The topic of choosing a hosting provider for DotNetNuke is something that I see appear on a regular basis on the DotNetNuke forums and here on my forums as well. The way I see it the selection of a hosting provider isn't just about the price, it is something that requires a much more detailed look at what services you get and what services you really need. You can then balance those to find the right hosting provider for your needs. As many people are aware I typically direct people towards 3Essentials. In this article I will walk you through my decision process on the items that I look for in a hosting provider, and why I might choose over the other. Consider this my approach towards Shared Hosting solutions. These statements in no way are considered official, 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 activity and something that you don't want to do unless you have to.
The first thing that I do when evaluating a hosting provider is to look at the overall basics of the hosting plan. First and foremost they must support ASP.NET and SQL Server. If a provider does not offer these services you cannot work with them to host your DotNetNuke website. The second item that I look at is the included disk space and SQL Server size. Performing capacity planning on DotNetNuke is difficult at times as it is really hard to determine how quickly your site might grow and how much that will affect your database of file system size. However, I have found that most of my clients that are looking for shared hosting are able to easily keep their DNN installations under 50MB on the SQL Server side of things.
The second areas that you have to look at from a basic hosting perspective is the ability to host more than one site. Many people most host a DNN site as well as other ASP.NET sites or even PHP and others. Some hosting providers ONLY allow you to host DNN sites other providers such as 3Essentials allow you to host all kinds of other sites. This might be something important for you if you have other business needs. The other item that relates to this any limitations on sub-domains or domains, you might need a multi-hosting plan with some providers if you plan on having multiple parent portals
Dedicated App Pool and Full Trust?
The next thing that I look for when evaluating hosting providers 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 third item that one must consider is what level of DNN support do you need your hosting provider to offer? Providers such as PowerDNN are willing to help with many of your DNN related tasks including upgrades and performance optimizations. You are sometimes exposed though to the hosting providers method of doing things, as a recent community incident has demonstrated. However, if you are comfortable doing this yourself, or learning how to do this yourself you might be able to save yourself a fair amount of money. Additionally if you have other sites that you need to host in addition to the DNN site which might exclude one of the DNN specific providers you might then need to look at DNN Support programs offered by various companies that support/develop DotNetNuke specific applications. If you are interested I do offer support programs through my business IowaComputerGurus Inc.
Uptime/Reputation In Community
The final item that I research with a hosting provider is their posted up-time 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 positive 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. But there is no better judge of a providers ability then to see how many customers they retain, and how many they loose over a specific period of time.
My Personal Conclusion
Personally with all of my time working with DotNetNuke I have came to have three overall recommendations as to where I will send users. First of all I will start by saying that this site as well as ALL other sites for my business IowaComputerGurus Inc. are hosted by 3Essentials and they will NOT be moving to a different host anytime soon. I have been with them for over a year now and I couldn't be happier!
Users Needing Detailed DNN Help
I have recently change my opinion on this area of recommendation. If you are an individual that is not familar with DotNetNuke but still want to have a DotNetNuke site, I highly recommend obtaining a support SLA or working with a company such as my own to assist you with the DNN items that you are unfamiliar with. For certain reasons that I will not name here, 3Essentials is now the ONLY hosting provider that I will recommend clients to.
Users Willing to Handle Upgrades/Module Installs
This situation is the one that depending on the users confidence levels and other needs I might recommend 3Essentials.
Users needing more than DNN sites
This situation is one that excludes PowerDNN from the race and I almost always recommend 3Essentials and their B10 Plan which is the one that I use to host all of my sites. 3Essentials support team is very well versed in hosting and has some of the best response times that I have ever experienced.
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. If you have specific questions regarding your needed hosting environment please feel free to contact me.
This article was edited on 5/25/2008 to modify it for changes in my opinion. If you have any questions about the changes, please feel free to e-mail me.