Websites in Pakistan are doubling up, no doubt about it. More websites mean more opportunity for hosting companies. But when I look around, at my friends, friends of friends I don’t see them trusting much on local hosting companies.
As a matter of fact, ProPakistani would love to do business with a local company, for instance our servers are locally hosted – it would give us a pleasant feeling along with some technical advantages, for instance shorter route for severing audience in Pakistan (as 95 percent of traffic on this website comes from Pakistan).
But this is too expensive, as of now, due to extremely high bandwidth rates. For instance, one average P4 server is offered at Rs. 25,000-Rs. 35,000. Then there comes issues like electricity backups, and so many others.We won’t get into those details regarding dedicated solutions, instead we will focus on hosting companies that are offering shared hosting accounts.
Question arises, why Pakistani Hosts are not considered reliable? And why do they end up getting low-profiled websites or the starters only (who don’t own a credit card)?
For the purpose we spoke to few webmasters and to those doing hosting business in Pakistan.
But first, let’s look at the structure of Pakistan hosting companies (for most of them, if not all). I won’t get into much technicalities, but in layman terms, Hosting companies lease a dedicated server or even a VPS (from another hosting company) at a remote location (let’s say in US). Now the technical guys look after the administration of this VPS (of course remotely), while the sales team (with help of a website) tries to sell their hosting packages. There can be chances that total of 2 persons are managing all the operations, sales, support and the administration.
Now, as a curse, price war is here too, meaning that they will have to offer one year hosting for as low as Rs. 2,000 that is 2$ a month (or even lower), even worst – domain name is included in it. Hosts keep accommodating hundreds of websites (customers) with the same server until resources overflow and server starts crashing down.
I want to clear one thing, that this doesn’t happen with every hosting company of Pakistan, but for most of them, this story can be termed true.
On other hands, customers with no-credit cards end up closing a deal with one of such local hosting company; however, soon customers withdraw the deal or he gets used to of server down times.
As a conclusion, if customer is running a critical website with a demand for 100 percent up-time, he may preach so many others to not to buy a hosting account from local company.
Even worst has happened with few customers, one of them is Shahzad of Apnay.PK, a newly launched social network for Pakistan.
Just a little story, before we conclude this topic, Shahzad got this social network website developed from a local company and paid hefty amount. He got a hosting account with Nexus, and kicked off his business. He says that he advertised his website online and offline through banners and brochures. He had 4,000 registered users when suddenly his website went off-air. Repetitive calls to Nexus didn’t resolve his issue, instead after 3 days he was told that it was a hard disk crash and nothing can be done to bring his data back.
In short he lost 4000 registered users, database, tons of image files and all that stuff which social media users upload with their profiles.
Shazad told us that when he bought this hosting Nexus had confirmed him that they take backups every minute. It was going to be impressive if they had fulfilled the commitment, but it never happened.
And there would lot of other such stories, but let’s jump to our recommendations
Recommendations for Hosting Businesses:
Like you can’t setup a cellular company, reason: it requires huge money, similarly, hosting business can’t be run with only couple of thousand dollars. You need to have trained staff to handle critical situation – and believe me trained people are expensive.
For instance, a highly trained server admin, who is offering his services at 40$ an hour to an offshore company may not come to you for PKR 100,000 per month.
Solution for this situation can be, or say a short cut method for offering hosting services (with not much investment), get a reseller account that comes with end-user support. All you need is to re-sell their packages and keep your commission.
Recommendations for Webmasters:
Keep your backups, as recent as you can. Ask your friends/family for recommendations before going live with a local company. Don’t save PKR 1,000 or 2,000 if you want to save down times.
Recommendations for Authorities:
We don’t have regulation for hosting companies, for instance, Shahzad had not many options to follow when his data was lost (a direct financial loss to his business). Though he has filed a case with FIA, but I am afraid we don’t have protocols to follow in such situations.
If PTA is considerably working on ICT promotion, here is another door open to work at.
Regarding Shahzad (apnay.pk) case, Nexus claims that his ticket was answered in hours, records of which are available, and his account was restored from backups. Comment further said that most of his files were restored without issue.
Dissimilar: ProPakistani had a hosting project (reseller account), which we didn’t continue due to in-availability of credit cards with local customers.