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Evaluating A Hosting Company    

Web Hosting  Part 3

Evaluating A Hosting Company

A reliable hosting company may or may not mention how fast their servers are, but they will always focus on their connectivity - how fast their connections are, and how may connections they have to the Internet. 

A local company that advertises nationally states in their advertising... "We have a double redundant T 3 connection!" But what does that mean? And is that as good as it sounds? 

What this means is they have a T 3 connection... and it is a redundant connection - so it's repeated... And it's doubly redundant... so it's repeated... repeated. Depending upon how you interpret that twist of the language - it means that in actuality they may have either 3 or 4 T 3's as their connection to the Internet. 

Is that good? Well... in the beginning, there was the T 1. And the Internet was pleased. 

But then the Internet grew. Cyber life became lonely as the increased traffic caused users to spend more and more time waiting while getting connected to what they were looking for. And technology responded. It created a quicker connection and called it a T 2. And once again the Internet was pleased.

But the Internet grew bigger and faster. And Internet users became lonely as wait times increased again. And technology responded. It created an even quicker connection and called it a T 3. And once again the Internet was pleased.

But the Internet continued to grow at an astonishing rate, and the wait times increased, and the Internet users once again became unhappy. And technology once again responded. This time, with a brand new approach, using light (fiber optics) rather than wire cable, to carry the information. They called this new thing an OC (optical carrier), and it was incredibly faster than the old "T" machines. It was so fast, well... it traveled at the speed of light!  And unlike the old wire based systems, it could carry more than one piece of information at a time... It could carry thousands - all coming from and going to different places. 

But the Internet keeps on growing, and Internet users keep getting intolerant of having to wait for anything, so technology keeps responding. 

At the time of this writing, the OC 5 is considered the cutting edge technology. Knowing this, that company with the double redundant T 3 connection which I mentioned earlier, well, it's more than a little behind the times. It's actually an antique compared to the "cutting edge" stuff.

Okay, now that you have a little understanding about servers and connection speeds, lets talk about what that server and connecter is connecting to. 

One way to think of the Internet is as a series streams and rivers. Of course, the draw back to using this simple of an analogy is that rivers and streams flow only in one direction, while the Internet flows both ways. Keeping this fact in mind, however, the river and stream analogy will allow for a quick and easy understanding of a very complicated topic.

Rivers and streams come in all shapes and sizes; from the mighty Mississippi to the little seasonal creek running through that ditch that you hardly notice on your way to work every day. (Oh! you didn't realize that that was a creek? Yeah it is. It only runs a couple of months out of the year. And there's never more than a trickle at any given time. But it is a creek.)

In this analogy, think of water as information. In that little creek the information moves very slow, when it does move at all, while at the other extreme the Mighty Mississippi is an entirely different story. 

The question here is, "If you wanted to connect to this river and stream system in such a way that you could move a lot of water (information) very quickly, where would you build your connection?"  The answer is pretty obvious when we're talking about water... but you would be surprised by just how many individuals and companies have trusted their financial success to a hosting company that sits on the equivalent of that little creek. Is it any wonder that so many dot coms have failed?

So a good hosting company will have a DIRECT connection to what is called the "BACKBONE" of the Internet... sometimes also called the major East-West North American Trunk of the Internet.  (This would be the equivalent of the Mississippi River in our analogy.) 

And a wise ("cutting edge") hosting company will have not one, and not two, and not three... but as many multiple connections to the "backbone" as possible- at all the various major intersections and junctures... especially the North - South trunks that feed the major population centers on both coasts.

So you see, if you know somebody who has a brother who has an uncle who knows somebody who has a hosting company in Moose Jaw Alaska that will host your site for only $9.95 a month... well, if you're going to be successful, you should be looking for a cutting edge hosting company with the right connections instead.

Aside from equipment, speed, and connections, the services you receive with your hosting account are important, too. Do you get 5mb of space? Maybe 50mb of space? How much traffic are you allowed before you get charged extra? Email accounts at your domain? (what-ever-you-want@your-domain.com?) How many? And most important of all: Is the system left to fend for itself in an auto-pilot / automation mode or is it constantly under human supervision and care.

Doing business on the Internet takes just as much commonsense as doing business in the real world. Perhaps, even a bit more. Often times we have to trust that the people and companies we are dealing with are both trustworthy, and knowledgeable - in a field of which the common person knows so little about... they generally can't even tell what it is they're talking about. 

Okay, want to see some impressive fact about hosting? Let's take a look at what a "cutting edge" hosting company should be saying about their service.

 

 

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