A few weeks ago, we wrote about how we choose the best web hosting solution for our clients (and ourselves!). While choosing the best host for your needs is crucial, there are plenty of ways you can improve your hosting experience.

Here are 8 things we do to get the most from our web hosting solutions…

1. Standardise

To combat the unknown, standardisation and consistency are key. At Simpleweb, we use Puppet to provision our stack. Steve, who looks after Puppet at Simpleweb, explains…

“We use Puppet to ensure that our servers are consistent, secure and up-to-date across our infrastructure. Server automation gives us visibility on what is installed where, and the ability to rapidly respond to security threats.”

2. Backup procedures

In line with consistency is the importance of structured backup policies and procedures to ensure that up-to-date backups are taken and stored should you need them.

We recommend using at least 2 lines of defence for backup. Rackspace make this especially easy with their cloud backup and server snapshots services.

For extra peace of mind, consider taking off-site backups as well. As off-site backups are generally more complicated and more expensive, we recommend running a risk assessment to determine the need for this as you might determine you are happy with the measures your current host has in place.

3. Key based authentication

If security is a major concern, try disabling standard password authentication and enforcing key based authentication instead…

“Key based authentication for SSH is a way to connect remotely to another computer/server using an encrypted file you HAVE and an optional password you KNOW to unlock the file. Key based authentication has the advantage of being more secure and/or more convenient.” – Mike Grace

4. Stick with one supplier

If you have several different sites or projects, we recommend sticking with one web host for all of them.

Not all hosting companies are equal. For example, a 2GB server with one company may behave completely differently from the “same” server with another company.

Sticking with the same company means you come to get a feel for the way services behave and know what to expect.

5. Create separate accounts for different projects

We generally create separate Rackspace accounts for each of our clients. This makes it easy to manage things with a level of isolation and means we can easily let a client take charge of their own hosting in the future.

We like to keep our clients because they like our services not because they feel they can’t migrate away from us!

6. Easily create multiple environments for testing

Using cloud hosting, it is cheaper and faster than ever to provision stage environments for development which is entirely independent of your live website.

Take advantage of this to test changes before you go live with them.

7. Consider sales quotas

In my experience, it’s easier to get a better deal on hosting and related services towards the end of the month when sales teams are pushing harder to meet their quotas. If you’re looking to provision some dedicated resources that you might have under contract for a long time, it’s worth phoning your hosting company towards the end of the month!

8. Build relationships

As with any service provider, it’s important to put time and effort into developing strong relationships with representatives at your hosting company. If you get to know them and help them wherever possible you’ll end up with better deals and better insight in to service offerings.

Preeti Pradhan and David Walsh from Web Hosting Search discuss managing your relationship with your web host in this article for Smashing Magazine. Pradhan and Walsh warn against taking any frustration out on your customer service reps…

“Some people threaten to cancel their contract to get something for nothing. Often, hosting companies will give it to them, within reason, just because. No need to threaten to cancel to get your way and force tough decisions upon them. You may get what you want now, but later on the customer service rep may not be so friendly or accommodating of your hosting needs.”

Would you like to work with Simpleweb on your next project? Check out our previous work or get in touch today!

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