Derek Chambers has some great advice on how to choose the right
web host to meet your needs in his latest article:
Choosing A Web Host Company
by Derek Chambers of 1stChoiceWebHost
For the inexperienced, choosing the correct web host can seem a
very daunting task and many important factors can easily be overlooked.
Most people judge a web host by the amount of disk space offered,
with the impression generally being that more space is always better.
However, this is not an ideal way to choose a web host. It's important
to remember that your website is an investment. You will therefore
not want your site to be 'offline' more than it is 'online', due
to unreliable hosting.
Before setting up my own hosting company, I had been faced with
similar problems. I tried various reseller options but experienced
seriously worrying unsatisfactory service from several hosting companies.
This service failure affected my own business website and the sites
of many clients. Eventually I made a considerable financial investment
that gives me guaranteed control and reliability for running my
own efficient servers.
Below is a check list that you should consider when choosing a
website hosting company:
Does the hosting company you are considering using have a physical
address that is listed on their website and is included in the WHOIS
directory. Or are they hiding behind a PO Box number?
When interested in any business on the Web, always have a clear
idea of the company you will be dealing with. This is particularly
important with web hosting, as you can buy cheap and cheerful reseller
packages. This makes it possible for virtually anyone to start a
hosting business - with no knowledge, no equipment, etc. The hosting
company can easily vanish overnight. This happened to me when I
fist started out, after signing up with a company that used a PO
Make sure you have several points of contact for the company.
Hosting Platform & Compatibility
Make sure the web hosting company can provide the platform and
software you need to host your web site. For example, if your site
is programmed in ASP, choosing a Linux-only hosting company is NOT
a good idea, given the cost of re-writing your code to make it compatible.
Uptime and Servers
This is probably one of the most important factors to look for
in a good web host. Do they guarantee 99% or more uptime? Are their
servers based in a secure Data Centre with 24/7 monitoring, or is
it home-based using dynamic DNS? This consideration is crucially
important as most home-based servers cannot maintain a high percentage
uptime. They simply do not have the time, staff, or technical knowledge
to achieve this.
Choose a web host that does not overload servers and provides adequate
This key factor is usually overlooked until the bandwidth limit
is reached and your site is suddenly not available. If you are planning
to do a large amount of ftp or publish a site with several images
or downloads, then your bandwidth will be a lot higher than a mainly
text site, especially if content is seldom changed. Another important
factor to consider when looking at bandwidth is the potential number
of visitors to your website.
If your site sells a popular product (such as mobile telephones)
and you advertise the site both online, maybe using Google ad words
or other marketing campaigns, and offline displaying 'for our latest
offers visit our website at www.anyname', you will find that your
bandiwth is tight. The amount of bandwidth you should be looking
at for maintaining a successful website is 1gb minimum.
Also check the web host's policy on your monthly bandwidth usage.
If you use up the agreed bandwidth, will your site simply vanish?
Or will you be offered the option to purchase extra bandwidth for
that month at a reasonable fee? (Generally around £2 - £3
Website Hosting Features
When choosing a hosting package, be sure to check that it supports
the features you will require to run your site properly. Features
CGI (now standard with good hosting companies)
PHP (many new scripts and programs require PHP support and some
hosts charge £10 - £15 extra for this per annum)
MySQL - some scripts require MySql database to run, especially shopping
carts which also require PHP
FTP Access - strange as it may seem, some hosts do restrict FTP
access, so check that the web host you are considering does not
have any restrictions
Regardless of whether or not you are technically-minded, sooner
or later you will probably need to contact your web host. Before
signing up, it's worth sending them a test email to see how quickly
they reply. (If at all)
Check their site to see if they have any testimonials available,
as this will give some indication of their reputation - a good hosting
company won't mind sharing testimonials.
Some hosting companies will charge extra to transfer domain names
to and from their servers so this is always worth checking before
you sign up. Although many hosting companies will register a domain
on your behalf you should compare prices and ideally learn how to
register a domain yourself, which is very easy to do and enables
you to stay in complete control. In this way, if your hosting company
ever goes out of business, you can change the nameservers to another
host quickly and efficiently. You will be back on line in no time
with very little damage. (This happened to me when starting out.
I had no control over my domain, which was down for 10 days while
Nominet sorted it out.)
Pricing - The last consideration
Some deals look good at first sight but if one feature that is
important to your needs is missing, then that deal is no longer
so good. Do your research and compare different companies. Pricing
should be the last consideration as hosting prices can range from
being very inexpensive to almost no upper limit.
In the web hosting world, the terms "no such thing as a free
lunch" or "you pay for what you get" is highly applicable.
Many free hosts will put banners or advertisements on your site,
and sometimes the free service is very limited. The inexpensive
hosting companies often put too many customers on each server resulting
in lots of problems - slow performance to the point of site unavailability,
security issues, slow transfer rates, etc. Network and system resources
cost the hosting company money, which in some way has to be recovered.
This is why free or very cheap hosting packages are renowned for
providing slow servers and poor customer service.
Using the guidelines on this page will help you to find an affordable,
efficient and dependable hosting company for your business or personal
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