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Date:
Apr 9, 2015

How to Choose a Hosting Provider

So you are building the prototype of your million dollar app, your site is almost ready to launch and you’re ready to go live! Just one problem — you need a hosting environment that will allow you to start lean and grow bigger as you need.

Picking the right hosting provider is a crucial decision. Picking the wrong hosting provider can mean negative customer experiences, severe growing pains and performance disruption. The right hosting provider will ensure you can continue to serve your customers 24/7/365, and will offer a secure environment to protect and defend your business.

The hosting industry is extremely diverse and competitive. It’s easy to get lost in all the options. Between the cloud revolution, the resurgence of “bare metal”, discount shared hosts and niche providers, hosting gets really confusing really fast. Here’s how to find the host that’s right for you and your needs.

Step One: Identify Your Need

What may be right for one of your websites or applications may not be right for another. What type of site or application do you want hosted?

  • Are you looking to host a large database?
  • Do you have dynamic needs, like big data?
  • Are you hosting a WordPress site — or multiple WordPress sites?

Once you establish your specific need, don’t let yourself be persuaded by misinformation about what’s best for your needs. Many people think Amazon Web Services is the first, best and only partner of choice for businesses of all sizes, but that’s simply not true.

The cloud offers great scalability and flexibility, but will it be enough? Will you need to tap into the dedicated processing power that bare metal (dedicated) servers provide? Or will you need a more comprehensive solution, like hybrid hosting, that combines the best of the cloud and dedicated servers?

Once you figure out what your needs are, you’ll be able to find hosting providers that will help meet those needs.

Here’s a quick guide suggesting different hosting environment options for different use cases. Note, these do not include firewall, raid, or advanced managed services that we would probably suggest for optimal performance and security.

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* Hosting Environment Offered by Codero

Step Two: Set Your Budget

You’ve already got your need identified. Set your budget accordingly. If you’re not going to be crunching numbers or doing any major heavy lifting, it doesn’t make sense to overpay for your hosting service. On the flip-side, you don’t want to undercut your budget and try to sneak by on less-than-ideal hosting needs to save a few bucks per month. A poor user experience, slow load times and prolonged outages are not worth saving a few dollars each month.

The more demanding the needs of your website or application are, the more money you’ll need to devote toward hosting. Just need a place to put your fledgling website? You can set up a cloud instance for a few dollars a month. Need more of a powerhouse of a server? You’ll want to start pricing out dedicated servers, which offer far more power, but also come with a higher price tag.

Here’s a quick pricing guide to get you in your sweet spot:

Hosting Bill

Step Three: Understand the Level of Service You Need

It’s time to filter out the noise. Moving to a host is a major decision. Once you find the right host, chances are good that you won’t be moving anytime soon. That means you’ll be investing recurring money in your host, so you need to make sure the service level your host provides meets your comfort level.

Hosting companies live and die by their service level agreement and their support teams. That’s why it’s so important to make sure to select a host that has the mix of support and service features that  meet your project demands as well as your knowledge level.

Here are a few key hosting service features to look for:

  • Uptime Guarantee: Every host has a SLA, or a Service Level Agreement. This means if you go down for more than the time they guarantee, you deserve a refund for the downtime incurred.
  • 24/7/365 Support: Even if you’re a server wizard or have server administration staff, you still need a support staff you can rely on to troubleshoot things out of your control.
  • Managed Hosting Service: A “managed service,” at its core, means the network, hardware and your OS are monitored and guaranteed to be updated and kept up-and-running.
  • Fully Managed Hosting Service: A “fully managed hosting service” has different names throughout the industry. At Codero, we call it Proactive Managed Hosting because of the proactive nature of the service. This feature typically includes a deeper level of management including infrastructure design assistance, site monitoring, security scanning, automatic updates and application trouble shooting. It’s a great fit for everyone from start-ups that can’t afford a server admin to large organizations that need 360 degree coverage and visibility into their infrastructure.

Chat with your prospect hosting company support and sales agents. Ask lots of questions. You can get a sense for how knowledgeable and responsive the service team is through your initial experience. Who seems to know what you want and wants to help you get the best fit for your needs, rather than the package that lands them the best commission? Choosing a hosting provider means opening an ongoing relationship with a company and its service team. Choose the company that makes your needs the #1 priority.

Step Four: Pick the Hosting Provider That Makes the Most Sense

Your research is all done, so now it’s time to put it all together. By now, you should be left with a small handful of options. These are all hosting providers that offer solutions that fit your needs and your budget, and also have sales and support teams that you feel comfortable handling your critical data.

If you’re having a tough time choosing between a select final few options, look for differentiating factors. Included features like managed services, world-class support teams available 24/7/365 and a 100% Uptime Guarantee are all services that the best hosting providers will include in their offerings.

Remember: there’s no 100% right or 100% wrong choice when choosing a hosting provider. There are, however, good fits and bad fits. You’re beginning an ongoing relationship with whichever company you choose, so the most important thing is to choose one you’re comfortable communicating with for the long haul.

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