Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Few Good Web Hosting Providers

 Is your nonprofit's Web site running off a server in your 15-year-old nephew's closet? Does your Web designer charge you $150 a month for hosting when you've heard that $15 a month will get you everything you need? Would you like to use a particular software package that your hosting provider just won't let you install?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider looking for a new Web hosting provider.
At its most basic, a Web hosting provider stores the files that make up your Web site, and reliably connects them to the Internet so your constituents can see your site. Good providers specialize in Web hosting, with dozens or hundreds of servers, all protected by carefully designed security, climate, power, and backup systems to ensure that your site stays up and running.
But how do you find a reliable provider that meets your organization's needs — especially when there are thousands of hosting services out there, a plethora of features and tools to choose from, and pricing options ranging anywhere from $5 to $500 or more per month?
Idealware asked nine nonprofit technology consultants to share their favorite Web hosting providers and to offer some guidance on navigating the options. We've consolidated their advice in this primer on Web hosting services.

Your 15-Year-Old Nephew is Not a Hosting Provider

While it's technically possible to host a Web site on any computer with a permanent connection to the Internet, it's rarely a good idea. Letting one of your IT staff, a board member, or an acquaintance host your site from his or her closet or garage may seem like a good way to save money, but it's seldom worth the risk. Power outages, crashes, hackers, and even well-meaning staff can all take your site offline for hours — or even days.
In other words, hosting is best left to the professionals, who can offer a variety of safeguards: high-quality, backup Internet connections; emergency power generators; reliable backup systems; strong firewalls; the ability to accommodate sudden spikes in the traffic to your site; and a lot of experience troubleshooting Web servers.
A professional outside hosting service can provide the critical infrastructure and safeguards that few nonprofits can afford. Though rarely free, this cost-effective alternative will offer you peace of mind — and after all, isn't it worth a small investment to know your Web site is up and running when donors or constituents are looking for it?

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