Dedicated Web Hosting: The Executive Summary - Choosing a Dedicated Web Host
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How to decide: Overall, the cost, security of data and equipment, bandwidth availability, the knowledge and integrity of the web-hosting provider, uptime, hardware maintenance, and any technical support offered by the dedicated web host are important deciding factors. Although your specific dedicated web hosting needs may be unique in a few ways, generally, one can make a decision on a dedicated web server provider by considering the following things:
Data Transfer Rates: Data transfer will need to be determined based on the amount of information that will be downloaded, as well as the type of content a site will be sharing (general text vs. high resolution graphics and multimedia). A dedicated web host will generally have various packages that will allow one to choose the data transfer level, normally measured in "gigabytes per month". Higher levels of data transfer rates normally mean more cost, so utilization of the first few months to correlate data transfer rates and traffic patterns is key.
Platforms: The two most common systems available are Windows based servers versus some flavor of UNIX (Linux and Solaris). Windows is historically more expensive, but is generally regarded as more user-friendly, especially with the ubiquitous presence of Windows-based PCs and administrators. Linux, on the other hand, is less expensive to install, but harder to maintain, as a steeper learning curve exists for those unfamiliar with it. Therefore, the operating system installed on a dedicated web server should depend on a couple of factors.
First, the platform should be conducive to the coding in which the website and necessary applications are developed. Next, since administration of the dedicated server will be done by the subscriber, the necessary skill base to support the platform must be in place. Commands and administration techniques are definitely platform-specific.
Monitoring: Dedicated server monitoring works to prevent service interruptions. The web host will provide a service that can, at a pre-set frequency, check a website to see downtime.
Automation: Although dedicated web servers may require a greater degree of skill, certain dedicated web hosting companies may offer software that will automate common procedures, thus lessening the high level knowledge necessary to maintain servers and implement new services.
Data Backup: Some dedicated web hosting providers assist the web hosting subscriber with data backups. Finding a dedicated server provider who will assist in this process could alleviate the hassle of doing it yourself and can allow one to devote time to other things.
Scalability: Dedicated web hosting providers should be able to account for major growth. Progressive expansion can be accounted for by asking a web host if modules of extra space, bandwidth, or better yet, larger packages can be purchased to allow easy transition to better hardware and software.
Service Level Agreements: More dedicated web hosts are publishing their SLAs, which thoroughly documents what they will do in exchange for what the customer is responsible for. For instance, some dedicated server hosts are offering features such as: 100% uptime guarantees, unlimited live answer technical phone-based support, free upgrades of patches, hot-fixes, personal Dedicated Sales account managers, maintenance staff with spare parts for all server configurations, and more. A full understanding of the commitment that a dedicated web host is offering will help in a decision to utilize that service.
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