is one of the few items which we must charge you extra for (well, assuming it is not a hardware problem). A couple of hours of down time in a 24/7 service is deadly. Often, if you follow the other practices, then a "restore" can be put in place more quickly using the other means (e.g. transfer back an older data file, install your application again, etc.).

Things to consider... We ourselves learned these things ourselves from running our own systems (e.g. 4D Zine). I suggest them because I know they work. 4D Zine has been down for a total of 6 minutes in the last five years; 4 and half of those minutes were because of an update that crashed the machine because we failed to put a copy of a particular plugin on the production server. We follow the above practices and I know that is it why 4D Zine is so realiable. Of course, then, this is why we recommend them to you!

Q: How do we manage the server. Can we use our own plugins?

Using TImbuktu, you have full control over the machine. You install the software you need and configure it however is necessary. Of course, then, you can use any and all plugins you need.

Q: Is the data physically secure? The database contains sensitive information and one reason we are considering hosting it ourselves is data security.

Security is handled by a combination of many little things:

  • When we install the OS here, we actually will strip it down for you. We do this because we have so much experience already in setting up a server to both run efficiently and securely. The OS is slimmed down considerably and a lot of the unneeded services and options are removed and/or disabled. This reduces considerably the access points into the server.
  • We set up access into the machine through Timbuktu on a person by person basis. Meaning, each single person that you need to have TB2 access to the machine will get an individual account. We suggest that you make sure that everyone keeps their access info. to themselves. And, even better, if you know for instance that you are the only one that will ever need TB2 access to the machine, then only you have an account created. TB2 transmissions are encrypted so intercepting and decrypting access through TB2 is practically impossible. No other access points into the machine other than through TB2 is setup on our end.
  • We suggest strongly that you establish your applications to be as secure as possible. If you are running 4D as a web server, make certain that you check through all of the access points and make it as secure as possible. Inherently, 4D's built in server is pretty tight, so this is not in any way a daunting task. We suggest always to tell us once you have the application installed and running so that we can take a look through it from a user's perspective. We are experienced enough with 4D to be able to point out pretty quickly any weaknesses in the deployed application. This can help you immeasurably.
  • We monitor and log all traffic in and out of the local network in our server farm. It is our own network and is not shared by anyone else, so only traffic for our company and our clients traverses the network (we are not an ISP, so there are no dialup points into our network, either). We regularly look for any kind of creepers or hacking attempts that might be made. As well, we have our gateways to our connectivity points configured in such a way as to reduce the likelihood of anyone hacking into our servers. We can't really say exactly what we monitor nor how our routers are configured without giving away too much info. We will say though that the single best step in security in a network involves the joint use of constant monitoring and protecting the knowledge of the actual configuration of the network (kinda what we am doing here by not telling you how it is configured; nothing personal, but noone outside DSTi is given this information).

Q: Any other useful information is highly appreciated.

We do not have any setup charges of any kind. And, there are no stipulations on length of stay. We have found that our service is solid enough that once clients come here they realise the value and do not have any reason to go anywhere else.

We do personally ask that you commit to staying for at least twelve months. It does help us recover the setup expenses that are incurred. But, this is not a requirement in any way.

Heck, where most hosting companies have a turnover rate in their client base that approaches 60% yearly, we have been successful enough with our clients that over the last five years we have lost only four (4) clients. This, out of hundreds of clients, is a success record that speaks for itself!

Read through completely the content here and on our standard web hosting page. There is tons of invaluable material here for your perusal. Compare it to what other hosting companies offer. I would bet you will be pleasantly surprised that we have extremely reasonable pricing. With the added value of our specializing in 4D and our extreme knowledge of 4D development and deployment, your choice should be pretty easy...

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