As I said at one of the forums, if you plan your website to be a hobbyist one or a spamming one, by all means, use any of the cheap shared hosting services out there. It’s unreliable and non-business-worthy but it’s cheap, and subsequently lots of crap sites are hosted there. It will gain you no SEO advantage from an IP point of view and your sites will be down multiple times a week.
If you value your time spent on developing and promoting your website, if you want your online business to grow in a good neighborhood recognizable by Google, if you hate overselling as I do, if you would love a honest undersold host and a clean dedicated server, you should come to Jointly Hosted, the non-profit host dream for friendly and ethical people who deserve a powerful, clean server to host their endeavors.
Take on a trial which DreamHost offers or ask a friend at some hosting company to do some tests on SSH:
- Check for the number of server processors or CPUs
- Check for the average load the server is experiencing
Get the 3 load average figures divided by the number of CPU they have on the server, add them up and further divide them by 3. With the final result:
- result <= 1 ( definitely an honest and great host)
- 1 < result <= 2 (good one, but questionable)
- 2 < result <= 5 (overselling, overselling, overselling, …)
- result > 5 (are you crazy?!)
Some of the hosting providers out there are infamous for overselling who try their best to stuff in as many users (websites) as possible into a single web hosting server. High server load is an indicator of how your server is performing and whether it is laboring too much thus jeopardizing the performance of your websites. You can get to know the average load in the last 15 minutes of your server by the simple Linux command below (via SSH):
Which will typically return a line of data similar to this:
21:39:33 up 10:45, 3 users, load average: 4.46, 3.92, 3.64
That says there are currently 3 users logged on and the load average of this server in the last minute, last 5 minutes and last 15 minutes are 4.46, 3.92 and 3.64. These figures represent the number of runnable processes at the same time on average for the CPUs (processor) to process. Combined with number of processors of the server, you may know how many processes are being processed by any single CPU.
Considering the fact that any CPU can only take on one process at any given time, there will possibly be processes waiting in the queue – meaning server is overloaded. Therefore, if the number of processors of your hosting server is 4, in the last minute, it is overloaded by ( 4.46 / 4 ) – 100% = 11.5%.
One of the first things that may concern you is that whether your web hosting company has equipped enough CPUs or Processors on your server as they have allegedly done. Or you are on shared plans and are simply curious whether your web hosting provider is overselling by overloading your server a lot.
First make sure you have SSH access to your hosting server which majority of hosting businesses are now providing. Then create an SSH account and log it in to the server.
A rather simple linux bash command will help you determine how many CPUs your host has on your server:
cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep processor | wc -l
This combination of pipeline command extracts server processors information from /proc/cpuinfo that contains CPU details each per line, returning a plain number which will usually be 1, 2, 4 or even more.
There you go. Now find out whether your host is cheating on you with this tip in addition to checking your server load! 😉
You can find plenty of other useful and interesting information about your hosting server and OS release at /proc. For example, for some RAM stats:
For total seconds since the last reboot:
For Linux release and versions:
And much more. Just ‘ls /proc’ and try for yourself.
Web hosting can be very lucrative considering the marginal cost of each additional customer and the big chance of locking them up – most clients are reluctant to switch if the current host is good enough.
As a buyer, you want your money worth the deal. Here is a general list of things you should do at choosing a web hosting provider:
- Is their sales site design good and unique?
Not necessarily has to be beautiful and gorgeous but uniqueness and aesthetics integrity should account for the seriousness they take in their business. A bad design or a copied design would just hint their inability to start decently, let alone their competence in serving you well.
- Is their sales site PageRank high enough? Does it have good amount of back links? Is it old enough?
Senior sites are undoubtedly more trustworthy. And a senior site often bears high pagerank (check any site’s pagerank here) and a fair amount of backlinks (check for number of backlinks of a site by link:site.com in Google). You can also check for the age of a web hosting site by querying its whois infomation.
- Do others / paying customers review for them or against them?
There’s plenty of places where you can find reviews and ratings of hosting companies. One of the biggest unbiased community is Web Hosting Talk. Just go search the name of the provider for what others are saying about them.
You can also search for ‘xxx hosting reviews’ in Google for ratings and reviews. But be warned that some of the reviewing sites are financially affiliated with the web hosting providers and therefore the reviews should be taken as rather biased ones.
There’s actually much more to consider when choosing a web hosting company. Remember that there’s no perfect hosting provider except what’s perfect for you and that there’s no web hosting without a single negative reviews. So instead of obsessively seeking the most reliable hosting service, comparing for the most cost-effective one would be a better idea.
Update: A good approach is to try to detect and find out what famous websites are using as host by tracing the IP address and where the domain is hosted.