Web Hosting 101: Getting Started

Kath Blackwell
Hosting has undergone major evolutionary changes since the dawn of the adult Internet. Some of these changes have happened in a response to industry growth; others due to changes within the Internet and peoples’ expectations of web content as a whole; and others due directly to the creative needs of web developers.

Hosting technology has influenced the way we do business — broadening horizons, increasing the potential for revenue and assisting in the retention of recurring customers. There are good hosting companies — and companies that have missed the mark. Depending upon the services chosen, your experience — and ultimately, your business — can be hella good or hella bad in a heartbeat.

Even in the last year there have been new trends and influences that have continued to shape the hosting industry. But, as always, there are lots of choices and options for developers to choose from when creating sites and services. Making the right selection for your project is essential, and with so many options to choose from, it’s helpful to get some insider information to help make your decision easier.

The top “types” of hosting currently used in the adult market include virtual, co-location, dedicated and managed. So which solution is best for your site or project? Your decision will depend upon the kind of site you are developing, your experience/knowledge of the business and your budget. Hosting is a very important part of setting up a solid, moneymaking business, so be sure to choose wisely.

VIRTUAL — This solution is great for developers who are just starting out or are on a budget. Virtual hosting accounts typically cost less, but there are drawbacks such as the “virtual” part of the solution. Virtual accounts share a joint box with other virtual clients — meaning your site’s load time could be affected by other clients totally unrelated to your project at any given time. Some hosting companies have very well-networked structures, but this is definitely a time when you “give up” some reliability for the sake of a monthly hosting savings.

CO-LOCATION — This type of hosting is pretty much as it sounds. Multiple clients pay a co-location center to lease rack space for their network, server and storage components to service their hosting needs. A lot of companies prefer to own their own equipment and have it housed in a safe, redundant, protected area. Cost for co-location hosting is usually quite reasonable and additional services are often offered — such as frequent back-ups, etc.

DEDICATED — This service allows the client to lease an entire server, privately, for their sole use that is not shared with any other clients. This is a safe, effective way for businesses to set up their projects with more options, flexible choices and security. Dedicated servers are typically set up in a facility similar to a colocation type situation, providing redundant power and HVAC systems to keep everything running smoothly. Of course, because you get what you pay for, this type of service is usually dramatically different cost-wise than a more basic type of hosting solution.

MANAGED — If you want a hands-free, the-host-takes-care-of-it-all type of service, then you definitely need to look into managed hosting options. Just like it sounds, managed hosting means that the host will take care of things such as updates, installations, monitoring, set-up and technical support. The services offered, as well as any additional costs, vary depending upon the hosting company.

Once you’ve decided what type of hosting package you will need, there are still other things to consider. Depending upon the kind of site you are developing — paysite, freesite, blog, portal, content provider, etc. — you will have a lot of additional needs specific to the dynamics of your project.

Your best bet is to contact the hosting company directly and ask lots of questions. This is beneficial in two ways — one, it helps you to find out more about what the company offers; and two, it lets you know how “available” the company’s staff will be when you are a client. Ask what types of hosting they offer and what extra services or perks they offer with each package. Ask about their redundancy ratio and if any clients are available for contact as references. Find out if the service has options that will allow you to expand — or even decrease — your hosting needs as your business develops, or if you are required to sign a service contract and will be subject to overage or cancellation fees. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions!

When you contact the company, consider how you are making contact. If getting ahold of customer service or support staff via phone or email is more convenient to you, make a note of that in your research. Also, note how long it takes for the hosting company to return your correspondence as well as who it is that you are speaking to when you do call. If you are getting an answering service or a person that is unqualified to answer your questions, chances are when you are a client and need help; you may be hard pressed to find it as well.

Once you’ve decided upon a type of hosting, chosen a hosting service and are ready to get going, make sure you know up front how much set-up will cost and what your monthly service rate will be. Sometimes there are set-up and domain transfer fees charged by either your new service or by the domain registry service you are at currently, if you are changing/upgrading your service. It is best to know — and budget for — these costs up front.

There’s a lot to learn — and a lot to consider — when choosing a hosting company. Understanding how hosting works, what choices are available and realizing what you need from a hosting service will help you make a good decision.


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