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  • pg 1
      Choose right

     a Web Host
     John December

     Think, what do you expect your web hosting company to be like? Would you rather go for a great
     reliability and 100 % accessibility or is it a wide range of additional services and expanding your
     server's possibilities which is the most important thing?
     There are many aspects you should check and consider before making a final decision.

     I  f the reader follows this general advice
        and looks for problems known about an
     existing Web host, the worst Web Hosts
                                                        Look for Web hosts that have some
                                                    track record. New companies might pro-
                                                    mise great things, but when they go out
                                                                                                    Look at specific instructions about how
                                                                                                    you are going to set up your Web site
                                                                                                    files, the email for your domain name,
     will be avoided.                               of business or get absorbed in another          and other services such as subdomains,
          If you have an online presence and        (perhaps mediocre) company, you may             databases, mailing lists, backups, CGI
     you don't want to operate your own Web         be stuck with lousy service.                    scripts, or secure server hosting.
     server, a reliable company to host your            RESPONSE. Your Web site will be on               Do a sample search on some ques-
     Web site is mandatory.                         a machine deep in some computer room            tions about hosting your site. Look at the
          Today, Web hosting is more efficient      somewhere. How well-connected is the            first steps you would do if you chose this
     and economical than ever before, so you        server to the global Internet?                  Web host.
     should raise your expectations for perfor-         Use some traceroute tools to see how             Do a sample call to their technical sup-
     mance and service. Although you might          long it takes for packets to go back and        port number and ask any questions you
     not know how a Web hosting company             forth from the Web host's machines.             have about their service.
     will perform until you actually use it, the-       For example: http://visualroute.visu             COST. Within reason, cost should
     re are some things to consider up-front        alware.com/                                     be the least of your considerations. By
     when choosing a Web host.                          Keep in mind that the rapid speed           reasonable cost, I mean about $10 or so
          UPTIME. How much of the time is           of Internet communications means that           per month to host a Web site for a small
     your Web accessible to your users? Some        even far-flung server farms are perfectly       or medium organization (for example,
     Web hosts brag about 99% uptime, but this      adequate for Web hosting.                       20 GB of data transfer per month and
     means that your site could be unavaila-            Check the Web hosts site about their        2 GB of disk storage). Special services
     ble 1% (14 minutes) per day, or 87 hours per   server management procedures. Do they           or domain registration would be extra.
     year!                                          have backup servers in place ready to           The main point is that I would not even
          Look for a Web host that publicly dis-    go if the machine holding your Web site         consider a Web host that sells itself as
     plays the uptime of its servers. Reject any    goes down or needs maintenance?                 cheap as its main criteria. A cheap Web
     Web host that does not show a record of            USER SUPPORT. You'll need to take           host is useless if it is down more than
     at least 99.9% uptime. When you choose         some simple steps to deploy and main-           a few minutes a month, has poor support,
     a Web host, make sure that you can get         tain your site. Some Web hosts jam their        is unreliable, or may likely be out of busi-
     a 30-day trial period so that you can          user information with clutter, marketing        ness soon.
     verify this uptime claim.                      double speak, and their own private tech-            In choosing a Web host, look for demons-
          REPUTATION. Companies that do well        nical jargon as well as outdated or incorrect   trated competence as measured by uptime and
     will have a following of satisfied custom-     information. The result is that you can't       user-oriented support information.
     ers. Do a google search and find out pro-      figure out how to deploy and update your
     blems with a candidate Web host. Keep          Web site--a process that need not be com-
     a degree of fairness in mind: any provider     plex at all.
     of any service is going to have some prob-         Look at the user interface and sup-                                   John December
     lems. Look for a pattern of either raves or    port interface at a candidate Web host.                          runs www.december.com
     rants about the company.

55                                                                   April 2007
                                                                                                                           Choose right

MediaTemple                                                           ICDSOFT.com
Reviewed by: Frederic Phillips                                        Reviewed by: John December
Communications Administrator                                          www.december.com
                                                                      I  've had my Web site since May 1995 and have had four Web
                                                                         hosts during this time. I am 100% satisfied with my current

W       e used to use a service called Amacgeniusmedia, but after
        awful technical support, and immense amounts of down-
time we felt we needed to switch. Although it was extremely
                                                                      Web host, ICDSOFT.com, mainly because of its exceptionally
                                                                      good uptime and its highly-usable interface.
                                                                           UPTIME. Their uptime is publicly posted. As of this writing,
inexpensive it wasn't worth the hassle to me and the company.         the machine on which I have my Web site has a cumulative up-
We researched numerous hosting plans, MediaTemple seemed              time of 99.997%. This is the major reason why I chose ICDSoft.
the obvious choice. It had loads of features and plans available,          RESPONSE. I used a visual traceroute service to see how pack-
which were more than enough to suit our needs. Their site was         ets traveled to the Web hosts's servers. I was satisfied that my us-
very easy to use when compared to other hosting companies, and        ers would be able to access the servers easily, particularly users on
registration was a breeze.                                            the east coast of the United States, a major area for Internet use.
    Implementation was excellent, no inconvenience what-                   USER SUPPORT. Right from the start, the user support in-
soever. As a matter of fact our companies work load rocket-           terface was so clean, clear, cogent, concise, and comprehensible

mediaTemple                                                           icdsoft

ed, now that we weren't burdened with slow and and cum-               that it brought a tear of joy to my eye. (My previous Web host
bersome servers many more people signed up to our servi-              had online information that was tortured, cluttered, incompre-
ces.                                                                  hensible, out-of-date, and ill-presented.) I was able to get my
     The service is always excellent, it more than meets my ex-       Web site up and going within minutes of my payment clearing.
pectations. It is always extremely fast and we have not yet had       I prepared my DNS settings, email for my domain, and trans-
any downtime trouble.                                                 ferred my files without ever getting confused or sidetracked, not
     One criticism I have of it though is the lack of PHP5 in their   even once. The interface is beautifully intuitive and the informa-
old SharedServer arrangement, we have yet to upgrade to the           tion presented is clearly understandable. I've never had to ask
GridServer, which I believe has PHP5.                                 for help or technical support.
     I would most certainly use this company again for any                 COST. I hate to say this because it might give ICDSoft ideas
other domains. You have the ability to add many domains               about its price, but I would gladly pay five times what this com-
to one user account, which is executed very intuitively and           pany charges for its services. Competent Internet companies are
have yet to come across another hosting company which lets            so rare that they are easily worth many factors of cost over their
one do this to this extent. I urge other companies to use this        incompetent competition. I hope this company does not lower
hosting plan if they are looking for versatile, cheap, and reli-      its price too much, as I don't want it to compromise service qual-
able hosting.                                                         ity in any way.
     It is very reasonably priced at around £8 a month (varies
depending on exchange rates), with more than enough fea-              quality/price: 10
tures. Having never needed support I cannot comment on that.          support: 10 (Note: the Web hosting has worked continuously, and
MediaTemple is one the best hosting schemes I have ever seen,         the online information is so clear that I've never had to seek techni-
with enough selection to treat the smallest hobbyist sites, to        cal support, so this score is only for the online information)
the biggest multi-billion pound company.                              performance: 10

                                                          www.lpmagazine.org                                                                   56
      Choose right

     Reviewed by: Joshua Doss

     P    rice and flexibility are the main factors for consideration.
          I am not limited to the traditional web/email/file trans-
     fer mode of access and content distribution. I can run stream-
                                                                           great responsibility applies more in this case than with others.
                                                                           They do not
                                                                                provide monitoring of hardware, they give that responsi-
     ing media servers such as Shoutcast, or run a corporate chat          bility to the customer, nor do they provide a backup without
     server such as IRC or Jabber for employees and contractors            paying a hefty price per GB. I do better going to a 3rd party
     in various parts of the world. I can otherwise provide for            in that arena. server4you also noticeably does not provide an
     a more interesting, fulfilling, and productive, online experi-        SLA concerning its hardware or provide any guarantees to
     ence.                                                                 the quality of the hardware. This combined with their cutting
         In the distant past, I used CIHost for more basic purposes.       price points leads me to believe that they purchase their serv-
     In the dedicated server realm, they get clobbered on price. It        ers from parts and assemble on site. So while their network
     seems that they sell the basic server packages just to get their      is up all the time, its your job as the buyer to monitor and
     foot in the door for far more high-end and pricier services.          manage your server and its data. They cut the pain of this by
     Frankly, if I had the money to throw around that they ask for         having a terrific technical support staff that is very responsive
     for such services, I would be able to provide much of what they       after initial contact.
     ask for myself.                                                            Very recently (in October of this year), they underwent
                                                                           a full datacenter move. This move was either ill-planned, poor-
                                                                           ly performed, or both. Customers very publicly reported down-
                                                                           times of up to 3 days straight, and some lost hard drives and
                                                                           all their data on them. Fortunately for us, our main servers
                                                                           were only down a fraction of the time they projected, with
                                                                           the only late restart coming from a server we hadn't had in
                                                                           production yet. Had it gone differently for us, you would be
                                                                           reading me making recommendations about another hosting
                                                                           company altogether.
                                                                                Also, while they are indeed an international company
                                                                           serving North America and Europe, they planned the data-
                                                                           center movement and the downtime window such that every
                                                                           customer they had from Hawaii to Poland would have seen
                                                                           their server go offline during traditional business hours. All
     server4you                                                            in all, server4you is a great small business and they do well
                                                                           by their customers. Their prices are almost pitch perfect,
          - EV1 stands out as a competitor I've recently evaluated, and    and their server configurations are spot-on. They would do
     while their offerings are more diverse than server4you's, none of     well adding a higher tier server configuration for custom-
     their hardware configurations hit me in that sweet spot where         ers who need more CPU, but otherwise they do well for
     I would be extremely tempted to jump ship from my current             themselves and well by me. I would recommend it to other
     host.                                                                 people, as their only black mark against them (albeit huge
          Most shared and dedicated server implementations go              and not at all easy to ignore) is literally a one-time happen-
     without a hitch. The caveat that stands out as a problem spot         stance that should not occur again. I resell their services to
     is their pre-installation of additional security software on their    my customers, and would put my trust and reputation with
     Linux installations. They provide useful packages at the start        them.
     which are easy to live with and not easy to find an RPM install
     for a layperson concerned about security. (I'm thinking fail2ban,
     rkhunter, etc.) However, in my most recent dedicated server           Quality/Price: 7
     migration, I found that a mod_perl package they load by default       Support: 8
     in their Apache configurations limit the filesize downloaded to       Final note: Good technical support, good middle-of-the-road
     2GB. That was not at all its intent (it was intended to keep un-      configurations, and most of all, price for the win. A good choice
     ruly customers from setting up phishing/scamming sites), but          for responsible customers.
     its simply a
          poorly written mod_perl package. Commenting out one
     Apache directive solves the problem. Its impact was mainly in
     the timeline to delivery as it was the last thing we would have
     expected. But now we know, and we're prepared for it for the
     next customer.
          The service works fine and does meet expectations. I would
     say that the time-honored saying of, with great power comes

57                                                                  April 2007
                                                                                                                     Choose right

pair Networks                                                        Abuckamegayear.com
Reviewed by: Sergey Petrov                                           Reviewed by: Ken Wagman
CEO, SoftLogica LLC                                                  Lead Web Designer and Partner,
www.softlogica.com                                                   Two Brothers Software,

S   oftLogica uses pair Networks (www.pair.com) services
    from the very beginning. Since we are selling software on-
line and are not using sophisticated scripts, there are two main     P    rofessional web hosting and a reliable company that I can
                                                                          trust are extremely important for me when choosing a web
requirements: (1) stability (2) quick load times. We are pretty      host. That is why we have used Abuckamegayear.com as our web
happy with them, so we have never changed our web hosting            hosting provider. We chose to go with Abuckamegayear.com as
provider.                                                            our web host ever since we have been up and running. We have
    They have a lot of plans to choose between. All their services   worked with other websites and other windows servers, such as
are well-documented and the company is responsive as well.           1asphost, and have found that it can take weeks to get service
    Our web sites, as far as I remember, never were in down-         support. We did not find this with Abuckamegayear.com, service
time. I'm always ready to recommend pair Networks. The               questions are answered promptly, usually within an hour or two.
implementation process was like a breeze.We just created an              We have found that implementation of new websites has
account and uploaded our web sites.                                  been easily and seamless with Abuckameagayear.com. Gen-

pairNetworks                                                         abuckamegayear

     The technical support is what I especially like in their ser-   erally, we have confirmation that sites are up and running
vices. Their response rate could exemplify for many other servi-     within 24 hours. With other companies I have worked
ces.                                                                 with, it has taken up to 1 week. Transitions to Abuckamegayear.
     One day we decided to switch over to a higher level plan.       com have been smooth and without difficulty. Abuckamegayear.
I was worried about possible downtimes due to relocation from        com is an extremely reliable host and has outstanding cus-
one server to another. The pair Networks representative assured      tomer service. Technical questions are answered in a profes-
me that there will be no more than 10 minutes of inaccessibility.    sional manner by staff that obviously know what they are
In fact, I haven't noticed 1minute!                                  talking about.
     The only drawback I can think of is the fact admin panel            Our newest client www.theespressolounge.net, was ex-
(although gives you a lot of opportunities) could be organized       tremely happy with our suggestion of web server. They had
a bit better.                                                        a small site that was not working for them. Their site was up
                                                                     and active very rapidly after opening an account. The Espres-
Quality/price: 9 (just because nobody is perfect)                    so Lounge has given rave reviews to Abuckamegyear.com for
Support: 10 (they answered all my questions I ever had in            their technical ability.
a timelymanner)                                                          Quality for price is always a concern when choosing or
Overall: 9,5                                                         suggesting a web host. Abuckamegayear.com has hosting pack-
                                                                     ages that start at $10/year. Abuckamegayear.com uses Linux ser-
                                                                     vers, with well over 99% uptime and personal replies with ser-
                                                                     vice requests, our company plans to stay with Abuckamegayear.
                                                                     com for a long time.

                                                          www.lpmagazine.org                                                           58
      Choose right

     Demos                                                                   TotalChoiceHosting
     Reviewed by: Anastasia Knyazhechenko, Andrey Dudarev                    Reviewed by: Comapny's WebMaster
     Paragon Technologie GmbH                                                NetConceal Inc.
     www.paragon-software.com                                                www.netconceal.com

     W       hen I came to Paragon Software Group the web hosting
             was already chosen BUT I know that it was due to DE-
     MOS reputation and quality/price factor which were the most
                                                                             W        e chose TotalChoiceHosting hosting service after having
                                                                                      bad experience (poor support response and big down-
                                                                             times) with a smaller hosting company we used previously. We
     important when choosing the hosting service. Paragon chose              also tried Apollo hosting, but they didn't answer some support
     DEMOS at the very beginning – we were rather sure of DEMOS              tickets, so we decided to sign off and look for a better and more
     quality of service and didn't take into consideration any other         reliable service. The initial steps and the implementation went
     products.                                                               fast, we had no problems.
        We have another web hosting Hosting.RBC.ru just for our .ru               We are really satisfied with TotalChoiceHosting. 100% up-
     domains though.                                                         time is the best we can say. This is a really important advantage.
        It is the alternative way our, BUT here we do not have typical       And we have had no breakdowns so far. Quality of a technical
     hosting scheme of working, we just use it for our RU domains            support is very good. I would definitely use this service again
     and that's all.                                                         and I can honestly recommend to the other companies.

     demos                                                                   total_choice

          DEMOS has a specific system of functioning: me myself do all       quality/price: 7
     the work connected with web hosting service. They do not have           support: 9
     special DEMOS support system or IT specialists there to do our          general: 8
     work. Paragon has its own team of IT specialists and we have the
     24/7 access to the machines. We do all the updates and upgrades
     ourselves, thus the implementation was rather easy and comfort-
     able and we didn't encounter any problems. We don't encounter
     them now as well. We find rather useful the fact everything de-
     pends on us.
          DEMOS has always worked fine and it does now. It just gives
     you the space you pay for and all the other things are done by com-
     panies themselves. We like this system. As for the weak points-
     I remember only one thing – 1.5 years ago there was a great elec-         The next consumers’ test, obviously, in the upcoming issue!
     tricity breakdown in Moscow for several hours. The underground,           You are always welcome to take part in this opinions sharing.
     all the buildings and districts in Moscow were without electricity.       We are happy to hear what are your experiences on the
     DEMOS was supposed to have an emergency electricity source,               chosen field.
     but it didn't. As for other things- I am satisfied with its quality.
          I would recommend it! Our company has worked with them               Probable subjects for the next customers tests:
     for more than 10 years now and we have no reason to change                Notebooks (over $1000)
     the web hosting.                                                          Linux technical support
     quality/price: 10
     support: it has no technical support, don't even know how to              Let us know which issue would you like to be analyzed:
     write about it                                                            editors@lpmagazine.org
     final, general note: 10

59                                                                    April 2007

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