How to Find a Web Host ?
Most ISPs offer a host of similar services, which is great for you as someone wanting to host a site, because there is a lot of competition. Prices will vary basically on competence and feature sets.
The better an ISP is, typically the more they will charge for their services. If your ISP is incapable of maintaining a decent quality connection to the Internet, your site will be unresponsive or worse just plain unavailable.
In my previous article, we discussed the differences in credit card authorization procedures and gateways between the United States and the United Kingdom. If we continue that theme here, we can say that generally speaking, hosting is cheaper in the US than in the UK and so there’s an incentive to host in the US to save money. I will be publish article about hosting locations as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there are no really good UK-centric online resources for finding hosting companies capable of hosting sites like earningfair, so if you do want to host in the UK, you’ll have to pick up a magazine from the newsstand. If you want to host in the US, one resource for finding hosts is offered by CNet.
When you’re shopping around for hosts, the way we’ve built the site in this book means that we have to be careful and study which services the ISP provides, as many will fall short of our requirements. The main reason for this is that we’ve created our own Visual Basic components.. Traditionally, ISPs don’t like to put homegrown components on shared servers, as they may misbehave and impact other sites. A shared server is one where many sites are hosted on a single server and is commonly the cheapest way of hosting ASP Web sites. The ISPs main concern is that, with a component, they can’t actually see what’s going on, but with ASP they can.
Some ISPs will now allow customers to install homegrown components on shared servers, providing the ISP can see the source code and compile up the DLLs themselves.
In situations like this, most ISPs prefer their customers to get either dedicated or co-located servers:
- Dedicated servers basically mean that when you take out the service, they buy and configure a specific box for just you to use and plug it into their network
- Co-located means that you supply the box and they put it on their network
Either way, no other customer’s site will be able to run on the box – it is yours and yours alone. Dedicated is often a better bet than co-located, as they will manage the server for you. This means they will monitor the activity on the server to determine where and when problems may occur, upgrade software and swap out hardware when it fails (or looks like it’s going to fail). Some companies also include the cost of licenses for Windows NT Server and SQL Server in your monthly fee, whereas others insist that you buy them separately.
All ISPs will handle setting up your site’s domain for you. In fact, if you don’t already have the domain, most will be more than happy to register it for you, although there are literally hundreds of domain registration bureaus out there, such as inprozone.com and Register.com. Your ISP will most likely be able to handle your e-mail requirements, too.
While that simple solution will work for relatively low use sites, if you’re trying to build a Web site that will experience a lot of traffic, you’re going to have to step up to a high-end hosting solution. This latter type of solution may not necessarily be immediately applicable to someone like Jo, but as word gets around who knows…
High Availability Hosting
Provisioning service for a high-end Web site is substantially trickier than just renting some space at an ISP and putting a box in it. If you have a site that’s experiencing a lot of traffic, you’ll need to step up to high availability hosting. Typically, this means building a server farm. A server farm is based on the same technology that your dedicated server uses, but you basically have a number of servers doing the work. So, rather than having one machine serving 100,000 pages a day, you could have four machines serving 25,000 each.
Unfortunately for us, building a high-end server farm for running a major site is actually a bit of an art and if you have serious money to spend, seek professional advice. We’ll move through this discussion rapidly as it’s not central to the theme of the chapter, but it’s stuff you might need to know about in the future.