Information is the main reason why people surf the internet today. People are always searching the net for instructions or tutorials on how to do things that they do not know how to do. When they are looking for specific instructions and examples, they will often head to tutorial sites to find either text, visual, or audio instructions on how to program things, design things, cook food, or put stuff together. There are many tutorial sites for everything on the web today but one of the problems with many of these sites is that they are constantly down. The reason for this is because they did not find a web hosting company that fits all the site needs of a tutorials site. When buying hosting for a tutorial site you need to consider the technical support of the host, the amount of CPU/RAM you are allowed to use, he amount of Space and Bandwidth you have on the site, and the types of files you are allowed to upload on certain web hosts.
The technical support of the host is crucial for tutorial sites as these types of sites often run into problems with uploading files or user interaction. You will want technical support that can respond to you in at most a 6 hour time-frame and provide knowledgeable support to quickly solve the problem. Tutorial sites often have SQL database errors and if you are not very good at programming, you may need to ask your support staff to repair or re-align your database so it updates correctly for your site. Technical support staff should also know how to make emergency backups for all your tutorials and data in case the server needs a re-load and there is a chance that your data may be lost in the process. In addition to this, the support staff should have some basic programming knowledge to be able to help you with PHP server issues. It is quite common that after a server upgrade some of your scripts will not work right because the default settings for the newer OS version are different from that of the old one. If this happens, you’ll need support staff that is knowledgeable in this area to either re-configure the settings so that they match with the old settings or tell you what you need to change or enable in order to make your site function correctly again. Support staff is also important in case of network outages or server crashes to help you get your site back up and running as quickly as possible. To get an idea of the quality of technical support at a hosting company, it is best to check on a large web hosting forum such as webhostingtalk.com and ask questions about their customer service. Forum members will be able to honestly tell you their past experiences with the host you are thinking about. Hosting review sites such as hostjury.com are also a decent source of information regarding the webhost, but since many of these hosting review sites are owned by hosting companies or sponsored by hosting companies, the information presented on these sites can easily to biased.
Another important factor for tutorial site hosting is the amount of CPU/RAM usage that each account is allowed to use. Since uploading tutorials, having members submit tutorials, allowing ratings and comments and ratings on tutorials, an just browsing a tutorials site will take both PHP or ASP code executions and SQL database queries, tutorial sites can easily take up a lot of CPU and RAM power. The amount of CPU/RAM power that these sites take up depends on the number of visitors your site gets and what features you have enabled on your tutorials script. The allowance of CPU/RAM usage varies from host to host and can be as little as 1% of total server power to as much as 10% of total server power. When choosing a host, be sure to read the Terms of Service agreement and find out the exact amount you are allowed to use. If you cannot get an exact amount from their Terms of Service agreement, ask their support staff until you get a rough idea of how much you can use. The number of simultaneous MYSQL connections is another thing to look for when choosing a host as this will directly limit how many users can be on your site at once. For a tutorials site, you should be looking at a limit of more than 15 at once. When asking about resource usage, also ask if the host has optimizations such as Zend optimizer and server caching set up as these features will reduce the stress that a script such as a tutorials script puts on the server. In additional to the usage factors, ask the host about their account suspension policy and find a host that has a more lenient policy. This is very important because some hosts will suspend you without giving you a fair warning while others will warn you well ahead of time so you can fix the problem because the account suspension happens. Finding a host with a more lenient policy on account suspension may save you hours of downtime in the future.
Aside from CPU/RAM, the other resource you have to look at is the amount of space and bandwidth allowed. The amount you’ll need depends on what kind of tutorials you are doing a site for, the content of those tutorials, and whether you will be hosting the tutorials on your own server. If you are not planning to host the tutorial files on your server and are just linking or framing other people’s pages, then there is no need to worry about these things as you will probably never hit your space and bandwidth ceiling before you hit a ceiling for CPU and RAM usage.
However, if you are hosting all the content on your server, you will need to take space and bandwidth into consideration. Its hard to say how much you will need as the kind of tutorials you are hosting and their content will determine this completely. If the tutorials are just plan text with no audio, visual, flash, or movies then there is no need to worry about space and bandwidth as text tutorials take up almost no space and bandwidth at all.
If the tutorials do contain downloads, audio, flash, or visual content, you will need to carefully calculate an average file size for each tutorial and multiply this by the number of tutorials you plan to have and add 30% on to this figure to get a rough estimate of how much space you will need. Having this much space will ensure enough space for your content as well as a decent amount of expansion space. For calculating the bandwidth, take the average file size of a tutorial, multiply by the number of page views your site gets a day, and multiply this by 30 to get a rough estimate of the monthly bandwidth usage. In reality, it will probably be somewhat lesser than this number because of browser caching and other factors. While space and bandwidth are two things that you should look at, most of the times on shared hosting CPU/RAM is much more of a limiting factor and should be given more attention when choosing a host.
The other thing you should ask your host about(especially if you are on a free host) if the file types you are actually allowed to upload and whether or not you can CHMOD files to high enough permissions to allowed uploading by users via a web form. Some hosts have limitations on the types of files you can upload and many others do not let uses upload via web form. Be sure that are your file extensions are allowed before signing up with a web host.
Now that we have looked at the requirements, here are some companies that I personally recommend for hosting tutorials sites.
1. Zoomcities– If you are looking to start on a free host, Zoomcities should be your top choice. They are selective in who they host and you will have to post in their forums to get their hosting service. However, this is well worth it as Zoomcities is by far the best free hosting service out there. They give you enough space and bandwidth to grow your tutorial site up to a decent size and provide unheard of quality in technical support for a free host. There is also a community of IT professionals to help you build your site.
2. Steadfast Networks– One of the best paid hosting services on the web, steadfast offers shared hosting as well as dedicated servers. Their technical support is top-notch and are always there around the clock to help you. Nearly all customers who have used them are more than satisfied with their service and the price on their hosting plans is very reasonable for what they offers.
3. Medialayer– My choice for serious shared application hosting. Media layer has most all the server optimizations in place which means your site can handle more visitors before it hits the CPU/RAM ceiling. Their plans are a bit pricey but for the quality of hardware you are getting and the excellent technical support staff, it is well worth the price.
4. Liquidweb– Boasting heroic support and service, they have grown into one of the biggest and most trusted providers in web hosting. Offering anything from shared hosting to dedicated servers, Liquidweb staff are friendly and knowledgeable. The only few complaints I have heard from some non-US users is their billing systems but the vast majority of customers do not have this issue.
All of these providers above are excellent choices to start your tutorials site on and all provide great upgrade paths when you outgrow your plan. Ask around online for more information but starting with one of these four hosts will give on a good footing for success.