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Keep your web host from costing you money

By Michael Lynn
Posted Friday, June 18, 2004

Now that you’ve probably just spent hundreds of hours and
possibly even thousands of dollars to build your web presence,
one of the most important decisions you’ll make next is where to
host your website.

Choosing a Platform
It may be true that Unix tends to be more reliable than NT, but
it is even more true that any server when overloaded with
sometimes 250+ web sites, like most web hosting companies do,
will not be as stable as you need it to be. Don’t expect your
site to incur 100% availability if you are on a shared virtual
server. There are too many things that can go wrong when 250
different sites are competing for the same resources. If your
web host doesn’t publish how many sites they put on a single
server, find out from them, they shouldn't have anything to
hide. By the way, 255 sites is the maximum that Windows NT will
allow per server, and most web hosts take full advantage of that
for their lower end solutions.

Web sites running on NT/Windows 2000:
*Rapid application development with scripting languages
such as ASP or Cold Fusion.
*Typically is easier to administer in a shared hosting
environment.
*If need ODBC to support database driven a site.
*FrontPage tends to work better on NT

Web sites running UNIX/LINUX:
*Scripting languages such as PERL, PHP or any CGI
applications.
*If you only need email or a static site, use
Unix/Linux, it's cheaper.
*Tends to be more reliable then NT in a shared hosting
environment.

Web site running on a dedicated server:
*If Uptime, user experience, branding, and site
performance are a main concern.
*If you new to hosting, check out the Cobalt RAQ.

Narrowing the Selection:
Price – Its true here like most things, you get what you pay
for. Don’t expect enterprise class uptime for 20 bucks
a month, even if they guarantee it.
Options – Don’t skimp on your options, if you need extra email
address, get them. Some options are a "must have"
depending on your websites functionality. Site
traffic reporting tools are extremely useful also.

Support – Most of the top web-hosting providers have 24/7
support. Make certain that your host has a toll free
number for support. Waiting for someone to email you
back when your site is down and you’re losing business
is no fun.

Expect to Pay:
$10-15 Basic email, static site, and 25-50 Megs of space.
$25-30 Added features like scripting support, Windows NT, basic
databases, site reporting, and SSL.
$50-150 Will add advanced database support, e-Commerce, and
shopping carts.
$199-375 Dedicated Cobalt Raq server.
$250-Up Dedicated Windows NT, and Unix servers.

Monitor Your Site:
Your newly created web presence needs to be up and running 24/7
in order to be effective. Most top-notch web hosts offer money
back guarantees if your site is up for less than 99% of the time.

That is considerable when:
An avg. uptime of 99.9% is 10 minutes of downtime per week.
An avg. uptime of 99% is 1 ½ hours of downtime per week.
An avg. uptime of 98% is 3 ¼ hours of downtime per week.
An avg. uptime of 95% is 8 ½ hours of downtime per week.

This is downtime where your business has effectively closed its
doors to potential customers. It is recommended you take advantage
of web-based site monitoring services. This will allow for
accountability between you and your provider. The fact is, you
can’t be there checking to make sure your site's up at 3am
everyday, but a good web site monitoring service will email or even
page you when your sites down at anytime with diagnostic data to
help pinpoint the problem. In the end, these services can
potentially save you money or even justify you switching providers
completely.

References:
(http://www.hostcompare.com) - compare web hosts
(http://www.cobalt.com) - rack optimized servers
(http://www.serverpatrol.com) - advanced website monitoring

About the Author
Michael Lynn is the webmaster at Serverpatrol.com