Hosting Helpful Info

Hosting:   The amount you pay to host your website depends on several factors of course, one being how much value the website provides to you or your business.  That will not be easy to put on paper initially so you must consider the additional factors.

Hosting companies compete on several levels, the most common being price per month for a given amount of space and a given amount of transferred data.  Since all do not provide the same amount of space and amount of transferred data, you cannot go on price alone.  The price is important but only after you compare all other factors.

The space consideration depends on the amount of space you need currently and how much you will need in the near future.   Simple enough.  Calculate the size of your website and add 25%.  If you go over the initial allotment, you can always pay extra.  Plans often offer 50 Meg starting out but your website may only be 20 Meg.  That should not be an incentive to increase your website content.  With more content, more data gets transferred.  Why is that important?  Read on.

The "amount of transferred data" is the least thought about part of the formula, and for good reason, it is the least understood.   Even with minimal understanding, it still gets put on the back shelf of the mind.  Part of the problem is even after understanding it, how do you use it in the formula since it involves predicting the future.  Let me explain.

Amount of transferred data is the amount of data that the hosting company will allow you to transfer before starting to charge extra.  Transfer what where when?  When you load files onto your website, you are transferring data from one computer to another.  One computer is on your end and the other is on their end.  That means some of that computer's processing power has to be exerted to receive the files and store them on the area that is to be your website's storage area.  Simple enough.  You know how big your website is and you know how often you will be sending the files to the hosting computer, probably not that often unless you make lots of updates and changes.  Initially, there may be several changes until your website settles in its final phase of development.  Now, any changes made will depend on the type of website you have.  If it displays current events to keep customers informed, then you may be updating files every day.  No matter how much you update your files, you will soon find that you are nowhere near the allowed amount of transfer as outlined in your available amount of transferred data (unless it is extremely low).  So no problem right?

Your amount of transferred data is also affected every time a visitor wishes to view pages from your website.  The hosting computer again gets involved.  One viewing of your entire website could eat up as much of the amount of transferred data as transferring every file there in the first place.  What you need to be concerned about is how many times this will need to happen. Of course, it depends on the number of visitors and how many pages are viewed.

If you have a great website and advertise it well or the word gets out, your website could be swamped with visitors and every one of them gets the hosting company's computer involved.  While it is dishing out web pages to be viewed, it is keeping track.  Occasionally you hear about the horror story of a kid's website getting mentioned somewhere in cyberspace and suddenly the entire world comes visiting.  Cheap exposure right?  Right until the bill arrives for $3,000 to pay for the transferred data charges when the allotment was used up but visitors continued.

Make sure you understand the charges applied after the allotment is used up.  Understand any caps, denial of service to visitors, etc.  If your website is set up to take advantage of the additional traffic, then the return in revenue may outweigh the extra hosting charges.  If your intake is 10 times as much as the extra charges, you are in luck.  If your website provides information without generating any revenue, the increased traffic may end up costing you.

Understand that the amount of data for each web page adds up.  Graphics take up more space than regular text.  You want to keep graphics within check, make sure they are no larger than what is necessary, and are in a format that keeps them as small as possible for the quality you want to present.  This is not to scare you but more to make you aware.  Some companies are now offering unlimited amount of transferred data.  Hurray! Right?  Well, yes and no.  Unlimited transfer has been abused and many companies are shying away from offering "unlimited" transfer but instead, offering a very large number as the limit for transfer.  The companies that offer large amounts of transfer can because of how they are connected to the backbone, whether they own their own servers, or are set up to make the offering simply from an accounting standpoint.  Some companies are so entrenched in their current offerings, and also due to the number of clients that would be affected, that they have maintained the status quo, just to have the same cash flow.  Regardless of what transfer a company does offer, large amounts or unlimited transfer does not come without responsibility though.  That means that your files should not be unnecessarily large; don't waste the resources just because your account has unlimited or a large amount of transfer allocated.

Besides the initial consideration of price, space allotted, and amount of data transferred allotment, there are several other factors to take into account.  You should also be concerned about how well the hosting company's computers can allow Internet users to view your website contents.  Another factor is the availability of the host's computers (e.g., what percentage of time are they up).  Another is the amount of statistics that can be provided to you about the traffic your website is seeing.

Provided your website is fairly simple (does not use a database or other services such as a secured site), you can get hosting at an affordable rate on shared servers.  Hosting prices generally range from $5 to $35 per month if the website is hosted on a shared server.  Your site is hosted on the same server that hosts several other sites, meaning possibly several hundred other sites will share the same server.  You can get dedicated hosting (servers only for your website).  This is the most expensive route.  It is not uncommon to pay as much as $600 a month.  If you are in the market in the biggest way, it might be the way to go.  If you are just starting out and want to see what type of traffic you get, there are less expensive alternatives.  The less expensive the costs, the more likely that you share the host with several other websites.  There could be 200 to 300 sites all sharing the same server.  If your traffic is low, and the others do not hog up all of the bandwidth, you can see that this is a very economical method of starting to have web presence.

Availability is also important if you expect to have 24 hour traffic.  Some hosting companies advertise 95 to 99% guaranteed up-time.  Sounds good right?  What about the amount of downtime those guaranteed uptimes translate to? What happens if they do have troubles?  You don't get compensated for the down time unless the hosting company is down for more than what the agreement said.  Do the math.  If your site is up 95% of the time, that means your hosting company could be down for more than 18 full days over the course of a year.  99% up-time means your hosting company could be down for more than 3 full days over the course of a year.  99.9% means the hosting company could be down for no more than 525.96 minutes out of a year (8.766 hours, or .36525 days). Take a look at some of the calculations for various guaranteed uptimes, and what it translates to possible downtime.

Based on 365.25 days in a year (525960 minutes)

 Guaranteed Up-time  Possible Downtime Possible Downtime Possible Downtime
Percent Min/year Min/year Hours/Year Days/Year
95 .0 499662 .000 26298 .0 438 .3 18 .2625
99 .0 520700 .400 5259 .6000 87 .66 3 .6525
99 .5 523330 .200 2629 .8000 43 .83 1 .82625
99 .7 524382 .120 1577 .8800 26 .298 1 .09575
99 .9 525434 .040 525 .9600 8 .766 0 .36525
99 .95 525697 .020 262 .9800 4 .383 0 .182625
99 .99 525907 .404 52 .5960 0 .8766 0 .036525
99 .999 525954 .740 5 .2596 0 .08766 0 .00365

In spite of the technology available to ensure that the servers do not go down, servers do occasionally fail.  In one sense, you could say due to "humans" writing the software, but more often than not, the reason for downtime is not software failure but errors due to other things caused by humans, such as server upgrades or configuring the software.  Every company doing hosting likes to think that they have the best server hardware, the best server software, the best technical people, and therefore, there shouldn't ever be any problems.  No matter where you work, or no matter what you do, you know that the more people involved, the more chances for a problem to pop up.  Overall, the very best hosting companies have humans working for them, and all are susceptible to the human factor.  A server upgrade that is supposed to take 5 minutes turns into 30 minutes.  It happens more often than not.

There are companies that run fault-tolerant systems, and can upgrade hardware and software without any downtime, simply by upgrading an offline system, bringing it up, then switching your website to the alternate server in real time, upgrade your primary server, switch your website back in real time, and no one will ever notice the difference.  You will have to pay extra to get this additional guarantee of up-time.*  Is it worth it to pay for the extra up time?  It depends on what you are hosting.  Fault tolerance certainly has its place for things such as banking, telecommunications, medical situations, and many others.  Unfortunately, the costs are not so competitive with shared hosting.  Therefore, for most websites, being down no more than an hour or two in a year is livable.

The big buzz-word these days is "Cloud" Hosting. What exactly does that mean? The word "Cloud" is also used to refer to the Internet itself, so what does Cloud Hosting mean compared to regular hosting, since both are hosted in the Internet? No doubt, the word Cloud gets mis-used and abused quite often, then spread around by non-technical folks, further complicating the problem. Furthermore, many Internet Service Companies have taken advantage of the "Cloud" buzz word to attach to any services they offer, because this "Cloud" thing is supposed to be something nice, or even great! Just about any hosting company is offering and promoting their "Cloud" hosting services, as if everyone needs it. As soon as the potential customer starts investigating they realize that "Cloud" hosting costs more. "Cloud" service companies had to scramble to make the pricing more confusing but make it sound like it is only slightly more, or nearly the same, or even less than conventional hosting, at the same time pricing the services by basic, lows, and peaks.

"Cloud" hosting is fairly simple in one sense. For companies that have large websites (especially e-commerce sites), and may have enormous traffic swings, their web hosting demands are drastically different than most. If they reserve the bandwidth and computing power/simultaneous connections to handle the largest of loads, they might be paying 50 times the average costs, and 100 times the costs of what they could be charged at the low traffic times. If on the other hand, they reserve fewer services (lower bandwidth, fewer simultaneous connections), they will lose sales during the peaks, plus frustrate potential customers. The solution is a method of hosting where the hosting server has the ability to adjust according to demand. The processing can be spread out over multiple processors, and likewise any additional diskspace needed during these peaks. Essentially, hosting that can handle the ups and downs. That is what "Cloud" hosting is. For the largest of e-commerce sites, it might save them money over conventional hosting since they can pay as needed, as opposed to paying for extra "just in case." For static content websites, you generally do not have the large swings necessary to justify "Cloud" hosting. In other words, "Cloud" hosting is a form of insurance. You pay a little extra for the protection, just in case you need it.

Regardless, of what your needs are, if it is the first time, then it can get pretty complicated.  We can alleviate those complications by helping you with hosting choices.  We have made arrangements with host providers to help get your website hosted and in a reasonable amount of time. We even have same day service (check out some example plans here).

If you need help, feel free to contact us.

Also Read

Intro Introduction to Web Development Services
Why Why you need a web page.
Stats This should scare you (at least back then it did).
Prices Packages, Prices, Options
Extras Extras Prices (with Descriptions)
Additional Services FTP, Link Maintenance, Webmaster, Proofread, Backup, Restore
Domain Name Registering    |    Web Hosting    |    e-mail Hosting    |    Websites Explained
Web Development Terms & Conditions    |    Web Development Guarantee    |    Web Development Disclaimer
US Copyright Office    |    Copyright Basics    |    10 Copyright Myths

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