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How to find web hosting that meets my requirements?

I am looking for a website host and have been searching the web for similar websites(similar to my website) and trying to see what hosting company they are using.

I keep looking up details of websites I like on netcraft.com, and I keep finding 'n' number of Netblock owners with Random or generic names. Apart from a few popular ones(eg. Planet.com, MT), I find it extremely difficult to find out who the hosting company is. For eg. Netcraft Site report for a website www.randomwebsite.com gives Netblock owner as RandomWebHoster.com, if I go to RandomWebHoster.com the site does not exist. The DNS is given as ns1.superrandomdns.com, the website superrandomdns.com simply has a page saying superrandomdns.com.

I am looking for a reliable web host with J2EE support for a accounting webapp.

How do I investigate stuff myself if I want to find a good host? Where did you begin when looking for a webhost?

(Please do not down vote the question. My goal is to make host evaluation easier.)

I understand that different type of websites have different needs, eg. a low traffic blog v/s a mission critical webapp.

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marked as duplicate by danlefree Feb 2 '12 at 2:15

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
You could add what you're looking for in a web host to your question and get some recommendations. –  Josh K Aug 17 '10 at 19:41

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Part of the problem you are facing is most web hosts are just resellers of companies like The Planet. Most of them are, in fact, resellers of resellers as companies like Hostgator are resellers of the Planet (actually they lease servers and space) and they have resellers beneath them. So you may be comparing three web hosts to see who has a better product but ultimately they are all selling the exact same service.

When looking for a good host you should prioritize your needs:

  • What technologies will I require (PHP, Perl, Python, Mysql, etc)
  • What is my budget?
  • What will my future needs potentially be?

The biggest issue is overselling. That's when one webhost crams as many sites on to one server as possible. The result is the busy sites drain resources and every suffers for it.

Your best bet is to get recommendations and research them. Keep in mind that no one is perfect and some people are never happy. So if you see a bad review don't automatically write that company off. Get multiple optinions before deciding. (Paypal has a website dedicated to how they suck but they are clearly an excellent payment provider).

If I were to make a recommendation I would say Hostgator. I have a dedicated server with them (day job) and a reseller account (personal stuff) and I have never had anything resembling a problem.

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So since Hostgator sells reseller accounts, which let you resell web hosting - you have resellers of resellers of resellers of... My brain hurts... :) I guess it's turtles all the way down... However, I also use Hostgator (for a VPS), and so far they're great. I didn't realize they didn't have their own datacenter. At least, according to their website they are the Planet's largest customer. –  Cyclops Nov 26 '10 at 14:54

It's very difficult to find a good web hosting service. And, trust me, it's a huge pain in the neck using a useless Hosting Service with poor technical assistance service. Especially when you write your own applications to be run on the server.

As said by John Conde, it's true that most Web Hosters are simply reselling the same type of machines (same systems/servers, with the same OS and the same control panel), most are even resellers of resellers of resellers... For this exact reason, the real difference in now days is not made so much by the machines (unless they are overloaded obviously).

The real difference is made by the SERVICE: how good the Hoster's tech departments are in managing those servers, how fast are in fixing issues, how nice and proactive they try to be when you tell them something does not work.

An example for all: you might have a PHP script that makes the server show a 501 Internal Server Error. You are a good coder and you find out on your own what's the exact line of code in that script that makes the server show a 501. You then copy that single line in another script to do some test on the same server and you eventually see that this new script is still making server show 501, so it's definitely that line of code.

At this point what do you do? You start changing your app, but that's not a good idea cause it might take you a lot of time to workaround such an issue and what happens if your workaround makes your app work on that server, but not on the server of another hoster? Do you make a different patch for any type of hoster???

No, you pay for the hosting service, you pay for technical assistance, therefor you open a ticket on your hoster an you tell them: "I have prepared a PHP script made of just one single line of code (or just really few lines, to show the issue) that shows the server go 501 Internal Server Error, could you plz help me?"

Many web hosters (like these: www.inmotionhosting.com) will simply reply you: "Sorry, but we don't look into code" (even if it's just one line of code), those are the types of web hosters to absolutely avoid. Some other hosters like these (www.qualityhostonline.com) will kindly reply you: "We look into it", and later they discover it's a too strict rule on their Apache mod_security that makes the server run a 501 Internal Server Error. They fix it and you solved all your problems.

The examples provided above (both coming from my personal experience) might help you also in seeing how difficult it is to discriminate among hosters without being deceived by their marketing stuff. They both have nice webistes, full of awards and all those "What they say about us...".

Unfortunately you can discover this only by experience using their services or by following peoples suggestions who have used those hosting service before.

Anyway some way to try a web haoster are:

  1. send them pre-sales question that should be ALSO TECHNICAL, maybe also about things that you don't need, but just to see if the guy knows what you are talking about. You could ask for instance: "Can I make .htm file on you server to be processed by the PHP processors". If they reply you something like: "No, you can't serve HTML files with PHP processor", or even worst they find a ridiculous excuse saying that the server would get overloaded, It definitely means they are useless tech guys, this is the typical hoster that at the 1st problem it happens you will understand what a big mistake you did in buying their service.

  2. By doing (1) you also test how fast they reply (and if they reply, some do not reply at all even on a pre-sales question, I don't think I need to tell you that these hosters must be avoided completely).

  3. ping their main website, many turn down ping on server because they say it might create a security holes. Avoid these hosters, either they want to mask you where their server is located, or even worst they really think ping cause security holes. In nowadays ping can cause secuirty holes to servers managed by useless tech guys who do not know how to prevent those types of attack (generally NOT expert people), do you want those NOT expert people to manage your server?

  4. By doing (3) you can also see where their servers are, if the ping takes too long compared to other local websites, it means their server is somewhere on the moon not in US. (I know they could use different servers, one for their website in US and one in India for your website, but they will have different ping times and you can definitely complain about this when your website is up. They will have then to give you a good explanation or totally refund you).

  5. Don't trust who is selling Unlimited of Whatever. A basic Physics law says: "Nothing can be created or destroyed, everything can be simply changed". Now selling Unlimited means creating something from the vacuum that is not possible in Physics. So they are already cheating on you even before saying "Hello" to you. True that if they give you 25 GB of space for your average size website, you will feel it's unlimited space, but then why don't they just write down that they give you 25GB and not unlimited instead of cheating on you?! It's a way of thinking, morover it's highly probable that they rae simply overselling the space they have. And if their managers/marketers who created their website think in this way, it surely means it's a company driven by marketing guys, the typical guy that does not know anything about tech, but he thinks that is all pretty simple stuff, that it's not a problem. Which is also true from their point of view, because if their server goes down they won't have big problems in losing you as a tiny customer, you provided them what, 25 bucks per year?! But you won't feel the same when your customers will scream calling you on your mobile-phone and shout at you seeing their websites (or even wosrst their emails) being down!

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Pings are fickle things, as ICMP is sometimes treated differently depending on firewalls between you and them. –  Tim Post Aug 18 '10 at 17:01
    
I think that this shows that you need to base host selection criteria on your own needs. I would never consider asking my host for code debugging help, and would actually shy away from hosts that offer this service as it takes resources away from their core values (for my needs). –  JasonBirch Aug 18 '10 at 20:15
    
@JasonBirch: I don't consider either asking my host for code debugging, it was an example to explain that a 501 Internat Server Error shown by a server could be handled in different ways among differnet hosters. Some will understand that is not your fault taking teh time to read a one line of code script file, some others will simply leave you alone answering you "we don't look into code" even if it's THEIR FAULT the server shows a 501 Internal Server Error. –  Marco Demaio Aug 19 '10 at 10:30
    
@Tim Post: could you explain some more? –  Marco Demaio Aug 19 '10 at 10:33

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