As developers we all come into contact with the “love / hate” relationship internet technology brings – the ups and the downs are inherent to its nature. But what does it mean to be a “good” and “ethical” hosting provider in the maturing internet landscape?
What is “Good” hosting?
A “good” host might be summed up as one that looks out for its customer base and keeps great service at the forefront of its business model. What does this mean?
For one, this means notifying your customers of planned hardware / software upgrades that make our creative digital delights work. When a new system is employed by a hosting company it eventually affects everyone and everything on the servers they use.
Why does a “control panel” matter?
Another aspect of a good host is having a robust control panel in place. There are many control panels out there, and most of them are terrible. You know a control panel has failed when the user has to “dig” for preferences and settings that should be in a central location – this is the true meaning of a control panel. If you need to change a domain pointer or a PHP configuration – you should be able to find these settings within one or two clicks. Anymore than that is a waste of users time and will turn a happy customer into a not-so-happy customer.
What is “Up-time”?
Up-time is a crucial aspect to what separates hosting companies. Generally, all will claim they have “99.999%” up-time, in reality this is never the case. Load-bearing server issues, database connectivity problems, power-outages – these are some common technical problems all hosts will inevitably face – but how a host deals with these problems is what makes the difference. Not communicating with the customer base in one of these scenarios makes for a bad host. A short tweet or email out to everyone can make a world of difference – especially when developers are monitoring up-time status and get the dreaded email that a site is down – without communication from the host, developers are drawn into troubleshooting a problem that may not be related to the state of the site / service itself.
There are plenty of great hosts out there as well as bad. Take your time to research a host before you jump into a long-term relationship. Look for statistics detailing customer reviews, up-time averages, and general control panel services. Hosting, like any other product or service you purchase, should have quality, communication, and value built-in for it to be effective to you, your organization, and your customers.