It may seem simple yet it is often times overlooked.
When it comes to choosing the right Internet hosting provider for their
websites, the majority of business owners or companies know very little
about making the best Internet/web hosting decisions.
What makes a good Internet/web hoster for a business website?
What makes a bad one?
How can the wrong Internet/web hoster help/harm your business?
What are the different types of Internet/web hosting services?
Which ones are best for which industries?
Here are some tips to help you make the right decisions:
1. Understand the
distinctions between shared, co-located, unmanaged dedicated and managed
dedicated hosting so you choose the one that is right for your business.
It is crucial to understand the difference between the types of hosting
offered. As the hosting industry has matured, hosting offers have split
into a couple of distinct categories, each with its own strengths and
Shared hosting (sometimes called virtual hosting), means that you are
sharing one server with a number of other clients of that company. The
host manages the server almost completely (though you maintain your
site and your account). They can afford to charge you little since many
clients are paying for use of the server. However, companies other than
yours are using the resources of that server. That means heavy traffic
to one of the other sites on the server can really hammer the performance
of your site. Also, you are typically not able to install special software
programs on these types of machines, because the host will need to keep
a stable environment for all of the clients using the server.
Co-located hosting means that you purchase a server from a hardware
vendor, like Dell or HP for example, and you supply this server to the
host. The host will then plug your server into its network and its redundant
power systems. The host is responsible for making sure its network is
available, and you are responsible for all support and maintenance of
your server. Good hosters will offer management contracts to their co-location
clients so that you can outsource much of the support to them and come
to an arrangement similar to managed dedicated hosting. Most co-location
hosts do not offer this service, however.
Unmanaged dedicated hosting is very similar to co-location, except that
you lease a server from a host and do not actually own it yourself.
Some very limited support (typically Web-based only) is included, but
the level of support varies widely from unmanaged dedicated host to
unmanaged dedicated host. This type of server can be had for around
[US]$99/month. Support levels are typically only provided in general
terms. Ask the host to go into specifics about what support they will
provide – will they apply security patches to your server? – before
signing up. This service is typically good for gaming servers (like
Doom or Counterstrike servers) or hobbyist servers, but not for serious
businesses that need responsive, expert-level service.
Managed dedicated hosting means leasing a server from a host and having
that company provide a robust level of support and maintenance on the
server that is backed by quality guarantees. This maintenance typically
includes services such as server uptime monitoring, a hardware warranty,
security patch updates and more. Be sure to make sure your managed dedicated
host is specific about its managed services so that you can be sure
they are not disguising an unmanaged dedicated offering as a managed
dedicated server. This has been known to happen unfortunately, which
is why it is important to do your homework and ask the right questions.
2. Ask If Your Potential
Host's Network Has Blackholed IPs.
Many hosts care little about who is actually hosting on their networks,
so long as the clients pay their bill. That means many hosters will
allow porn sites, sp@mmers and servers that create security issues on
their network for the sake of the dollar. Even if you are to place ethical
issues aside, this does have a negative impact on customers in general,
as for example, when a network gets blackholed for spamming. Getting
blackholed means that other networks will refuse e-mail originated from
IPs that are blacklisted. Some hosts have a number of entire class C
(up to 256 IPs) networks blackholed and redistribute these tainted IPs
to new clients. That means if your business relies on legitimate closed
loop opt-in e-mail marketing to drive sales, being on such a network
can severely cut response to your campaign because your e-mail may never
get to its destination.
Check with any hosts you are considering to see if their networks are
blackholed. Also, here is a link to a third party source that tracks
blackholed networks and lists them:
The following URL is a good resource to help you understand what is
labeled sp@m and what isn't:
3. Don't Confuse
Size With Stability.
Just because a web hosting company is big, does not mean it is stable
and secure. In fact, many of the biggest filed for bankruptcy protection
or were saved by being sold to some other company, in some cases causing
uncomfortable transitions in service for their clients. How do you protect
yourself? Ask some key questions:
How long has the host been in business?
Is current ownership the same as always?
Are they profitable and cash flow positive
from operation-generated revenue?
4. Don't Make Price
Your Only Priority.
The old saying "you get what you pay for" applies to most things in
life, and hosting is certainly one of those things. When you over-prioritize
price, you run the risk of ending up with a host that will provide you
with a connection to the Internet and little else in terms of support
(and even that connection may be running at maximum capacity or have
5. Make Sure Your
Host Has Fully Redundant Data Centers.
When dealing with smaller vendors, make sure that they have their own
data centers and that those data centers are fully redundant in terms
of power and connectivity. Here are a few questions to ask:
How many lines do they have coming into the facility?
What is the average utilization of their connections? (No matter how
large the connection, if it is running at maximum capacity it will be
Do they have redundant power to the servers?
Do they have a generator on-site?
How often do they test their generator?
What sort of security measures do they have in place for the network?
What physical security do they have?
What type of fire suppression systems do they have in place?
6. Find Out If They
Have Actual Experienced Systems Administrators On Their Support Staff.
When you call in for technical support, it can be a frustrating experience
to be stuck talking with a non-technical "customer service" representative
when you really need to talk to a systems administrator who can resolve
your issues. Find out the structure of their support department, how
quickly you can get to an actual systems administrator when you need
to, and which systems administrators can help you when you need help.
7. Make Sure The
Host Is Flexible.
It is important that the hoster understands how important quality servers
are to their clients' businesses. Even most managed dedicated hosts
will not go near supporting applications that are not part of their
initial server setup. Find a hoster that has a vast amount of experience
to support a wide variety of applications, and one that can bring that
expertise to you through their services.
8. Find Out What
Their Former/Current Clients Say About Them.
Can your prospective host provide you with success stories for clients
with similar configurations to yours? Are they able to provide references
from clients who can tell you about their experience using that company?
9. Make Sure The
Host's Support Doesn't Include Extra Charges.
Make sure any host you consider provides you with a comprehensive list
outlining the support they offer so that you can have an understanding
of what is supported for free, what is supported at a fee, and what
is not supported at all. Many hosts will try to hide a sub-standard
level of free support behind non-specific statements of high quality
support, so make them get specific to win your business.
About The Author
Chris Kivlehan is the Marketing Manager for INetU Managed Hosting. INetU
is an award-winning Allentown, Pennsylvania-based hosting provider that
specializes in managed dedicated hosting for businesses nationwide in
the online retailing, web development, e-learning, financial services
and online marketing industries, as well as for governments, non-profits
and civic institutions.
610-266-7441 - firstname.lastname@example.org - http://www.inetu.net