It can be a very daunting challenge to find the right web hosting company to suit your needs. If you take a look using a search on any of the search engines you will find an abundance of web hosting companies. But there are a few questions you will want to ask yourself before you just jump in and start working on your website. One of the most important things to consider is what are going to be the requirements that you will be needing for the platform that you will be using? Not all hosting companies are going to provide the same services or scripts. I have found that the second most important thing to take into consideration is the service that you will get from this company. I have on many occasions needed technical support at odd hours and on one occasions needed my whole website transferred during Thanksgiving Day. Now if you are losing $2000 a day until these types of issues are resolved then the technical support is priceless. Up-time for me is as important if not the most important of all. Up-time is the value or amount of time that the majority of the hosted websites are up and running without any problems. If you pick companies prone to problems then you can expect your website to be down for problems and that doesn't work very well with the search engines and will cost you rankings.
Doing good research on all potential hosting companies will pay off for you ten fold. Do a search engine search for reviews for web hosting and you will get a good idea of who is the best hosting company out there and then type their name along with complaints to get an idea of the problems that their customers have had. Again do your due diligence and you will be happy you did.
The sheer number of hosting companies, however, can make selecting one more
difficult. Here is a checklist of questions to bear in mind.
How much bandwidth do you really need?
The answer to this question depends on what you want to get out of your site. Will you be blogging daily? Uploading audio and video streams? Do you need unlimited e-mail? Are you planning on using multiple domains? If youíre looking to create more than a basic site, make sure that your host company supports Ruby, Perl, PHP, MySQL and other programs. If you have no idea what I just wrote, make sure your host company offers a user-friendly program to help you build your Web site.
How good is the technical support?
This is one of the more critical questions to get answered before choosing a Web host. Many companies advertise 24/7 support. Keyword: advertise. If they offer telephone support, call ahead and see how long it takes to get someone on the line or if they pick up at all. Also, how long will it take until your issue is resolved? If Web chat and e-mail support is important to you, make sure they offer it. Do they have an FAQ page? A community forum? Where is the company based? And, by extension, where is their support team based?
Read the terms of service carefully.
Can you cancel your contract or transfer your site without incurring administrative fees? Do they offer a money-back guarantee or is your contract nonrefundable? Can the host shut down your site without warning?
How good is the hostís uptime?
Many hosts advertise uptimes of 99 percent or higher, which refers to the amount of time the server is fully operational. Make sure to independently verify their claims through a site like HostTracker.
Can the company support a surge in traffic? How fast is their connection?
Logically, a user wants to see their site traffic grow, so make sure your host is equipped to handle heavy spikes. If youíre close to exceeding your bandwidth, will you be notified in advance? How easy is it to upgrade to more space? Some Web hosting companies list examples of Web sites they host. If they donít, ask them. Then log on and see how well those sites load and operate. Or conversely, if you like a Web site, find out who does their hosting via WhoIsHostingThis or a similar site. Also, ask how many Web sites they host per server and compare that number to see if other hostsí numbers are significantly lower.
How often do they back up their servers?
If the answer is not at all or infrequently, find another host. Also ask if they own and operate their data center or if the host is a reseller. And inquire as to whether your needs require a dedicated or shared host. The last thing you want is to lose your information.
How good is their security?
You do not want to get spammed or attacked so ask if the Web host offers spam filtering and virus protection.
What operating system do they use? Linux? Windows? Other?
Again, depending on your needs, you may find that one system is more compatible than another.
How established is the company?
Although choosing an established company doesnít mean youíre home free, you should be especially wary of a company without a track record. This makes it more difficult to research their credibility and might increase the odds of them not being around the following year.
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