Categorized | Website Hosting

Web and Ecommerce 7.4. Website Hosting

Website Hosting

The Web server is one of the critical components of your Web site that you will probably spend far less time and energy on than you should. Most entrepreneurs, in my experience, are just looking for a good price. The only information that seems to cross their desk is the monthly price and storage limits. But if you don’t do your homework thoroughly, you could really end up paying big in headaches and lost opportunities. Suppose your Web site has problems, but the technical service is slow and ineffectual? Your customers go somewhere else. Suppose your hosting service has more than its share of email “spammers” and the server you’re on gets blacklisted? All the emails that bounce back to you are lost customers and lost opportunities―plus all the time you spend complaining to your hosting service and struggling to get your server off the blacklists. Suppose your site really takes off and you exceed the monthly data transfer rates? You could be paying thousands of dollars in additional fees per month.

You’re the person who contracts with your hosting service―not your Web developer. So you should understand every aspect of the services hosts offer, what they cost, what they could cost, and how they fit your needs both now and in the future. Above all, just as you would when signing up with a bank or a mobile carrier, watch the fees. Hosting services can have a surprising number of ways they can ding you, so you should have a good handle on the fee structure.

Watch out! Your dead last choice for a hosting service should be one that is repackaged and resold through your Web developer. Many hosting services offer lucrative kickbacks to Web developers to sell their hosting services; often they allow these Web developers to sell hosting under the Web developer’s brand. You should run, not walk, away from such a deal. In addition to paying an unnecessary premium each month (the kickback that goes to your Web designer), you have just introduced a layer between you and your hosting service. If you have questions, problems, or need any kind of assistance, you’ll often find yourself having to go back to your developer. Finally, ask yourself this question: if your Web developer is getting kickbacks from a hosting service, do you think your developer really has your best interests at heart? In the end, you can’t escape having to familiarize yourself with hosting services and making the decision yourself.

The central components of a hosting package are

  • Storage space: among other things, a hosting server is a hard disk serving up content to all the folks in Internet land, so raw storage space is one of a hosting service’s primary values. You may need a lot of storage space if your site has multimedia or anything else that eats big helpings of hard disk. Typically―and wrongly―people make their decision largely based on how much storage space they’re getting for their buck. Prices can vary widely―once you have determined your storage needs, you’ll find the real value of a hosting service lies in other aspects offered in the package.
  • Data transfer or bandwidth: data transfer―also called bandwidth―is the most important “network” component of a server and probably far more important to your business than storage space. Simply put, data transfer refers to the amount of data that can flow into or out of your server storage space each month. Data transfer includes all the Web pages that people view on your site, all the files they download, all the files you upload, all the email that comes into and out of your server, and so on. Exceed the amount allotted to your account and the hosting service will start billing you for each additional Mb of data that gets transferred―and if your site is really popular, you could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars each month. It works like the minutes that your cell phone company offers you every month―you pay every month for so many minutes and, if you exceed those minutes, they slap you with some beefy extra charges. Just like you measure the value of your cell phone service based on the number of minutes you get per dollar, you should consider data transfer to be the most important measure of the value offered by a hosting service.
  • Platform: the platform you choose―Windows, Unix, or Linux―will determine much of the software you can use. You should carefully inventory the software you’ll need and the software you want― most importantly, what DBMS (database management system) best fits your needs. Choose this software first, and only then go out and shop for a hosting server that offers the right platform for your software.
  • System capabilities: before you purchase any hosting service, you should do a careful audit of the technology you’ll need. If you’ll be streaming video, then you need a hosting service that has video streaming capabilities (they all do, so don’t worry). If you want PHP programming, does the system have a PHP interpreter? Or suppose you want to use Ruby on Rails to cut development costs―does the hosting server have a Ruby interpreter? Perform a technology audit of your prospective site before you shop for a hosting service.
  • Software: look closely at the software that the hosting service provides―the free software alone can be a source of great value―Web analytics software (see 7.12), content management systems (see 7.13), database management systems, blogging software (see 7.14), and so on. If blogging is a crucial component of your site, then hosting services that offer preinstalled blogging software are giving you a great value. But do your research and make sure it’s the software you want.
  • Domain names: how many domain names does the hosting service allow your server space to have? Most services allow you to have one or two domain names and charge for extra domain names. If you’re running just one Web site―and will do so well into the future―then you shouldn’t care. However, if you’re running an entire passel of Web sites, the extra fees can add up pretty quickly. Hosting services often charge for extra subdomain names (subdomains are the first part of a URL―in www.richard.com, www is the subdomain; in mister.richard.com, mister is the subdomain). Finally, hosting services often charge fees to set up a subdomain name―always watch the extra fees when shopping for a hosting service!
  • Email: a huge chunk of the dollar value you’ll extract from your hosting service comes from the email services it offers. However, email is the hosting component most people take for granted. They see, “200 POP email accounts,” and go, “Great! I only need two!” There really are more questions to answer―if you get saddled with email problems, you will lose far more than just your patience. For instance, do you really want POP email accounts? Suppose, instead, that you’re using IMAP accounts and don’t even know it? Or you’d prefer IMAP accounts? Or you have a Microsoft Exchange server on your end? Here’s another consideration: what kind of rogues are you sharing your server with? If your hosting service has more than its share of mass emailers, called “spammers,” you may find that your server is getting blacklisted by other servers. That means your emails bounce back to you.
  • Uptime: uptime is the amount of time the servers are actually up and running. Most hosting services are pretty equal in their uptime claims, but understand that there are many components to your Web site. You can only judge uptime through experience with your Web page, with uploading files through FTP, and the reliability of your email.
  • Security: what are the back-up systems? How safe is your data?
  • Support: you cannot really gauge the quality and level of technical support before you actually are up and running on a server; it helps to know people who have used the hosting service and ask for their experience. But technical (and compliance) support is one of the most crucial aspects of your relationship with a hosting company. Here’s the irony: almost no-one hires a hosting service based on the quality of its technical support, but almost everyone fires their hosting service because of poor technical help. It matters. If you have a problem with your Web site―or your server is blacklisted somewhere because of some nefarious spammer―and you can’t get help, you’re losing real money.

7.4.1. IX Web Hosting

http://www.ixwebhosting.com

IX Web Hosting provides perhaps the best value of any U.S.-based hosting service with U.S.-based server centers. More than any other service, IX Web Hosting is a low-priced service that dedicates itself to customer service and offers a 100% money-back guarantee. In business for eight years, the company hosts over 170,000 domains.

Hosting Plans:

Expert Plan

300 GB storage, 3,000 GB data transfer, 2 domains & 100 subdomains per account, 2,500 email accounts (POP3, IMAP, Web Email), no database support, no e-commerce features

$4.95/mo

Business Plus Plan

500 GB storage, 3,500 GB data transfer, 8 domains & 300 subdomains per account , 5,000 email accounts (POP3, IMAP, Web Email), 100 databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server 2000 (for Windows hosting only)), e-commerce features (shared SSL certificate [7.11], OS Commerce [7.9.2])

$7.95/mo

Unlimited Pro

Unlimited storage, 4,000 GB data transfer, 16 domains & unlimited subdomains per account, 5,000 email accounts (POP3, IMAP, Web Email),unlimited databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server 2000 (for Windows hosting only)), e-commerce features (shared SSL certificate [7.11], OS Commerce [7.9.2])

$12.95/mo.

Scripting:

PHP, Perl, CGI, server-side includes

Technical support:

1 hour support guarantee; telephone, 24/7 live chat

IX Web Hosting boasts 130 employees with more than 100 dedicated to dealing with customers.

Uptime

99.999% uptime guarantee

7.4.2. Host Excellence

http://www.hostexcellence.com

Host Excellence is actually owned by the same company as IX Web Hosting, so the packages and services it offers are pretty much identical. The company shares the same staff and executive infrastructure, so for all practical purposes, you’re dealing with the same company. Like IX Web Hosting, Host Excellence strives for excellent customer service packaged with ultra-low priced hosting.

Hosting Plans:

Professional

300 GB storage, 3,000 GB data transfer, 6 domains & 300 subdomains per account , 3,000 email accounts (POP3, IMAP, Webmail), 100 databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server 2000 (for Windows hosting only)), e-commerce features (shared SSL certificate [7.11], OS Commerce [7.9.2]), 3,000 FTP accounts

$6.97/mo

Unlimited

Unlimited storage, 4,000 GB data transfer, 16 domains & unlimited subdomains per account, 5,000 email accounts (POP3, IMAP, Web Email),unlimited databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server 2000 (for Windows hosting only)), e-commerce features (shared SSL certificate [7.11], OS Commerce [7.9.2]), unlimited FTP accounts

$12.97/mo

Scripting:

PHP, Perl, CGI, server-side includes, ASP (Windows only), ASP.Net (Windows only with an additional $3 per month), ColdFusion (Windows only)

Technical support:

1 hour support guarantee; telephone, 24/7 live chat

Uptime

99.999% uptime guarantee

7.4.3. Dot5 Hosting

http://www.dot5hosting.com

Hosting Plan:

300 GB storage, 3,000 GB data transfer, 6 domains & unlimited subdomains per account , 5,000 email accounts (POP3, Webmail), unlimited databases (MySQL), e-commerce features (shared SSL certificate [7.11], OS Commerce [7.9.2], Agora Shopping Cart [7.9.4], PayPal Shopping Cart)

$6.95/mo (quarterly or 6 month plan)

$5.95 per month (1 year plan)

$4.95 per month (2 year plan)

Scripting:

PHP 4, Perl 5, Python, CGI, server-side includes, FrontPage extensions

Additional software:

PHPNuke [7.13.5]

Technical support:

24/7 technical support requires submission of a job ticket and significant wait for resolution; phone call support provides faster resolution

Uptime

99.999% uptime guarantee

7.4.4. Host Monster

http://www.hostmonster.com

Host Monster provides the best dollar value of any hosting service we’ve examined. Located in Utah, the company specializes in ultra-low cost hosting services and has been well-ranked by users for their customer service.

Hosting Plan:

300 GB storage, 3,000 GB data transfer, unlimited domains & unlimited subdomains per account , unlimited email accounts (POP3, IMAP, Webmail), unlimited databases (MySQL), e-commerce features (generated SSL certificate [7.11], OS Commerce [7.9.2], Agora Shopping Cart [7.9.4], PayPal Shopping Cart), unlimited FTP accounts, streaming video and audio

$6.95/mo (quarterly or 6 month plan)

Scripting:

PHP 4, Perl 5, Python, Ruby/Ruby on Rails 1.1, CGI, server-side includes, FrontPage extensions

Additional software:

Mambo [7.13.1], Joomla! [7.13.2], phpNuke [7.13.5], Moodle, phpForm Generator, poll and survey software, Word Press [7.14.1], b2evolution [7.14.3], Coppermine Image Gallery

Technical support:

24/7 technical support via phone or chat

Uptime

99% uptime guarantee

7.4.5. Blue Host

http://www.bluehost.com

Blue Host is another high-value, super low-priced hosting service that offers Linux server plans. Technical help is not excellent, though, and Blue Host occasionally has problems with its servers being blacklisted. It does, however, garner good reviews from customers so it’s worth investigating.

Hosting Plan:

300 GB storage, 3,000 GB data transfer, unlimited domains & unlimited subdomains per account , 2,500 email accounts (POP3, IMAP, Webmail), 50 MySQL databases and 50 PostgreSQL databases, e-commerce features (generated SSL certificate [7.11], OS Commerce [7.9.2], Agora Shopping Cart [7.9.4], PayPal Shopping Cart), unlimited FTP accounts, streaming video and audio

$6.95/mo

Scripting:

PHP 4, Perl 5, Python, Ruby/Ruby on Rails 1.1, CGI, server-side includes, FrontPage extensions

Additional software:

Mambo [7.13.1], Joomla! [7.13.2], phpNuke [7.13.5], PostNuke [7.13.5], Moodle, TikiWiki [7.15.6], Coppermine Image Gallery, Web auction software, phpForm Generator, live chat software

Technical support:

24/7 technical support via phone or chat

Uptime

99% uptime guarantee

7.4.6. Pow Web

http://www.powweb.com

Another super-low priced, high value hosting service, Pow Web boasts over 100,000 hosted domain names. Consistently scoring high in user satisfaction, POW Web offers what the authors consider the lowest price per feature for any hosting service―their plan clocks in at $7.77 per month, and have special price offers. The service also comes with the most generous software package that includes a large variety of software for image galleries, blogs, content management, and even project management and an easy auto-installer that allows you to install this software without a lot of fuss or any additional fees. Like all other services, however, you need to determine where you might get dinged and watch the quality of technical service. The services do come, however, with a money-back guarantee.

Hosting Plan:

300 GB storage, 3,000 GB data transfer, unlimited domains & unlimited subdomains per account , unlimited email accounts (POP3, IMAP, Webmail), 75 MySQL databases, e-commerce features (generated SSL certificate [7.11], OS Commerce [7.9.2], ZenCart [7.9.5], CubeCart), unlimited FTP accounts, streaming video and audio

$7.77/mo

Scripting:

PHP 4, Perl 5, Python, Ruby/Ruby on Rails 1.1, CGI, server-side includes, FrontPage extensions

Additional software:

Mambo [7.13.1], Joomla! [7.13.2], Drupal [7.13.3], PHP Fusion [7.13.4], PHPNuke [7.13.5], php Website [7.13.5], e107, MediaWiki [7.15.2], Coppermine Image Gallery, Gallery2, WordPress [7.14.1], b2evolution [7.14.3], dotProject [2.6.2], phpOpenChat, phpFormGenerator,

Technical support:

24/7 technical support via phone or chat

Uptime

99.9% uptime guarantee

7.4.7. HostGator

http://www.hostgator.com

HostGator is a highly economical hosting services company that, in addition to shared hosting, also offers reseller hosting (which allows you to lease part of your hosting space to other people) and dedicated hosting (see 7.4.3). They offer a 30-day money back guarantee on all their services.

Hosting Plans:

Hatchling

350 GB storage, 3000 GB data transfer, one domain & 20 subdomains per account , 20 email accounts (POP3), unlimited MySQL databases, e-commerce features (shared SSL certificate [7.11], OS Commerce [7.9.2], Agora Cart [7.9.4], ZenCart [7.9.5], Cube Cart), unlimited FTP accounts, streaming video and audio

$4.95/mo (paid yearly)

Baby

600 GB storage, 6,000 GB data transfer, unlimited domains & unlimited subdomains per account , unlimited email accounts (POP3), unlimited MySQL databases, e-commerce features (shared SSL certificate [7.11], OS Commerce [7.9.2], Agora Cart [7.9.4], ZenCart [7.9.5], Cube Cart), 6 FTP accounts, streaming video and audio

$7.95/mo

Swamp

1,000 GB storage, unlimited data transfer, unlimited domains & unlimited subdomains per account , unlimited email accounts (POP3), unlimited MySQL databases, e-commerce features (shared SSL certificate [7.11], OS Commerce [7.9.2], Agora Cart [7.9.4], ZenCart [7.9.5], Cube Cart), 6 FTP accounts, streaming video and audio

$12.95/mo

Scripting:

PHP 4 and 5, Perl, Python, Ruby/Ruby on Rails 1.1, SSH, SSI, Curl, Cron, CGI, server-side includes, Chilisoft ASP (Swamp plan only), FrontPage extensions.

Additional software:

Fantastico installed in the system allows you to install additional software in just seconds.

Mambo [7.13.1], Joomla! [7.13.2], Drupal [7.13.3], PHP Fusion [7.13.4], phpNuke [7.13.5], PostNuke [7.13.5], XOOPS [7.13.5], Typo3, Moodle, WordPress [7.14.1], b2evolution [7.14.3], phpWiki, TikiWiki [7.15.6], Nucleus, dotProject [2.6.2], PHProjekt, Help Center Live, osTicket, Support Logic Helpdesk, Support Services Manager, Coppermine Image Gallery, Gallery2, 4Images Gallery, Advanced Poll, PHPAuction, phpFormGenerator

Technical support:

24/7 phone support

Uptime

99.9% uptime guarantee

7.4.8. Go Daddy

https://www.godaddy.com/gdshop/hosting

Primarily designed for individual and small business Web sites, Go Daddy is affordable and reliable―also convenient if you’re managing your domains through their registration service. Compared to the generosity of similarly-priced plans that offer much more in the way of storage space and data transfer, Go Daddy does not seem as good a deal, unless you don’t require the mega-values offered by the big discounters. However, the GoDaddy economy plan allows you to establish a pretty powerful Web presence for as little as $4.30 per month

Hosting Plans:

Economy

5 GB storage, 250 GB data transfer, unlimited domains & 25 subdomains per account , 500 email accounts (POP3, IMAP, Webmail), 10 databases (MySQL) or 1 SQL database (Windows), 6 FTP accounts

$3.99/mo (bi-monthly)

$3.79 per month (1 year plan)

$3.59 per month (2 year plan)

$3.39 per month (3 year plan)

Deluxe

100 GB storage, 1,000 GB data transfer, unlimited domains & unlimited subdomains per account , 1,000 email accounts (POP3, IMAP, Webmail), 25 databases (MySQL) or 2 SQL databases (Windows), 6 FTP accounts

$6.99/mo (bi-monthly)

$6.64 per month (1 year plan)

$6.29 per month (2 year plan)

$5.94 per month (3 year plan)

Premium

200 GB storage, 2,000 GB data transfer, unlimited domains & unlimited subdomains per account , 2,000 email accounts (POP3, IMAP, Webmail), 50 databases (MySQL) or 3 SQL databases (Windows), 6 FTP accounts, ecommerce features (SSL certificate [7.11])

$14.99/mo (bi-monthly)

$14.24 per month (1 year plan)

$13.49 per month (2 year plan)

$12.74 per month (3 year plan)

Scripting:

ASP (Windows only), ASP.NET (Windows only), ASP.NET Ajax, PHP 4 or 5 (Linux only), Perl (Linux only), Python (Linux only), Ruby (Linux only), Ruby on Rails (Linux only), FrontPage extensions, ColdFusion (for an additional $2 per month)

Additional software:

Windows: DotNet Nuke

Linux: Mambo [7.13.1], Joomla! [7.13.2], Drupal [7.13.3], PostNuke [7.13.5], XOOPS [7.13.5], Community Server, WordPress [7.14.1], Serendipity [7.14.4], Geeklog, Lifetype, reBlog, Moodle, Gallery, Coppermine Photo Gallery, 4 Images!, PHP Open Chat, Advanced Poll, Advanced Guest Book, Noah’s Classifieds, OpenAds, pmWiki, dotProject

Technical support:

24/7 technical support via phone or chat

Uptime

99.9% uptime guarantee

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