Website Tips

Saturday, 29 November 2008 17:35

How to choose a Hosting Company

How to choose a Hosting Company

One of the most important moves you will make is choosing your hosting company.
Hosting a website is somewhat complicated in that most people do not know what is the important points to look for.
Hosting falls into a few different OS types. Most common are Windows and Linux servers.
If you are a hands on Guy/Gal then I suggest you pick the OS your most comfortable with.
The most common software for Windows hosting is written in ASP or Dot Net and although ASP can run on a Linux server it will not work as well. For Linux we would find PHP and Perl. Both also can run on Windows servers but most PHP and Perl scripts are written for Linux. Therefore some of these scripts may not work as well under windows and some may not work at all.
These are two different worlds so choose carefully as switching can be a big headache should you become unhappy with the one you picked.
Personally I suggest you should first find a software that does what you want if you are planning to do more than just a plain HTML website.
Basic web pages requires nothing special and will work on either platform with no problems.
But if you want to sell items or do more than just have a basic HTML webpage then first find out what software fits your needs.

Choosing the right software is in my opinion really the correct first step.
Then match a server to the software you pick. Don't assume things - Email the company to see what they suggest.
A basic rule is if you choose a PHP or Perl application then choose Linux as the OS or if ASP or Dot Net then go with Windows.

Next comes the type of hosting plan. Choose one that fits your needs.
Check if the plan allows a dedicated IP if you expect to do sales on your site and will have those sales through your website.
If you are going to use Paypal or a third party merchant then you don't need a dedicated IP.
Most hosting companies will give at least 100 Meg of space available on even their minimum plans, which will be enough for most websites.
If you need more then choose a better plan.

Stay away from those that offer unlimited space and transfer or those that offer very high numbers for either of these.
For instance if a server has a 500 Gig hard drive how can a Host give plans that allow 100 Gig for $5.95 a month???
What they are doing is figuring an average that clients really use.
Most clients will use on average 200 Meg of space.So they put 200 clients or more on a server which they hope that only a small percentage will go higher than the 200 Meg.
In reality this does not work and what happens is over time people will expand the usage and the drive becomes full.
This causes a Linux server to crash and problems for its clients if it's not addressed right away.
So the hosting company has to move clients off the server or add another drive.
Down time is what takes place along with a slower server.
The more files on a server the slower it becomes.

What most people do not understand is Limits are designed to benefit the hosting client.
What companies do is try to sell you on the idea that unlimited is better.
Unlimited or limits like 100 Gig for a low price is not better as you will pay a price in performance and your website will be down more often per year.

How often should a server go down?Servers can run with very minor down time unless a hardware breakdown takes place.
Most hardware problems would be resolved in one day at most while many only take a few hours to take care of.
Software updates only require rebooting the server which only takes minutes and are not done often.
So a server should be up 24 hours every day of the year with at most a one day down time.
You will not find this type of service with a company that offers Unlimited resources.

Another factor is VPS hosting which might be good or bad depending on the circumstances.
For instance if you pick a company and it is giving you a hosting plan on a VPS server then you are in trouble.
If you are looking for standard hosting be sure the hosting company is not putting you on a VPS server.
VPS is really not intended to be used for virtual hosting but many small companies do use it.
On the other hand if you are picking a VPS plan for your website it maybe a good choice if you are able to deal with maintaining it.

VPS plans are virtual servers where a single server is split into many virtual servers.
So if you are a very technical person and can maintain a Linux server then VPS maybe for you if you need a great deal of space and resources.

Ask your hosting company if he is limiting resources such as CPU and transfer.Because they say unlimited it really does not mean unlimited.
Settings on the server can limit the number of hits a site receives and the amount of CPU cycles it requests.
For Linux they will install something called modbandwidth to limit transfer.
Email can be limited by the maximum each domain can send out per hour.
The Control Panel software may say you have unlimited but the Server settings which supercede the Control Panel will limit your service.
How does this work? Well if your website has a lot of traffic then limits on CPU or Transfer will block visitors or slow down the website.
So a visitor will have to wait a number of seconds or get a page error when he hits your website.
A good hosting company will have no governors of any type with only the limits of the server as being the limit to your usage.
This allows no interruption or slow down of service during peak usage!Many website will get a large number of visitors at a certain time.
Lets say your website will get 1,000 visitors between 5PM and 6PM.With server limits turned on a good number of these visitors will get turned away as they will experience very slow page loading or page errors.
Most people will move on and your customer will be lost should you choose a host that has such limits.In my experience I find those that offer Unlimited will have limits turned on such as I outlined.

Also ask your Web Host how many clients does he have at max on a server.
Over loading a server with too many websites will slow it down quite a bit.
I have found a good limit is around 250 websites. This number can vary somewhat depending on type of websites.
I have seen one company place as many as 800 on a server which is really bad.
This is very common with Free Hosting services but for free you really can't complain.
You do not want to be on a server that has more than 300 sites on it!

If you want the best web hosting then look for companies that offer realistic limits per Plan.
Do not settle for a company that has server limits, which is not the same as Control panel account limits, on CPU or Transfer.

If you are serious about your website then what you want is a hosting company that will host your site so that it is up 24/7 all year long and will allow visitors to go there at any time of the day without it slowing down to a crawl or giving errors due to server restrictions.Vincent Gabriele

Do not choose a hosting company by these websites that claim to have the top hosting companies listed or those that claim to have rated the top 10 hosts or those that have compare the top 10 hosts. These are nothing more than sites that have affiliate deals with the companies listed in their website. Those that are listed pay out as much as $100 or more for signups. Think about that for a second or two. The site told you these are the best because they are making a quick buck by telling this tall tail. And the company is willing to pay out $100 to get you to spend $6.95 a month.
My suggestion is that the best way to choose a company is by how tech support answers your questions. Contact their support and act as if you have a website with them to see how fast they respond and what their attitude is. You don't want to sign up with a company that has tech support that treats you like your problem is not important.

Also find out what the policy is on number of sites per server, bandwidth limits (both listed and server controlled) and are there any software restrictions.
Why would you signup for a phone service that limits the number of calls you get per hour or limits the number of words that you speak per minute?

Is Hosting any different that you would accept this?

Published in WebSite Tips