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i am a professional in web software development but know little about hosting.

I selected Bluehost because of good reviews. Every day i experience between 30 min and 2 hour downtime, which is in direct contradiction to all i read about this Hoster. My problem now, how do i find the right hoster.

  1. What are the types of Hosters? In sequence from the simplest to the best ones? Smth. like:

    • Shared
    • Virtual Private
    • Dedicated
    • etc
  2. Which Hoster would you suggest as the best for each type (from own experience)?

  3. Which hoster can provide least to none down-time of my web pages? Thus far, i found that many hosters "cheat" until you really ask the right questions:

    • Bluehost said we guarantee up-time but in general, i.e. for nobody, just average uptime. Thats just bad
    • Another hoster said "we guarantee 99.99 up-time". And as i asked what if they fail me, they said "we give your money back for that month" (which is 5 USD / month :) ). That is equally bad

please help me with my little problem:)

Thank you

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Knowing your budget would be very helpful; you reference $5/month, which isn't going to get you a dedicated server anywhere, for example. –  BMDan Jul 16 '10 at 15:02
    
My budget: 5$ is no reference here. I can allow up to 200 $ / month, i just need to know the right hoster –  Nick Thones Jul 16 '10 at 15:23
    
@ BMdan. Read you post, it helps me big time. But it still doesn't answer all my questions. –  Nick Thones Jul 16 '10 at 15:27
    
Nick, thanks for the clarification. I've edited my answer accordingly. Please let me know if there's anything I didn't thoroughly answer from your original question. –  BMDan Jul 16 '10 at 23:13
    
@ BMdan. Awesome answer! –  Nick Thones Jul 19 '10 at 9:41

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Take a look at this answer and see if it applies to your situation. If not, good luck finding a $5/month host which doesn't suck. AFAIK, they don't (and cannot, profitably) exist.

Edit: Okay, time to expand on this again a bit.

First, I'll tackle your third question. SLAs: they are... interesting. Here's how it works: no matter what the company says ("100,000%-money-back uptime guarantee!"), every single last one of them will have at least one of these caveats, and most will have both:

  • Only downtime in the core network (i.e., the enormous big iron at the heart of the network that never goes down, ever) counts. In most cases, not even upstream connectivity problems count.
  • Downtime is computed, refunds are issued, but in no case will liability exceed [monthly|weekly|rarely, yearly] hosting cost. i.e., your, "Here's your five bucks back, sorry about that weeklong downtime," example.

In addition to those, every SLA includes exclusions for scheduled downtime, meaning that, at the end of the day, almost all SLAs are pretty worthless in terms of helping you recover the actual lost business value. And even if none of this applied, it's still messed up; if your solution is down for one second every fourth second, that's much worse than being down for one solid week; in the latter case, customers see you're having problems, and you lose the ones that were ready to buy during that week, while in the former case, all but the most-determined customers won't even bother to continue their visit after a page or two.

What you're looking for isn't an SLA, it's business-continuity insurance. The SLA is just a safety net below that.

As to hosting cost, I'm glad to hear you aren't stuck on $5/month hosting. The question now becomes, what level of effort do you want to expend versus the level of effort you expect from your hoster? At the high end, firms like mine, BlackMesh, provide unlimited support, 24/7 monitoring, managed backups, architecture consultation, and so forth, all bundled into one flat price up-front. At the low end, companies like SliceHost give you a (virtual) box and say, "Go," and everything you want to add to that (backups, bandwidth, storage) is a few (dozen) extra bucks.

IMHO, and with the obvious caveat that I work for a managed-hosting company, most people end up spending more of their time doing (bad, or at least suboptimal) sysadmin work than they buy by using cheaper hosting. The example I like to cite is the hypothetical development shop owner who was going back and forth between using us and a cheaper solution provider that didn't include any support. In the end, he might save $100/month/box across ten boxes, but now one of his developers is almost a full-time sysadmin, so he has to hire a new developer. He saved $12,000/year in hosting fees, and now pays an extra $50,000 or $100,000 per year in salary. And if his sysadmin ever quits (or doesn't know the answer to a specialized question, or is on vacation and unreachable when the server crashes), he's screwed.

Anyway, enough ranting. Basically, here are your options, in order from simplest to "best". All numbers approximate and at the bottom end of the scale.

  • Shared ($5/month)
  • Cloud ($15/month)
  • Slice (as distinguished from VPS) ($25/month)
  • VPS (1:1 mapping between virt and host CPUs) ($100/month)
  • Dedicated/Colo ($100/month colo, $200/month dedicated)
  • Managed VPS ($300/month)
  • Managed Dedicated/Colo ($500/month)
  • Custom Enterprise Hosting ($100k+/month)

Of these, BlackMesh offers the last three. Feel free to drop us an email ("sales@...") if you'd like any more information on our offerings. Otherwise, best of luck, and let us know if you find a winner in the other categories.

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