Three months ago I created an article discussing my thought process on selecting
a hosting provider for DotNetNuke installations. I recently modified that
article due to a recent change in opinion. I have sense decided to re-visit
the article entirely as I wanted to expand a bit on a few items that were referenced
by others in the comments with the older article. As most people are aware my hosting provider of choice is
3Essentials, being with them for almost a year and a half now I have only
good things to say about them, however, I'll be the first to admit that they might
not be for everyone. In this article I will look at the various items that
lead me to select and retain 3Essentials
as my hosting provider. These statements in no way are considered offical, and you MUST take the time to do your own research to form your own conclusions before making a decision. Moving hosting providers is not all that complicated, but it is a somewhat complex and time consuming actiivity and something that you don't want to do unless you have to. If you are having problems finding a
hosting provider that meets your needs, please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]
and I'll try to help you out with the decision.
My first step when evaluating provides is to look at the bare bones basic functionality provided by their services. I will break this out into three separate areas to cover
the general aspects of hosting; supported features, disk space, and future growth.
The most important items to review at first with a hosting provider are the technologies
supported by the plan. Since DotNetNuke 4.x and later based on the ASP.NET 2.0 framework
and utilizes SQL Server for its database backend we establish a minimum baseline
of features that must be supported. This includes Windows based hosting with
ASP.NET 2.0 support, and access to at least 1 SQL Server database. Now these
are minimum features that must be there before you can even install DotNetNuke,
but it is very important to validate these features to ensure that you do not have
a plan that will not work for you.
Third-party dataproviders do exist to allow support of other database engines, however,
the use of those is typically limited to more advanced users and their usage and
requirements are well outside the scope of this article.
Disk Space (Website and SQL) & Bandwidth
The next areas that you need to investigate when selecting a hosting provider is
the allotment of disk space and SQL Server database space. A typical clean
DotNetNuke installation will result in a website file system size of 20-25Mb and
a database file size of around 11-15Mb. Ensuring that you have the proper
room to grow on both the database and file system side is very important.
To give you a general idea, this website which is hosted on a DNN installation that
supports 5 individual portals, 200-250 tabs and over 3500 users has a database footprint
of about 52Mb and a filesystem footprint of 500Mb. This information was provided
only as an example and is in now way an illustration of the type of space requirements
your site might require.
When considering the space needed for your site, you need to look at 2 different
aspects. The first is how many files you will be loading, in 99.9% of circumstances
files served to users via DotNetNuke are stored in the file system and not the database.
Therefore these documents size will be deducated from your filesystem allotment
and not the database. The second is to consider the number of pages, static
html content, forum posts, users etc. This is the hard one as it is very hard
to predict the growth of a site with any accuracy. However, all of these items
are the direct makers of your database size.
I have found that for a typical DNN installation users are able to get by with a
hosting plan providing 100Mb SQL Server databases.
After you have determined your needs for SQL Server and file system size, you must
evaluate your needs for bandwidth. Bandwidth is typically measured as the
total incoming and outgoing traffic from your site via ANY communication channel
to the server (HTTP, Email, FTP, etc.). This is an area where you have to
use a bit more handy calculation as you want to make sure you have enough bandwidth
because bandwidth overages can be VERY expensive!
I find that this is one area that many individuals do not look at when first setting
up a DotNetNuke website, but it is very important to take into consideration the
future growth of your site. Will you potentially need to host more than this
single DotNetNuke site? Potentially a subdomain with another .NET or other
application? How about multiple portals, is it possible that in the future
you will need to host more than 1 domain from your current installation?
These are all very important questions and depending on your specific answers some
hosting providers might not be for you. For example PowerDNN is a hosting
provider that ONLY allows DNN installations, and for myself, that is not an option
as I have multiple DNN and non-DNN sites that I maintan for my business,
The other area to look at here is does a provider allow you to upgrade to a different
plan, or if on a multi-domain plan allow you to dynamically reallocate your usage.
One reason I really like 3Essentials
is that I have a Reseller 10 plan, but I can take my total disk, bandwidth, and
SQL server allotments and divide them however I want between my various sites.
So for example I have 3 times the bandwidth and SQL server space dedicated to this
site than I do others on my plan as this one has the most traffic. This type
of flexibility is nice as it allows you to get the most for your hosting dollars.
Dedicated App Pool and Full Trust?
The next thing that I look for when evaluating hosting providers for DotNetNuke
support is to see if they provide dedicated application pools and support full trust mode. A dedicated application pool isolates your DNN site from all other sites on the hosting server, this prevents issues on other sites from affecting your site. This is something that not all hosts provide and is something that in my opinion is very helpful. The support of full trust simply makes things easier when working with DNN, when not in full trust mode some modules may not work, especially those who try to communicate to other websites such as the News Feeds Module. If you are able to run DNN in Full Trust you will minimize the amount of trouble you have later when working with modules.
Supporting Installation on Root
One issue that plagues users of GoDaddy.com hosting is that they do not support installation of DotNetNuke at the root of a domain, http://www.mysite.com as they cannot set the permissions properly. You can get around this on GoDaddy using a "hack" of sorts, but in my opinion if you cannot install DNN on the root of the domain and you cannot grant full file permissions to the ASP.NET worker process you MUST move to a different hosting provider.
DNN Support (Where to get it)
The next item to consider is how much DNN support do you expect from your hosting
provider? Do you expect your host to offer an automatic installation so you
can get DNN up and running without any manual installation? Do you want your
hosting provider to upgrade your site for you automatically? Or are you comfortable doing these items yourself, or finding a third party person to handle these items
on a case by case basis?
These are important questions to ask yourself and aslo if you decided that you want
a hosting provider that "does it all" you will want to further investigate your
selected provider of choice to ensure that you agree with their terms and conditions. Some of the "we do it all" providers will upgrade sites and apply non-standard "patches"
to a DNN installation prior to notifying the customer. For some people this
is ok, however, for others like myself this is a critical issue.
Regardless of which option you choose, be sure that you know where you will go for
DNN support should you need it during installation, upgrade, or any other time while
running your DNN site.
Customer Support Response
Another item to consider is the responses of the customer service team. Regardless
of what hosting provider you select you will at some time interact with their customer
support team. It is important to know their standard response times, as well
as to get a bit of history from current customers if possible regarding the quality
of these responses. I find that this is something that doesn't necessarily
get addressed until after a provider has been selected and at that time it is almost
I highly recommend trying to contact the support team, just to see how quickly you
get a response, try them out to see if you will be able to work with their schedule
and level of service.
Uptime/Reputation In Community
The final item that I research with a hosting provider is their posted uptime and the overall view of the provider in the community. For example if you search on DotNetNuke for hosting you will find many bad comments about WebHost4Life and GoDaddy, but you will also find many postitive comments about the awesome support of 3Essentials. I take this information into consideration, but I always treat it with a grain of salt to be on the safe side. Just as those of you reading this article should
validate the information presented within.
My Personal Conclusion
In my previous version of this article I broke down my personal recommendations in three separate areas, I no longer find this necessary. I have found that
for my needs, and those of 95% of my clients
3Essentials has been a great hosting
provider. Certain customers have augmented their hosting provider selection
with service agreements with companies such as my own or other third parties to
provide assistance with the upgrades and troubleshooting.
The key is to make sure that you have all of your bases covered; hosting, DNN support,
and future growth.
Conclusion & Disclaimer
I hope that this article has provided a little insight to the criteria that I use to evaluate and recommend hosting providers for DotNetNuke. Please remember that these are simply my thoughts and are no way blanket recommendations.
I am not being paid by 3Essentials
for posting this article either and these comments and recommendations are based
on my personal experience with 3Essentials
hosting. I am a participating member of the 3Essentials Affiliate program
and recommend them to almost all of my clients.
If you have specific questions regarding your hosting needs please feel free to
e-mail me at any time. ([email protected])