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6. What levels of redundancy does web host provide? Failures that cause your site to lose connection can happen. Therefore, it's crucial to find a provider whose hosting architecture provides least-risk of failure. Redundancy is necessary. Single points of failure are very bad, but many hosts attempt to cut costs by risking single points of failure. Ask your web host about their redundancy in server architecture (web, email, and DNS servers), load-balancing, and file storage. A web server is hardware and software combination that serves requested web pages, files, or other information. Servers answer requests from web browsers to provide information from web sites, email, and databases. They then send that information to requesting browser. Load balancing divides amount of work that a server has to do between multiple servers, which also adds redundancy, so that more work gets done in same amount of time and, in general, all web sites requests within network get served faster. The load balancers stay in constant contact with servers to determine how busy they are and/or if one of them has failed. It may sound like a no-brainer, but having your site connected to Internet is whole reason for having a web site and a load-balanced, redundant network is vital to that endeavor. Has your email server ever been down? Redundancy is also vital for email and DNS servers. A Domain Name System (DNS) server translates requests to locate a web site. As you can imagine, keeping email and DNS servers online is a mission-critical task for a web host. For file storage, seek a host that uses a reliable storage solution with multiple auto-fail over and hot-swappable drives to ensure continuous delivery of your web site.
7. Does web host automatically backup customer web sites in case of data loss? How often? Backing up web sites should be a routine part of your web host’s operation. Backup is activity of copying files or databases so that they will be preserved in case of equipment failure or any other catastrophe.
8. What is web host’s billing policy? Look for a web host that provides a money-back guarantee. This will allow you to try out host’s service. Should you find that service is sub-par in site performance, reliability, or lacking features that you seek, ability to request your money back, within parameters of guarantee, is priceless and liable to save you from later trouble. It is always a good to idea to inquire about web host’s cancellation procedures. There are many out there who require you to send them an email or make a phone call to cancel, which can extend time frame to cancellation. A host who is confident in their service will have a cancellation form or online avenue within their control panel. Now, they will likely also have a retention program, so don’t be surprised when they call or email you to ask why you are leaving. After all, your feedback helps them to evaluate their service.
9. Does web host provide features that you need for your web site? Sometimes people choose a host because it has exact feature set that they need, but later find that feature set means nothing when access to those features is unreliable. Make sure that a host has your desired features and is also reliable. To make sure that host you are evaluating has everything you need, use following list: •A domain name, but be sure to look for hidden registration fees or renewal fees •An ample amount of versatile email accounts including web-based, POP3, and IMAP •Email spam filtering and virus protection are a must these days, unless you are providing this on your own •Enough disk space to meet your site’s needs •Monthly bandwidth allotments that will cover your traffic and ability to increase that allotment based on your site’s success •Site building tools such as extensions for FrontPage or other online/downloadable site building programs •Ease of upload to your site via FTP or other means •Access to a robust traffic analysis program or raw logs for you to process yourself •Programming languages, including CGI, PHP, MIVA (if needed) •Ecommerce shopping cart alternatives •Database capability, dependant upon your application preference
10. Does web host have products and services to handle your growth? You might be surprised how many sites that once started for fun or as a hobby have grown into some of most popular sites on Internet. Hence, you never know when you’ll outgrow your current product or service and need to move up ladder to next rung. Make sure that your web host can meet your anticipated growth, not only within product range of shared hosting, but should you ever need a dedicated server or co-location solution, your host is there to discuss and provide best solution.
Do your homework by using above questions as a template and you will likely save yourself some major headaches down road. If you’ve gathered information about multiple hosts, you can now compare apples to apples and decide on best host for your needs. Hopefully, work that you’ve done will avoid forcing you to use your gut, but rather make an informed decision based on facts. Perhaps, best piece advice that you will find in any article or forum about choosing a host is, if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Bob Roth is a former employee of broadcast.com and Yahoo!. He is currently the Director of Marketing for industry icon SimpleNet.com Web Hosting. He can be contacted at email@example.com. Distribution of this article allowed by linking back to http://www.simplenet.com/jump/articles .