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    Holiday Hosting - Is your website ready?

    By Staff Writer

    As the busy e-commerce season approaches, it's an appropriate time for business, both large and small, to step-back and analyze their web hosting situation. Can your website handle the upcoming load in business?

    There are a number of companies who are making efforts to prepare businesses for holiday shopping. One particularly interesting offering is being provided by leading managed hosting provider, Rackspace Managed Hosting. The Rackspace plan allows for companies to easily change their hosting offerings, including adding or dropping bandwidth during the holiday season with no related set-up fees.

    Patrick Condon, one of the original founders of Rackspace commented, " Many of Rackspace's customers are e-tailers, and their traffic and sales balloon around the holiday season. Our Holiday Hosting Plan is an extension of our Smooth Scaling program which allows our customers to scale up their infrastructure during peak traffic periods and then scale it back when it is no longer necessary. During a peak retail season, e-tailers need to focus their attention on fulfilling orders, not their site's infrastructure. With our Holiday Hosting Plan, they leave the scalability headaches to us so they can concentrate on their business."

    What steps should your company be taking to ensure adequate server resources for the holiday season?

    First, check your current server load what are current demands on your website? Multiply this out by your expected sales increases and then add an extra allowance. By purchasing and planning your bandwidth needs in advance, you can save on higher "allowance-exceeding" bandwidth surcharges.

    Second, do you need to upgrade to a dedicated server? Many small retailers are hosted on shared accounts whereby multiple companies are hosted on the same server box. By moving to a dedicated server, which can be had for $200 and up per month, companies can prevent problems caused by traffic spikes at other retailers which might ultimately affect your own site's performance. Check out HostIndex.com's Dedicated Server Showcase and the Colocation Server Showcase for companies that can help your business make this transition.


    Third, check out the technical network of your provider. What kind of redundancy is built into their system? Do they have a back-up plan for server crashes? The sheer volume of holiday shopping can occasionally wreak havoc upon unprepared web hosts make sure that your host is ready to service your account to the level that you require. Many hosting firms will offer a Service Level Agreement (SLA) which states the terms of their uptime guarantees check to see if your host has one.

    Lastly, examine the e-mail capacity of your hosting provider. Many people elect to send e-mails in regards to sales questions or after-purchase support. Check to see if you need to set-up additional "holiday-support" e-mail accounts to assist in responding to higher inquiry loads. Many hosts also offer "web-chat-software" this can be useful to help respond in real-time to customer questions. If your web host offers this service, consider upgrading your hosting plan to take advantage of the sales increases and cost-benefits this communication-route can offer.

    By examining your hosting situation now, you can prevent the "server too busy" problem from ever appearing at your website during what promises to be the best season for online sales ever!



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