How to Select a Web Host

There are many considerations when looking for a web site hosting service. Of course, you can host your site with ITS - an easy decision as ITS has provided professional-quality hosting services to our clients since 1997. But if you wanted to compare our services to others, here is what to look for.

The Data Center

Almost no one has seen theirs in person, yet the data center and its staff are a critical part of providing hosting services. ITS intentionally does not host web sites from our office. This allows us to host sites at multimillion-dollar Verio data centers that provide features like 24x7x365 on-site staff and server monitoring. Multiple, redundant high speed connections virtually guarantee sites will be both accessible and fast for visitors (for instance, our OC-48, OC-12, OC-3 and T3 connections are up to 1,600 times faster than a standard T1 connection). With today's high speed cable and DSL connections, even inexperienced users can tell the difference between a fast site and a slow one.

What to Ask

In addition to basics like the number of e-mail boxes and the disk space that comes with a hosting plan, examine the extras.

How many days can the center's backup generator last if building power is cut? Do they have redundant power connections? Does the host back up your server to tape and/or disk on a daily basis? How easy is it to reach technical support? Does the host provide an upgrade path if your site suddenly takes off? Do they provide features such as secure server (SSL) capability, databases, web-based e-mail, web site usage statistics, FrontPage support, and a money-back guarantee? How about an uptime guarantee? For dedicated servers, is the hosting provider or the customer responsible for security on the server? Namely, what is their policy on implementing software upgrades?


Look for an uptime guarantee as high as possible. A 99.5% uptime guarantee still allows over three and a half hours of unscheduled downtime per month! Also check to see if the provider will work with you to minimize downtime for e-mail and web content when moving to their service.

A hosting service that advertises "unlimited bandwidth" may be a red flag, since your site may end up fighting for bandwidth with other accounts. Some "ultra-cheap" providers make their money on high-volume, low-margin operations. That means they tend to pack as many accounts onto existing equipment as possible, rather than upgrading their infrastructure to grow with their customers. Low-cost hosting providers often will only provide support via e-mail.

In Conclusion

Selecting a hosting provider for your web site can be a confusing task. However, many customers and prospective customers today first view your company via your web site. In this light, should you be primarily concerned with price or with reliability, service, and quality?

If you are looking to host a new web site or are unhappy with your current provider, give ITS a call and we can discuss our services in detail. Or, visit us online at Our local touch combined with our professional-class hosting services may be the answer for you.

August 2004

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