Web Hosting Revealed: Critical look at Web Hosting
Everyone wants his / her site to be fast, stable, easily managed while paying the lowest price. Naturally, that's what all hosting companies promise. However, when choosing your host it is important to know more about:
Features are determined by marketing and are often tricky. Don't let yourself fall after unlimited and endless options. The most deceiving promise is that you will be able to host unlimited number of sites with unlimited bandwidth, disk space and support.
Lower prices are considered a warning by experienced users. The bet is too big to believe that a new revolutionary technology or organizational model has been invented allowing lower prices. In fact the most common reasons are:
- Risky business practices for short-term survival relying on long-term subscriptions. Surely you wouldn't like to pay for 3 year subscription with a host which is likely to bankrupt in a few months.
- Overselling and inferior service. It is possible to decrease the expenses by positioning abnormal number of users on limited resources. This leads to slower performance, frequent interruptions and unstable performance.
A common mistake is to purchase a cheap dedicated solution (dedicated server or virtual private server). Such solutions often lack a user-friendly management interface (cPanel for example), support is basic and resources are too low for the daily server tasks. This often makes cheap servers unusable because you cannot configure the server to manage your site and mail properly. Also, inexperienced server administrators often leave security holes which are easily exploited.
Support is everything - this is what you will hear often. The fact is that the service is unusable if you do not receive competent support in a timely manner - your site is not opening and your mails are not delivered. Another warning is to avoid big promises such as 24/7 phone support - such support can tell you what your domain is in case you have forgotten it. But don't expect an experienced web developer, fluent in English, to be on the other end of the line and debug your PHP errors.
What technology is best for you? The most popular choice is based on Open Source and includes Linux / Apache / MySQL / PHP or the so-called LAMP stack. The main reasons are:
- Fast and stable development. Almost all popular web applications are open source or rely on it - Joomla, phpBB, WordPress, Drupal and many others. In fact there is an Open Source application for just about anything. Furthermore, Open Source code is public and allows fast detection / fixing of security and development bugs.
- Strong community and commercial support. Open Source support is unbeatable - from helpful communities to dedicated support departments.
- Products are affordable if not free - For example Joomla, the Open Source content management system, is free in every way.
- Ease of use - Open Source products are developed for the average user with intensive user participation in the development process.
On one hand, Open Source is very attractive to developers because it allows full access and reusage of the code. On the other hand, Open source is actively sponsored by some of the biggest IT companies - Google, IBM, Sun, Novel and others. Recently Microsoft donated a large sum to the Apache foundation, which develops the Apache webserver, the best product in its class.
You should know that there are alternatives to the Open Source which, unfortunately, we cannot recommend.