View Full Version : My Kingdom for a Decent Web Host

02-02-2005, 05:27 AM
Okay, here's the BIG question.
Given that ALL of my web hosts so far have turned out be complete idiots, I started thinking that *I* probably couldn't screw things up much worse.
I run a small internet marketing agency, and we providing hosting for our clients. Or we TRY to provide hosting for our clients.
The problem is that we're on our 3rd host in the last six months, because our "hosts" can't seem to keep email flowing or serve up dynamic pages without stumbling to a halt.
Now I've seen "virtual servers" listed all over the place, for an average of $149/mo. Again, I don't know jack about hosting - but I think that for the sake of keeping my company afloat, I better start learning.
So does anyone have any tips or advice? I need to stick with Unix hosting - if only because I hate Microsoft.
But what exactly is involved in setting up and running one of these virtual hosting gigs? Is there a resource on the web for learning how to do this type of thing, or a good book to buy?

My main issue is that my clients are becoming "less satisfied" every time we have to jump hosts because the services failed. Apparently, they overload their servers with millions of clients to the point that everything falls apart. And it would also be easier to manage multiple clients via one access point.

Thanks in advance for any advice. This is my first post, and my second post will also be monitored, so I may not be able to get back as quick.

02-02-2005, 07:38 AM
I'd recommend that you went for your own dedicated server, rather than a virtual server, the virtual servers aren't as flexible, and are more liable to downtime that a physical dedicated server. Basically, if you get a dedicated server, and a management contract then the techies at the ISP that you're buying from are going to be watching the software setup on your machine, and you'll be in control of how much is on the server.

Learning to administer a hosting machine isn't something that I'd do on a live machine, I certainly knew most of what I already know before I started administering production servers. That's why I'd suggest a management contract, if you're going to be experimenting with stuff on the machine, you're sure to have more downtime than you'd want.


02-02-2005, 07:50 AM
Assuming that your definition of 'Virtual Server' and mine are the same thing, they are a good solution. Basically you get a computer-within-a-computer.
I'll back up a bit:

Shared hosting: You and 12,372 close friends live cheek-by-jowel on the same immense drive array. You share everything except bathrooms. You have limited priviledges and cannot do squat if the OS breaks. If some idiot launches a recursive function you wait (im)patiently until the sysops notice and shoot it. Sometimes you get shell login, sometimes you don't. One account, one website. Some shared hosts are full-featured and reliable. Some are not.

Virtual Server: You and 5 - 150 somewhat distant friends live on the same machine. The box is running a master process that multi-boots a separate operating system for each user. You can (and usually do) have a root login, and there is no way you can determine who else is on the box. It's like living in a Condo with separate enterances, or picture running 30 sessions of Virtual PC. If you want to change core components like php, upgrade Apache, or delete perl you are welcome to do so. If you nuke the core OS files you will have to call the support center for a reload and the dork-of-the-week award. You can usually have as many sites as you have disk space for, but you need to purchase extra IP addresses (usually not necessary if you control the domain name as well). The master process guarantees a minimum disk space, processor time and bandwidth, although you can usually use more if it is available.

Don't confuse with:
Private (Managed) server, where the box is all yours, just living at a different office with an internet connection you only dream you had. You have 100% control of the box, but the support crew will drop in a CD if you ask nicely.

I've had the place here on a shared host for nearly 3 years, with only the usual outages (the building beside the datacenter catching on fire last year doesn't count as 'usual') I've got php, perl, (one of) mySQL and postgres, unlimited email accounts, decent disk space, shell login, full access to all the usual unix stuff, and 24-hour tech support that usually thinks. I'm generally very satisfied with the service.

<unsolicited plug>
Look at http://www.apollohosting.com/virtualprivateservers/ for more details. You'd probably want to start with the standard package, but add up your disk space requirements early, as moving to a bigger server may require changing IP addresses.
</unsolicited plug>

There's also http://www.purestatic.com/ but their thing is ultra-fast static pages - you said you need dynamic. The same place runs http://www.macminicolo.net - a private server farm. I know nothing about these two places other than they are active here - jaymenna78734 (http://forums.macosxhints.com/member.php?u=35301)

02-02-2005, 07:55 AM
(second reading)

But what exactly is involved in setting up and running one of these virtual hosting (serving?) gigs?
With a decent host, not much. Point the domain to the supplied IP address, load files, test an wait 2 days for domain propagation. The system should be preloaded with everything ready to roll, and a straightforward browser-based control panel.

02-02-2005, 07:58 AM
Given the prices of dedicated servers and the wanted reliability, I wouldn't bother with virtual servers.

Even if you use some control-panel like plesk, being sysadmin of a rootserver still is a job not to be underestimated.

Ideally, you would convince an experienced admin to run your server for a couple of months and have him explain what and why he is doing it until you feel confident to take over.

02-02-2005, 09:45 AM
I am a systems administrator and network engineer by trade. I provide services to several companies that host their own machines and do some colocation. If you're interested in colocation of a system that's configured for you, I can arrange for you to talk to one that can serve your needs. None are idiots. I work with people that provide Linux, Mac, and Windows services, so take your pick. Cost of a full co-located system that you own completely should be under $100/mo.