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Understanding Your Community Hosting Options

You would be amazed at the amount of social networking and community software tools that are on the market today.  The immense popularity of MySpace, Facebook and YouTube has encouraged many people to create their own online community.  Community sites are expansive in topics, ranging from sites such as dating and video sharing to pets and video games.   Below are just a few of the many options that exist for online communities:

Social networking sites

Social media sites

News publishing sites

Dating sites

Blog sites

Video sharing sites

Photo sharing sites

What Type of Hosting Do You Need?

Web hosting plays a huge role in the creation of these types of community sites.  Such a website requires an added dose of power in comparison to the typical website.  However, what it requires the most is a scalable environment that supports the growth of the community.  As your site increases in popularity, it will attract more users, which means it will be populated with more pictures, videos and possibly other interactive features.   This tremendous growth means that the average shared hosting package may not suitable for the needs of your community.  You have to consider critical resources such as disk space, bandwidth, RAM and CPU, all of which impact the overall performance of your website.  While you might be able to pull this off on a shared hosting platform from a technical aspect, your community could be the one to suffer from slow loading pages and sluggish performance.

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A dedicated server makes for one of the most reliable ways to host an online community.  This type of hosting will give you the scalability you need and dramatically reduce the occurrence of performance issues you would endure on a shared server.  The problem is that maintaining a dedicated server can be very complex and expensive.  Leasing the server can run you upwards of $100 per month – and this is just for an unmanaged service.  If you choose to run your community on a dedicated server, keep in mind that you will be responsible for updating the operating system and web server software in addition to managing all the applications and security mechanisms it requires.   This is something many people simply are not equipped to deal with.  For this reason, you should strongly consider looking into a service provider that specializes in community hosting as they are more likely to have the unqiue environment you require.

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Conclusion

A community site can be very beneficial, but only when choosing the right web hosting solution.  Before heading out to look for a service, take both the present and future growth into account when factoring in your requirements.   Think about the features you need, the type of content and media you plan to host, and the volume of traffic you anticipate.  If you truly want your community site to be a success, don’t hesitate to ask prospective web hosts questions and find out exactly how they can suit your needs.  This will make it much easier to find the ideal solution for your online community.

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