Hosting a Website with a Web Hosting Company

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In a previous article, we covered the topic of "Hosting a Website on Your Own Webserver". While that is always an option for you, it may not be the best solution when considering the following:

Internet Connectivity Expenses

To host a production web site, a consumer based Internet connection is not an appropriate solution. Your ISP, generally provides a "best-effort" service level agreement so if your Internet connection fails, there is no specific time period that services will be restored. In addition, if you require your site to be up and functional 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, you will need to build redundancy into your design, meaning you need more than one Internet connection at your site.

Server Hardware Expenses

A production website that will service thousands of users, normally requires powerful server hardware. A desktop PC running a desktop operating system will not scale well. Server hardware that is equipped with redundant on-board equipment such as fans, RAID arrays, multiple processors, ECC RAM, etc.. can cost several thousands of dollars, not including the maintenance costs associated with the equipment (upgrades, warranty, support, etc...).

Software Costs

Network Operating systems are not free. If you are running Windows Server, there are licensing costs associated with the operating system. There are also management costs associated with maintaining the operating system when considering routing service packs and patches, malware protection, etc...

Using a Web Hosting Company or Internet Provider

Hosting your website with a web hosting company is a very common option for any type of website you wish to implement. Most small to midsize companies choose this option over hosting their website on their own web servers. Web hosting companies have already invested in very fast and reliable connections to the Internet from their data centers. In addition, they have many options when it comes to powerful hardware to run your website. In most cases, these web hosting companies also provide perimeter and application firewall services to ensure that your website is protected against many common malicious Internet based attacks. Best of all, they have staff on site that have expertise in the field of web hosting.

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Here is a list of items to consider when choosing a web hosting company:

  • Make sure that your web hosting company provides you with 24 hour support. It is vital that you can get someone on the phone to work with you when you have issues that need expertise.
  • Pay close attention to the traffic volume limitations imposed by the various web hosting plans. You can always start with a basic plan and upgrade as your web site grows.
  • Inquire if your web hosting company performs regular backups of your web site and your database. In the event that you inadvertently delete a file or folder, you want to make sure that you can restore from the last good backup.
  • Get a web hosting plan that includes email services. You will surely want to establish an email address to interact with your users and/or customers.
  • If you plan on creating a web site with dynamic content, you'll need access to a database. Many web hosting companies provide access to Microsoft SQL, MySQL, and Microsoft Access.
  • Most web hosting companies provide a limited amount of storage for your web site. If you plan on allowing your users to upload files, you may need additional storage. Add-on storage is generally provided at an additional cost.

In any case, when you compare the costs of hosting your site with a provider vs. hosting on your own, it easy to see that in most cases, hosting with a provider is more cost effective.

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Recommended Books & Training Resources

Internet World Wide Web: How to Program How to Host Your Own Web Server