Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

A collection of lessons learnt about web hosting

28th March 2008

Putting this blog back on its feet after a spot of web hosting bother caused me to learnt a bit more about web hosting than I  otherwise might have done. Here’s a selection and they are in no particular order:

  1. Store your passwords securely and where you can find them because you never know how a foul up of your own making can strike. For example, a faux pas with a configuration file is all that’s needed to cause havoc for a database site such as a WordPress blog. After all, nobody’s perfect and your hosting provider may not get you out of trouble as quickly as you might like.
  2. Get a MySQL database or equivalent as part of your package rather than buying one separately. If your provider allows a trial period, then changing from one package to another could be cheaper and easier than if you bought a separate database and needed to jettison it because you changed from, say, a Windows package to a Linux one or vice versa.
  3. It might be an idea to avoid a reseller unless the service being offered is something special. Going for the sake of lower cost can be a false economy and it might be better to cut out the middleman altogether and go direct to their provider. Being able to distinguish a reseller from a real web host would be nice but I don’t see that ever becoming a reality; it is hardly in resellers’ interests, after all.
  4. Should you stick with a provider that takes several days to resolve a serious outage? The previous host of this blog had a major MySQL server outage that lasted for up to three days and seeing that was one of the factors that made me turn tail to go to a more trusted provider that I have used for a number of years. The smoothness of the account creation process might be another point worthy of consideration.
  5. Sluggish system support really can frustrate, especially if there is no telephone support provided and the online ticketing system seems to take forever to deliver solutions. I would advise strongly that a host who offers a helpline is a much better option than someone who doesn’t. Saying all of that, I think that it’s best to be patient and, when your website is offline, that might not be as easy you’d hope it to be.
  6. Setting up hosting or changing from one provider to another can take a number of days because of all that needs doing. So, it’s best to allow for this and plan ahead. Account creation can be very quick but setting up the website can take time while domain name transfer can take up to 24 hours.
  7. It might not take the same amount of time to set up Windows hosting as its Linux equivalent. I don’t know if my experience was typical but I have found that the same provider set up Linux hosting far quicker (within 30 minutes) than it did for a Windows-based package (several hours).
  8. Be careful what package you select; it can be easy to pick the wrong one depending on how your host’s sight is laid out and what they are promoting at the time.
  9. You can have a Perl/PHP/MySQL site working on Windows, even with IIS being used in place instead of Apache. The Linux/Apache/Perl/PHP/MySQL approach might still be better, though.
  10. The Windows option allows for ASP, .Net and other such Microsoft technologies to be used. I have to say that my experience and preference is for open source technologies so Linux is my mainstay but learning about the other side can never hurt from a career point of view. After, I am writing this on a Windows Vista powered laptop to see how the other half live as much as anything else.
  11. Domains serviced by hosting resellers can be visible to the systems of those from whom they buy their wholesale hosting. This frustrated my initial attempts to move this blog over because I couldn’t get an account set up for because a reseller had it already on the same system. It was only when I got the reseller to delete the account with them that things began to run more smoothly.
  12. If things are not going as you would like them, getting your account deleted might be easier than you think so don’t procrastinate because you think it a hard thing to do. Of course, it goes without saying that you should back things up beforehand.

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