Often a web hosting company will claim great reliability, but what exactly constitutes a reliable web hosting company? There are two great sources of independent measurement that can help web hosting buyers determine the true reliability of their web hosting company. Let’s take a look at both.
Netcraft is an independent rating agency based in Bath, England. The company continuously ”pings” almost every significant web hosting provider site every 15 minutes, 365 days each year. The results of these uptime measurements are available both in real-time and as a monthly composite – which shows an independent verification of a web hosting company’s uptime. The most recently compiled uptime data for Netcraft show that the top 5 most reliable hosts are:
New Jersey-based managed services company DataPipe
Dedicated server company New York Internet
New Jersey-based dedicated and colo company ReliableServers.com
Montreal, Canada’s iWeb Technologies, and
Reseller hosting firm 34SP.com
As described by the Netcraft.com website, the following are the criteria used to determine the web hosting reliability rankings: ”Using the performance of a hosting provider’s own site to determine the performance of the hosting companies network, is only indicative. By default the sites are ranked in order of failed requests and time to connect, shortest first, in order to give the clearest indication of network capacity and congestion, with the least impact from the performance of the companies’ own web servers. Presently our performance collectors are located at London/DXI Networks, New York/New York Internet, Virginia/Rackspace, San Jose/Datapipe, Italy/Aruba, Pennsylvania/INetU-2 and Phoenix/GoDaddy. These companies have an advantage over the other companies listed in the table, as each of them have a collector in their own datacenter.”
The methodology and consistency of the Netcraft survey makes it among the most trusted sources of web hosting reliability data. You can also perform similar tests yourself using various online tools. Among the easiest to use is Alertra.
An online tool that will help determine both uptime and latency is at www.alertra.com. According to the Alertra website the tool works as follows, ”Multi-POP (point of presence) monitoring stations, located around the world in carrier-class data centers, conduct rigorous RFC-compliant protocol tests on your Web servers, network services and hardware devices like routers, etc. In addition to sending alerts and recording uptime statistics, we’re also capturing important performance data including connect time, time to first byte and overall load time. All availability and performance data is viewable online in report and chart format and is also downloadable in popular formats including Excel and XML.”
In most repsects, Alertra gathers data in a manner very similar to Netcraft. The difference is that if you don’t pay for the subscription, you have to manually conduct your research one test at a time.
Here is an example of how you might use Alertra to help you find a fast and reliable webhost. Let’s say that you are going to host content that will be viewed by visitors in both the United States and Europe. How do you know if your hosting provider will provide a fast connection to both and is it reliable? Let’s gather some empirical data using Alertra.
Let’s use for our example 4 hosting company candidates – two in the United States and two in Europe. Our candidates from the United States are Super Bowl advertiser, GoDaddy.com, U.S. industry behemoth Hostway.com, reliable UK hosting company 34SP.com, and German webhost 123-web-host.de.
If you go to Alertra.com there is a box in the upper right hand corner labeled ‘Spot Check’ with the instructions ‘Enter URL’ next to it. Simply type in the full URL of the website you would like to check and hit the ‘check’ button. The results will be displayed in a few seconds with a variety of cities listed and also the length of time in seconds that the site takes to load. Below is a table with the results from our 4 companies using Atlanta, U.S.A. and London, England as the reference points.
|Company||Atlanta, U.S.A Load Time||London, England Load Time|
As you would expect, the U.S. based companies are fastest to Atlanta and the European hosts are fastest to the U.K. While there are subtle differences here, all the sites loaded in less than 1.5 seconds – even in a worst case scenario. That means that any of them would probably be fast enough for a business website in either location. As with any web hosting company decision, this is just one factor that goes into selecting a great web host. To determine the reliability of the web hosts, you should run the tests each day at various times and make sure you get a solid and fast connection each time.
If you combine the data collected by Netcraft with your own measurements verified with Alertra, you should be well on your way to selecting a seriously robust and fast web hosting company.