There are plenty of places that you can get hosting services. Some are free of charge, and some are expensive. Some may be local, and some may be offshore hosting in Iceland. Heck, we even did a little piece about hosting in the Bahamas! There are many things to consider when choosing a web hosting company, such as pricing schemes, contract terms, customer service, uptime, bandwidth throttling and speed, and countless other factors. I wanted to address a few things that I think are a must to look for in your hosting company. If a price break is there that you must hit, then sometimes some of these things may have to be compromised, but if you can, try and check as many things off this list as you can. These are not the all around recommendations of what to look for, rather, the physical and technical traits that are important to a basic hosting package.
The most important thing that I would make sure to find out is how often the site was completely offline, and what the average downtime per year is. This is measured on what is called a “9’s” scale, basically a shortened count of how many tenths, hundreds, or thousands of a percentage in a year that the site is down. For example, if a company has been running as a three “9’s” facility, then that would mean in the last calender year, they have been up and online for a minimum of 99.999 percent of the year. This would be a fantastic statistic, if you are looking for a hosting provider. Let’s face it, to the lay person, being down for two seconds, or one minute may not seem like a big deal, but for a website owner or a hosting company, that is a big deal. You should not be dealing with downtime, no matter where you are.
Another thing to look for in a hosting company is the physical location. Where are they located? It is not necessarily enough to just be located at an internet connectivity hotspot. This is a nice perk, and will help with ping times, but more important for our purposes today is if they are located in a high risk area, geologically and socially speaking. Are they in downtown Chicago where a building gets burned down every weekend? Are they right on top of the San Andreas fault line in California, hoping every second that they don’t have another earthquake that day? Remember, even if the data center is protected against earthquakes, it is not a guarantee that the connectivity lines coming in are going to be up and running if there is a two foot wide crack in the middle of the road.
When looking for a hosting center, downtime in the past and location are huge factors. Don’t neglect this for some of the other more worried about facts on the facility. Sometimes we miss these two, for hiding in plain site, if you will. Next time, we will continue with part two on what to look for in your hosting provider.