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Old 12-11-2004, 10:10 AM   #1
fcolor
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Join Date: Jul 2002
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Exclamation Hosting Article: Ten "Golden Rules" To Follow...

Hi guys,

I have published and article called "Ten "Golden Rules" To Follow When Choosing An Web Host" at HostPapers.com, an online edition managed by InetInteractive, the owners of Web Hosting Talk and HostScripts. A few webmasters and forum members PM me that I have done a good job. I've a copyright over this article so I decided to post it here with respect to GeekVillage Forums. Hope that by posting this article I benefit for the discussions.

I'll be grateful to receive a feedback from you
-------------

Making the right decision when choosing a hosting service is a difficult enough now and it will become even harder.

By Dimitar Avramov
CEO, HostColor.com

I have been managing a web hosting company long enough to know who in this business plays by the rules and who doesn't. Making the right decision when choosing a hosting service is a difficult enough now and it will become even harder. Why?

The hosting market has grown a lot within the last two years and many newcomers stepped on the scene. Most of them have been attracted by the industry's promise of significant growth. The Asian market is projected to increase by 15% per year until 2008. It should be noted that this prediction does not include the Japaneese growth rate. Europeans spent 1.8 billion dollars for hosting in 2003 and expectations for the coming years even higher. According to the Market Researchers, the European hosting market will reach $6.8 billion by the end of 2005. In the UK only consumers and businesses will spend $1.7 billion for hosting in 2005.

Attracted by the good omens many of the new hosts get down to work without having a complete service solution or a plan how on their business development. As usual with newcommers, the brand new companies often try to beat down the prices or start offering high rate, or even unlimited, banwidth and space to the potential customer. By flooding the market with a "mess of big promisees" providers only confuse most people who seek hosting services. Many of the new companies fail to meet requirements and as a result the industry's quality of service does not live up to expectations.

We have to work hard to prevent this situation of having a large number of unhappy customers. The industry should introduce more strict rules and standards that must be respected by both providers and customers. Of course we shall also keep the market open and to prevent any chance of an oligarchy led by a few big corporations.

How to keep the hosting industry's growth is a substantial debate. Realizing the importance of this issue I can put in my thoughts into the discussion. Here are my suggestions and advice to new web hosting companies and especially for those who need to choose their new web hosting provider.

1. Make your Own Research

Forget Testimonials at the host's page. Although we also have them and what is written are true opinions, no doubt, you have to see for yourself if the company is as reliable as it claims. Just contact them and ask for information you will need to know. "Where is their data center located?", "What happends if I exceed a bandwidth limit?", "Do you provide basic help with scripting?", "Am I going to have full control over my domain and if not do you register the domain at customer's name?" etc. Ask any question that might affect on your online business.

2. Ask for reviews

Ask for reviews about particular provider in the leading hosting/webmaster forums. This way you will be able to find out more about host's reputation among its peers. You will see what are the pros and cons of the service. Note there is no "perfect provider" but there are a lot of awful ones.

3. Check for Provider's Business Establishment

Check if a host states its business address or phone number. If a particular host doesn't have this information on its web site or does not provide support phone number it may mean it have no physical offices. Hosts like these are not incorporated in any country. So they can go offline or close business anytime they want. Ask the hosting company representatives if it has legal presence; where are they incorporated and where do they pay their taxes. You should not really bring business and profits to people who are not responsible enough. Paying taxes is substantial engagement of any business worldwide. It is always better to support companies located in your own country if they provide good service at a low cost.

4. Require Phone Support

When choose a host be sure whether they provide phone support. Hosts generally provide phone support if they are reliable enough. It doesn't need to be a Toll-Free phone but having one is an advantage.

5. Go for Companies That Offer Reasonable Pricing

Take a look at the host's pricing. Price under $10 a month for 2 GB space / 50 GB banwidth or more is not a good sign. It means the host oversells heavily or tries to underbid the market. Stay Away!

6. Get Information about the Provider's Policy

Make sure you check Host's Policy. Some providers have very strange Terms of Service (TOS). They don't take any responsibility for the service they provide and state in their TOS they can close your account for no reason anytime they decide. Be sure the provider respects its customers' privacy and will not sell your contacts to third party.

7. Do Not Tolerate Illegal Activity

Avoid Spammers and Internet Piracy. I was spammed 4 years ago by company that now has a reputation of a good host; that doesn't mean we should support spammers. So never sign up with spamming hosts! Keep in mind that a host that performs such illegal activity may at some point turn harm your direct interest as well.

8. Check Host's Brand and Business History

Check host's whois information! Go to archive.org and find more information about the previous business years of a hosting provider. If this company has a business experience in selling vegetables you cannot expect them to have good knowledge in providing reliable hosting services.

9. Support Competitive Providers

Do not ignore smaller hosting companies in favour of the "big guys". Big players often don't care about your web site simply because they host thousands of web sites like yours. This of course does not mean you necessarily have to go for hosting to the guy next door who runs a server in the basement. Spend some time to learn more about the offers you think are worth it.

10. Ask for Host's Business Engagement

Ask the hosting provider for it's business engagement. What are their plans to improve the service. How does the company contribute for the industry's development?
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Old 12-11-2004, 01:01 PM   #2
Larwee

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Those are some good points. However, there is one that I strongly disagree with. I don't know how others will feel but to me it is very important and that is why I don't agree with it.

The telephone support should be 24 hours and it should be 7 days a week. There MUST be TOLL-FREE telephone support.

There is nothing wrong with writing a trouble ticket for minor things. But, when there is a major problem that is very complicated telephone support is extremely important and the customer should be able to get that support when it is needed and not be forced to wait days or hours until there is a person there to talk with.

An important point is made when any company offers toll-free support. To me it shows that they care about the customer and if the customer has problems they are willing to pay for it and not expect the customer to pay for a phone call or to pay for the support to get the problem cleared up.

If the customer has to pay for a telephone call for phone support, some might not bother just because they don't want to have that extra expense. It can discourage some people from calling. When there isn't a toll-free number it gives me the impression that they are trying to discourage customers from calling when they really need help.

While it isn't something that happens all of the time, I have had major problems at strange hours and was able to get them solved while on the phone. It feel great knowing I have this available whenever I want it.

Personally if a host didn't offer toll-free 24 hour, 7 days a week support I wouldn't use them. I would find one that does.

I would think there has to be others who feel the same way about this.
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Old 12-11-2004, 01:17 PM   #3
DougM
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I know little-to-nothing of the hosting business but I cannot imagine providing shared hosting services and a toll free number. Thousands of users who have never used Capnel on $5/month plans calling at all hours. Yikes.

Maybe I shouldn't be in the hosting business.
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Old 12-11-2004, 02:19 PM   #4
Larwee

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DougM, I was only expressing my personal view on one particular point, so I left out a few other things.

Actually for me personally when selecting a host, the price is not the number one factor.

I want a big host with lots of money who has been in business for a good while. That might not mean they are going to give the lowest price. But, it puts them in position to take care of the things that I personally consider important.

Being big with lots of money makes it possible for them to keep up with the latest technology.

It allows them to hire and pay essential people.

They are in a position to have staff there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to make sure that everything is working as it should and to immediately work on a problem when it comes up.

I want excellent fully managed service.

There are those out there trying to attack servers. They can devote everything that is needed to fight against this problem.

There have been those who have found their host went out of business without any warning because the host ran out of money. I don't want to have this worry.

I should add that I am a web publisher and I do this full-time. It is how I make a living. So when I express my thoughts on this I'm looking at it from that position.

It isn't a hobby and I wouldn't expect to get or even consider getting a $5.00 per month hosting plan.

There are those who could get those and be perfectly satisfied.

Good, professional hosting is essential to me and I want a hosting plan from a host that gives me the essentials and a host that is reliable.

I've used shared hosting with toll-free 24 hour, 7 days a week support. But, it did cost a lot more than $5.00 a month.

When I'm talking about toll-free support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I'm not talking about calling for everything that comes up. I'm talking about being able to call when that it the best way to solve an extremely critical important problem.

The other day I posted about people who use an expensive registrar. There are those who are paying $35.00 who can get the same or even better for a fourth of that, and from a registrar that is financially sound.

But, the registration of a name and a hosting plan are different matters.

A person doing something as a hobby or who only wants to pay $5.00 a month for hosting isn't going to be looking for the same things that I am.

I certainly wouldn't expect a $5.00 a month hosting plan to offer everything I want. It would be financially impossible for the host to do it and I wouldn't look at such a plan because I know I wouldn't be pleased with it.

There are also some hosting companies that don't offer plans that would attract those people.

Whenever people are dealing in opinions, different people are going to have different opinions.

In the earlier post I expressed something that I consider important, but I did leave out the details that made that important to me.

Even with the additional details there are still going to be people who won't share my views. There will also be people who feel the same. Everyone isn't going to agree.

I have only expressed my feelings, needs, and opinions based upon my situation.

Last edited by Larwee; 12-11-2004 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 12-11-2004, 03:08 PM   #5
Steve_S
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It's a nice article with tons of great tips. I have friends who are hosts (I AM NOT) and I know how hard they work and the incredible amount of skill that is required.

Having said that, I'm often asked my thoughts on a given host and after I look at the site to see that it works and all the necessary stuff is on the site I then move to my very own "One year rule" THats number 2 on my list.

It's simple, if you havent been in business for one year I will pass. I ignore all the stuff on the site and simply ask them. Then I verify same through some of the sources you listed.

This procedure normally eliminates a lot of folks who won't be around. For example, at one time I had 3 students in my Web class who were all "hosts". Pretty smart 20 something geeks who in some cases thought they knew more than I did I played dumb and asked them about support, budget, business plan, and more. I continued to play dumb. The answers I recieved were shocking. Natch, none of these host are around and in 2 cases they left in the middle of the night. My favorite quote from one was:

"Sure I provide support. On my cafateria lunch break and when I'm doing my homework. I normally go to sleep around midnight"

heheheheh

With a near zero barrier of entry to the hosting business my procedure works darn well.

On rare occassions an exception to the one year rule may occur. The principal has a verified track record in the hosting business with another company. I verify it. They don't.

HTH
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