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Colocation Web Hosting FAQ
By: Rich Smith
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    Our Frequently Asked Questions on Colocation hosting gives you insight on what you can expect from a colocation host, when you would need such a service, what is involved and many more commonly asked questions.

    What is Co-location? 
    In general, collocation is moving or placing things together, sometimes implying a proper order. On the Internet, this term (often spelled "colocation" or "co-location") is used to mean the provision of space for a customer's telecommunications equipment on the service provider's premises. For example, a Web site owner could place the site's own computer servers on the premises of the Internet service provider (ISP) who provides co-location hosting services.

    Who needs Co-location hosting?
    Customers who have full control over all aspects of their website and the way it operates are best suited for dedicated hosting. Those customers who want to supply the hardware, or want the ability at any time to remove their server, or move it to another location are suited for internal hosting, meaning they host the websites themselves and pay for the internet connectivity and networking needs. Those customers who meet the above requirements, but aren’t able to host their website themselves are suited for co-location hosting.

    Who actually supplies the server? 
    When using co-location providers, the server actually belongs to you, the customer. Normally, this entails a server being completely configured and loaded with information, being delivered to the co-location provider ready to go. That being said, some co-location providers offer programs where you can purchase a server, or even have one custom made through them.

    Will a co-location provider make sure my machine stays online? 
    That depends on your provider. Co-location providers typically offer Server Monitoring contracts, which make them responsible for watching your system and making sure it is running properly, within their power, of course. If you have a custom written application on your server and it is causing problems with the operation of your server, it will be your responsibility to fix it.

    If something goes wrong with my server hardware, who fixes it  
    That again depends on the agreement you have with your co-location provider. Most providers offer Hardware Support contracts, which make them responsible for keeping your machines operating mechanically. If you supply your own computer, and would like to have spare parts on site, you will typically need to purchase the parts in advance and supply them to your provider. For a computer purchased through the provider, they will normally have spare parts on hand, and/or a relationship with the hardware provider that supplied the hardware itself. Even though your provider fixes your machines, you will still be responsible for the cost of the associated parts. Now, if you do not have a hardware agreement with your provider, you can either pay them to diagnose and repair the problem, or send your own technician to their hosting facilities for the same purpose.

    Is there a limit to the size of my server? 
    There are limitations and pricing differences in relation to the size of your server(s). For example, rack mount servers come in several sizes depending on the manufacturer and the hardware contained within. A 1U server is half the size of a 2U server; hence it takes up less physical space in a rack, leaving room for more servers. As such, 1U servers are less expensive to co-locate than 2U servers. Mid tower and Full tower cases have similar limitations as well. Some providers only have facilities for rack mount servers, while others provide areas for tower boxes as well.

    What things do I need to take into consideration when selecting a provider? 
    Selecting a co-location provider can be a somewhat complicated process. When selecting a provider, there are several key areas that you will need to take into consideration to make the best choice possible.

    • Bandwidth – What are the tiers of bandwidth available, and what does it cost if you exceed your limit for the month.
    • Rack Space – What are the price differences, based on the size of server you want to place at the provider? There are several types and sizes available, and most providers charge different amounts for each.
    • Hardware Support – Does the provider offer Hardware Support contracts? If so, how quickly is the turn around for a hardware repair, and are parts available on-hand or do they need to be shipped? If the provider does not offer Hardware Support contracts, or you do not wish to utilize them, then what methods are available to repair a down server? Do they offer services to diagnose and repair issues for a fee, or allow a technician of your choosing access to the servers?
    • Internet Connectivity – What size connection does the provider have to the Internet? How many connections do they have, in the case of a failure?
    • Uptime – What kind of Uptime does the provider guarantee for your presence on the Internet?
    • Server Monitoring – Does the provider offer Server Monitoring services, to ensure that your system is running and operational at all times?
    • Static IP Addresses – How many IP Addresses will the provider allocate to your servers, and what is the cost of obtaining more, when needed?
    • Backup Services – What level of data backups are included, if any? What additional levels of data backups are available, at what intervals, and at what cost?

    Glossary of terms:

    1U, 2U, etc.
    This number represents the actual size of a rack mount server in “rack units”. 1U is the standardized size of a rack mount server. A 2U server takes as much space as 2 1U servers, and a 3.5U server would take the space of 3 and a half 1U servers. Server racks have a finite amount of space available, which is normally measured using “rack unit” dimensions.

    Bandwidth has a general meaning of how much information can be carried in a given time period (usually a second) over a wired or wireless communications link.

    Dedicated hosting
    The Dedicated Hosting environment provides an exclusive server or servers devoted solely to your web site. You do not share a server with other customers, as with shared hosting.

    IP Address
    In the most widely installed level of the Internet Protocol (IP) today, an IP address is a 32-bit number that identifies each sender or receiver of information that is sent in packets across the Internet.
    Rack mount - Much professional video, audio, and computer equipment can be mounted in standardized 19" racks. Rack dimensions are often given in "rack units."
    Uptime - Uptime is a computer industry term for the time during which a computer is operational. Downtime is the time when it isn't operational. Uptime is sometimes measured in terms of a percentile. For example, one standard for uptime that is sometimes discussed is a goal called five 9s - that is, a computer that is operational 99.999 percent of the time.

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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