Charnell Lucich

Choosing a dedicated hosting provider.

Posted on: October 8, 2007

Around 2002-2003 I wrote an article about choosing a dedicated hosting provider. Working for a hosting provider (both managed, un-managed, and co-lo), I get asked about this a lot. I figured it’d be good to post it again.

What are your main concerns when searching for a dedicated hosting provider?

MAIN CONCERNS:

  • 1. Having a large enough website to justify the cost
  • 2. Cost
  • 3. Security of Data
  • 4. High Bandwidth
  • 5. Trust
  • 6. Technical Support
  • 7. Speed and Uptime. Let’s look at these in order.1. Surely you’re not going to invest $400/mo for a website that has a few lines of text about yourself and a couple of pictures of your cat, right? That would be something that you could host at a $49 – $99 a month provider (if you’re that serious about promoting your cat ) If you have a website that you’re putting hours and hours of effort, ideas, and turning into a money-maker such as doing your own hosting, starting a personal business, etc..then you definitely want to look into spending those extra dollars and the money you make in return can most certainly justify your cost.2. This is pretty much answered in #1. As I said, you really don’t want to spend $400 a month hosting a couple of pictures of FiFi or Fido right? Most of the time, there are many “free” providers out there that are perfect for this (geocities, GoDaddy, etc). But when it’s time to get serious, you most certainly want to check all your options and in most instances, you get what you pay for.

    3. The provider is responsible for physical security of your server, which basically means that no one can walk into the data center and walk out with your server or data. However, most dedicated server providers do not have anything to do with the security of your system against Internet attacks .. it is your responsibility to make sure no one can compromise your system from the Internet. This is something that varies from provider to provider, so you will want to find out exactly how much help you will get when it comes to securing your server against an Internet attack. Most providers will not guarantee the integrity of your data unless you are paying for managed backups, and then they can only guarantee the integrity of the data on the backup system. If your data is important, there needs to be more than one copy of it.

    4. How much bandwidth do you really need? Most of todays providers have enough bandwidth to suit the common population. The biggest misconception with bandwidth is that you need TONS of bandwidth if you’re hosting Game Servers. The reality of this is that even if you’re on a 10Mbit switch port, you’re more likely to max out your hardware resources before you max out your bandwidth. About 90% of the web sites on the Internet only use 10-30GB of traffic per month, so providers offering 300, 500, 1000 GB of bandwidth are just trying to sway your decision with big numbers (marketing hype).

    5. Research. What have you read and heard about the provider you’re looking into? Now, I’m not suggesting that just because Mr. ImmaSpammer doesn’t like JoeBlow Provider..that you should turn your back on JoeBlow Provider. Obviously, you’ll have to take in all the information that you’ve researched and make a competent decision. Keep in mind that much of the negativity regarding a provider is due to the fact that the complainers did something that they shouldn’t have and became upset because of the consequences. But again, I cannot stress enough…Research. Keep in mind that if the sales department is quick to tell you the answers you want to hear to every question you ask, it is probably too good to be true. Sometimes brutal honesty is needed, even if it is not the answer you want to hear. Some providers will tell you everything you want to hear until you buy the service, then you get hit with reality after they’ve got your money.

    6. Technical Support. Are you a Novice or an Expert in managing your server? This is a question that you need to seriously think about. For the Novice, a managed provider with 24/7 support is for you. You most definitely do not want to find an unmanaged provider who does nothing but point you in the directions of the “FAQ or Documentation Pages” when you need help. Not only will it upset you, it will cost you money that should’ve never been spent in the first place as you have no business being with an unmanaged provider. Ahhh..the Expert. For those of you who are more familiar than what you really want to be…the unmanaged provider will not only be the best route, but the most inexpensive. I say the best route, because most of us who know exactly what we want on our servers, exactly what we want to do with our servers, and exactly how we want our servers to perform…we definitely don’t want Support Techs (which mostly turn out to be CSR’s working by ‘howtos’ of their own) poking around our servers trying to “make this run smoother” or “altering a config file that should’ve never been found in the first place”, right? You definitely need to be true to yourself when it comes time to answer the question at hand: “Do I need support?” If in doubt, you may want to pay a little more at first for a managed provider to see if you really need the support .. it is better to wade into the shallow waters than jumping into the deep end and drowning.

    7. Last but not least, Speed and Uptime. This is definitely a serious issue for most who are looking around for a Provider. Where is this provider located? What are “their” uplinks? Do they have an SLA (Service Level Agreement)? Speed. Do you want to pay X amount of dollars a month to a company who provides you with speed at a rate that a Dial-up connection can beat? There are a few misconceptions on this topic as well. Many people can run ping tests or traceroutes from their home computer to their dedicated server, however…they fail to actually look at where the connection is lagging or dropping off. Meaning that if you have a Dedicated Server in Texas, you run a traceroute and see that the connection is seriously dying at hop 15 which is a New York provider..you cannot blame your Provider in Texas for that because it’s outside their network. But most assume that since they cannot get the speed that they want to their server, it’s automagically the providers fault. This is definitely not always the case. Uptime. Who wants a provider that has a network that is down more than up? Many will offer a guarantee, but they have little behind it (“We’ll just offer an apology”). You also need to look at what their actual performance is. Look for providers that consistently beat their guarantee, not those who do just enough to avoid paying out refunds. Also keep in mind that a 99.999% network SLA does not mean your server will never be unavailable. The provider can only be reponsible for the routers, switches, cables, and network cards. If you do something to crash your server or take down your web service, the provider is not responsible for this.

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1 Response to "Choosing a dedicated hosting provider."

[…] bloghosting2008 wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptAround 2002-2003 I wrote an article about choosing a dedicated hosting provider. Working for a hosting provider (both managed, un-managed, and co-lo), I get asked about this a lot. I figured it’d be good to post it again. … […]

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