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
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
the speed and reliability of the servers and hardware,
the features the host offers and whether these mesh with your own requirements,
and, of course,
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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