Strategic Choice - Proper Selection of Web Hosting

The time of expensive hosting and limited functionalities on web servers are long gone. Today, everyone and their mother is doing web hosting, with a huge hosting disk capacity at very acceptable prices. But even though most hosting providers differ only in the price on paper, things are much different in the real world.

You can get stuck with a poor hosting, a lot of non-functional elements of the site and even huge downtime on your site.
Here is a practical approach to selecting a good but Affordable Web Hosting provider. In order to properly evaluate them, you'll need to engage both your technical and business teams.

Make a table like the one on the following slide and start grading according to the following bullets


  1. Business Support Quality - Through this category, you will evaluate how prepared the hosting provider is to meet your business expectations of hosting. When evaluating business support quality, you need to answer the following questions. Add two points for each Yes answer to your business support category grade:
    • Does the hosting providers' sales rep answer to calls and e-mails in a timely manner?
    • Does the hosting providers' sales rep try to understand what you are trying to achieve?
    • Is the sales rep discussing meeting your requirements?
    • Does the sales rep provide direct contact with a dedicated technical person for clarifications?
  2. Technical Support Quality - Through this category, you will evaluate how prepared the hosting provider is to meet your technical requirements for hosting. When evaluating technical support quality, you need to answer the following questions. Add two points for each Yes answer to your technical support category grade:
    • Does the hosting providers' technical support person answer to calls and e-mails in a timely manner?
    • Does the hosting provider actually support the technical requirements of your site?
    • Does the hosting providers' technical support person answer your team's technical questions in a clear manner?
    • Does the hosting providers' technical support person ask for clarification on your requirements?
    • Does the hosting providers' technical support person warn you of any specific policies and limitations in their hosting solution that might hamper you?\
    • Does the hosting provider offer remote tools for web site technical side management (service stop/start, add-ons and libraries management etc..)
  3. Hosting Solution Breadth - Through this category, you will evaluate what other services you might be able to utilize in the near future combined with web hosting. When evaluating hosting solution breadth, you need to answer the following questions. Add one point for each Yes answer to your solution breadth category grade:
    • Is the hosting provider prepared to take over DNS hosting?
    • Is DNS records management available to your technical staff via remote interface?
    • Is there a e-mail service available?
    • Can the e-mail service capture all e-mails for you if necessity arises?
    • Are they offering any other services as bundle or with additional payment?
  4. Hosting Contention Ratio - Through this category, you will evaluate how many other sites you'll have to compete with for server resources, and how many different sites can impact your own in terms of security since they are on the same server. When evaluating contention ratio, you need to answer the following questions. Add one point for each Yes answer to your contention ratio category grade.
    • Is your site on a dedicated server?
    • Is your site on a server with no more then 50 large customer sites?
    • Is your site on a server with dedicated and isolated resources from other sites (virtual machine or chroot type of isolation)?
  5. Error Recovery - Through this category, you will evaluate how will the hosting provider react to recover your web site should an error occur. When evaluating error recovery, you need to answer the following questions. Add one point for each Yes answer to your error recovery category grade
    • Is backup of the site performed daily?
    • Is backup of the site performed together with backup of the site's backend database
    • Is hacker attack detection/prevention present?
    • Will you get alerting/notice from the provider if suspect hacker activity is detected?
    • If site defacement occurs, can the hosting provider recover to a working site within 15 minutes of detection or notice bu you?
    • If site defacement occurs, is proper forensic investigation performed with results submitted to you?

After you've finished answering your questions, you'll have a table like the one below


Select the top 20% providers from the Total grades and add the pricing of their solution. The cheapest one will be your Affordable Web Hosting provider. You can afford to pay him, but you don't need to accept low quality.
Talkback and comments are most welcome

Related posts

Rules for good Corporate Web Presence
Creating Your Own Web Server
Tutorial: Making a Web Server
Web Site that is not that easy to hack - Part 1 HOWTO
Web Site that is not Easy to hack - Part 2 HOWTO - the web site attacks

5 comments:

Bob Caine said...

Thanks for the great post. Too many people pick their provider by the lowest rate of the last ad the saw and regret it. Your method is very well documented and easy to follow.

Bozidar Spirovski said...

In ICT a lot of things can be selected via a simple and straightforward process. You just need to ask yourself what is important to you while putting the price aside.

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Jan said...

Excellent walk through in the process of selecting a proper web host. You've given this a lot of thought, and it shows on the post. :)

polo91 said...

Thanks for giving information.
I followed your web hosting selection tips and hosted my own website using Thewebpole.com I like their services.

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