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The Other Meaning of Crowded Server
First, let's get rid of a distraction by explaining and dismissing an alternate meaning of the phrase crowded server. Gamers searching for a "crowded server" are looking for a server that other players are logged into so that they can play with them. To a gamer, a crowded server is a delight and an uncrowded server is one on which they might find no one else to play with when they log in. That's not the meaning of crowded server that is discussed in this article, which refers to hosting.
What Crowded Server Means in Web Hosting
In the world of hosting, a crowded server is not a good sign, as it is for gamers. Rather, it suggests that either some clients on the server are resource hogs or that the web host has been overselling its server space and resources.
- Resource Hogs—If a number of account owners on the server ignore the maximum bandwidth they're provided and set up sites or services that generate a lot of queries or downloads, the server may become strained by the demand. This type of user is generally trying to use an account that is less expensive but not really created for the type of site he or she is running. Trying to get away with an inexpensive hosting plan, rather than plumping for an adequate one, can affect the other accounts on the server.
- Overselling—Web hosts that provide shared hosting aim to provide each customer with a competitive amount of bandwidth and disk space. Even when all the server space and bandwidth for a particular server is accounted for by the allotted amount for the accounts on that server, many accounts may not use anywhere near the allotted amount. In this case, a money-hungry host may add additional customers to the server, counting on the low average usage to continue. This increases the web host's profit, while—as long as the overall usage remains low—not inconveniencing customers. But usage does not always stay low, and if everyone on an oversold server tries to use their maximum bandwidth, that's more bandwidth than is available on the server. Even if a number of customers use more bandwidth than expected, but not their maximum, the processing time will go up and the quality of the service, and possibly the server itself, will go down.
How You Can Avoid Ending Up on a Crowded Server
There are five main steps you can take to avoid your account ending up on a crowded server.
- Choose a trusted web host. A reputable, well-known host is going to care about customer satisfaction and not cut corners by shoving too many accounts on a server.
- Read reviews before you choose. If you don't know a web host from personal experience or personal recommendation, read reviews that are not on affiliate sites and are written in standard, grammatically correct and properly spelled English.
- Use the trial or demo offer to test the experience with a web host before committing.
- Look for an uptime guarantee and other information about protecting your account from the activities of others before you buy. For example, BlueHost provides a service called "Hosting Resource Protection" a proprietary solution that protects accounts from abusive users.
- Use dedicated hosting or your own server to serve your website. You will have complete control of what's on your server, and can keep it as empty or full as you like.
What You Can Do About a Crowded Server
The symptoms that you may see that lead you to the conclusion that the server you are on is too crowded can also be from alternative causes, so here are some steps to take if you experience slow processing or unexpected downtime.
- Before anything else, check your email and your web host's site to make sure that slowness or downtime was not caused by scheduled maintenance or a problem that they had (and have, hopefully, now fixed).
- Write a clear, accurate description of the symptoms your site is experiencing, including the time of day and the length of time the problem continued for.
- Make sure it's not your site. If you hired a programmer for the site or have an IT person, provide your written description and have him or her check the site operation.
- Call your web host's technical support department on the phone and use your written description to convey the problem. Listen carefully to the response. A good web host will be responsive and fix the problem, curtailing the activities of problematic accounts, if there are any, and/or removing them from the server if necessary. A web host that caused the overcrowding by overselling is more likely to blame you or make excuses. In that case, it's likely time to find a new web host.
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