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data centerIf you purchase third party web hosting, chances are that your website is served up from a data center.  Any serious hosting company will use a datacenter, and you should sharply avoid any hosting company that does not make available their data center information.  Simply put, a datacenter is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components.  Its operation will in large part determine the success or failure of your website.  Dealing with an outdated or understaffed datacenter will cost you precious time and money.

Location

Datacenters are located all over the world.  Is your web host’s data center located in an area that is prone to natural disasters or political upheaval?  If so, then you should seriously consider another hosting company.  Most hosts have clauses included in their user agreements that protects them from data loss liabilities should such an event occur.  Although there are thousands of webhosts to choose from, there are far fewer datacenters behind the scenes.  Many webhosts are simply resellers and their server space is actually located in the same datacenter as numerous others.  Larger webhosts usually have their own datacenters while smaller operations and third parties rent space from one of the main companies.

Climate

Modern datacenters will be climate controlled facilities with both temperature and humidity controls.  There should be systems in place to prevent sudden temperature changes as electronic components have shown to be more sensitive to sudden changes than anything else in regards to temperature.   Many engineers concede that ideal operating temperature is 68 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit or sightly below.  Humidity should also be kept at bay.  Too much humidity will promote corrosion while too little will allow static electricity to build up.  The risk of ESD (electrostatic discharge) increases as the humidity decreases.  ESD can cause both permanent hardware failure and data loss.

Network

Datacenters are full of routers, switches, Ethernet cables and conduits.  The firmware and hardware of outdated switches and routers will route traffic slower than their modern counterparts and the planning of the overall network will also affect its efficiency and speed.  Uptime is perhaps the most important single aspect in gauging the quality of a webhost and it should be 99% and above.  Don’t waste your time with anything less.  Web hosting isn’t exactly a new science these days and the best web hosting companies hold high standards in regards to network uptime, and so should you.

Hardware

Last but not least is the physical hardware of the machine(s) your data is hosted on.  Once again, newer technology is usually best, as processor speed and data storage capabilities typically double every 18 months in the computer science arena.  A professional datacenter is complete with redundancy components and server hardware is updated on a regular basis.  Optimally, maintenance and upgrades will be managed by one or more teams of Information Technology professionals.

This article is just a small window into the world of datacenters.  One could easily spend several hundred hours examining more details of datacenter operations.   Datacenters are the inner workings behind every webhost and not all are created equal.  Many items must converge for a webhost to be considered truly successful.data center