August 17, 2017

Selecting a PHP Mysql Hosting Provider

Identifying the right provider to host your PHP / MySql website will be easier after reading this article.

Today there are hundreds of thousands of hosting providers. Not all PHP / MySql hosting companies were created equal.

When selecting a hosting provider one should look at a number of factors.

I would avoid new hosting companies, small specialty providers (unless you specifically need what they specialize in), and hosting resellers.

I’ve been in the industry for a long time. I’ve seen a lot of changes. Stay with the name brand providers and you will be Ok.

Some criteria to consider:

How long have they been in business

You want to host with an established stable hosting company. You don’t want to worry if your website hosting provider will be in business tomorrow.

Customer base

Customer base speaks to stability. Customer base is also an indication of quality of service. You can look at a customer base as votes. The more customers the more votes. There are a few exceptions, so be careful.

Phone support

Phone support is important only if you need to talk with someone about your hosting. The larger hosting companies provide phone support 24 hours a day.

I would shy away from any company that outsources their phone support offshore. Other than the language barrier, outsourcing adds another level of bureaucracy that you may not want to experience.

Uptime

This is a big one. You need your website on line at all times. Your customers will lose faith in you if your website is continually off line.

The search engines might drop your website if your website is off line when they come to visit.

Security

You do not want someone breaking into your website. I’ve seen websites hacked because of low security. This is another reason to stick with the larger hosting providers. They will have firewalls and other security measures in place to protect your website.

Not all security issues are the hosting provider’s fault. A website built absent security, can easily be broken into.

Cost

I include cost because I still see providers charging over $10.00 a month for hosting.

One of the largest and most stable hosting providers offers:

  • 5 GB Space
  • 250 GB Transfer
  • 500 Email Accounts
  • 10 MySQL Databases

For $3.99 per month on a month to month basis or down to $3.19 per month if paid in a two year block. No contract is required.

Lets put this in perspective. Most websites use less than 10% of what is listed above.

I recently moved one of my clients away from a hosting provider. They were being charged extra for any data in their MySql database over 50 Megabytes. The hosting provider was already charging $8.00 a month to host a small website that had a small to medium amount of traffic. He now pays less than half what he used to pay for hosting and gets 10 times as much!

Number of accounts per server

This is a major area of consideration. A good hosting provider will do load balancing and put a reasonable number of websites on each server. I recall a situation where the hosting company was loading upwards of 800 websites per server. Being at capacity, there was no more room for expansion. If the customer wanted to expand their website, and use some of the disk space they were already paying for, they needed to submit a request to be moved to another server. The server move took days and often left the customer’s website in shambles.

Server Configuration

To provide PHP / MySql Linux web hosting a company must run several servers. Apache web server to serve up your web pages, with the addition of PHP for web page automation, MySql database server to manage your website’s data, and a mail server.

Some web hosting providers will put all these servers on one hardware server. This alone is problematic for several reasons.

* If the server was almost full, and someone’s website was actively collecting data the server would crash.

* Every email received is stored on that server. If the server was almost full the server would crash because of the continual incoming email.
* If the server crashes or is taken off line, every account on that server will not receive any email. Email will be lost during the time the server is down.
* If the website needs to be moved to another server the data and email will also need to be moved. This is dangerous. At this point data might and probably will be lost.
* This configuration provides no backup email server. Having one’s website off line is one thing, can you imagine not getting email for 3 or 4 days, especially if you are a high volume business that relies on email. I’ve seen this happen. Scary!

The correct way to configure hosting is in a server farm.

A server farm is a group of servers that collectively provide all the functionality necessary for web hosting. Each server has it’s unique task. For instance some servers, serve web content while other servers deal with email.

A hosting provider that uses the server farm approach will have a hosting network that is easier to manage. From a consumer standpoint the server farm approach is much better because it will have redundancy built in.
Should a problem occur it probably will be isolated and easier to resolve.

Port 25 Considerations

Port 25 is used for mail incoming to your local computer. Most Internet Service Providers (your Internet connection) block port 25 so mail servers are not attached to consumer Internet connections. This has become a problem. The good hosting providers now offer other ports so you can connect to their mail server and collect your email. If a hosting provider does not offer an alternate port to port 25, pass them by.

Connection to the Internet

A hosting provider will need a connection to the Internet so your website will be visible to the world.

Select a provider that has multiple connections with redundancy built in. Multiple data centers with multiple connections to the Internet is even better.

Consider you are doing business with a hosting provider that has one location and one small connection to the Internet. Down the street someone is digging with a backhoe. They cut your hosting provider’s connection to the Internet. Your website and email are out of service for hours to days. Not good.

Stay with the established hosting providers that have multiple data centers with redundant connections to the Internet.

Contract

A hosting provider does not need a contract to do business with you. In the first place, you do not want to move once your website is setup and configured. It is just too much work.

They know the only reason you would ever leave is you did not get the service you deserve. And that is why you should never lock yourself into a contract.

The good hosting providers will refund your unused balance if you decide to move on.

The way they keep you as a customer is through good quality, state of the art products and services.

Selecting a hosting provider is a very important step. Spend the time necessary to find a good quality web hosting provider that charges a reasonable rate.