[OT] How to pick a shared host


#1

I’m not looking for vendor recommendations or dis-recommendations –
I’m looking for the right questions, not the right answers :slight_smile:

I’m giving a talk in a couple of weeks which has to include a segment on
how to pick a good shared hosting service. The audience are
institutional clients looking to support web-apps ranging from
organizational intranets to public-access data sites to collaboration
services: they’re not looking for $3/mo, they’re looking for
reliability/uptime guarantees, assurances that their information will be
secure on the host’s servers, etc. They’re also looking for two basic
types of services: generic hosting (run your own custom app); and
collaboration services appservers (like Basecamp).

Hosting services are not my area of expertise, but I know that many of
the people on this list have built apps and found hosts for many
clients. I’m wondering if you have any wisdom to share about how to
identify a reliable, high-quality host?

  • What do you look for?
  • How do you know when you have found it?
  • How do you tell the wheat from the chaff?

The audience are current & potential Rails users, so Rails-specific
advice is welcome, but so is advice that goes beyond specific platforms.

Any advice much appreciated! --CJ


#2
  • What do you look for?
  1. RAID
  2. Good references (although you need to keep in mind the big
    accounts probably have a bit more than a shared server :-))
  3. 24/7 support (if possible not outsourced to India or Russia)

I’d say if cash isn’t really a problem, go for a managed dedicated
server or at least a VPS (especially if you’re planning on running
rails on it). That way, you’re pretty sure if something’s really slow
or crashes all the time, you are causing it and not some other bimbo
who’s running insecure scripts.

  • How do you know when you have found it?

You don’t. We once had a host that offered a really good price and
their servers were really good. Then, one day, the problems began and
never got solved. Support was sending me evasive replies (they were
treating me like a newbie, while i knew damn well what I was talking
about, my mails were technical enough for them to get the message).
Most of them rent rack space themselves in one of the big
datacenters, so it mainly comes down to how good their expertise is.
Even then, things can run smoothly for months and then go haywire on
you in a matter of hours.

  • How do you tell the wheat from the chaff?

Well, it’s hard actually. Sometimes the really small ones can be
really good, but quite a lot of them are reselling space themselves.

  1. Google for reviews, there are a few sites out there that have
    shared host reviews
  2. Contact their sales department and ask “expert” questions, not
    your ordinary ones, but questions like: how many other accounts are
    on my server, what action is taken when one account puts a huge load
    on the server (is it moved off to another server), what server
    monitoring (and service restarting) software are you using to ensure
    services are up and running, what security measures have been taken
    again DoS and other attacks, where is your support center located, …
  3. 30 days money back garantee (and also use those 30 days to test
    the server, don’t host any public apps yet)
  4. Make sure it has all the features you want, if security is an
    issue, SMTPS and POP3S (either by using a shared certificate or buy
    your own), …

Best regards

Peter De Berdt


#3

Everything suggested already, plus

  • What do you look for?

Since hosting is a commodity these days the main differentiating factor
is the speed and level of service you receive when the crap hits the
fan. I’ve ditched 2 hosts because of this, and have found a co whose
service is just unbelievable, ie. 24/7 livechat and phone, with a smile
:slight_smile: (hostmysite.com in case anyone wants to know)

  • How do you know when you have found it?

When you very rarely have problems, and when the problems are dealt with
by people with a great attitude.

  • How do you tell the wheat from the chaff?

Experience… unfortunately you only find out after you’ve signed up!


#4

On Apr 28, 2006, at 6:08 AM, Christopher J. Mackie wrote:

collaboration services appservers (like Basecamp).

Hosting services are not my area of expertise, but I know that many of
the people on this list have built apps and found hosts for many
clients. I’m wondering if you have any wisdom to share about how to
identify a reliable, high-quality host?

  • What do you look for?

A provider I trust.

  • How do you know when you have found it?

When I trust the provider that people I trust have recommended, and
after using the provider for a while and being satisfied, then I know
that I’ve found it.

  • How do you tell the wheat from the chaff?

See above. :slight_smile:


– Tom M.