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Choosing a Linux Hosting Company

Choosing a cheap and reliable hosting company requires a mixture of techincal and real-life skills.
The technical skills allow you to evaluate whether the company you choose has the ability to run the servers as reliably as you'd expec.
The real-life skills are far more useful in this task. The ones that have proved most useful were my "analysis and BS-detector" skills, to start with, and then eventually my "negotiating" skills.
I knew from experience in the dotcom in which I worked, that Unix was only as good as its admins. I got a little scared when I found out that I knew more about mod_rewrite than the admins where I was hosting so, I looked for local (Australian) hosting companies that used 100% or at least lots of Unix / Linux. I started this simply by doing a search.
I focused on companies who seemed to have been around a little while, who had customer testimonials (with links to real sites that were running), and who had decent rates. I got down to about 6 companies this way.
I then found out that I could find out what a site is running and also who the "Netblock Owner" was. I checked to make sure they were in fact running Unix (and Redhat in particular) and also how reliable they and (more importantly) there clients' websites currently were.
I also did selected reverse-IP lookups on some of the clients to get a general idea of the neighbourhood.
I then contacted each company with my detailed requirements - politely requesting an equally detailed response and then we spoke on the phone and I haggled for a "reseller" price with lines such as "as I grow so do you".
The most amenable (and as it turned out the one with the best price and best uptime and the best included options such as PostgreSQL etc) is now my hosting company. Time will tell if this was a good approach. [More than a year later I am still extremely happy.]

[Content of this page last reviewed: 28-Sep-2004]
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