There are a number of factors which determine the quality of web hosting, however the two most people would rank highest in terms of importance are speed and reliability with security interchangeable in either position.
When we speak of speed in the context of web hosting we refer to things like how quickly do the pages of your website load and how quickly can you upload/download data to and from the hosting server. This is important for the overall user friendliness of your website and how quickly you’re able to develop and add to your content.
Reliability, by comparison, is more to do with how often and for how long the web host server is online and functional. Or you could choose to look at it from the point of view of how often and for how long does the server suffer down time. Obviously, this is important as your website needs to be up to be found by potential customers.
Luckily, the factors which affect speed or performance also contribute to reliability. The first example of which is hardware. A server which is built using high quality hardware, compared with a hypothetical one built using budget options, for example, will be technically more powerful which means it can either carry out demanding functions that a lower spec server would not be capable of, or carry out routine functions at a greater speed.
In terms of reliability, more expensive and thus higher quality hardware typically has a longer life span than a cheaper alternative. As with everything you get what you pay for, and hardware is no different; obviously, freak breakages do happen but the majority of the time this is true.
The second major factor affecting speed and reliability is the quality and sophistication of the data centre infrastructure including connectivity and back up connectivity, cooling, power and whether they have back up power available.
Connectivity is a fairly obvious one, the faster the connection to a server the more quickly it can respond to a request for, or the reception of information. This is therefore an important factor for determining the overall performance of a web hosting package.
Connectivity is, however, another potential failure point in the hosting infrastructure and can therefore affect reliability. Fortunately, the vast majority of professional data centres have backup connections in place so in the event that one fails there is another set and ready to take over minimising downtime.
Cooling can also influence performance and reliability. A server which runs too hot for too long is more prone to breakages and cannot replicate the performance of a technically similar specification machine which is kept cooler.
Many data centres have backup power generators so that their servers maintain uptime in the event of a power failure on the main grid. Obviously, this is beyond control and entirely unpredictable however a hosting provider which is prepared for this eventuality will not suffer any ill effects from power outages.
The last influencing factor we’re going to discuss is software. Software is, of course, a highly generic term and can influence speed, reliability and security in a lot of different ways however there are a few examples I think are worth mentioning.
The CloudLinux operating system is an industry leader in the field of shared hosting. It ensures that individual account holders are isolated from one another so that no one individual can access another users files, monopolize server resources or propagate the spread of malware. In essence, CloudLinux greatly enhances the efficiency with which a server can be used to for web hosting and simultaneously enhances speed and reliability and contributes to an overall secure hosting environment.
One of the largest threats to server integrity is malware. As a result antivirus and antimalware software can play a significant role in maintaining server uptime and performance. There are numerous products available to fulfil this role, however the point is that this is not something to be underestimated. Most good quality web hosts will have some form of routine malware scanning for this very reasons.
These are just some of the features which the reliably fast hosts pay attention to and would represent a good place to look if you’re looking for a new hosting provider.