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6 Things to Look For in a Web Hosting Provider

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People often ask us who we recommend for web hosting. Different needs dictate different solutions but there are some universal requirements which almost always need to be met. We have client sites running on many different hosting providers but rather than discuss specific companies let’s go over what we recommend looking for in a web hosting provider.

1. Security Updates

New security vulnerabilities are being discovered all the time. What is secure one day can become insecure the next. It’s important to keep up with security patches as they are released at the OS, service, and application levels. Preferably, security updates should be applied automatically. Bryan Kennedy writes, “Automated security updates scare me somewhat, but not as badly as unpatched security holes.”

2. Staging Site

Before releasing a change, test it in a production-like environment. This is an integral step so that clients and others can view the site. This is easily accomplished on a staging site – a copy of the production site that runs in a similar environment but is not publicly accessible.

As the content on the production site changes, those changes need to be replicated to the staging site. Having a quick and easy way to do that is nice.

3. Deployments

Our developers need a way to deploy code changes to the production (and staging) server, preferably via  git push.

4. Backups

Off-site backups should be taken regularly and automatically with an easy way to restore from backup if needed. Backups should be easily downloadable for inspection or local use.

5. Caching

Caches, including object caches, query caches, and full-page caches, must be properly configured and enabled. We usually run something like Varnish and a  CDN in front of a website to improve performance.

6. Monitoring

Servers can run out of disk space, memory, CPU, and other finite resources. When this happens a site can become slow or inaccessible. Hardware needs to be monitored for problems and those problems need to be fixed as they come up.

Next Steps

With so many web hosting options to choose from, it’s important to base your decision on your specific needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Make sure, though, that with any solution you have at least these basics covered.

If you’re interested in discussing what web hosting option is right for you – as well as establishing your unique requirements – let us know!

Steve Hulet

Steve Hulet

CTO

Steve is the Co-Founder and CTO at Fresh. A former Software Engineer at Amazon with over 12 years of web development experience, Steve provides technical, architectural, and engineering oversight to projects. Steve is responsible for all technology reviews related to websites. His specialities include programming languages such as C, C++, Java, Python, and PHP, and technology software including Eclipse, GLPK, jQuery, Linux, and MATLAB. Steve’s skills include automation, databases, linear programming, optimization, and testing, all of which he uses in conjunction with Fresh’s digital strategists provide innovative solutions to clients.