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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.