Founder's blog

The VPS saga continues, or "How to Choose a Web Hosting Provider"

Jul 5 2008 :: by Alex
Like I said I believe that the best hosting option for a mISV is a combination of a VPS and Google Apps. And like I also said we've recently moved the webserver to a new location. But unfortunately turned out to be a very unreliable hoster: our server was down twice last week, for 4 hours and for 8 hours. God knows how many clients we lost. So we've spent another sleepless night migrating the server. Now it's (and it looks like our search is over)

Lessons learned:

0) Stay away from OK, I might be biased. Forgive me.

1) Search for reviews. Always search for the hosting provider reviews before making a decision. The best place to search for VPS reviews is this forum at WebHostingTalk.

2) Beware of low prices. Good service costs money.

3) Beware of unlimited bandwidth. "Unlimited" providers reserve the right to disconnect you because of high traffic.

4) Buy a 1-month test-drive. And only if all goes right - pay annually. Note that some providers may add themselves to your Paypal's recurring merchants list, be sure to remove them. Open "edit profile" in your Paypal account and click "Pay list" to check.

5) Ask some pre sales questions to check the support response time.

6) Check the non-paged memory on your VPS. Some hosting companies provide a lot of memory at cheap prices, but they limit the amount of non-paged (kernel) memory. This can slow down or even freeze your IIS server because HTTP.sys requires a non paged pool structure for every connection. So pay very close attention to this during your 1-month test-drive.

7) Ask about the outbound ports policy. We've faced this one with Godaddy. They block outbound port 25. So if you use Google Apps for your mail and your website needs to send out emails to your customers, remember to check.

8) Don't sit and wait hoping for the best. Run away with the first signs of a bad service. "Maybe it was just a temporary glitch?" "They say they fixed it, what else could happen?" Don't fool yourself! Run, not walk! Grab your backups and deploy them to another server.

9) Subscribe to a website monitoring service. The best option is to find one that sends an SMS message when your website is down. We use

'The VPS saga continues, or "How to Choose a Web Hosting Provider"' was written by Alex by Alex. CEO, founder