the world of internet application, solutions are greater than products. Individuals and companies are still investing in web technologies, but they are investing in solutions with demonstrated benefits. If you are looking for top-notch ASP hosting solutions that helps you to deliver quick productivity and profitability, you need the necessary hosting foundation and ASP tools to help you plan and achieve your deliverables for your site. So what are the basic requirements that you should look for, in choosing a good ASP hosting company?
1) Use the latest software
As of August 2004, be sure to select hosting provider who uses ASP v3.0, ADO 2.8 MDAC 2.8 and offers optional Microsoft XML 4.0 sp2 running on either IIS5.0 or IIS6.0 so that you can use most of the ASP features to maximize the functionalities of your website.
2) Look for Microsoft certification
Choose hosting providers with the knowledge and proficiency in managing and implementing ASP, ASP.net and other Microsoft related solutions. Any of certification below ensures that your ASP site is backed and support by a team of qualified professionals.
Microsoft Certified Partner
This basic certification builds relevance and value into all the Microsoft tools and resources ensuring your hosting provider continues to maintain their expertise. Although this certification not necessary means the support staff has the qualified knowledge to provide troubleshooting solution, but it proves the companys skill and knowledge.
Microsoft Certified Systems Administrators (MCSAs)
This certification proves that the certified support staff can administer network and systems environments based on the Microsoft Windows® platforms.
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSEs)
This certification proves that the certified system engineers working in the hosting company has the ability and knowledge to design and implement infrastructure solutions based on the Windows platform and Microsoft Servers software
Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA)
Not many hosting companies employs a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA). Hosting companies who employ a Microsoft Certified Database Administrators can safely provide essential Microsoft SQL Server solution for customers. In another words, a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator has the know-how in designing, implementing, and administrating Microsoft SQL Server™ databases
Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD)
Most talented founders of many North American hosting companies started with these certification on hand to offer ASP hosting services. This premier certification proves the individual has the proficiency in designing and developing leading-edge business solutions using Microsoft development tools and technologies as well as the Microsoft .NET Framework.
3) Check the PHP, Perl & MYSQL details
At some point in time when you are designing or developing your website, you may want to consider integrating and running certain sub folders or web pages using PHP instead. This can be particular true when you want to develop high-end forum. ASP may have all the features to do a very accepting forum, but integrating ASP with MS Access database may just be too clumsy since it has very limited concurrent user sessions. While you can consider integrating it with SQL server, but the end of the implementation, you may just abandon it to find out SQL server is just too pricy for a forum. On certain internet application, the most cost effective implementation may not be ASP. Hence, consider hosting companies that offer PHP, Perl and MySQL database as part of the plan. Please note that MySQL database and Microsoft SQL server is a different database system. Read the details carefully before you sign up.
4) Provide you at least 15 useful ASP components.
The more ASP components your site can use, the more scalable and more functional your website can be. With so many ASP components products available on the market nowadays, you can effortlessly find ASP hosting plans that comes with ServerObjects, Persits, or Advanced Intellect ASP components. Make sure that you check the default ASP components can be used as well. Most hosting companies provide you the option to register components. Make sure this is allowed. Download this script and run it on your site to view the available components in your hosting account.
5) Offers SQL Server option
In terms of sheer database dependability and power, it doesnt get much better than the relational database, Microsoft SQL Server. Be sure to ask if the plan consists of MS SQL Server. You may not need it at the moment since MS Access is available. But dont be too sure. You possibly will, when your site traffic grows bigger than 2000 unique visitors per day. If your choose a better ASP hosting account, most probably MS SQL server is included. If you are familiar with MS Access, you can easily understand how to use MS SQL Server. So make sure MS SQL Server is part of your hosting plan. Take note that MS SQL Server Express 2005 will be out soon to reduce the complexity for build simple application websites.
6) Remote Management
Instead of informing the support staff to handle your data configuration, to some extend, many data can be controlled remotely. These tools helps you to increase efficiency and productivity in managing your site. Be sure that these tools below are included in your hosting plan. Most of it are included in their control panel. Please ask for a test on the control panel.
-Basic FrontPage administration tool
-Webstats / Raw Logs
-NTFS Permission Manager
-MySQL Database Manager
-Access OCBC Tool
Only a few ASP hosting providers offer these remote management tools;
-.Net Framework 1.1
7) MS Frontpage & E-commerce Enabled
If you have not designed websites before or even if you are an expert web designer, MS Frontpage is a very useful tool to help you manage your website productively. Although there are more than 3 dozens of effective HTML editors available on the market, MS Frontpage is the most installed HTML editor, site management and file transfer software in the hosting industry today. Prepare to learn how to use this tool. If MS Frontpage is not working at any point of your development, check with your provider if Visual Studio .NET Upload, Microsoft Web Matrix Project, or Macromedia DreamWeaver or NetObjects Fusion can be used to upload your data.
Secondly, check with your hosting provider if ecommerce script is enabled. These ecommerce scripts are free of charge and can be downloaded, but your hosting provider should have this script in your account when you sign up. Although it is not necessary important to jump start your website development, but it may just come handy when you want web users or companies to purchase or make payment for a product or service from you.
Good Email solutions
When I signed up with my hosting provider 4 years ago, there wasnt any spam blocking filtering solutions offered. In fact, there was no anti-virus software at all. It was so bad that I have to filter at least 350 unwanted emails a day. 4 years has past and I believe all hosting companies should included this very features in their system. If your account is not getting one of these tools, you may just be wasting a lot of time managing your emails. One of the simplest email integration system available on the market is CDO/CDOSYS (Mail Objects). It comes with IIS 5.0 or IIS6.0. You can use this to develop a lot application to utilize the Mail server in IIS. Check with your provider make sure that this ASP component is enabled. Also, be sure that your email accounts can be administered, read and maintained remotely through a browser. Write and save the login, incoming & outgoing email settings and password in your computer. At some point in time, you may forget your email logins especially when you switch to a new a computer or may just have too many email accounts like me
9) Disk & Data Transfer
Well, I did mentioned about basic hosting requirements in this article, hence I shall stick to the basics. I would suggest at least 120MB of disk space and 3.5 GB of bandwidth allowance for starters. If your site is growing in terms of traffic, see my other article on bandwidth allowance to estimate the amount of data transfer required. If your site is growing in terms of data and web pages, calculate the estimate number of web pages you intend to have and multiple it with the average web page size that you have on your site. To increase website management efficiency, we suggest that you stored records in MS Access or MySQL.
Here is good tip. If you are reading this article, ask some extra features for the things you really want from the ASP hosting providers and always negotiate the price with them.
10) Domain Pointer
A domain pointer allows you to register multiple domain names and have them all point to the same website. This is one of the very useful feature you can use to integrate with your ASP script. You can detect a certain domain name and direct it to certain subfolders. Why you want to use it? This simple service saves you a lot of hosting cost when you have more than one domain names that need to be hosted. There are some hosting providers that may charge you more than US$40 for a domain pointer. Avoid any charges above US$40 per domain pointer. Any hosting providers that charge a hefty amount for a simple service is not really a hosting company that is prepare to be your online partner.
Get at least 2 different browser ( Not included in hosting ~smile~)
How many times have you seen the message, “HTTP 500 – Internal Server Error” or ” The Page Cannot be Displayed” every time you tried to run your .asp web page? When you use Internet Explorer, that is what you get. The error message at times are not specific enough to facilitate you in debuging or troubleshooting ASP errors. You need a different browser to develop your ASP website. Try Netscape and you will get a proper error message when an error occurs.
Choose a proper ASP Hosting company
There are a lot of ASP hosting companies out there. Many hosts offers both Linux and Windows platform, while some are only specialized in Microsoft and ASP solutions. I list the the hosting companies below to help you find good and reliable ASP hosting companies.