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Points to Consider Before Selecting a Web Hosting Service

by Ba Kiwanuka

Published on this site: May 27th, 2006 - See more articles from this month

Today with the ever growing number of web hosting companies to choose from, everybody should be able to find the perfect package to fit their needs. But if you are new to the internet, the vast array of choices out there may be rather confusing.

What features do you really need and what can you do without? Why should you pick a particular web hosting company over another? These are just a couple of several web hosting issues that may be confusing if you are new to the web hosting scene. Hopefully this article will help you make an informed decision when you are ready to select your dream web host.

  1. Storage:Your storage requirements are going to be determined by the type of website you have. For example, if your website is nothing more than a personal online jotting pad, then server space issues should not be a major concern. If however you have something a little more grandiose in mind - say a business or eCommerce website that will grow with time - then make sure that your web host has a package that not only covers your current space requirements, but is also adequate for future growth or can be easily upgraded.

  2. Bandwidth: This is a measure of the amount of data permitted to flow between your site and the rest of the internet. Once again if your site is commercial in nature or generates a substantial stream of traffic then you need a web hosting company that provides ample bandwidth. Also be aware that a lot of web hosting services claim to provide "unlimited bandwidth" but in fact rarely do. And if you do exceed your allotted bandwidth most web hosting providers will slap you with a penalty fee.

  3. Support: There's a saying that a web hosting service is only as good as its support. If you conduct your search for a web host with this in mind you really can't go far wrong. Consider for example, most web hosting companies claim 24/7 technical support. But how true is this? After all, as is so often the case these days, it's hard to tell where the truth lies and where the lies, well...lie. However one way to get round this is to test run the support team of the web hosting service you have in mind. The value of this trial-test is to measure the response time of the web host's support department, as well as their degree of competence. Bear in mind that a support team with an indifferent attitude to new business (you) is highly unlikely to become any better once they've got you onboard.

  4. Server Parameters: Any web hosting service worth its salt should have a server uptime of 97% and above; this simply means that your web host's server is up and running at least 97% of the time. I mean can you imagine what would happen to your business if your hosting company's server is down 20% of the time. Your clients - with the merest flick of the mouse button - will turn to your competition to satisfy their needs. Other important server issues to bear in mind are how many servers does the company actually have and what kind of sites are hosted on a particular server.

    Why should you concern yourself about the kind of sites being hosted? Well you wouldn't want to compete for bandwidth with adult websites. This isn't a question of morality...it is just that adult sites are well-known bandwidth hogs. Sharing servers with them will significantly slow down your websites' loading speed (another great way to lose customers).

    Again, with respect to slowdowns, you should ask how many websites are hosted on a given server and when the web hosting company considers a server to be full (i.e., cannot host any more sites without impairing functionality). Over hosting actually happens quite often because many web hosting services commonly oversell their servers. Most of them get away with it until the day a sufficient number of websites actually make good on their full allotment of bandwidth/storage and then...Ouch! That's how your website is going to feel if it's hosted on one such server.

    Another aspect to consider about your hosting company is...where are the servers physically located? Though it rarely ever happens, if the web hosting company lacks redundancy or backup, if any drastic event occurs at the site of the servers, there goes your online presence. (This scenario really happened: At the World Trade Center when 9/11 occurred).

  5. Webstats: Traffic is the lifeblood of any internet business. Being able to track and analyze where traffic is coming from is a great advantage. Having such a tool at your disposal would enable you to make accurate and informed changes to your website to better position it for even more traffic. Plenty of web hosting companies provide such tracking and analysis tools with their various packages...even those 4-dollar-a-month or less, hosting services. So there really is no reason for you to settle for a web host that lacks this feature.

  6. Scripts/Languages: What script types does the web hosting company support: PHP, ASP, CGI, MySQL? The web script you use will of course depend on the type of website you have in mind.

  7. Upgrading: Does the web hosting company give you the option of upgrading your current package to a more advanced one if the need ever arises? And can you upgrade seamlessly, with minimal fuss and interruption to your business? (After all, the whole point of the upgrade is because your business is expanding. No point upgrading if you are going to lose a substantial portion of your business because of it.

  8. E-Mails: A lot of web hosting services offer unlimited POP3 e-mail as a big selling point. Don't be seduced by this, especially if the web host is using it as a factor for charging you increased monthly fees. Truth is, most web hosting services today offer (as standard) more e-mail addresses than you'll probably ever need.

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Ba Kiwanuka is the webmaster of http://www.internetbusinessmart.com



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