Start Featherlight: Set Up Hosting

Web hosting offers so much more capability today than the term states.  It is your entrance ramp to serious, managed computing resources.  In any case,  let’s start simple:  you are going to need websites, and they will/should reside at a professional hosting facility.

Chances are you went out and registered one or more domain names in during the euphoria stage of your idea that is to be your company.  That’s OK.  If given a choice, I recommend solving the hosting puzzle first.

Selection criteria

Like any other business decision you are going to live with for a number of years, it pays to lay out your priorities and criteria.  Hosting today is hyper-competitive and cost differences between otherwise excellent choices will only be a few cents per day. So you’ll need to dig deeper.latte-0

Let’s check our Latte Grande scale.  Adding hosting costs about 4% of your daily latte budget.  Coupled with the 2% anti-virus fee from described in a previous post, we are up to 6% on the Latte Grande scale.  Interesting that incredible compute horsepower is available for only 2x what you would pay for economy protection.  Boundless upside for $0.20; insurance for $0.10.  Anyway, it is not enough to move the needle on the scale

Turns out that when things are going well, you will have little or no interaction with your hosting provider.  Signing up, installing and managing your site(s) are automated tasks.  Many hosting companies use the same open source “web panel”, the front-end for managing the site, so they have the same look and feel.

When problems occur, on the other hand, is when you can find a difference in the providers.  Find out how you are directed to contact technical support, how and what service level they promise when you do.  You can find out about these service levels from the provider, but check the results of the multiple rating surveys that are happening on the web all the time.  I appreciate the work done by Lifehacker and their readers, and recommend you start there.

Hang out with the locals

Don’t stop with customer service.  A good hosting company will attract a community of good tech citizens who gather, typically in a blog or forum, where problems and solutions are shared amongst the community.  Check these forums for the effectiveness, timeliness and tone of the help being generating.  You will often find an employee or two of the hosting company contributing.  Better yet, post an earnest question, and see what response you receive.  You will also find the occasional malcontent and disgruntled customer on these forums.  Their presence is healthy, as it demonstrates transparency and tolerance.  Look for the community’s response to trouble — noise that dissipates quickly usually means the problem was isolated or the response to it was adequate.

After you have made your choice, work on being a good citizen in these communities.  That mostly means posing well-formed questions after checking to see if asked and answered before, acknowledging the help you receive, and helping others when you can.  This latter point can be as simple as posting the solution to some problem you encountered and solved.

Check the neighborhood

Know some smart people who seem to know what they are doing with their sites? will report who is hosting their site.

A link to my choice for hosting companies is on the Resources page.    Discount codes are available — request one via the comments.  db

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