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    01.05.2024

    Checklist: 10 Points to Choose a Hosting Service That Won't Let You Down

    server one
    HOSTKEY

    1. Check if the hosting company is legally operating in your country

    Some countries only allow companies registered in special registers to provide hosting services. Other companies may offer hosting services, but it is illegal and can result in access to the host being blocked and legal consequences for both the host and its clients.

    Q: Can you ensure that the resource is available in your country and that using it does not violate any laws?

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    2. Formulate a request to the hosting company

    Hosting companies may offer services:

    • Highly specialized — for example, only on a specific model — SaaS, PaaS or IaaS. Or only renting dedicated servers based on Apple technology.
    • Complex — offering multiple types of models and, for example, renting dedicated servers and colocating servers.

    One task — if you need to rent hardware or place your own server in a data center. Another — if you’re looking for a quick solution to launch, say, a website, online store, or cloud storage. When no special customization is needed, a SaaS hosting service may be suitable. If you don’t want to deal with hardware and operating systems, but need full access to software, PaaS solutions can help.

    Choosing a host will be easier if you answer these questions:

    1. What services does the hosting company offer? Think about whether future solutions are needed for another cloud model or service, such as more control over software, cloud computing, or machine learning tools.
    2. What hardware configurations are available from the hoster? It’s important to know if your tasks require specific numbers of GPU cards or if your software works with specific OS versions.
    3. What hardware is available in stock or on order. Sometimes the website may claim more than what is immediately available. In that case, you might have to wait for the server components for a few weeks, or even months.
    4. What software is provided and supported by the hosting company? For example, do you need specific operating systems or don’t have time to set up and test the needed software. Or are you used to a particular control panel?
    5. What is the bandwidth and data transmission delay? The host may offer cheap services, but the channel width can be insufficient. For example, it won’t be possible to make a cloud backup for large data volumes, and the delay will hinder comfortable gameplay on your Minecraft server.

    Q: What’s important now, and what might be needed as the project grows?

    3. Summarize the real cost of hosting

    Not all services provided by a hosting company are included in the server rental tariff — you may need to pay extra for some.

    Check which services and products are included in the tariffs and whether there’s an opportunity to save money. Pay attention to:

    1. Administration: usually, hosting companies include technical support for equipment — checking power supply, rebooting, etc. or maintenance if components in rented servers fail or connectivity problems arise. However, administration of server software beyond basic tasks may be charged extra.
    2. Software user license numbers. Some software licenses that you can install and purchase from a hosting service may be tied to user numbers, such as the number of cores for Windows OS, the number of accounts or domains for control panel management.
    3. Additional features. Some companies block advanced system features unless you pay a monthly subscription fee. Moreover, they may also charge for data storage volume while doing a backup or for network traffic.

    Promotional offers. The service price announced by the hosting provider may be lower or even free if you take advantage of promotional offers. An example from 2024, between April 15th and May 12th, you can get the Ispmanager control panel when ordering a server.

    🠖 Can you get the full list of paid services before ordering?

    4. Confirm the uptime guarantee SLA, downtime and the schedule for technical support.

    The standard is generally considered to be the provider’s guaranteed uptime within 90% limits and timely notification of planned downtime, including compensation for excess time.

    Often, the maintenance and update downtime of the system is based on local time at the equipment placement site. Ensure that the hosting company’s break in service is convenient in your time zone, as well as the technical support hours and shifts at the data center. This is important because access to equipment may not be 24/7, but rather during daytime hours and weekdays only. Yes, technical support usually operates 24/7, but users will have to wait for a shift change at the data center.

    Q: Is it convenient to work with this level of uptime guarantee and downtime schedule? Can you afford to wait for issue resolution until the next business day?

    5. Verify data security measures

    Data breaches are costly and regulations are becoming stricter in many countries. Therefore, the list of questions about data security to a hosting company is the longest.

    When choosing a host, it’s useful to know:

    1. Encryption. Are data transmissions and storage encrypted? Proper answers include protocols like TLS, AES, or more advanced ones. It’s good if there’s an option for applying cryptography according to your country’s standards
    2. Data Location. Where is the data stored and does it meet your requirements for location, without violating the laws of that region? Is there an option to create a secure infrastructure for collecting, transmitting, and storing personal data, such as GDPR?
    3. Backup. How frequently are backups performed, how long are backup copies kept, and can data be easily restored?
    4. Data Access. Who has access to the data, what are their roles and permissions?
    5. Multi-Factor Authentication. Is 2FA supported and how is it implemented — TOTP, SMS, e-mail?
    6. DDoS Protection. Does the host provide protection from DDoS attacks and at what level — L3, L4, L7, intelligent attacks?
    7. How does the procedure for timely user removal work? What happens to virtual machines and servers when a user is removed? How long do user backups persist, and what data remains after a user is deleted?
    8. What safe coding practices and regular code checks does the hosting company apply? For example, does the host use tools for static and dynamic code analysis? Check input and output data, and maintain error logs?
    9. How often does an application pentest occur, and can its results be obtained? Were internal or external pentests conducted? What attack vectors were involved, and what is the overall level of security level at this hosting company?
    10. Are programs in place for vulnerability disclosure or a bug bounty program? Does the host participate in any reward programs for finding vulnerabilities? Is there publicly available information about identified and fixed vulnerabilities?
    11. Were data breaches experienced, and is knowledge of successful attacks on this hosting company publicly available? Are there public reviews about clients falling victim to hackers due to this host’s failure?

    Q: Is the project sufficiently protected when hosted by this company? Are there legal any violations?

    6. Investigate the response to incidents and stability of the hosting company’s technical support

    No hosting company can guarantee absolute security or uptime, but a reliable provider will quickly resolve any issues that may arise on the client’s side.

    To immediately assess the speed of reaction to potential incidents, ask:

    1. What kind of technical support does the provider offer, and within what timeframe?
    2. What are the channels for receiving technical support?
    3. What is the incident response plan at the hosting company?
    4. How do clients receive notifications in case of an incident?
    5. What is the history of past breaches, government requests, or incidents?
    6. What is the emergency recovery plan, and how often is it tested?
    7. Is there comprehensive technical documentation and FAQs available at the host that simplifies problem-solving without requiring technical support specialist intervention?

    Q: Do the hosting company’s technical support features, incident response, and history align with your expectations?

    7. Discovering Available Migration Options Upon Hosting Changes

    Occasionally, your hosting needs to be revisited. This may be due to an unfavorable price-quality ratio or increased data security requirements. Perhaps the hosting company regularly faces DDoS attacks or server crashes. Or maybe your project has become too complex for the previous host’s technical support or equipment.

    Questions to the new hosting company:

    1. What will happen if we transfer from our old hosting provider? It would be beneficial to utilize a trial period to determine whether the new hosting meets our power needs and the technical support works well.
    2. Will there be assistance in migration? Some hosts offer migration services, such as assessing your project infrastructure, selecting optimal migration options, and taking on the migration themselves.
    3. Is an additional fee required for migration assistance? Clarify the list of services if they offer migration with a discount or even for free. You may need to pay for administration and software setup or project composition.
    4. What operating systems and business applications are available for pre-installation on the new hosting platform? Ensure you can transfer your infrastructure without surprises regarding unsupported equipment or the need to pay external specialists for software that cannot be handled by the new host’s staff.
    5. Do any other systems integrate with the infrastructure? Does the new host support the same virtualization means or control panels as the previous one? Can you migrate data exclusively in the form of virtual machine images or file systems, or can you migrate data from cloud storage?
    6. Is documentation available for migration to the new hosting platform? Perhaps the host has already prepared typical instructions for moving data and infrastructure that suit your project. With these guides in hand, you can relocate independently.

    Q: Is the relocation process transparent? Costs, risks?

    8. Clarifying Integration with the Host through API and the Installation of Additional Software

    Sometimes, hosting clients prefer to manage their servers and services through a web panel, while others require integration through an API. Some may value the ability to resell services from their chosen hosting provider. Others need to install additional hardware-software solutions on the host’s servers.

    Here is the list of questions to consider:

    1. Are there APIs provided by the host that grant access without using the host’s web panel? What are the capabilities of this API, and can it be used for automation in your own projects?
    2. Does the hosting company allow reselling their services, and under what conditions? Can you integrate your hosting with the provider’s hosting?
    3. Is it possible to install additional hardware-software solutions on the host’s servers? Will the host permit connecting programmable devices to their configurations? Are there Smart Remote Hands services offered by the host that take care of tasks from equipment installation to maintenance?

    Q: Will you have the opportunity to install third-party software or equipment at the host and automate your hosting work through an API?

    9. Ensuring the Reliability of the Hosting Company

    As requirements for hosting companies continue to tighten, it is crucial to verify the reliability of your chosen provider. Hosts in various countries may be subject to demands regarding ownership, citizenship, infrastructure location and type, equipment origin, and access to the data by controlling authorities.

    To assess the reliability of a hosting company, consider the following questions:

    1. How stable is the host from a financial, legal, and geopolitical perspective?
    2. Can you initially launch a pilot project to identify potential risks and issues with the chosen host? This may include unforeseen problems with technical support, network speed, or additional fees.
    3. If you plan to expand your business in the future, will the hosting provider be able to offer the necessary disk space, RAM, GPU, and processing time?

    Q: How devastating would it be for your project if the hosting company were to unexpectedly shut down?

    10. Is There Freedom in Choosing Software and Equipment when Hosting?

    Some hosts rely on specific software and equipment manufacturers. If so, it becomes more challenging and expensive to migrate away from them. In some cases, it may even be impossible to extract your data.

    For instance, if you transfer a database from Azure cloud, you won’t be able to get its backup copy in familiar formats like *.bak and *.trn. Instead, you’ll receive the dump in the format of *.bacpac. Even if you manage to move the data, it will take significantly more time.

    Or, for example, software for working with neural networks is tailored to specific versions of CUDA or Torch libraries, while new GPU-hosting requires updated ones.

    Questions to help assess the risks:

    1. Is the hosting provider’s software and hardware open or closed? If it’s open, ask for an overview of their open APIs. This will help you evaluate how easily your data can be inputted and outputted.
    2. Is there a Data Return Plan? If you decide to leave the host, what is the timeframe and format in which they will return your data?
    3. What Backup Options Are Available? — The hosting company should offer robust backup options to ensure your data is safely stored and easily recoverable. This may include automatic backups, on-demand backup, version control, data encryption, and offsite storage.
    4. How Much Will Re-Licensing Cost? If the provider uses proprietary solutions, estimate the cost of migration and the possibility of transferring licenses to another host.
    5. What Potential Problems Caused by Vendor Lock? Using proprietary solutions can limit your flexibility in adapting to changing circumstances. Migrating to new hardware or software may require significant upfront investments, and upgrades might not be possible due to compatibility issues.

    Q: Will you be bound to the host’s decisions and preferred software and hardware, especially proprietary ones? Will you be able to transfer licenses for the acquired proprietary software to a new host?

    A Quick Checklist:

    1. It’s crucial that the resource is accessible in your country and doesn’t raise legal concerns.
    2. What’s essential now, and what might be needed as the project grows?
    3. What’s mission-critical currently, and what could become important as the project expands?
    4. Is it comfortable to work with their uptime guarantee and scheduled downtimes? Can you afford to wait until the next working day for issues to be resolved?
    5. Is the project adequately protected by the hosting company safeguards? Are there any legal violations?
    6. Do the hosting company’s technical support features, incident response, and history align with your needs?
    7. Is the migration process transparent, cost-effective, and low-risk?
    8. Can you install third-party software or equipment at the hosting service and automate work through API integration?
    9. How would the project be affected if the hosting company were to unexpectedly shut down?
    10. Are you tied to the hoster’s decisions and preferred software and hardware, especially proprietary ones? Can you transfer licenses for the acquired proprietary software to a new host?

    Dedicated servers with 4th generation AMD EPYC 9354 / 9124 / 9554 / 9754 and Intel Xeon Silver 4416+ processors

    Rent a high-performance dedicated server based on the latest generation AMD EPYC and Intel Xeon processors, with DDR5 RAM and NVME storage. Servers are available for order at our state-of-the-art data centers in Amsterdam.

    🔶 Installation fee: Free of charge 🔶 Discount of up to 12% depending on the rental period 🔶 Delivery time: next working day

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