Do We Really Need More Web Hosting Directories?
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The Internet is a great place to find information about everything, including web hosts. But can you trust what you find anymore? Are independent directories really as unbiased as they claim to be? The creator of the Internet's first web host directory ponders the state of the field today.
Back in 1996 I created the Internet's first web hosting directory, called The Ultimate Web Host List (www.webhostlist.com). It was the Internet's first vertical web hosting directory, and it was designed to help webmasters find the right web hosting company for their client. I thought it was a nifty idea at the time since I was doing programming for numerous clients, each of which had different hosting needs.
Back then there weren't nearly as many hosting companies as you can turn up with a Google search today, and they didn't offer the kinds of services we take for granted now. In fact, having a web site which could process data on the fly via calls to a database was mostly considered black magic and hocus pocus. If you actually found a hosting company that could serve up your site reliably and had a clue as to how to offer database connectivity, you almost felt as if you hit the lotto.
So needless to say, locating this kind of host was extremely valuable to the developer community at large. It meant they didn't have to go through the same trouble you did when trying to locate the right host to meet your needs; they could simply take your advice and use the same host you did. After all, no developer wants to go through the process of reinventing the wheel; why do the research when someone else has already done it for you?
At that point in time I was programming for well over 20 companies, each with very different needs. It had gotten to the point where I was spending more time locating the correct host for each client and making sure they were competent. It wasn't just an issue of their personnel being on the ball; I needed to know about their hardware, software, backbone ISP providers, and more. I had an entire questionnaire that I put together, and I would grill each prospective host and I took detailed notes on each and every one of them.
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