One of the biggest problems with modern web hosting is choosing a reliable company. Reliable web hosts will keep your website online 99.9% (or more) of the time, deliver the content to your readers in a matter of seconds, and continue doing so no matter what the conditions. Among great web hosts like GoDaddy and HostGator, some sketchy ones have slipped into the business offering what appears to be deluxe web hosting at a rock-bottom price. These web hosts will make your website suffer from what I call server retardation.

Messy Server RoomBy connotation, the adjective “retarded” is often used to insult somebody with a mental disability. By definition, however, the word “retardation” simply means slow or incapable, which is exactly how some web servers act. These retarded servers will harm your website in numerous ways as well as annoy your customers. Dealing with such a problem is simple – simply switch web hosting companies, but diagnosing your website with server retardation is even easier if you ask yourself these few questions.

Do You Host Your Website Yourself?

I have seen many people (mainly IT technicians) who want to set up a home web server and hard wire it into their Internet connection. There is nothing wrong with doing this to host files for your household or set up a small website for your fraternity, but anything with more traffic than a few hundred page views a month will require something a bit more powerful. For more information on this, see my post titled Why It’s Not Worth It To Run a Home Server.

Do You Utilize The Right Hosting OS?

One major reason your website could be running slow is because of the operating system the server runs. Linux has been shown to be the best operating system to run PHP and MySQL-based applications such as WordPress, Joomla, and most forum software. If you are trying to run one of these web applications using a server powered by Windows or another operating system, simply using Linux could fix all of your problems. For more information on this, see my post comparing Windows v.s. Linux v.s. Mac web hosting.

Is Your Web Host Known To Be Unreliable?

Before choosing any web hosting company, do some research about them. Never trust what they have written on their website because web hosting companies are very similar to cable and Internet companies – they just want your money. This is not to say that some companies do not have great customer support, but I’m simply pointing out that these companies will do anything for a paying customer. Ask yourself: how important is it that this company’s servers are wind-powered? Does it really matter that they host my site at four different locations for the best performance? Are their servers really up 99.9% of the time?

I would suggest researching every claim that a company makes by reading web hosting reviews, asking forums, etc. Don’t just accept what they are giving you as facts.

Is Your Website Running Slow?

One of the biggest annoyances as an Internet user is encountering a slow website. It happens to me all the time and I normally give sites a maximum of 10-15 seconds before I click the back button. This is hurting their bounce rate, which is a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. Not only that, but by me clicking the back button, they are losing a potential customer or reader – depending on the type of site it was.

It’s understandable that your site may be running slow if you are using shared hosting and you have 2,000+ views a day, but if your website is running at a snail’s pace and you’re only getting 200 viewers a day, there’s probably something wrong with your server.

Are Your Readers Getting 500 Errors?

Besides an overload of IMAP connections, the most common reason for 500 errors with shared web hosting is too many requests being held on the server. If your site is getting a lot of traffic, but the server is slow, you are susceptible to getting timeouts. A timeout occurs when too many requests are being placed and held in the server’s queue for too long. Think about it… If you have a limit of 25 processes on your web hosting account, that means you can only have it doing 25 things at a time. If you are getting 3,000 views a day, that means you are getting approximately 2 new viewers every minute. If your website takes 45 seconds to load, then each minute you are racking up 1.5 minutes to complete two processes. Because 1.5 minutes doesn’t fit into that timeframe of one minute, you will eventually receive more processes than your server allows and a timeout (500 error) will occur.

Are Things Like FTP Uploads Failing?

One of the biggest problems I had when I used FatCow web hosting was dropped FTP connections. Back then (about a year ago), I mainly built my websites using Adobe Dreamweaver, so each page would have to be uploaded before it went live on the Internet. To do this, I used FileZilla or the built-in Dreamweaver FTP client, depending on what I was uploading. The problem occurred when I wanted to upload something like an audio file that was 4MB or so. The server would allow half of it to upload before timing out and then I would have to start completely over.

Is Your Server Retarded?

Did you answer “Yes” to any of these questions? If so, your server may be suffering from server retardation. Honestly, the only cure is to switch web hosting companies. I have been with three different companies in the short amount of time I have been running Omega Web (about 6 months so far). Switching a website from one server to another is fairly painless, but it could get a bit tedious if you have more than two or three sites to move. Nevertheless, it’s always important to have a fully functional server behind your website to ensure you are taking care of your customers.

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