The following questions represent the
most important elements to consider when selecting a Web Hosting
provider. Since your site is a direct reflection of your
organization, finding a company that meets your needs and offers
a superior hosting environment is critical.
1. What speed of access does the server farm
high speed access is obviously key to having a responsive Web
site. The provider should offer a minimum of an OC-3 (155 Mbps)
connectivity with sufficient bandwidth available for each client
being hosted. This bandwidth should also preferably be connected
to a high speed Internet backbone.
2. Does the server farm have redundant
is essential for providing uninterrupted service. With only one
connection point, if the Internet line goes down, then all Web
service is interrupted. Currently our connectivity is
through Genuity & BBNPlanet, with future installations
scheduled for AT&T & NetAxs, and UUNET.
3. How much control do I have over the Web
you make changes anytime you want? Do these changes need to be
audited? Can you name the site with your own domain name? Can
you place custom CGI scripts on the server? Your Web site is a
direct reflection of your company. As such, you want to have
sufficient control of the site to portray your company's image.
4. How is server security maintained?
the integrity of your site is nearly as important as maintaining
the availability of it. Having your server "hacked"
into is not a trivial occurrence. Make sure that your provider
has taken the necessary steps to secure your Web site. Physical
security of the server, partitioning of users on shared servers,
ability to encrypt user access, and the software security of the
server must all be carefully set up to prevent unauthorized
5. How scalable is the service?
best thing that can happen is that your Web site is tremendously
popular. But if this happens, can the Web hosting provider meet
the demand? Any Web hosting provider needs to be able to easily
add bandwidth and processing power to meet any level of demand.
They also should monitor both the servers and the Internet
connections so that any traffic or congestion problems are fixed
well before the client knows about it.
6. Is the server information backed up to
the information on the Web server is changing all the time, the
hosting service needs to do daily backups of the information you
are hosting. Preferably, they should also periodically take a
dump tape off site. This is done in case some disaster precludes
loading from the regular dump tape.
7. Are server support, server monitoring and
server availability all covered by a 24x7 service policy?
World Wide Web has no down time. You need your server to be
available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the event of
problems, you need to have a real person available to take your
phone call. It is also preferable that the hosting service
provide for automatic monitoring of your Web site. This way, if
there is a problem with the site they will know about it
8. Are high performance Web servers used?
it is not recommended, a Web site can be hosted on a standard
desktop machine configuration. However, this machine will not be
able to support very robust access. The Web servers should have
fast CPUs, a lot of memory, and high speed disk drives.
9. Is there a secure transaction hosting
if you are not engaging in transactions over the Internet today,
you might be tomorrow. Your provider should have an option to
have either SSL or PCT encryption set up on your Web site. These
encryption protocols allow you to securely get information from
your Web site visitors (such as credit card information). Your
provider should also make provisions for getting the sensitive
information from the Web server to your office location in a
10. How much Internet experience does the
this seems like an obvious question, you would be amazed at how
many companies have less than 6 months of experience in Internet
services. Experience does count, and is very important when
selecting a Web hosting provider.
11. How knowledgeable are the sales and
this may seem like an obvious question, but actually is an
important point to consider. When you are talking to a potential
provider, ask some Internet questions and make sure you are
happy with the answers. Also, be sure to call the technical
support line. Since these are the people you will be dealing
with, you should feel comfortable with them. Finally, check out
the Web support pages. The FAQs and other documents will most
likely be your main resource for answering questions.
12. Does the provider supply monthly traffic
primary reason to put up a Web site is to attract visitors.
Monthly traffic reports supply you with the feedback you need to
make sure your site is doing everything it should be.
13. Does the provider have a good client
at the customer list of your provider. Are they good customers?
Are their Web sites easy to get to?