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How to Compare Web Hosting

With webhosting options for: dedicated servers, virtual servers, cloud servers, bandwidth and managed services.

There are many options and type of hosting.  What do they mean and what are the advantage and disadvantages of each? Make sure your hositng provider can and will help you understand all your options.  An example is when you call a company looking for email hosting do they sell you a server or tell you about other companies who specialize in hosting?

Most of the types and options for hosting affect uptime and availability of your website, application and server.

Lets start with a list of the types of hosting 

General Hosting Comparison

Maximum Uptime is a combination of the web hosting company's equipment and the datacenters ability to keep the power on and a connection to the internet 100% of the time.  A question you should ask is can you get 100% SLA for power and internet connectivity hosting in a datacenter.

So you want to find and compare webhosting companies who can keep the power on. The best is a webhost with Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) battery clusters which condition power from multiple power feeds with backup generators if the power company feed fails.

Internet Connectivity is the next key to web hosting uptime/reliability.  The way to keep internet connectivity on 100% of the time is to select a webhosting company that has many internet connections blended together.  This ensures the hosting service is available even if one or more of the bandwidth providers has connectivity issues.  We have a minimum of 4 bandwith providers which are blended together to ensure internet connectivity.

Contract Terms are not all the same. Some hosting companies require long term contracts while others do not. We like to point out that we offer month to month contracts to ensure we deliver on our promises to provide hosting with the best uptime and connectivity. Why do other companies only offer long term contracts?

How to Compare Virtual Server Hosting

With a virtual server you want to know what software is making the virtual server possible. vmware and Hyper-V are examples of hypervisors that make virtual servers possible. Is the web hosting using a free hypervisor or are they paying for a version with support?

What are your options and limitations to upgrade your virtual server. Can you migrate to a dedicated server if you out grow a virtual server? Sometime a dedicated server is a better and cheaper option.

Does the hosting provider guarantee resources for you virtual server or are the resources shared depending on demand?

What options are available for redundancy such as High Availability (HA).

Is the virtual environemnt setup in such a way that when the host server dies your data is still safe on a SAN?

How to Compare Dedicated Server Hosting

When you are looking for a dedicated server you see a lot of options, lets discuss them.

Uptime is the key for most people looking for a dedicated server so how do you ensure you are going to get it?

The better the hardware, the better Look for dedicated server hosts who use servers designed for datacenters. This type of server is often refered to as rackmount/enterprise servers. Some companies will use the cheapest server components available. Look for companies who use brandname servers since these manufacturers configure and test the components in their servers and make them for datacenter hosting.

What improves brand name rack mount servers? Servers which also have redundancy built into them including:to them including:

  • RAID1 - More than one hard drive to keep a failure from causing downtime and headaches.
  • Redundant Power Supplies
  • Multiple CPUs
  • DRAC - Remote Management Access in addition to Remote Desktop or SSH access.
  • Enterprise Hard Drives - Cheap hard drives fail more often and many cheap drives are not made to run 24x7.

Managed Hosting vs. Unmanaged Hosting - First you need to find out what the hosting company is actually including with their managed services.  Are they going to manage what you are assuming they will manage?  Having a list of what you want them to manage will be helpful.  If you are expecting help installing or configuring applications, websites or your database make sure you confirm they will be managed.  More than likely managed hosting will not manage custom applications or websites.  A good solution is to work with an IT company who can get to you site or application. 

Are they going to patch the operating system for you? If so are they then going to check to make sure your appliactions or website are still up and running?  Will they know enough to login to ensure your site is up and running?

Did you know most servers can be set to auto patch?  So if a managed company says they are going to auto patch the server they may be simply setting the server to automatically apply patches.

Many companies are surprised to learn what isn't included with managed servers. Custom application support such as configuring your website and database probably is not included so make sure the managed services are a value add for you..

If you are expecting the hosting provider to perform certain operations for you, ask them to ensure they will perform those operations. Example will a provider configure IIS for your website? Many companies say they manage your server but what do they really do? Most will sell you auto patching. Most servers can auto patch on their own. Some companies want to test all patches before applying them, if this is your company you would not benefit from managed patching.

Other companies provide port monitoring which sounds good but will not let you know if your site goes down. We suggest you monitor a web page on your site that makes a database call to ensure your site and database are online.

Migration Support will the hosting company help you migrate your data to them when setting up a server? The company should be willing to accept drives with data to make the setup process faster and easier. If you have many Gigs of data to load on a server brining a backup disk with your data is the best option.

Upgrade Options are important to consider incase you need to increase your server resources. What are the steps to migrate to another server?

Hosting Options

  • Bandwidth - Size of pipe/connection (1MB, 5MB etc)
  • Bandwidth Transfer - the amount of data included (100Gigs, 1Tera Byte, 1Meg, unmetered)
  • CPU
  • RAM
  • Overages what will it cost it you use more bandwidth than allocated.
  • Uptime - 100% is the best. For example if you get a 99.9% SLA that allows almost 9 hours of downtime in a year. If you are locked into a long term contract the SLA could be a big disappointment if the host has repeated downtime.
  • Full Server Backup for bare metal restore. Not all backups are created equal. Full server backup backs up the servers operating system, configuration and all the applications and their settings.

Contract Terms

Are you required to sign a long term contract? We like knowing that are customers are staying because they want to rather than because they are locked into a long term contract. Thus we have a month to month contract.

Migration for your server

What is the migration path for you if you need to downgrade or upgrade your hosting package? We will setup a 2nd virtual or dedicated server and give you time to migrate to it while only charging you for a single server. Make sure a provider isn't going to lock you into hardware for the long term.

Common Acronyms

  • SLA - (Service Level Agreement) the guarantee the host gives for their services - 100% is the highest
  • MB / Meg - Bandwidth term for Megabyte and can be a Megabyte per second.
  • RAID - Redundant Array Independant Disks
  • PDU - Power Distribution Unit - Part of the datacenters power system.
  • HA - High Availability

Virtual servers are a good choice for smaller companies who have 10 or fewer users who do not require a lot of disk space.
Click here to price your Virtual Remote Desktop Server with options.

A dedicated server for remote desktop hosting is a better option for companies who need more users accessing the server, more disk space or companies who need to host applications that require more powerful hardware.
Click here to price your Dedicated Remote Desktop Server with options.

At Riptide Hosting, Inc. we provide name brand rackmount datacenter specific servers. We have been providing hosting to businesses since 2002 at two class A datacenters near the Denver Tech Center in Colorado. Our contracts are month-to-month. Call us at 888.282.1883 with any questions, we enjoy explaining the hosting options.

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