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Tom Allensworth

AVSIM Hosting - The Details

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There has been some confusion and outright misinformation spread about AVSIM hosting of FREE sites lately, and we would like to provide some clarity on what AVSIM's hosting policies are for those FREE sites. This does not apply to commercial organizations, and that is an entirely different message thread that I will post sometime.First, WE decide on what freewarre sites to host. We do not allow ourselves to be "strong-armed" into hosting anyone - nor do we allow anyone to dictate to us how we will host them, the features we MUST provide, how their site HAS to be structured, etc. If a potential partner is good for AVSIM, and we are good for them, then it is a pretty good bet that AVSIM will offer free hosting to them regardless of potential bandwidth demands, system processes, and so on. If we are approached by the potential partner, we will evaluate hosting them from the perspective of what's good for the community, what's good for AVSIM and what's good for the partner - roughly in that order of precedence. Its simple really; what the potentially hosted partner may think is good for his/her site, may well be bad or have a negative impact on AVSIM as a whole. Guess who is going to loose that argument?Secondly, after five plus years of doing this, we have learned a lot of lessons on handling files, bandwidth, load balancing, and how to maintain a system that provides peak performance for our readership. We have a large volunteer tech team in place just to keep the system at peak performance and providing our readership the features that are enjoyed daily here. One of the lessons we have learned comes from our experiences with bandwidth and file leaching. In order to protect AVSIM and minimize the cost of hosting large file libraries, we require that hosted sites place thier files in our library. In doing so, their hosted site has access to them via normal linking and this prevents those files from being linked to from outside the AVSIM domain. In addition, their files are hosted on the fastest and most robust in our server "farm" (if three servers can be called a "farm"). Hosting it elsewhere within our system violates our policies on load balancing, and though that may be more "convenient" for the hosted partner, it could have serious impact on the overall system performance, and ultimately impact the speed at which our readers can access the entire system.Does hosting files in our library mean that the author or team looses control of those files? Of course not. Were a hosted site to decide to pull off of AVSIM and required that we remove those files, we would do so immediately. We honor copyrights and the right of an author or team to determine who they wish to distribute their files. That has been a policy of ours from day one, and one that we religiously follow.Does this mean that the author or team would not be able to update their files at their discretion? Of course not to that too. An author or team has complete control over thier files, revisions and updates via the library system. Just have a look at the library and you can see that for yourself. There are plenty of revisions, updates, etc etc, and obsolete files get removed just about every day. Authors and teams DO NOT LOOSE CONTROl of their files. A simple email to library@avsim.com and the file is removed. That simple.Site wide, AVSIM averages now about 4 TERABYTES of data being sent out each month and that is growing. Our library system alone sends out, on average, over 60 gigabytes a day with peaks as high as 85 or so - and that too is growing. Have you seen any degradation in AVSIM's performance because of it? We monitor system performance like a hawk, and I can tell you that the answer to that is a resounding NO. Significantly, the very reason you DO NOT see system degradation is because of our load balancing and file hosting policies. A number that we have seen recently posted about some add-ons are simply drops in the ocean in terms of demands on bandwidth for us. That's not bragging, but just a simple statement of fact. Fortunately, our readership's use of our advertisers, store and contributions, allow us to cover the cost of that bandwidth, and hosted sites benefit from one of the fastest systems serving the simming community on the Internet today. That's also a statement of fact.When we offer a freeware site a home, we do so with no cost strings attached, regardless of bandwidth consumption (we only have two non-cost strings attached - you must place your files in our library system, and you must run a banner ad on your opening page - only the opening page - and some other expectations that all sites under consideration are informed of, prior to accepting the hosting offer - simple things like; you got a beef with AVSIM? Okay, have the common courtesy of contacting us first and giving us the opportunity to rectify the situation, if there is a solution, before you blast us in public! Pretty simple, heh?). If a freeware site offers a product or service that consumes a lot of bandwidth, then our philosophy is that they are providing something worthwhile to the community and that deserve our attention in continuing to provide that hosting regardless of bandwidth consumed. If they are a contributor to the commmunity as shown by the popularity of their offerings, then we at AVSIM will find a way to continue to provide their product or service to the community and at no charge to them OR the community for doing so. Our history with hosted freeware sites will verify that claim, and you can see it in our fantastic partners hosted on AVSIM today.Though we have said this before, we'll say it again. AVSIM generates revenue from our advertisers, our store and donations and from commercial sites that we do host as well. ALL OF THAT MONEY is poured back into the system in paying our monthly bandwidth bill and if any is left over, then we squirrel that away to purchase additional hardware. No one on AVSIM makes a dime from this venture of ours, and we are all truly "freeware authors", serving you in just a different sort of way.I hope that sets to rest some of the stuff we have seen floating around elsewhere on the subject. If you have any questions, please do not speculate in public, but send us an email at srstaff@avsim.com, and we will provide you with the FACTS; not the conjecture that some seem to want to populate the forums with.

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