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  #1  
Old 03-12-2010, 05:57 PM
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Kream Kream is offline
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Web Hosting 101

So you need Hosting. Where to look? Who's the best? The cheapest? The most secure? Has better up-time, better control-panel, better support...? *phew* Tons of important Q's with very few impartial A's. Often times we'll just type "Hosting Reviews" in a given search engine then spend hours rifling through the paid ads, the hard-sells and the poorly written 'they stole my money' rants. While not very productive, at least you can hit the sack feeling like you've accomplished something. Even if you didn't settle on a Host.

But, you *need* to settle on a host and you *need* one that won't break the bank and has a reliable support system in place that meets your needs. This is key because if you're doing this on your own, you're going to need some help along the way - hopefully it won't be too often, but when it's needed, oh boy is it needed!


Step 1: Define Your Hosting Needs

Right out of the gate, before you start looking, you need to define your website's hosting needs. This will directly affect your bottom dollar and your website's functionality (not to mention your sanity). You don't want to pay for something you won't ever use and you want to make sure you have available what you'll need.

Hosting can be expensive but it can also be super-cheap. The difference between the two are huge, with varying services, bandwidth allowances, storage capacity etc. What is key here is that you understand how Hosting charges and what services you need to have in your 'hosting package' to have your website be able to do what you want it to do.

Storage is all about how much space you have to store all your website data. Storage is disk-space so the more storage you need the more you'll need to pay. Yes there are plenty of cheap, unlimited deals out there but you want a website not a 'sorta-website-until-you've-broke-the-fine-print-in-their-TOS-and-now-have-a-no-website-website'. Read the Terms Of Service carefully!

Bandwidth is typically measured in megabytes per month. This is the amount of data that is consumed by your visitors on a monthly basis. Keep an eye on this number while you shop around - it will fluctuate a lot. If your needs are small then you don't have to worry about it, however, if you plan on making that next big blog-experience and get payed by unique visitors, bandwidth is important to note. The plan you select needs to be able to cover the monthly allowance lest your visitors get served up a dose of 404 or your credit-card gets up-charge per/MB over your allowance. Read the Terms Of Service (;

You will need a Domain Name, of course. I've never bought a domain outside of a reputable domain name registrar. Try and avoid the cheap-domain-name-deals. Some registrars force you to take on hosting plans and others won't let you change the DNS to move to another hosting provider, thus forcing you to buy into their Hosting services - which isn't so bad, I guess, if you like what they have to offer. Still, beware and read the Terms of Service.

Up-time is something that has become somewhat of a frivolous sell these days. I mean, who's going to say they have a 45% uptime? Or 83%? Everyplace you go will say 99% or even 99.999% so you can pretty much ignore it. Even the scammers and cramers will say 99% making the whole up-time guarantee a pointless pitch. Even though it's important to host your site with a reliably stable provider, you really won't know how reliable they are until you either use them or find someone who does. And keep in mind that sites will still go down - for server maintanance, buggy issues, snagged traffic and depending on what Hosting solution you decide on, a slew of other reasons.
Types of Web Hosting
Shared Hosting:
If you just need a basic hosting plan with selectable frills and a control-panel that lets you upload your files for just a few bucks a month then Shared Hosting is what you're looking for. Shared Hosting has as many options as one could imagine so there’s lots of room to breath here. You wont have to worry about administering the server, updates are done by the hosting company and if you don't need 'X', you don't pay for 'X'.

There are basically two types of Shared Hosting - Windows Hosting and Linux. Windows Hosting uses a Windows operating system (like Windows Server 2008 as an example) to host all the websites on the server. Additional services and support for ColdFusion, ASP.NET and the like are all available under Windows hosting so if you're into building web-applications or your site requires a specific language or backend then Windows Hosting is what you need. Linux Hosting is probably the most popular form of hosting, if you have a forum or blog or maybe a php based Mom & Pop store then you don't really need to shell out more money for Windows Hosting. While you won't be able to run Windows based applications, the open-source community for Linux is massive thus making a Linux solution the one to beat when it comes to cost effective hosting.

The upside to a Shared Hosting solution is that maintanance, updates, security and server administration is all taken care of by the hosting provider - freeing you up to focus on the website. The downside to Shared Hosting is, of course, that it's shared. This opens up all kinds of realiabilty and security issues so choose your Hosting company carefully. There's nothing worse than a Hosting company who doesn't apply the latest updates or crams way too many sites on a server and slows the whole server down for everybody. In some cases even a badly coded website can ruin the experience for all the other websites on the server or worse, expose security flaws. A few ways you can tell, if your page regularly takes more than 10 seconds to load (baring any DB queries or media) and its really nothing more than a static page -If your email is getting bounces back (IP blocked because of spammers on your server) -How often and for how long your website, web-control or email is unavailable. If you've hit the wall with any of those, it's time to get out!

Dedicated Server & VPS Solutions:

But maybe shared hosting just isn't cutting it for you. Reports of slow load times because your databases take ages to propagate into your page and there's an overall malaise to navigating your huge website, with thousands of registered users and massive amounts of real-time number crunching. Well then, it's probably time to move to a VPS, or, if you have the cash - A Dedicated server.

On a VPS you'll be able to manage you're own partition with your own operating system which you can reboot independently but the server as a whole will still have a few other websites on it and, hence, you wont have 100% access over that servers hardware resources (RAM, CPU) 100% of the time. Think of it as you're own drive on your home computer. While you might have two or three separate drives on your home computer, all the drives are sharing the one system. But this doesn't mean a VPS is 'just a little better' than a Shared hosting solution or worse than a Dedicated server - not where money and speed are concerned, anyways. While a Shared solution might have a few hundred sites sharing one server's resources, a VPS solution might have handful all running independently of each other and freeing up resources more dramatically and more often, making the end-users experience on your huge website much smoother.

A Dedicated Server is exactly that. You have a singularly dedicated server just for you. You have you're own computer with full control over its resources to use as you see fit. You have to manage and administer all your own updates, install your own operating system and programs. While the Hosting provider might offer administration as an add-on services, the choice is yours to go at it alone or with your own team. Of course this option is more for power-users than anyone else and is the most expensive option.


Step 2: Finding a Good Web Host

Once you've defined your hosting needs and how much you can afford, its time to shop around.

First, ask anyone you know who has a website, about their host. Get first-hand reviews. You might be suprised how many of them tell you to avoid the one they use. Of course that won't always be the case but if you know a lot of people with websites, it does happen. On the other hand, those who don't tell you to avoid the companies they use, will be the exact opposite - glowing and overly happy about who they are hosted with, most of whom probably wouldn't know the difference anyways.

When you're ready, do a search for the hosting companies and append 'reviews' or, 'is great' or 'sucks' to their name in the search box - so type: 'BlahHosting reviews' (where BlahHosting is the company name you want to read reviews about). This isn't a hard and fast rule to see who's good and who's not but it will certainly bring to light any scammers or those with consistently bad reputations and practices. Cross them off when you've read enough horror-stories.

After you've settled on a few, it doesn't have to be a solid 'settle' just grab the ones that catch your attention based on your own criteria then visit their sites, one by one and click the support button on their website - be it an email or Live Chat ( I prefer Live Chat because it's a lot faster to diagnose ) In your email, ask questions, it doesn't mater what you ask as long as they require answers. In Live Chat, do the same thing but generally speaking, you may as well hang-up once they answer because thats the whole point - whether someone is there or not. Make sure you do this during business hours, preferably early in the day so you know they have a few hours to get your email, or that someone is in the office to accept your Live Chat request. If the Live Chat goes unanswered, put that company down the list. If your email goes the rest of the day unanswerd, put it next to the Live Chat Ignorers. Try it as often as you like for as long as you like. The longer you go ignored or your emails unanswered, the worse they are.

Check for the money-back guarantee and read the fine-print. Most Hosting companies will have all the good and bad details in the fine print; hidden addendums, fees and limitations. Make sure you understand what kind of service you're buying into when you're ready.

Still confused? That's exactly what this forum is for. Ask us for help!

Last edited by Kream; 05-15-2010 at 08:08 AM.
 
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  #2  
Old 03-13-2010, 02:26 PM
sequencehosting sequencehosting is offline
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That is one of the largest articles I have seen on web hosting. I think you have done a fantastic job with this article.

What I will say is that most web hosting reviews are fake these days. The best place I know of for finding real reviews in webhostingtalk.com as each review is verified. It's certainly best to avoid the "top hosting reviews" sites as all of them are full of affiliate links and will only list the highest paying hosts. This usually means hosts such as Godaddy take the top spot.

Jack
 
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Old 03-13-2010, 06:04 PM
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drmike drmike is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sequencehosting View Post
What I will say is that most web hosting reviews are fake these days.
I agree with that. Most review sites I see are just cj.com affiliates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sequencehosting View Post
The best place I know of for finding real reviews in webhostingtalk.com as each review is verified.
I disagree with that as they've been caught removing poor reviews of their advertisers in the past. Granted it's been a few years since I've been to that site (I consider them to be worse than DP) but it was commonly known that they were doing so and then banning those folks who asked where their review went. I was one of those folks. (I can't even remember the host. Had like a 23% uptime.)
 
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Old 03-14-2010, 02:29 AM
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nightcrawler nightcrawler is offline
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I would like to add few more things what I have realised. If you search for "hostgator sucks" hostgator review" it will show you 100,000,0 of pages. If amongst so many pages you find only 10 to 20 bad reviews it does not make any difference because every hosting do have down times. If you calculate the ratio, it will be 0.0001 percent of hosting company to be bad. Even the best webhost can have bad reviews and most of the newbies select hosting after reading reviews. As mentioned above never to go with reviews.
 
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Old 03-15-2010, 04:07 PM
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ldcdc ldcdc is offline
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Quote:
I disagree with that as they've been caught removing poor reviews of their advertisers in the past.
Having been a moderator there for probably 5 years now, I don't recall of a time when there wasn't a valid reason to remove a thread or post. In fact, getting a post removed on request (assuming a host asks to) is just about the hardest thing to do there. There's no "list of advertisers" for moderators to be careful with.

Having also been a regular member prior to that, I know how it can seem that moderating decisions are strange or unfair. Not everything that moderators see and know is available to the public. This goes true on all forums. It doesn't mean that there's any conspiracy.

Quote:
and then banning those folks who asked where their review went
If a member gets publicly disruptive, it can come to that, but they'll likely get a number of warnings first.

Imperfect as forums can be (nothing is perfect), they're still the better choice when looking for customer reviews. Web hosting reviews sites are too often unmanned. In my personal experience with such a reviews site, about 75% of submitted reviews are fake - web host attempts to promote themselves.
 
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  #6  
Old 03-15-2010, 04:37 PM
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drmike drmike is offline
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This was more than five years ago but thanks for the response. Back then it was common knowledge that threads got removed on the whim of the advertisers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ldcdc View Post
If a member gets publicly disruptive, it can come to that, but they'll likely get a number of warnings first.
That wasn't the policy back then and I received no warnings. Polite follow up requests emailed to the site owner and then the company who bought them out a few years later went unanswered.

I'm glad you feel the way you do but from experience, I disagree with you. I will never recommend that site and I strongly suggest to others and mu own clients that they stay away from it.

Still trying to remember the host actually. Some hong kong outfit. They finally got banned themselves. Can't remember why. (edit: Come to think about it, it was multiple accounts I believe.)

If you would like to follow up on the complaint(s) and requests that I made, all you have to do is do so. I believe the account was the same username. I will expect an explanation though as to why it took so long for someone from your organization to respond.

We're off topic though.
 
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  #7  
Old 03-15-2010, 05:21 PM
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Yeah, since this is meant to be a tutorial/educational type sticky thread for our web hosting forum, I am going to request that all further comments in this thread stick specifically to the topic. Thanks everyone.
 
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  #8  
Old 04-05-2010, 12:33 PM
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RPicard RPicard is offline
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This is a great article. Thanks. Could someone point me towards some more information about dedicated server maintenance?
 
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  #9  
Old 05-15-2010, 08:12 AM
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Kream Kream is offline
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Glad to hear you found it helpful Jones. If you have any specific questions, do not hesitate to ask in the Hosting Forum.
 
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Old 06-14-2010, 04:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightcrawler View Post
I would like to add few more things what I have realised. If you search for "hostgator sucks" hostgator review" it will show you 100,000,0 of pages. If amongst so many pages you find only 10 to 20 bad reviews it does not make any difference because every hosting do have down times. If you calculate the ratio, it will be 0.0001 percent of hosting company to be bad. Even the best webhost can have bad reviews and most of the newbies select hosting after reading reviews. As mentioned above never to go with reviews.
The reason why you can can find some many results for "hostgator sucks" is simple - people are searching these phrases before they buy the hosting package and internet marketers know that so they optimize their websites for these keywords. When you check out their websites, you will most often find out that hostgator doesn't suck

It is also important to compare the ratio of the good and bad reviews and take into account where are the reviews from. E. g. reviews in this forum may be more trusted than review at some unknown blogspot weblog.
 
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