Six Important Technical Aspects to Consider when choosing your Web Hosting

In follow up to our previous post where we talked about the 3 basic criteria you should look at when considering a host, let’s now talk about the more technical aspects you should look at when choosing a web hosting provider. You don’t have to be a computer science major to understand all the different considerations that go into selecting a web host. These are the most important things anyone who’s considering a web host should look at, from a technical perspective.

Operating System

Selecting an OSThe operating system you select has a big impact on the kinds of programs you can run. If you’re running custom software, talk to your engineer about the kind of platform they want their software to run on.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re running Perl, CGI, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Flash, Python, PHP or MySQL, you’ll want to be on a Linux server. Linux servers can include Apache, Ubuntu or Fedora.
On the other hand, if you plan to run applications written in .NET or ASP, you’ll want a Windows based server.

Uptime GuaranteeUptime guarantee

If you’re running a website that deals with thousands upon thousands of dollars per day in revenue, you might want to look into getting an uptime guarantee.

With an uptime guarantee, the web host will promise to keep your servers up for a certain percentage of the time, at minimum. If the servers ever go down, the web host will owe you money for every minute or hour that the service is down.

This is typically for established, successful companies for whom any down time would be devastating.

Geographic Location

Geographic LocationFrom a strict hosting perspective, the geographic location of your web host really doesn’t matter. The server could be in Brazil or in the United Kingdom and most of your users really wouldn’t notice a difference.

In rare cases however, your server location can come into play.

First of all, if the majority of your visitors come from a certain country, there is a small speed benefit to having your server hosted in that country.

Your server can also come into play for search engine optimization purposes. If you’re trying to rank a website based in Brazil, Google is going to think your website is more relevant to that geographic location if your  server is actually based out of Brazil.

Bandwidth of the Server

For most startup businesses, bandwidth is not a big consideration. The main consideration should Bandwidthbe having enough RAM and CPU cycles to handle all your web apps.

However, as your traffic needs increase, bandwidth can become a real issue.

Typically, hosting companies will either give you a monthly cap or a cap on the amount of bandwidth you can use every second. Few businesses will actually hit this cap, but it’s still important to know about it just in case your website explodes in popularity.

Make no mistake however: There’s no such thing as an “unlimited bandwidth” host. That statement is nothing more than a marketing line.

Hardware Specifications

Generally, 2 GBs of RAM and 1 Terabyte of data per month will be more than enough for most people’s hosting needs. If you’re running highly intensive web applications that do a lot of server side processing, you might want to upgrade the RAM and CPU power.

Make sure you talk to your web host about how easy or difficult it is to upgrade your system in the future. Some web hosts can upgrade your system from a VPS to a dedicated server or upgrade you from a low-end dedicated server to a high end one with no interruptions. Other hosts simply can’t do that.

Email Systems

Configuring the mail systemsIf you’re going to be hosting your own email, make sure your server has all the things you need to do so.

Make sure your server supports both IMAP and SMTP if you want to be able to use your own email clients, as well as smartphones to access your email accounts.

You should also make sure you have webmail access for people who don’t want to use their own email clients.

These are the most important technical considerations to take into account when you’re selecting a web host. It doesn’t have to be overly difficult, but you do want to make sure that whatever host you select can handle all your needs.

As for our recommendations, we’re hosted with LiquidWeb using a dedicated server provided by them and we’d highly recommend them for their super prompt service.  If you’re looking for a shared host, apart from LiquidWeb, we’ve also used HostGator who’ve been very good and they have some packages available in the lower price range for people looking to test things out.

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