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Reliability considerations

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Now let's discuss reliability. Most of the web hosts promised 99.9% uptime, but few deliver what they promise.  If you need high reliability generally you might be better off with ISPs which do not provide ssh support. It's easier to have 99.5% uptime ( 5 day down out of 1000 or approximately one day a year) when the servers aren't stressed with dynamic content and mostly serve static pages. Promises of 99.9% are pure marketing.  For hosts with ssh expect 99.1-99.5% reliability: anywhere from a day to a week downtime in a year.   BTW one percent of downtime a year (a very low number) means 87.5 hours of downtime. Also FreeBSD might somewhat beat Linux as for stability although this is not directly visible from Netcraft reports. Here the amount of efforts in achieving given level of stability is not counted and as we all know with enough thrust pigs can fly.

Again the highest stability is achievable for ISPs which do not provide ssh access but the limitations of VDECK (a popular hosting solution; I have no experience with Cpanel)  mean that such ISPs are unusable for more or less advanced user even if his needs are pretty modest. I would like to stress it again that VDECK user interface is a horribly written program that have all the attraction of a student project and that does not have any sound architecture and IMHO no bright programmers behind it. Functionality is very very basic even if we take into account the goal of achieving stability and preventing users from doing stupid things. Many things like site backup are horribly engineered if we can talk about this as engineering. This is a essentially a dummy tool for dummies.

For almost static content achieving 99.5% reliability is possible but as soon as server has a lot of PHP, MySQL or java applications such an environment reliability usually became dramatically lower. Also it is more difficult to provide a decent response. If you want to run Java applications you are essentially out of cheap hosting and will be better off with a private virtual machine or an actual server and that means that the realistic price is no less then $100 per month.  On the other side light-virtual machines also can provide pretty high reliability.

Full blown (heavy-weight) virtual machines (VMware) and paravirtualization (Xen) also can provide high reliability but they are not that efficient in ISP environment. Here is one insightful quote from How is WestHost - WebHostingTalk Forums

...and no VPS software is capable of virtualization anywhere nearly as efficient as hardware... a user will get free access to resources on a shared account (because the shared account is "hard wired" to the hardware). By contrast, they will be bottle-necked right right from the start by virtualization "overhead" on a VPS. Usually VPS clients do not realize just how slowly their sites are crawling along until they get back on a decent (well-powered, not overloaded) shared server or on their own dedicated. The virtualization takes a lot more out of performance than VPS providers want you to realize.

There are very, very few reasons why a site NEEDS a VPS. Examples might be a doctor or a lawyer who want a stand-alone OS and tight access control due to stringent security requirements. However, a doctor and a lawyer can both afford a decent (large) VPS or a small dedicated to accomplish this task, they wouldn't waste their time or money on a $4 plan... ;-)

Paying attention to the "numbers game of disk space and bandwidth" is called Web Hosting Business 101. A host that is not attentive to their numbers is setting themselves up for disaster. Disk space and bandwidth are an important part of the formula that determines

Hope my insight is helpful. :-)



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