Hosting the Leading Websites:

Hardware and Software Platforms at the Hosts

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There’s no hardware you should expect a good host to have and, unless you own the host, don’t bother asking. Frankly, they can use an abacus and duct tape if that’ll do the job. What you want is for them to do the job you need, and to do it excellently. Whether all the metal cases and tall racks are fashionably matching and whether the employees wear dark blue shirts are not important to running a top-notch host. Computer specs matter, but more may depend on the skills and dedication of the staff and management and on the tools, time, and shared experience they have available, and the only realistic measure is in the results they deliver. Many companies in many industries lie; a host could have three fabulous machines with specs the sales representative-dash-nerd gladly boasts about and a hundred machines with specs they’d rather not remember. Instead of your visiting their server farm and being handed a gift-wrapped chocolate floppy as a memento, spend the same amount of time thinking about what service you want, getting in touch with any of their existing and former customers, doing online research both outside the host and within the host’s website, and setting up ways of monitoring the service at that host and at competitors.

Windows and Linux hosting differ. Besides that Linux hosting may really be FreeBSD hosting, Linux and FreeBSD offer open source code while Windows usually comes without any source code, hosts are probably not allowed to extract it from executable object code, and hosts are probably not allowed to patch it. Open source encourages more development and peer review, resulting, I think, in higher technological quality. Unix is another possibility. But some customers want Microsoft platforms at their hosts because they want to use an underlying technology available only from Microsoft, such as support for Active Server Pages (ASP). I have no way to tell if a customer would be just as well-hosted regardless of which platform they have. This list does not distinguish between hosts according to whether they support one or another operating system, and it may not matter, because a host may use the operating system (*)BSD, Linux, or Unix (the three together are often referenced as *nix) to control network security and also to boot Windows computers. If you need a certain operating system for your files, ask.

Software can determine what kinds of files you can upload so they’ll work, and that can determine how your designer designs your website. For instance, if your website has a file named *.php, you likely need PHP. Other offers also matter, such as which database manager, which computer language tools, and which other kinds of software your website files will need. You may care whether the web server software itself is httpd (usually called Apache because that’s who makes it), Nginx, IIS, LiteSpeed, or something else because you may need to know how to set some configurations specific to a server version (such as in .htaccess files), although a host may help you with that. And you’ll usually want the latest stable versions of each of these (stable rather than beta unless you like living on the edge and can do something about surprises, problems, and crashes). But your main interest is in how you’ll design your website, how you will relate to the host’s services, and what results come from the hosting. Don’t go wading into how the host does its work behind the scenes.

Server software details are available, depending on which server software your Web host runs. Both official documentation and third-party sources are available:

  • For Apache httpd, start at Apache HTTP Server Project; documentation is listed on the left of the page.
  • Nginx comes as both proprietary and open-source. For the proprietary software, start at Support for NGINX and NGINX Plus, near the bottom of the page. For the open-source software, start at the nginx home page, with listings on the right side.
  • For IIS, start at the home page for the menus at the top.
  • For LiteSpeed, start at the home page for the Support menu at the top.

These URLs were as accessed .

Various third-party articles and forums should be findable through Google.