Hi. I'm involved in a startup venture. We will be offering hosting to some fairly high-traffic sites via a template engine/WYSIWYG-editor we've developed. We will also provide our users with email and domain hosting for their sites. Some of these sites may be political in nature, so we worry somewhat about being a single point of failure. We don't want a DDoS to disable all of our sites.
I've been assuming we need dedicated or managed hosting (what, exactly, is the difference?), but in that situation we're still on one or two servers. Given that we probably can't afford multiple servers at different sites, can anyone here recommend which managed/dedicated hosting providers have proven anti-DDoS systems and reliable, quick technical support?
If we were using dedicated hosting and the system had a massive hardware failure, what sort of response time for full restore should we expect? What sort of questions should we be asking perspective hosts to help us decide if they really do know what they're doing and will be able to avoid, or quickly recover, from failures.
We would need CPanel to be installed on our machine to manage the email and domain hosting. Would we expect our host to maintain the CPanel install?
Thanks. We have a lot of combined development and shared-hosting experience, but this will be our first venture involving large-scale solutions.
To protect against DoS attacks you will need a hardware firewall. Most dedicated server providers will provide this at an extra cost, eg HiVelocity charges an extra $50/Mo for it. Note this will add to the amount of configuration you will need to do so it may be worth looking into a host which will configure it for you.
The difference between dedicated and managed: dedicated means you get a server and you install everything and keep everything running smoothly, though you can expect reboots, hardware replacement and the initial setup from your host. Managed hosting is more expensive and more suited to the non-technical user. You basically get everything done for you and can expect your host to install and configure things as you see fit.
Hardware replacement times vary from host to host - best to actually ask them. I'd say a reasonable time is 2 hours considering it that's 2 hours downtime on top of ensuring all data is intact after a bad shutdown etc. Managed hosts will generally have a better response time as will those who actually own their datacenters (Liquidweb, HostDime...)
You can expect a dedicated server provider to install cPanel but you'll need to configure it (and there's a lot to do if you want it properly secured and optimised). Managed providers should do it for you. You could also consider paying your dedicated server company or a third party ~$30 to do this for you (what I recommend).
Be sure to spread your sites across multiple IP addresses (don't put all of them on just one). This way, in the case of DDOS, you could nullroute one IP and not have everything down. Of course protection is ideal, but it's still a good practice.
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If you are referring to small number of sites I would recommend having them on multiple shared servers to avoid single point of failure. On the other hand if its large number of sites, I would recommend a fully managed dedicated server. Also make sure you have a hardware firewall and if you can afford it host your sites on dedicated IP's (as already mentioned) this way its easy to locate and terminate the attacker, without taking down your other sites.
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What do you think is a good way for us to judge if a managed hosting company has the technical expertise to maintain our server well? What sort of probing questions should we ask to determine if they will be able to recover quickly from a failure?
Also, if we were to go with a shared hosting option, can we use a reseller account and expect our shared host to somehow distribute the sub-accounts that we make across multiple servers?