Thanks for valuable information.
Your post has come just at the time I am considering changing web-host. Since, the main reason for change is the uptime issue (currently it is 99.2% for this year) which should be nearly 100%, if you can throw some light about your host about this issue, it would help me to take decision.
Also, if you look at most hosts who have guarantees about uptime, down time due to hardware failure isn't included. So under any other hosts' definitions of uptime, my host would still be at 100%.
And certainly it is a lot more reliable than my own university's big network! I had an uscheduled an unexplained email outage for several hours with them a couple weeks ago, not to mention they shut things down once or twice a week to do maintenance on the email servers, and their web servers from time to time I notice are down.
Thanks for taking pains to write at length. I considered the name given by you seriously and have been monitoring it now for around 15 days from uptime perspective. I was surprised to find that the results were not encouraging. The uptime was marginally below 98.5%.
Realising the above trend in a few days of monitoring, I included the host mentioned by Harry in his post below. This site's uptime has been around 99.9%.
The data is based on 5 minutes sampling and hence can be considered to be fairly accurate. I understand that the data collected over a longer period of time will provide a better statistical analysis.
To answer your question first, I monitored the site of the host, not of the user (I didn't want to eat on your bandwidth).
Coming to the other aspect mentioned by you, it seems to be an issue of different requirements. In my case, the main requirement is online testing. When a student taking the test sitting 1000 Km. away from me clicks on, "Save my answers" button and the server stops responding then the situation can become quite awful. I guess that such mission critical applications can only be served to satisfaction by maintaining nearly 100% server uptime.
I know when I was working in Egypt, we had our database hosted in the US. For over a week, we had serious problems connecting to our database. We had absolutely no problems with other sites. The problem was not in the US on our server, nor in Egypt, but in London. There are only two companies that bring the internet into Egypt even though it is resold by many and the one we had our DSL through had a slow connection somewhere along the chain of computers in London. This was determined by running traceroute. We could use dialup using a connection provided by the other company that followed a different route and had no problem. None of our staff in Ireland or various locations in the US had any problems connecting to the database either, just that particular connection. And when the problem went away, I checked traceroute again, and found it was because the route had changed.
And what if one of your students has an electrical power outage while they are doing the test, or for some reason their computer freezes? Or their DSL or dial-up service goes out? How are you going to guarantee against that?
I think the only way you can guarantee 100% that you won't have any such problems is to offer the test with pencil and paper. It's not just hosting where the problems can arise. And even if a host has a short outage, does that mean the student will not be able to complete the exam in a few minutes? If you are so concerned about this, why not design your exams with few or only one question per page, that way the student must save frequently and they are less likely to lose their work.
And as for the site of my host, it is on a different server from my own. And they actually have a backup plan if their server goes down they have a different server with a site hosted in an entirely different location to be able to communicate with their customers if need be.
The suggestions made by you in paragraph 4 are worth considering once I upgrade to 1.5.x. However, for that I will have to wait for some time.
As far are issues other than the uptime are concerned, the 80-20 rule points the main concern towards uptime. Though I cannot tell about future, till date I never had any issue with student connectivity, problem or any other support issue worth mentioning in the past 10 months.
I had an internal debate with myself whether I should post in here or not as the 10% deal is an excellent idea and I don't wish to detract from it.
That said, i think there may be a lot of people in the same position I'm in, that of trying to get something up and running as cheaply as possible (in my own case, long-term I'm hoping to have Moodle hosted internally but at the moment settling for a 12 month hosted trial) but also with reliability and performance in mind.
Therefore, if anyone is looking for a new host I think it worthwhile you having a look at http://www.site5.com. I signed up for 12 months on a multisite plan: 12GB storage and 150GB bandwidth for US$16.95 a month. The rest of the plan is equally impressive (such as unlimited databases, static IP etc.). There are also deals like $50 off if you transfer from another host.
I would also like to assure you all that I am in no way connected with site5. I just stumbled on them while researching (new to this web side of things and I have a nasty habit of researching in depth, hence being a new Moodler now as it all started by looking for an LMS) and found they had they best plan and support as far as I can tell.
As I said, I don't want to take away from the 10% deal but after thinking about it thought it might be usefull to people.
If read the postings in this forum, you'll see hosting Moodle is a bit more demanding than serving a static web site ;-( You are hoping for wonders if you chose a 10 $ hosting offer for your school's Moodle LMS. Our developers should know the difference!
How about a Wiki for them to publish their offers?