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How We Evaluate Hosting Networks

Encanta carefully evaluates each host before deciding to add it to our network of approved hosting companies. We first check out their offerings, their documentation, and how responsive they are to questions at various times of the day.

Then we investigate to see if they are a reseller for a larger hosting provider (many hosts are). There is nothing wrong with being a reseller, but to truly evaluate a host, we need to know who *their* provider is. And since we know all of the major hosting companies and their track records, that gives us a better idea of the reseller's track record.

We also check out references -- we find and talk to present and past customers of the hosting company, and get their evaluations of service, support, uptime, features, and cost. We research each host thoroughly, using several hosting review sites (some of these are listed at right).

Then, if the host meets our requirements and passes our preliminary evaluation, we sign up as a customer. We set up a Web site of our own on their servers and test their features, support and service for ourselves.

We monitor server uptime; we ask support questions of varying difficulty at different times of the day and days of the week, using different contact methods; we check that the server is configured correctly and is secure. And if the host says they do back-ups of data, we test that claim by "accidentally" deleting a file and asking for it to be restored from back-up.

We also monitor e-mail service -- many hosts neglect this aspect of hosting, and let spam and unauthorized relaying overrun an e-mail server and cause innumerable access problems.

Encanta routinely evaluates a host for several months, and often over a year to get a full sense of what service is like. If the host passes all of our tests, we include the host in our network. We keep the test account on their servers to make sure the service doesn't go down hill, and so that we can better serve our customers by thoroughly knowing how a host's server works and is set up.

We never recommend a host that we have not tested ourselves.

A Typical Host in Our Network

The host has been in business since 1997, is based in Texas, and is a small and professionally run company with a knowledgeable and dedicated support staff.

Their provider has been in business since 1995, and is one of the largest privately-owned hosting companies in the U.S. and does no advertising. All of its business comes from word-of-mouth and referrals.

The server facility is located in northern Nevada. The facility has 3 T1 lines with pbi.net, 2 10 mbs lines with bfp.net, 1 T3 with qwest.net, and 1 T3 with atgi.net.

All machines are backed up once a week with critical files being backed up once a day (such as mail and configuration files) and are protected by 2.2KVA UPSes along with 2000+ joule surge protectors.

Spare machines are prebuilt and standing by in case a machine fails. Air-conditioning system is redundant and can handle the failure of an air conditioner.

Fire protection system includes carbon dioxide fire suppressant systems.

Servers are monitored internally by various programs and externally by IPCheck Server Monitor.

All services on all machines are remotely swept every 60 seconds, with immediate alerts sent to all staff whenever there is a problem with the servers.

Main web machines are powered by a 166 MHz Pentium through 350 MHz K6 with 64 to 256 megs of memory and 6.4 to 12.8 gigs of disk space. They run Linux 2.0 with the Apache web server and RealPlayer 5.0.

Specialized machines handle mail, listserver, nameserver, mSQL, MySQL, SSL, FP 97, FP 98 and FP 2000, and backup functions to reduce workload of main web machines.