Web Hosting Basics -- Uptime Testing

Web Hosting Basics -- Uptime Testing

01/15/06 : Welcome to web-hosting.freehosting.net. Thanks for your visit.

This site is an accumulation of information regarding web hosting. It's meant to offer general hosting and web development information as well as a testing mechanism for dynamically demonstrating web hosting providers uptime. We hope you find the information helpful, and invite you to share your own experiences: good, bad, or indifferent. Please let us know if you have suggestions for improvements to any of the tests or information here. Thanks.

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What is Web Hosting

Web Hosting Basics...
"What is web hosting?"
Web hosting comes in different shapes and sizes. The major categories are: Shared Web Hosting, Virtual Private Hosting and Dedicated Hosting. Within those categories you find subcategories such as ecommerce hosting and rich media hosting. At a basic level, the major category differences break down between cost and performance. Higher cost usually means higher performance, more tools and more resources. Higher performance often means increased maintenance on your part, though even higher costs might mitigate this.

On a cost basis, shared hosting is always the least expensive....
Shared hosting is generally aimed at beginners and intermediate users (though if your specific application doesn't require CGI or database access advanced users can save tons of money with shared hosting). As the name implies, Shared hosting is "sharing" the hosting enviroment. Usually your web site lives in a folder along side many other folks web sites, and the same web server process serves up all of the those sites on request. This means any site in a shared enviroment that acts as a bandwidth hog will take CPU and disk access time away from other neighboring sites in the enviroment. Many shared hosting providers work to mitigate these circumstances by controlling the bandwidth, file sizes and overall resource usage available to any one site. Upgrades in a shared hosting enviroment generally consist of making additional bandwidth, file size and CGI access available... basically allowing you to take up a higher priority among your neighbors. All in all this is a very good balance of cost versus performance.

Continuing the cost analysis angle; Virtual private hosting is the next major step up...
It's the stop gap between shared and dedicated hosting. Virtual hosting still shares a machine or disk, but the web server software and indeed the entire operating system enviroment is usually isolated for each site in a virtual hosting enviroment. So, you might have a computer or disk with 10 sites on it, 10 different web servers for those sites, and 10 isolated operating enviroments. The advantages include better control of resource allocation and more enforceable distribution (ie. neighbors who hog CPU and disk time in a shared enviroment have a more tightly controlled allocation of CPU and disk time in a virtual private server enviroment, so the number of cycles available to your processes are not diminished... here folks don't have to compete for each second, the allotments are usually fixed). Another advantage is that you usually have robust CGI and database accessibility... and if you have a CGI that accidentally runs an infinite loop, it won't suck up your neighbors CPU bandwidth allocations since the operating system enviroment is isolated. (Consider this same scenario in a shared hosting enviroment where your CGI's infinite loop might lock up the system and prevent any other site in that shared enviroment from being served either.... very very bad!)

At the top of the cost pyramid is dedicated hosting....
This usually requires you have considerable technical skills at your disposal. Dedicated hosting basically means you have the whole machine or disk to yourself. It also can mean that when your web server falls down, you will have to restart it. Worse, it can mean if your site gets DDOS attacked that you might have to manage most if not all of the strategy to mitigate the attack. While shared hosting providers don't tend to highlight this facet, when one of their sites gets DOS'd, because it impacts the rest of the sites in their enviroment, they are highly motivated to mitigate the attack, and likely have highly skilled administrators available to do so. This is often a hidden advantage to hosting in a shared (or even a virtual private) enviroment. However, if your site is a frequent target of DOS attacks, your relationship with your hosting provider may be strained to the point of you being booted, or you being charged specifically to help offset the special costs associated with managing your site and it's impact on the rest of the shared users.

Enough with the salad, lets get to the details...
"Yipes! I may be cheap, but I understand the value of shared web hosting! Tell me more please."
"Holy cow, virtual private hosting sounds like the best thing since sliced bread. Tell me more please!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah... that's great, but my Purchase Order specifically says 'dedicated hosting'."
"I'm just super confused now... what exactly is all this web hosting mumbo jumbo?"
Uh, web what now?! (just let me book my vacation to disneyland)

Web Hosting News

Updated: 01/15/06 -

Community Architect -- Web hosting is a competitive market place. Community Architect or "CA" for short, has been a web hosting provider since 1998 and offers not only web hosting for end users, but a partner program which allows companies or interest groups serving a niche with a logical web hosting tie-in to provide robust, branded web hosting to their own users.

Starting as North Sky, Inc. CA was acquired by About.com (NASDAQ: BOUT) sometime in the year 2000, which was later aquired by Primedia (NYSE: PRM). The level of interest companies have shown in this property and the power of it's underlying technology seems to bode well for it's future. In 2004 United Online (NASDAQ: UNTD) the parent company formed by the combination of NetZero and Juno, and later BlueLight bought the Community Architect business unit of About.com from Primedia. What's so great about this? The technology, and continued investment in its ongoing viability.

The Community Architect shared hosting platform allows an owner of a domain to offer subdomain addresses (for example "bappy.com" can offer "mysite.bappy.com" with it's own document root and user rights separate from the bappy.com domain itself). If the owner of the domain doesn't want to offer subdomains, they can offer domain transfers or new domain registration. (Domain transfer meaning the primary and secondary name servers being pointed at the Community Architect name servers... not actually a transfer of registar).

Packages include a range of price points and features which easily cover inexperienced beginners with simple applications in mind up through CGI and Database users wanting to do something decidedly more advanced. Perhaps most enticing is even the ability to offer free web hosting to get fence sitters to dive in and hopefully upgrade to a paid offering when they discover how useful a web site can be.

This is an effort to provide an ongoing feedback mechanism to existing webmasters, webmasters who might be shopping for a host or partnership, and anyone interested in Community Architect's web hosting products or services.

Update: If you have a Community Architect partnership established, and want to extend your brand beyond the basic options available through web interfaces, you can find additional information here.

Please contact the webmaster with updates or questions.

CA Web Hosting Providers

Here are some web hosting providers offering web communities featuring Community Architect tools, services and reliability.

Tip: Highly flexible branding capability is something that sets Community Architect apart from anything close to competitors. Existing partners may notice that some of the communities on this list have a look and feel which are very different from the general options available through the partner management interface. Need info on branding your partner? We've got years of experience with Community Architect, its capabilities and quirks. Contact us here.

Please report any broken links here.

CA Web Hosting Test Map

Here is a list of current sites being used to test the member site response from a collection of web hosting providers. (This differs from other web hosting tests which focus on whether the web hosting provider's home page is serving... that doesn't really help the members hosting there... people care that their own sites are serving. This tests random sites in both the paid hosting and free web space category to make sure they serve reliably and to test the speed of the response which is possibly because most of these test sites build from the same data source and thus the response times and connections should be very similar when testing one against its neighbors.) Please note: Not all of the web hosting providers represented herein offer the same set of features. An exception list is used to try and control for that factor. Please report any discrepancies, and particularly, any site that fails to respond (include a time stamp for troubleshooting.) Report any problems to the webmaster.

Please report any broken links here.

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