Choosing Best hosting for My web-site

July 7, 2009 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

Choosing a host for your web-site is no small decision. Once committed to one, it will become very difficult to move your business elsewhere – not to mention the damage that can be done to your business if you make the wrong choice. This makes it very important to “get it right the first time”. Find out as much as you can about your prospective host before making any decisions.

When evaluating your host, you will obviously be considering price. But price is, of course, not the only important factor. You will also need to take into consideration:

  1. the speed and reliability of the servers and hardware
  2. the features the host offers and whether these mesh with your own requirements, and, of course
  3. the quality of their support services.

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1. Speed and Reliability of the Servers and Hardware

The speed and reliability of your host’s servers will depend on several factors, including the quality of their connection to the internet, bandwidth, and the availability of back-up systems in case things go wrong. Here’s a checklist of points to consider when checking out your prospective host’s servers and hardware:

  • A T3 Connection (or better), close to a primary internet backbone.
    A T3 connection is approx 30 times as fast as a T1 connection. Smaller hosting providers – for example, the proverbial “garage operations” — will often use T1 connections, with no backup at all. They may be very cheap – but, be careful here, you can get what you pay for!
  • Effective Bandwidth Management
    In addition to having a fast connection to the internet, your host should be able to manage how its available bandwidth is used . As a guide, it should typically not be using more than 50 percent of its bandwidth.
  • Backup Systems
    If there is a systems, network or power failure, the last thing you want is to lose your data or to have your web-site go down for a long period. Good hosts will have back up systems in place to guard against this.

Look for a host who can provide:

  • Regular, daily back up of your data
  • Backup power supplies
    Look for an uninterruptible power supply system (often referred to as “UPS”) – a back up power generator available in case of emergencies.
  • Redundancy
    Do they have more than one connection to the internet, in case one of their connections goes down.
  • An “Uptime” Guarantee
    These typically state “We guarantee 99% (or 99.5%) uptime”.

Here’s a sample of the kind of information that the web host should be supplying – this one taken from the web-host Interliant ( http://webhosting.interliant.com ) :

“Our Internet connectivity is supplied by three separate diverse backbone providers: UUNET, SAAVIS and Goodnet. If one of these lines goes down, traffic is automatically routed through the lines that are still online. Our data center is supplied by multiple redundant power sources – centralized automatic UPS system with a battery-powered backup system. The batteries are also connected to three diesel power generators in the event of a power outage to the building.”

2. Features

As well as checking out the reliability of the servers and hardware you will also need to evaluate and compare the features provided by your host.

A full range of hosting features can be viewed on Webhostdir.com’s “advanced search”, which compares hosting providers on both price and features. This is an excellent facility for comparing features when choosing a host – but to make the best use of it, you will need first to prepare a list of features you require.

Here’s a checklist of things to consider:

  • Shared or Dedicated Server?
    Depending on your requirements, you may be better off with a dedicated server than a shared server. Dedicated servers are typically used in cases where there is a high level of traffic, there is a strong need for security, or the user wishes to run their own customised software and applications rather than the standard ones supplied by the host.

    For more information on available dedicated server providers, check out Webhostdir’s “dedicated server” search page.

  • Compatibility with Existing Software and Skills
    Is your host’s server, software and support services compatible will the skills and software that you (or your design team) are using? If, for instance, you are used to working in a Unix environment, then it probably makes little sense to choose an NT host.
  • Flexibility and Room for Growth
    You do not need a database solution now, perhaps, but you may need one in the future. Similarly, a shared hosting arrangement may be fine for you now, but what if your traffic levels explode, and you need one in a years’ time? It is much easier to remain with one host than to change. So, when choosing a host, keep in mind your possible future needs, and whether the host will be able to accommodate them.

3. Support and Service

Once you have checked out the reliability of the servers and hardware, and located a host that provides the features you want, the final task is to evaluate the quality of their support services.

Most hosts now promise 24/7 support as a standard feature — but, do they really live up to that promise? It will be a good idea to find out before committing to them! Here’s a checklist of things to consider before making that all-important decision

  • Quality of existing customers
    What is the quality and calibre of the sites currently served by this host? If they generally host high-calibre commercial clients, then, if you are running a commercial web-site, they may be a better bet for you than if they mainly host, for instance, or small businesses with 2 or 3 page static web-sites. (There may, of course, be cost trade-off here.)
  • Opinions of existing customers
    A host may boast of its popularity, the fact that it hosts lots of web-sites. However, the most “popular” are not necessarily the best — they may just be the ones with the largest advertising budget!

    Indeed “popularity” can be a double-edged sword — support resources may more thinly spread, and bandwidth may be squeezed as a result of the numbers hosted.

    So don’t go on numbers alone. Get in touch with some of the hosts existing (or past) customers, and ask them what they really think of the service and reliability of their host.

  • Stability
    The last thing you want is for your host to go out of business. So try to get some idea of how stable they are. Number of years in business is sometimes (not always, of course) a good indicator.
  • Support and Responsiveness
    Try asking the support staff a few technical questions of the type you anticipate you will be asking when you host with them. Then monitor how quickly and efficiently they respond.

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