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Web Hosting Essentials

Published on 3/23/2010 by

Just the sheer number of web hosts can make choosing a company very confusing. However, competition is great for the consumer because it keeps prices down. One must take into consideration what is needed, and the expense will depend on whether you want dedicated or shared servers, lots of bandwidth, or servers with high end hardware.

Good web hosts can handle any types of site, from a one page personal website to a multipage, fully featured business site. I am not a fan of free hosting because the frequent inaccessibility and server lag, coupled with the absence of necessary tools could doom your business quickly. If it’s for free, chances are you won’t be able to count on shell access, databases, Perl, SSL, or even much tech support.

Important Features

  • Reliability: So what features are important? You might want to first consider the reliability of the company. Check how long they have been in business; contact current clients and ask them about the performance level. If you are going to need Java or other types of specialized web hosting separately, make sure you get complete information about it.
  • Affordability: It is also important to consider affordability. Most companies offer attractive packages, but it is still best to speak with someone in the company to find out the total expenses before registering. Sometimes there are add on charges for registration, maintenance, service, and renewal fees. You might also question what charges would be incurred if your site started to lose money or volume of visitors and how flexible the hosting company is if you have to downgrade to another, less costly plan.
  • Uptime: Can make or break a business. Think of the consequences for your business if your site is down for any length of time, so a guarantee of 99.5% or higher is absolutely necessary.
  • Support may say 24/7, but always read further. Check to see if support is by email only or both phone and email. If support is only through email, you might have to wait until the next business day. I require a toll-free phone number and help support personnel available. Take into consideration how quickly they respond. Also worthy of checking is domain registration, assistance in new domain registration, as well as existing domain transfers.
  • Ease of use: A good web host knows that not everyone is technically savy, and check to see is there is a demo where you can login as if you were doing it with your own website. That can help you understand the process and familiarize yourself with their control panel. The most popular and user-friendly control panel is the cPanel which can easily customize the features and programs that appear. There are less expensive control panels if cost is a critical issue. Ensim or Plesk generally have fewer bugs than cPanel, but the interface is not as user friendly.

Final Word of Wisdom

You might also want to consider backing up information daily. It is prudent to check on the company’s disaster recovery plan. And one last bit of advice I have learned the hard way; always make sure there is at least a 30 day money-back guarantee. Reputable companies stand behind their product.