Redundant Is Good
Redundancy refers to duplication. Redundancy is not just a specialty feature for dedicated web hosting customers: shared web hosting can be redundant and redundancy is just as important for keeping your website live and your vital data intact, whatever your web hosting package. True, if your website is just a page with a few photos and some text that you have copies of, it’s probably not as important as an ecommerce site’s investment in their site. But still, redundancy helps keep you getting the service your paid for (or—in the case of free hosting—you were offered or promised).
Redundancy is one of the features that helps create fault tolerance—the ability of a system to continue to operate properly in the aftermath of a failure or failures of components. There are several types of redundancy. Data redundancy (which is not data reliability, though it has been called that), is a term used in computer data storage to describe a property of disk arrays. With a RAID (Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks) system, the entire data set is duplicated or an error-correcting code is stored beside it or, in some cases, on another hard drive.
But redundancy can be far more extensive than this. It is also possible to have redundant servers, redundant power supplies on separate power circuits, redundant networks using multiple carriers, and redundant datacenters located at a distance. This much redundancy is likely to be both costly and unnecessary to most enterprises, but it is available for those who require it.
Reliability Is Important, Too
So being redundant makes a system more reliable and that’s it, right? Wrong: there’s more to reliability than that. Reliability means that:
- the network is “up” (available)
- the system performs tasks involved in a visitor’s use of the site in good time
- data is available for use, safe from loss, and delivered intact when requested
- the network is maintained and in good shape
- the system is secure from fire, flood, theft, and damage of other kinds
- the system is secure and client data is safe
- any problems are resolved efficiently
Thus, meeting the standard of reliability requires the behavior of knowledgeable people committed to quality and skilled in communicating with their clients, as well as a well-constructed and carefully maintained system. The reliable system is bolstered by load balancing, replication, diversity, as well as redundancy, as appropriate and cost-effective. If your data and computing is critical, you should research each of these elements more before choosing web hosting for your site.