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Web Hosting - How To Select A Web Host
As with many purchases, our first impulse when selecting a web hosting company is to go with the cheapest. Hey, they're all alike, why pay more? Au contraire.
There are a number of objective criteria that separates one web hosting company from another and money is only one of them. And not the most important one. Selecting a company based on price alone is equivalent to selecting an auto mechanic on price alone. Sure, he may maintain or fix your car cheaper. But will the car spend all the time in the shop and none on the road?
The first consideration is 'horsepower'. Do they have the capacity to carry your load and deliver decent performance? Most hosting companies will advertise that they have huge bandwidth and hundreds of servers. They're usually telling the truth.
But there's a difference between existing capacity and usable capacity. If they also have thousands of sites with millions of visitors per day the available or free capacity will be much lower. A big pickup truck may be able to tow 5,000 lbs. But not if it's already carrying 4,999.
Be sure to ask about available capacity, and have the prospective company back it up with reliable numbers. If you can't interpret the information they provide, find someone to help you do so.
Next, and a very close second, is reliability. A lot of power is worthless if it's cut often. Outages are a normal part of business. Even Google and Microsoft go down from time to time. The difference is, it happens rarely and they have failover plans. That means, if their site/system does go down it's either up again in a flash, or you never see the outage because a backup system kicks in automatically and seamlessly.
Be sure to grill the company closely about their up time. They'll often tout 99.6%, or some such figure. But, like the on-time figures of the airlines, those numbers can be shaded by adjusting the definition of 'up time'. What matters to you is whether your visitors will be able to reach your site at any time of the day or night they might want to.
Find out what systems, both technical and human, they have in place to deal with failures of all sorts. Servers can go down, networks can fail, hard disks can become defective and lose data even when the other components continue to work fine. The result is YOUR site is unavailable, which is all that matters to you. The web hosting company should be able to deal with all of that and have you up again very quickly.
Last, but not least, is security. With the continuing prevalence of viruses and spam, you need to know that the web hosting company you select has an array of methods for dealing with them. That means a good technical plan and staff who are knowledgeable in dealing with those issues. The old saying: 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' is more true here than anywhere else.
All these issues are central to finding a web hosting company that can deliver the services you need. After those criteria are satisfied by a number of candidates, then you can start narrowing them down by price.
Web Hosting - DNS, How The Internet Keeps Track of Names The way computers communicate is, in a way, very similar to something very familiar: the postal system that delivers letters and packages. Here's how... The Internet is just what the name suggests, a large inter-connected set of networks. But those networks are pointless without the one part that forms what is called their 'end-nodes', otherwise known as computers. Those computers often need to share information because the people who use them want to share information. But, in a system where there are millions of separate computers, how can you enable them all to communicate? One very important feature of that solution is performed by something called DNS, the Domain Name System. Every part of a network that is going to send or receive information is assigned an IP address. That's a numeric identifier that uniquely specifies a particular 'node', such as a computer, a router that directs traffic or other component. They look like this: 220.127.116.11 But those numbers are more difficult for people to remember and work with. They also aren't very attractive from a marketing perspective. So, a naming system was layered on top of some of them, mostly the computers involved, though routers have names, too. But once you have a system that associates a unique IP address to a given name, you need some way of keeping track of all of them. That's carried out by several different pieces of the system: Name Registrars, DNS Servers and other components. The Name Registrars, overseen by IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and other international bodies, provide and keep track of domain names. When you register with GoDaddy or any of a hundred other intermediate companies, ultimately that information makes its way into a number of specialized databases stored inside DNS Servers. A DNS Server is the hardware and/or software that tracks and forwards the IP Address/Domain Name pair from one place to the next. In many cases, there are a number of them between your browser and the remote computer you want to share information with. Suppose you request information from, say, Yahoo's site by clicking on a link on their site. DNS resolves (translates) the name of WHO IS making the request and OF WHOM, to addresses, then passes the request through the network to the requested IP address. The requested data is then passed back through the mesh of network components to your computer and displayed in your browser. Whether the communication is between a desktop computer and a server somewhere, or between one server and another, the process is essentially the same. DNS servers translate names into IP addresses and the requests for data are forwarded on. In some cases those DNS servers are part of a specialized network computer whose sole job is to do the translation and forwarding. In other cases the DNS software may reside on a server that also houses a database of general data, or stores email, or performs other functions. But however complicated the chain or the parts, the basic process is simple. Translate the name to an address, just as the postal system does. Whether international or local, your name is associated with an address, and the deliveries are made to the address, then forwarded to a particular name.
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