How to choose a good host.

Avoid my hosting mistakes

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Choosing a good host is a rather difficult endeavor since you can get excellent or lousy service for the same price. It's much better to get it right the first time, than to move from one host to another spending time and money. Learn from my hosting mistakes, and pick the right host for yourself...

In 2002, when it came to finding a host for this site, I looked through dozens of Web hosting providers and chose the best value for money I could find. That host offered 50MB of disk space, unlimited bandwidth and 99.99%(!) uptime guarantee for $1.5/month and, in addition, dedicated IP address for $0.5/month.

I wondered why others spent hundreds of dollars a year on Web hosting, whereas I got everything I needed for mere $24. Unfortunately, I found the answer very soon - the hosting gradually became a nightmare.

Almost every day, during peak hours, the site got inaccessible or very slow at best. One day, when my site had already been indexed by Google and received noticeable traffic from it, the entire server became inaccessible. I couldn't see my site, I couldn't log into my account.

After three days of downtime they sent me an email which said they had moved my account to another server and I had to re-upload my site. This downtime was long enough for Google to drop almost all pages out of its index.

When the similar incident happened again, I started considering switching the host. I realized that, since hard disk space was cheap, they simply made money by placing thousands of sites on one physical server. So I started looking for a host offering several hundred MB of storage space and not less than 5-10 GB of bandwidth, to ensure that they don't host too many sites on one physical computer and their network isn't overloaded.

After the third prolonged downtime, I gave up and switched to another host offering 1GB of disk space, 5GB of bandwidth and 99.99% uptime guarantee for $40/year. Additionally, they did weekly backups of customer's data - in case of a hard drive failure (this happens frequently on many hosting services) they could quickly restore my site from the backup copy.

At the beginning, it was OK, all pages downloaded quickly, except that approximately two times per month, I received alerts from Hyperspin (a free server monitoring service) that my site was down for 0.5 - 8 hours. The total downtime during 10 months of hosting was 52 hours (99.3% uptime).

But after 6 months I noticed that my site became slower and sometimes inaccessible. In other words, the server became overloaded. Though it was less painful than with the first host and no re-uploading was required, I couldn't bear low uptime and started looking for a new host.

I analyzed my hosting mistakes and compiled the following list of requirements...

  • Inexpensive (under $10 per month).
  • Several hundred MB of disk space and not less than 10 GB of bandwidth.
    It allows you to expect that they won't host too many sites on one physical server and their network won't be overloaded.
  • Money back guarantee.
    Those that offer money back guarantee are more confident about high quality of their hosting.
  • Daily data backups.
    In case of a hard drive failure they can quickly restore your data from the backup copy. The grand majority of inexpensive Web hosting providers don't offer this feature.
  • 99.9% - 99.95% real uptime.
    These figures are more realistic than 99.99%, and can be obtained with the aid of UPS power, diesel backup generator, high-grade server equipment and redundant network connections to multiple backbone providers.
  • Reputable and well established company.
    The company that has been in business quite a while and serves tens of thousands of clients is more concerned about customer satisfaction and more responsible for customer support than a little-known company which most likely is a reseller of a large hosting provider.
Results of the top Web hosting survey
Dr Andy Williams (one of the best known SEO experts) has recently surveyed the readers of his popular EzSEO Newsletter. He asked them to enter scores for the hosts that they had actually used in the last 2 years on the scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (perfect).
Top 4 Web hosts:
#1 - HostMonster (Score 8.9)
#2 - Lunarpages (Score 8.1)
#3 - HostGator (Score 8.0)
#4 - BlueHost (Score 8.0)

Articles:

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