Dear Dan: What Should I Consider In Web Hosts (Servers) ?

Dear Dan, We are not happy with our web server. We have had more hackers including porn put on our site, more messages that say ‘site cannot be found’ and worst of all the analytics are terrible (and we pay for it)  what is the difference and what should we look for if we change?

It seems this is a conversation that we have with every new client. Web hosting is for the most part a commodity business, but like many commodities there are some very important nuances that are important to keep in mind when selecting this commodity. It is also something very vital when it comes to working on and having a website. To start with, anyone with a computer and an internet connection can more than likely host your website. Of course, anyone with a sheet of sandpaper can also custom edge a lens for a pair of eyeglasses. Picking a host based solely on price will pretty much get you the same results as hiring our sandpaper lab manager.

There are a few factors to explore when selecting a host. Price is only one. Here are a few others to consider:

1.) Internet Connections

  • What sort of internet connections does your host have? A T1 is a fairly fast connection (1.5 MBs up and down), but if that T1 is split among a thousand websites, we are now back to the speed of a late 1980’s dial up modem.

2.) Site Backups

  • What sort of backups does your host offer? Some offer complete daily backups, some leave that entirely up to you.

3.) Power Generation

  • Everyone loses electrical power from time to time. What sort of power backups does your host employ? Are they able to handle an outage of more than a few hours? (Think tornado, hurricane, snow storm, earthquake)

4.)  Email

  • What sort of email plan does your host provide? We’ve moved sites from major hosts because of sub standard email plans.
  • Does your email host provide both standard POP email as well as IMAP? Using IMAP allows easier coordination between your work computer, your smartphone, your tablet and so on.
  • A good host provides easy access to your email via webmail, so you can check your email from any connected computer in the world.
  • A good host will provide more email accounts than you can use and all of a large size, so as to store a lot of emails.
  • A good host will also provide some sort of spam filtering as well for your emails

5.) Stats Packages

  • A good host has more than a standard stats package. You want to be able to look at a variety of statists as to how your website is used to help you improve it and know what your patients/customers are interested in.

6.) Support for add-ons

  • This is where a host really shines. Do they help install blog platforms, scripts, SEO tools and so on. You can spend hours and a lot of money trying to duplicate the features a good professional webhost gives you for no additional cost to your hosting package.

So, what does a good web host cost? Most of the ones we and those we network with use are all under $6 a month. Now, if you are considering hosting e-commerce, that is a different ball game and you will pay considerably more. We will cover e-commerce hosting in another post. Who are the hosts we all recommend? In no particular order:

Anyone else care to add to this list? and what makes yours so good?

Submitted by Dan Feldman, Daniel Feldman, is CEO of dba Communications, an advertising, marketing,  web design and social networking firm with over a dozen years of specializing in eye care practices. For more information visit the dba Communications website at 303.370.7083


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