Anyone who’s hosted a website probably has complaints about their hosting provider. It’s no surprise — things go wrong in hosting all the time. The unfortunate reality is that there is no perfect host. Learning what can go wrong, and what is acceptable is key in finding a host that suits you.
Downtime is a reality, but how much is too much?
Some people believe that they can completely eliminate downtime. The reality is that this is an impossible goal. Through the course of natural events, hosts will inevitably go down. However, there is something to be said for redundancy and preventative measures.
But don’t be fooled by 99.9999999% uptime figures — keep in mind a couple of facts. #1: How long is this period measured over? If the uptime is 100% over 2 months, that’s not to say the entire operation won’t crash 6 months from now. #2: Keep track of those nines. Here’s a good chart comparing what those percentages mean in real-time, per year.
Downtime per year
98% 10,512 minutes (175hrs)
99% 5,256 minutes (87hrs)
99.9% 525 minutes (9hrs)
99.99% 52 minutes
99.999% 5 minutes
99.9999% ½ minutes
My point is to have a reality when you’re reading uptime stats. rcentages can be misleading, and rounding up from 98.5% to 99% can make a difference of almost 40 hours per year!
My suggestion is that about 2–3 hours per month (or little more than 99% uptime) is an acceptable range. Server maintainence is neccecary and problems do happen.
Is the support good?
Support is such a relative term. Good, bad, it’s very hard to describe without bias. The key feature in support is to keep you happy. Whether that means quick responses, phone calls, or pro-active communication — that’s up to you.
My advice: make sure the host offers communication methods that you are most comfortable with. Check to see if they offer community forums, or offer a telephone number where you can call real people.
Don’t listen to the number of complaints
Another common pitfall to people choosing hosts is to listen to the raw number of complaints. Remember that as the number of customers increase, so do the number of complains. Just because one host that hosts 100 domains has 3 people complaining doesn’t mean that another host that hosts 400,000 domains and has 50 people complaining is worse. There may be more people — but proportionality, it’s less people.
My advice: listen to the number of evangelists for the host, not the number of complainers.