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  1. #1

    Small business hosting options?

    Hi,
    I work for a small business, and right now our website is on a "virtual host account" through Nauticom Internet Services. We are pretty unhappy with them - they never upload our log files, they are disorganized, and they've had a few server crashes and we've lost stats, had downtime, etc...
    So I am looking into other options - I started at GoDaddy.com, and talked to their customer service (which I was NOT thrilled by...).
    I am now more confused than I was before.
    There are three options - web hosting, virtual dedicated servers, and dedicated servers - and I don't know the difference from one to the other, what we have now, and what I should consider getting.
    We don't have anything huge (panniergraphics.com) and don't need anything special. I basically want to be able to post things to the website, download .log files on a daily basis, and that's about it. My website is laid out in ActionScript right now, but I am working on converting it to standard HTML.
    Can someone point me in a direction that might help me decide what I need to get and where I should go to get it? Past forum posts, articles, etc. etc.? I really don't understand any of this and need a basic understanding before I can do anything more.
    The hosting options are so dramatically different in price - it's hard to decipher exactly why.
    Thanks for any help.
    Jon

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Hello Jon,

    I just had a look at their site. It appears they just provide standard shared hosting.

    Here are the differences between the 3 types of hosting.

    Shared - You're on a server with other customers, usually 100+ other sites on the same server that usually don't have high traffic and require minimal resources. 90% of the internet falls under this category.

    VPS/VDS - You're on a server with other customers, usually < 20 on the same server. Here you are provided access to the operating system at the root level (you can control anything and everything). There are more resources available to be used and there is increased performance for sites that need more umph. This is very similar to a Dedicated server, except you are still sharing resources.

    Dedicated - You get your own server and 100% its resources. You have access to anything and everything, it is your server to control. This is really for sites that high incredibly high traffic, need a lot of dedicated resources.

    Your site will most likely fall under the shared category. If you have any other questions post em up!

  3. #3
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    Jon,

    When it comes to shared vs vps and dedicated server hosting pricing varies alot due to the amount of resources as well as costs involved.

    With a shared account the provider is putting multiple customers on the same server (quite a few as MrRadic stated already), thus they're able to provide it cheaper (granted with that many sites if you are on a dodgy host the service might have issues with stability).

    VPS you're on a server that is divided up into portions (with less user to server ratio) thus it costs more, that and you receive root/superuser access to your share of the server. As such this is more advanced and can require some learning to get used to (if you aren't familiar with ssh2/linux). Also there are providers who offer managed VPS solutions where they can handle many tasks for you.

    Dedicated servers, as named are just that, you receive an entire server all to yourself and are free to run whatever you wish on it (as long as not in violation of the provider's AUP/any applicable laws). Also dedicateds can be managed as well be it by the provider or an outside server management service/company - just be sure if you go the managed route you ensure you know specifically what they are covering/willing to do and what you need to handle.

    Best of luck in your new hosting venture.
    Justin Schurawlow :: Technology Enthusiast
    Schurawlow PC Repair
    Computer Services for the Lehigh Valley area
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by MrRadic

    VPS/VDS - ... ... ...there is increased performance for sites that need more umph.
    This is not always true. It depends on your provider and the quality of service. Sometimes if your "neigbors" on the VPS are using a tremendous amount of the server's resources, performance might not be that much better and in some cases slower.
    Host In Us Web Hosting Services | www.hostinus.com
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  5. #5
    We are pretty unhappy with them - they never upload our log files, they are disorganized, and they've had a few server crashes and we've lost stats, had downtime, etc...
    So I am looking into other options - I started at GoDaddy.com, and talked to their customer service (which I was NOT thrilled by...).
    I am now more confused than I was before.
    It doesn't look like you're using that many resources -- you just need a host that can keep your server up, isn't trying to service more clients than their hardware/connection can support, and is willing to be there when you e-mail/call.

    I'd say you'd do a bit better if you don't shop based solely on price or bandwidth/drive space offered. As far as what you're seeing offered, here's the layman's take on it:

    • Shared hosting is pretty standard - you're on a server with other clients. For the most part this will do everything you need, unless you're placed on an overworked or unmaintained server.
    • A VPS is a "virtual private server" -- a host will take a powerful machine (say 4 processors and 32G RAM) and partition it into what appear to be a bunch of smaller servers, each entitled to a portion of the underlying hardware. The big advantage to this from my perspective is that you can have root access to your VPS, because if you do something stupid and wedge your system, it won't affect anyone else on your machine.
    • A dedicated server is one that sits there and does nothing but service your requests. This'll work, but it's likely way more than you need.


    Just shop around, and be willing to ask questions. Call them and see what their response time is like. Ask if your server has redundant hard drives and power supplies. Ask about monitoring, and make sure they'll offer a guarantee if you're not happy.

    There are some solid hosts out there.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    I'm currently hosting under Precision Effect, for a solid nine months and I have never looked back. They offer amazing uptime, with very little, if any, downtime.

    They offer a solid package for those in need of business needs, as such, their "Precision Pro" plan offers 20GB of webspace, with 100GB of bandwidth. More than plenty enough for those small businesses. Plenty of room to expand as well. On top of that they place your account on a box with 90% less customers, which gives you less hiccups.

    Their support staff is phenominal, and are always ready to assist in your every issue. Check them out at www.precisioneffect.com - give it a look thru and i'm plenty assured if you do sign-up, you will not look back and you will be pleased.
    Personal Blog: Here | Currently Hosted By: GoDaddy | Twitter: @Quartz87

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    You are currently using asp pages so you will need a web host that offers windows hosting. If you convert the site to html that will open up many more choices.

    I believe that a regular shared hosting account will more than plenty as I doubt you use more than 5gb of monthly transfer.

    As for why you are seeing the different price ranges it really has to do with reliability and customer service. Not always but in most cases you do get what you paid for. If you are after reliability which I am sure you are, stay away from 100GB+ of monthly transfer packages.
    PrimeHost Inc. - Canadian Web Hosting PrimeHost.ca - Canada's Prime Web Host
    █ Reliable Web Hosting for Business and Personal Websites on Canadian Servers

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrRadic
    VPS/VDS - ...There are more resources available to be used and there is increased performance for sites that need more umph.

    This is marketing hyperbole that has been repeated enough times that people speak it as fact.

    To the OP, get a semi-dedicated account: a low-use shared server package. Someone else manages the server while you manage your work. Performance is steller, if you have a good provider(as with anything), and you can scale as necessary.



    Kind Regards,

  9. #9
    Jon, your site does it use any kind of database back end? That could affect things as well.

    Also, stats. It's ashame more hosts don't realize just how important stats and logs are these days, solid web analytics are king.
    Unfortunately for an active website logs represent alot of diskspace and many hosts either don't backup the logs or delete them quickly to avoid them eating up backup and diskspace on already overprovisioned servers. Make sure they offer a great analytics package. I'm partial to smarterstats from smartertools.com because it allows your stats to compressed down into their database and then can export raw logs as necessary. While we're talking webstats definitely sign up for google analytics too, it's free and integrates nicely with your adwords. Plus it's good to cross reference your stats numbers from time to time.

    Jess
    <<Please see rules for signature setup>>

  10. #10
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    Personally it seems you should stay with a shared host for the time being, but try to find one that has better reliability.

    Also it doesn't sound as if you currently have a control panel. You might take a look at Plesk: http://www.swsoft.com/en/products/plesk/demo/

    Most control panels (I can't speak for all because I haven't worked with all of them) will allow the downloading of logs directly from the control panel and have some form of integrated statistics.

    I would look around and see what your options are.

    Also, moving from ASP to HTML isn't that great of a move. For the most part dynamic content is becoming standard and scripting languages like ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, and others facilitate this.

    Moving to standard HTML will eliminate this option and isn't always the best thing.

  11. #11
    Wow. Wow wow wow. Thanks for the many, many helpful responses. I wasn't sure if ANYONE would respond, let alone everyone!!!
    So... let's make sure I understand everything and know what I'm getting into.


    I don't believe I need to be on a VPS/VDS/Dedicated server. We don't have a huge website, and we are averaging hits in the thousands, not millions. So shared hosting is the way to go. I don't want to be worried/consumed with all the different management things I would have to do with a server - I deal with that enough on a daily basis. I just want to plop new photos up, new text, new pages, and have that be that.

    I want a server that has redundant hard drives, meaning they back up nightly, I assume?

    Obviously, they should be backed up on battery backups.

    I am not sure what you mean, dzeanah, about monitoring. What is that? What should I be looking for?

    I looked at Precision Effect. The Precision level seems like more than enough space and bandwidth for me. The PrecisionPro looks better, but might be too much for me. Also, why would I want 3 hosted domains? Does that mean 3 different websites? I am already registered with someone else for my domain until 2015... Also, I don't see a phone number or anything to call for support - that seems like a bad sign to me. Is there any type of a "reviews" website for web hosting companies? Does anyone else out there have suggestions as to good web hosting companies? All the sites look the same, and I don't know what more to be looking for - as far as server speeds and such...

    I do want Windows hosting, because I won't be straying away from my ASP pages for a while.... if at all.

    Why are there transfer limits? To cut down on bandwidth?

    My site does not have a database back end, I don't think. I don't even know what that is, how about that!!!

    I want .log files. Our sister division uses .log files and creates cool charts and graphs, and I'd love to be able to do that - haha! Seriously, though, I am going to start doing a lot of tracking and monitoring of where traffic comes in from - as I am in control of all the marketing materials for my company, as well. Alot of this has been put on me in the last 3 months or so, and I'm trying to get my arms around everything. What does Smarter Stats do, exactly? What is Google Analytics? What can I do with that? Stats are new to me - but I know I need them!!!

    What about a control panel? What would I want that for? Can I automate the downloading of .log files with a control panel? i.e. a scheduled time to download the new log file every day? Is there anything that can do that?


    Phew..... thanks for all the help - it has all been really great. I'm working on weeding my way through all this stuff.... right now it's all Greek to me.
    Thanks again. Very much.
    Jon

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonkovach
    I looked at Precision Effect. The Precision level seems like more than enough space and bandwidth for me. The PrecisionPro looks better, but might be too much for me. Also, why would I want 3 hosted domains? Does that mean 3 different websites? I am already registered with someone else for my domain until 2015... Also, I don't see a phone number or anything to call for support - that seems like a bad sign to me. Is there any type of a "reviews" website for web hosting companies?
    Hello, 3 hosted domains means you can host 3 different websites on that particular plan. We currently do not offer phone support, although we do have live chat, extremely fast ticket responses, forums, etc.

    As far as reviews go, searching this forum would be your best bet. Search for the company's domain name without the tld (ie: If the company's website is whthosting.com, search for whthosting).

    You can also search places like Google, etc., but watch out for them top lists.

    Quote Originally Posted by jonkovach
    I do want Windows hosting, because I won't be straying away from my ASP pages for a while.... if at all.
    We operate on Linux.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonkovach
    I want a server that has redundant hard drives, meaning they back up nightly, I assume?
    Redundant drives "Can" be a backup but isn't always. Some hosts use redundant drives in RAID arrays to prevent data loss, others use them as backups.

    Either method the data is still internal to that specific server.

    If you want the best uptime option look for a host using Raid 1 or Raid 10 that also does nightly backups.

    Quote Originally Posted by jonkovach


    Why are there transfer limits? To cut down on bandwidth?
    Transfer limits are in place to limit the amount of bandwidth. Although you have to realize your average small business site doesn't use a lot of bandwidth. I think our average small business customer only uses around 2GB of bandwidth a month on a heavy month.


    Quote Originally Posted by jonkovach
    I want .log files. Our sister division uses .log files and creates cool charts and graphs, and I'd love to be able to do that - haha! Seriously, though, I am going to start doing a lot of tracking and monitoring of where traffic comes in from - as I am in control of all the marketing materials for my company, as well. Alot of this has been put on me in the last 3 months or so, and I'm trying to get my arms around everything. What does Smarter Stats do, exactly? What is Google Analytics? What can I do with that? Stats are new to me - but I know I need them!!!


    What about a control panel? What would I want that for? Can I automate the downloading of .log files with a control panel? i.e. a scheduled time to download the new log file every day? Is there anything that can do that?
    I know for fact that Plesk will give you access to the raw access logs you are seeking. I'm not sure about the other control panels, but I would expect at least Helm to do the same.

  14. #14
    I want a server that has redundant hard drives, meaning they back up nightly, I assume?
    No. Both are necessary:
    • Redundant drives means if a hard drive fails (the most likely thing to fail) the server will keep on chugging without data loss. The simplest way of doing this is to have the drives "mirrored," so you've got 2 sets of your data.
    • Backups are also necessary. It's uncommon but I have seen multiple drives in a redundant array fail, which meant data loss. Data should be backed up offsite because lots of things can happen other than drive failures that would lose your data: user/admin deleting things by mistake, a web site getting hacked, a former employee sabatoging your site, floods (there were data centers in New Orleans for Katrina, you know) earthquakes, companies going out of business, etc.
    • Note that a host that provides both of these doesn't excuse you from doing your own backups as well. Never put yourself in a place where someone else's ignorance/lazyness/incompetence can damage your business. Well, no more than necessary, at least.


    I am not sure what you mean, dzeanah, about monitoring. What is that? What should I be looking for?
    If you look at the "is GNAX down" thread from yesterday, you'll see that around 6:57PM EST a lot of folks here noticed problems with their network that were quickly diagnosed to be with the network at the data center. This is because they were being proactive and looking for problems to speed up their response time to failures.

    Hopefully they're also monitoring hard drive space, load, and other issues that allow users/servers to be moved/upgraded in a way that minimizes reduced performance due to growth or to quickly diagnose new issues that pop up. In a perfect world your provider will be proactive about possible problems; if the first sign of a failure is a customer calling, then there's something wrong.

    Also, why would I want 3 hosted domains? Does that mean 3 different websites?
    Generally that means 3 different domain names. That might be yourbusines.org/.com/.net, or whatever other way you want to segment things.

    You certainly don't need to use them.

    Also, I don't see a phone number or anything to call for support - that seems like a bad sign to me.
    Lots of web hosts prefer to provide support via e-mail/chat/trouble tickets. Lots of people do too. I prefer telephones, as (it seems) do you.

    That's not to say that non-telephone support is a bad thing -- my control panel provider (H-Sphere) doesn't do telephone support, but I've still received excellent support from them.

    I do want Windows hosting, because I won't be straying away from my ASP pages for a while.... if at all.
    That's a good thing to recognize, because a number of hosts (like me) don't offer it.

    Note that Windows hosting is going to cost more than Linux generally, and that's because Microsoft's licensing requires a monthly fee be paid per user account -- it's passed on to the consumer (you).

    Why are there transfer limits? To cut down on bandwidth?
    Because that's a main cost for providers. Well, that and power...

  15. #15
    I got this from fremonthost.com. Has anyone ever heard of them? How do these answers sound to you guys (and gals)?

    1. You are more than welcome to put up an online store for your site. There are a few customers who have done that already.

    2. We have both Windows and Linux plans.

    3. The Windows server is utilizing Plesk for a hosting control panel which among other things gives you complete access to the log files. The log files stay in your directory as long as you would like. Although it is usually a wise idea to download the log files to your own computer as they can take up a lot of space over time. Yes, they are available via FTP.

    4. The servers are setup using redundant drives in a RAID 1 configuration. The server is backed up nightly and the backup files moved to another server.

    5. We're monitoring the server with Nagios. If something needs to tweaked to increase performance and it won't negatively affect any other customer, then yes it'll be done.

    6. There are roughly 50 other customers on the Windows server at this time.

    Jon

  16. #16
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    There windows shared plans look to be fairly priced (due to costs involved in windows hosting services). I'd be a bit leary on the answer they gave regarding "tweaking the server(s)" as it seems to be somewhat vague, however it does make sense as most providers will be open to making adjustments.

    I'd also suggest google searching their name if you haven't yet (as well as on WHT), to try and find some feedback/reviews (that aren't located anywhere on their site).
    Justin Schurawlow :: Technology Enthusiast
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  17. #17
    I found this site: findmyhosting.com
    To get reviews of websites.
    It seems reliable - but I can't tell. Anyone know about this? Or any other sites?
    Jon

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonkovach
    I found this site: findmyhosting.com
    To get reviews of websites.
    It seems reliable - but I can't tell. Anyone know about this? Or any other sites?
    Jon
    HostJury seems like a reliable source for reviews, also you may want to search across this forum as all reviews require verification, so there aren't very many fake ones...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrRadic
    HostJury seems like a reliable source for reviews, also you may want to search across this forum as all reviews require verification, so there aren't very many fake ones...
    Thank you for your recommendation!

    Just be aware that not all reviews can be considered reliable.
    Your best source is here on WHT & on sites that actively filter their reviews.

    Avoid top-10 lists as they're generally entirely based on affiliate payouts.
    Best of luck with the hunt!
    David
    Web hosting by Fused For businesses with more important things to do than worry about their hosting.

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