Searching Out the Host with the Most

November 12, 2009 · Filed Under Blog By Numbers 

A look inside web hostingPicking a web-host is a very important part of any online venture.  While it is not a make or break piece of the puzzle and switching hosts is really not that difficult to do, as a new blogger there are few things more daunting than trying to migrate your sexy existing blog to a new host after becoming frustrated with your current one.

So what is the moral of the story.  Spend some time researching various web hosts, look at the features, and do not necessarily go with the cheapest.

Here is a quick tip to find out the dirty little secrets about various web-hosts.  Make good use of Google and Yahoo.  In the search bar type “Whatever web host you choose and “problems or troubles“.  You will usually find links to several forums in the first few pages of your search discussing what issues your web-host may have a history of.  Keep in mind any company of any size is going to have some upset customers, but if you find fifteen pages of ticked off webmasters it is probably a good sign to consider moving on to someone else.

So at this point you may be scratching your head and asking, “What the heck is  a web-host and why do I need one?”  So lets discuss this a little bit.

Web hosts are companies  that provide customers space on the web host’s servers and Internet connectivity to “serve” the customer’s websites to the World Wide Web.  Technically one does not need a web host to “serve” their website, but the cost and technical expertise required to do this adequately make it cost prohibitive for the majority of website owners. 

There are several types of web hosting options available and we will discuss  most of the major ones in order of increasing expense.

  • Free Hosting:  As this describes free web hosting is usually provided by a company that offers free web hosting.  The “free” usually comes at the price of embedded advertising on your site, and often severe limitations in one’s options.  Examples of free web hosts are the blogging platforms of Blogger, and Typepad.
  • Shared Hosting: This is the most common form of hosting for small to medium websites from companies you have heard of like Go Daddy and Dreamhost .  With shared hosting your website is hosted on a server that you “share” with many other customers.  The benefit of going with shared is that it is very inexpensive.  The major drawback (there are others) is that eventually your website may grow beyond your agreed upon resource allocation and you may be forced to consider other options.
  • Virtual Dedicated Server or Virtual Private Server (VPS):  This is our favorite and how we host blogiology, themescapes, and our other websites.  VPS is somewhat like shared hosting in that you are sharing a server, but that server is set up in such a way to prevent the resource competition associated with the latter.  It is more expensive, but much more stable and usually includes much more resources than it’s “shared” counterpart. 
  • Dedicated Hosting:  Dedicated hosting is the big-time baby!  You simply rent the server, utilities, and Internet access.  The catch is that you are responsible for all the management of the server, such as resource management, troubleshooting, and security! 
  • Managed Hosting:  Managed hosting is just like dedicated hosting with one big difference!  Your web host “manages” your server.  Think of it as dedicated hosting for us dumb people.  This management comes at a price making it a little more expensive than dedicated hosting.
  • Home Server:  Technically this is not the most expensive as in reality you could do it at home with an old computer and a broadband connection.  The “cost” is associated with all the trouble trying to keep it up, safe, and secure.  It also can affect who can see your site, as some ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) have measures built in to block home based servers for security reasons.

That is all useful information, but if you were like me when I first started you are asking so which one should I choose.  To help let us make a few recommendations.

If all you need is a drink of water, do you care if it is poured from another glass, a pitcher, or a water spigot attached to a tank the size of a small car?  No, it is a silly question and you would not even think about it.  

For some reasons when webmasters go looking for a web host they get sucked into the whole “disk space” and “bandwidth” battle.  To be honest, these are pretty well worthless numbers.  Trust me, you are just drinking a cup of water from these guy’s spigot when it comes to these resources.

When choosing a host look at who is giving the most of the important stuff!  That important stuff is CPU usage, RAM usage, allowed MySQL databases, and domain names, should you choose to start another website after your first one becomes a huge success and the next greatest thing since opposable thumbs.

I hope this helps you understand a little better what your web host does and what your choices are!  Enough of this boring stuff, let’s build a website already!  In the next article we will turn our sexy domain name into a shiny new website!

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