Choosing a web hosting provider.

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The Web expands every day, and so do your choices. How do you find a Web host to meet your business needs? There are many providers, each one with a different focus and services designed for a specific segment of the market. As you study your options, you might consider the following factors:

Is the company's core business devoted to Web Hosting?

OUR FOCUS is on Web hosting, so your site will benefit from our full attention and expertise. Choose a provider that focuses on Web hosting.

For small, personal Web sites, choosing an ISP (Internet Service provider) to provide both Web access and hosting could make sense - one call and one bill cover all your Internet needs. But network access and hosting services require very different technical expertise. While the majority of an ISP's technical support personnel are trained to sort out access problems and maintain banks of modems, a host's technicians focus on ensuring that your site will operate efficiently and be available to customers without interruption.

Because an ISP's core business is Internet access, those who choose an ISP for hosting often find that their sites don't receive the attention and technical support they need. If your site is an integral part of your business strategy, choosing a Web hosting specialist ensures that your site will receive support and services critical to its success.

Can the company support the current and future needs of your Web business?

WE HOST a wide range of business and Ecommerce sites, from small sites to complex high-performance dedicated server solutions. Our services are designed to support the growth  of your Web business - and we can take you as far as you want to go. Choose a Web host with services designed to accommodate your site's growth.

How far can your Web host take you? The success of a well-designed site hosted by an expert provider might surprise you, so it's a good idea to choose a company that can support the growth of your business. If you need to upgrade, integrate complex applications, or move to a dedicated server, you don't want to be limited by the scope of your provider.

You'll find that each hosting company focuses on a specific segment of the Web market. Some design their services for personal Web sites and small businesses, others concentrate on high-performance Ecommerce sites, and many offer a variety of mid-range services.

It's a good idea to ask hosting companies for the domain names of a few representative sites. You'll get a feel for the size and complexity of the sites the company supports (and you'll be able to check the speed of their network connections at the same time).

Does the company offer exceptional customer care?

WE PROVIDE the best customer care in the industry. Engineers monitor and maintain your site 24 hours every day, and automatically fix any problems that might affect your site's performance. Choose a provider that focuses on customer care.

The company you choose should offer round-the-clock technical support - Make sure that your hosting company staffs its data center round the clock .

Browse through the host's automated on-line services to make sure they're user-friendly and useful, and check that telephone support numbers and Email addresses are easily available.  Ask some questions and make sure the representative can speak to your needs and to your level of expertise. 

Does the company offer redundant T3 or OC3 lines linked to a high-speed Internet backbone?

OUR NETWORK features redundant T3 lines permanently linked to a triple-redundant national backbone. No one offers faster or more reliable service. Choose a provider with the fastest possible Internet connections.

Web hosting companies connect to the Internet through T1, T3, and, less frequently, OC (Optical Carrier) lines. T1 and T3 lines, two of the fastest network connections available today, offer data transfer rates of of 1.5 and 43 Mbps (megabits per second), respectively.

The best hosting companies use redundant T3 lines to ensure that customers' sites remain responsive even if their primary Internet connections are temporarily unavailable. It's a good idea to determine which providers offer backup connections fast enough to maintain your site's performance in the event of a primary line failure.

In addition to offering the fastest network connections, a host should provision its lines and circuits to use less than 50% of available bandwidth. Overburdened network connections will inevitably result in poor site performance - in fact, a lightly used T1 line will transfer data faster than an overused T3 connection. Be sure to ask hosting companies about network capacity and utilization to make sure that your site will benefit from the fast network connections they've advertised.

Does the company offer multiple platforms on state-of-the-art equipment?

WE HOST sites on all the most popular platforms, and are constantly upgrading to maintain state-of-the-art technology. Choose a Web host with powerful servers, multiple platforms, and the resources to keep pace with rapidly improving technology.

Although it's possible to host a Web site on the CPU of an average personal computer, responsive Web sites require high-speed SCSI disk drives, error-correcting RAM, and the most powerful microprocessors available. Reliable providers host their sites on equipment built to withstand the constant bombardment of Web traffic.

In addition, the host's engineers should be skilled in managing their servers' operating systems (for example, NT or Unix). In the early days of Internet activity, most servers operated on a Unix platform, an extremely powerful and flexible system that requires considerable technical expertise. Unix is still as popular as ever, but today you have a choice: Microsoft's Windows NT and Unix variations such as Linux, Sun Microsystem's Solaris, Silicon Graphics' Irix, and Berkeley's BSD. As your site grows in size and complexity, in all likelihood you'll decide that a particular platform is desirable. It's best to anticipate this contingency and choose a Web host that offers multiple platforms and backs them up with technical expertise.

Does the company offer a secure Web hosting environment?

OUR SERVERS are well protected, both physically and digitally. Our advanced firewall system keeps intruders out of our network; our switches are configured to prevent data snooping; and we monitor site security 24 hours a day. Choose a provider with firewalls and other security measures to protect your Web site and Email accounts from unwanted disruptions and hacking.

It takes many layers of Internet security, from password protection to firewall barriers, to prevent determined hackers from wreaking havoc with your Web data. Most hosting companies offer some assurance that their network and software are protected from unwanted intrusions such as spamming and hijacking. Make sure the hosting company you choose has enough security measures in place to ensure that your data is completely protected.

Does the company offer a variety of Web hosting plans, and will it customize them to meet your needs?

OUR FLEXIBLE OPTIONS can be tailored to the needs of your site. As your business grows, you can upgrade or move seamlessly to one of our dedicated servers. Choose a provider with flexible hosting options, so you pay for exactly what you need.

Most Web hosting companies offer a structure of business packages with increasing amounts of storage and bandwidth (data transfer) linked to a hierarchy of products and services. Some hosts build flexibility into their plans, while others are less willing to modify their services to suit individual business requirements.

In addition, small companies often can't support complex applications or accommodate unexpected growth. Make sure the company you choose has the resources and flexibility to support the changing needs of your site. 

Does the company guarantee at least 99% uptime?

WE CAN DO EVEN BETTER: we're so confident in our experienced engineers and state-of-the-art equipment that we guarantee at least 99.5% uptime. Choose a provider offering a guarantee that your Web site will be open for business at least 99% of the time.

Excellent Web hosting providers can offer this guarantee because they've invested in the best automatic monitoring equipment; hired experienced engineers who can anticipate problems and emergencies; and installed redundant back-up systems to take over the moment anything goes wrong.

If a Web host guarantees only 95% uptime, keep in mind that this translates into 8 hours of down time per week: the equivalent of a "closed" sign on the door of your 24-hour business. 

Does the company have redundant back-up systems and multiple network connections to keep your Web site running in the event of an emergency?

WE HAVE diesel generators that can operate our servers for 7 days independently; off-site tape storage; redundant servers; and links to at least three network providers - all to make sure that your site will remain available through every crisis short of an Extinction Level Event (ELE). Choose a provider with multiple back-up systems in place.

No matter how excellent the equipment, no matter how expert the engineers, technology fails occasionally. A Web host with multiple routers and switches, secondary servers, and UPS systems with back-up generators can provide consistent, high-speed access and guarantee at least 99% uptime.

Web hosting companies, unlike Internet Service Providers (ISPs), have high-speed lines connected to more than one Internet "backbone" provider. This is crucial to reliable Web site performance, since network service can be compromised by technical glitches and unexpected surges in traffic. A redundant network design allows a Web host to direct traffic away from Internet "hotspots" and along the fastest routes - and your site remains available even if one network's service is interrupted.

Does the company have adequate resources to support an expanding customer base?

WE'RE CONSTANTLY UPGRADING our equipment and network connections so that our resources will continue to exceed our customers' needs by a comfortable margin. Our goal is to set the standard for performance in the Web hosting industry. Choose a provider with adequate server space and bandwidth to accommodate customer growth.

The Web is expanding every day, and you can count on the fact that your provider's customer base will increase significantly - and soon. Make sure that the company you choose has the resources to accommodate this growth (adequate servers and bandwidth) or the wherewithal to buy more as the need arises. A poor ratio of resources to customers means increased downtime and slower site access, even if the host advertises state-of-the-art servers and high-speed network connections.

Does the company offer competitive pricing?

WE OFFER the most reliable and affordable Web presence solutions on the Internet. Choose a provider offering prices commensurate with the range and quality of its services.

You've probably seen the Web hosting advertisements that offer massive amounts of data storage for only $9.95 a month. Caveat emptor! You get what you pay for. Data storage is cheap and easy to supply - it's much more difficult to provide customers with uninterrupted high-speed access, quality customer care, technical expertise, and guaranteed uptime. Make sure you know exactly what you need, and what you're getting, before you jump at a bargain. For a few extra dollars a month, your Web site can perform with the best.


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