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I've had the unfortunate happenings of helping several new clients that are coming from disaster based situations as it surrounds hosting and the availability of their applications/websites. The first major issue is truly the hosting firms themselves. Pretty much every web firm out there offers hosting of some kind. They do this in part for two main reasons;

  1. They feel it's a required component of their business and without it they'll be unable to retain customers.
  2. They want to capture small residual income after a projects completion.

The primary issues with both of these reasons is that more often than not web firms misrepresent their hosting services to retain this business. If you run down the board of the many people offering hosting services you'll typically find the following specifications in regards to your service.

  • 99.5% Uptime
  • Daily Backups
  • Free E-mail
  • 500GB Transfer Per Mo.

The list goes on and on with different important features that are vital to your businesses stability and success. Unfortunately the ugly truth is that most of the web firms that sell you these services are just a pass through for something you could have done yourself. Once you commit to "X" dollars per month they're just stuffing it into a GoDaddy.com or 1and1.com account. Why is this an issue? They're managing it right? BIG PROBLEM.

Do you really think for the cost of one lunch at your favorite fast food place per month your getting any care and attention? That's why you decided to use your web firm instead of going down that road. Except your web firm, the one you trust, is doing the same thing and marking up the rates. What there not telling you is who the site is being hosted with and that at best case your getting a 24 - 48 hour turn-around time for outages and really no gaurantee on the back-ups of your website or applications.

Don't think it could happen to you? Think again. I'm dealing with people regularly that have lost everything. Imagine that for a second if you will, how much did it cost you to develop your application? How much was it to build your enterprise website? Did you have valuable client data stored there as well? The best case turnaround times for someone to start from scratch may have you looking at a one month to two month window and the financial impacts can be unexpected and severe depending on what was lost.

There is an easy way to avoid this and I've outlined some basic questions and also some good to hear answers.

  1. You're web firm needs to be upfront with you from the get go. Unleashed Technologies, LLC does all of it's own hosting and has two enterprise data centers with continually evolving infrastructure to ensure up-time and data integrity. With that being said if you're not doing Exchange e-mail with us and require e-mail we immediately let you know that it will be a through a third party provider. The terms and conditions along with a seperate support line is provided to you.
  2. When receiving the hosting portion of your RFP or perhaps some information for a small business hosting account, make sure you ask who's actually doing the hosting. If they're doing their own hosting they should be able to provide you intimate details (to a degree) about the hosting environment. Some information may not be shared for security purposes and you need to accept that for the safety of your site and others.
  3. Ask about where the environment is physically located. Any competent web firm that has IT staff managing these environments will tell you it's hosted at what's called a "co-location". This is good, and the right answer to hear. As a web firm who manages hosting "day in and day out", we're able to manage these environments and provide services at a reduced cost to the client. "It's in our office" is a very scary answer depending on who your dealing with. Unless they've built their own redundant power, back-up generators, multiple carriers, and much more... you're really no better off than you were with GoDaddy or 1and1.
  4. $10/mo isn't sustainable and nobody will care. You must realize without a doubt, regardless of what someone is telling you right now over the phone or in person, that if your hosting is $10/mo they're not going to give your environment, sites, services, web applications, or anything else a second thought in the occurence of an outage. I'm not saying you should spend a fortune on it either but as a small business with a low traffic website don't be stingy. Pony up the extra $10 to $40/mo to get that piece of mind. For Unleashed Technologies, LLC our lowest small business plan starts at $20/mo jumping to $50/mo. The $50/mo includes watching for critical patches to your Content Management System (CMS) if you have one and advising you if you need to upgrade to better protect yourself.
  5. It's about response to failure. It's not "if" but "when" your going to have an outage. What's most important is the staff and your hosting/web firm's capability to keep you in the loop. Expect to immediately be contacted about an outage from your web firm and that they're working hard to bring you back online within the agreed Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Hosting is always measured successful when nothing goes wrong. If your public facing websites and web bound applications are always available then you are satisfied with your service. I agree as does my entire staff. However, remember it's not "if" but "when" and how they respond in your moment of need. In short your web hosting team should be proactive, preventative, responsive, and capable of handling anything that may come there way. There are many other reasons to host with your web firm such as software level support, application security, and environment control for continually developing software. Beware! And make sure they're qualified to keep you safe while you sleep.

If you've been unhappy with your hosting let us know and we'd be happy to help you find a better solution. We're not the right fit for everyone but we can certainly point you in the direction. Don't hesitate to reach out to us.