In the growing competitive web hosting industry, many providers have forgotten the basics of web hosting, either it is via dedicated servers, VPS or simply shared hosting plans. Instead of simply focusing on numbers alone, a hosting provider needs to have a few basic services and guarantees in place before accepting any new customers.
1) Third Party, Verified Server Uptime
This is shockingly lacking with many dedicated server providers offering VPS, reseller and shared hosting services on their dedicated servers. Many web hosting companies will verify their uptime internally but will not be using a third-party service that actually monitors and confirms uptime statistics. 100% uptime is unrealistic and unfortunately advertised too often. A third party monitoring service such as the APS Certification Rating is a solid uptime verification service with several levels of confirmed uptime from APS300, APS350, APS400 and finally the APS500 awarded to those with the best uptime possible 24/7.
2) Technical Support. Reactive or Proactive?
If the service provider is offering technical support beyond the basic network and hardware issues, then it is important to understand exactly what kind of support will be offered. Fully managed servers will have proactive technical support which involves technicians logging in to a server on a regular basis to perform security checks, software updates, and routine maintenance on a dedicated server to ensure everything is running at optimal speed and that the server is kept secure. Proactive technical support is much more expensive than any other support available.
Reactive support can in many cases provide the same support but on a “per request” situation. It would be up to the customer to simply request at any time to ask a dedicated server provider to update and secure anything that they feel is required. One big advantage of reactive support is a much lower monthly cost. Reactive support would also include any issues that arise that the hosting client needs technical support with and should be included without charge, but this would depend on the service provider. Be sure to ask. Having a web-based control panel and security software/hardware installed can alleviate many future issues a great deal.
3) Security. Secure it or be Sorry.
It is always better to prevent security breaches and ominous attacks than to deal with them once they have happened. A good wall of defense should always be the first priority for any dedicated server and need not be terribly expensive, especially if a web hosting provider can provide these services bundled with their hosting plans or ability to provide discounted offers from other third-party security services. It is a well-known fact that preventing successful attacks from happening in the first place is much less costly than dealing with the repercussions of a compromised dedicated server. This can be accomplished via software or hardware and daily scanning. It is also important to ensure a server owner stays up to date on recent vulnerabilities and current exploits. A good place to start will be with your hosting provider. Ask them for their security services and what they provide as a means of securing a dedicated server, VPS or any hosting account. Cost should be a factor, but not the only deciding one. If security is cheap, so will be the security and mostly useless.
4) Backups. Can you Risk Losing Everything?
Data loss can happen either via failed hardware or a compromised server. Without backups, a server can be at risk of losing valuable data and many times there is no way to retrieve it. Backing up data to another remote server is the ideal choice and with a password. This can be done via another dedicated server for the sole purpose of backing up data or via a backup service provided by the hosting provider or third party provider. Another option is to use a secondary hard drive on the same server, however, this will only be useful in a hard drive failure on the main drive. If the server is compromised, the second hard drive will also be at risk.
These four points can help a great deal in running a successful online business and keeping an online presence. If one of these topics are lacking, then it can be cause for concern if and when they are needed. Finding out at the time of need will be a tough learning experience and one that can be easily avoided when trusting your data with a dedicated server provider.