NEWS AND RESOURCES

What's New in Technology for September 2002

“This Site Cannot Be Found”
Don’t scrimp when you pick a Web hosting service unless you want your greeting to be “This Site Cannot be found”. Unreliable Web-hosting services, which are all too common, can cost you in a number of ways. No one can afford to lose customers, revenues, or credibility.

Martin Berda owns Berda CompuGraphix, a $300,000 T-shirt printer. Last summer a Web-hosting outage downed Berda’s site for nearly 24 hours, and he spent more than one hour trying to reach someone at the hosting company. Berda has changed hosts six times in the past three years. The first time, his company’s site had simply out-grown the provider. But when Berda looked around, he found that the AT&Ts and Verizons of the world were charging $150 a month to host a small company’s Web site, while lesser-known Web hosts were asking around $30 a month. Berda opted for economy. What did he get? What he paid for, of course. Opting for economy does not always provide the level of uptime needed for continuous E-commerce and business-to-business transactions.

After one provider slowed the T-shirt company’s Web site to a crawl, Berda’s Webmaster got an idea. The company would test each prospective new host by running a test site at a dummy URL before saying goodbye to the current host. The plan worked. Two or three companies knocked the dummy site off-line and in the process knocked themselves out of contention. But even after the trial run, there’s no guarantee that the service will remain sufficient for your needs.

Unfortunately, major improvements in Web-hosting services aren’t coming soon. The industry has been in turmoil. During the dot-com mania, hosting companies built out their infrastructure and in the process accumulated crushing debt. And the market shakeout isn’t over yet.

It is bad enough that there are thousands of Web-hosting providers to choose from. But the Web offers hundreds of on-line directories for such services, too. So where to go for information? Try these sites:

• Web Host Magazine (www.webhostmagazine.com) offers an independent panel that reviews both providers and, better yet, other ratings sites.

• The Web Host Industry Review (www.thewhir.com) provides guides like “Introduction to Web Hosting,” plus a request-a-quote feature.

• TopHosts (www.tophosts.com) is well regarded for its monthly Top 25 Web Hosts lists.

• Find Web Space (www.findwebspace.com) offers real reviews from real people.

Bottom line: Research your host thoroughly since they are in essence your new business partner.

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