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Web Site Hosting Orange County: 5 Tips For Choosing A Provider

Feb 29, 2008
Every Web site requires hosting of some sort in order to be accessible to Internet users. But, with so many hosting options available to Orange County businesses today, it can be helpful to understand what to look for when choosing a hosting provider. Referring to the Web site home pages of hosting companies while trying to choose the right one for you, it can be hard to figure out which variables matter - or should matter - as you choose the best provider for your needs.

Here are 5 tips for what to look for when choosing the right hosting provider for your business:

Tip #1: Decide whether you want dedicated or shared hosting: Dedicated hosting means that you will have an entire hosting server to yourself that is situated within a collocation a facility. The advantages of a dedicated server boil down to performance: Web sites hosted on dedicated servers do not have to compete for bandwidth (data capacity) resources with other Web sites. Meaning: if you have a dedicated server, all of the data capacity allotted to your server goes right to your Web site. A second benefit of having a dedicated server is that you have complete control over what software you install onto the server, including the operating system (e.g., Windows or Linux), database engine (e.g., MSSQL, MySQL, etc.), Web server (e.g., IIs or Apache Tomcat) and other software such as a PDF generator.

On the flipside, shared hosting means that your Web site will share a server with multiple other Web sites. This is definitely the less expensive option. However, the performance your users experience when you select a shared hosting can be unpredictable. For example, on a day-to-day basis your site may perform satisfactorily with a shared hosting situation, but if one of the other Web sites hosted on your shared server gets a spike (sharp increase) in traffic one day that pushes the server's bandwidth to capacity, the performance of your site will likely suffer.

The bottom line: clarify your performance needs and budget constraints before deciding on whether to go with shared hosting or whether to "go dedicated."

Tip #2: Place high value on phone support: The home pages of hosting companies' Web sites often display a lot of verbiage (text) in the hopes of impressing you with their qualifications and features. But, written text is cheap. Instead, look on their site for the one thing that will matter to you most after you launch your site: whether or not your provider offers phone support. The easiest way to tell is to look whether the hosting provider prominently displays a support phone number on their site. If not, you can bet that they do not offer phone support.

The existence of phone support should be a key consideration for you because, if your site ever goes down or you need to make a critical change to your site quickly, the minutes ticking away will feel like days while you try to troubleshoot your site via e-mail or chat. Sometimes, the ability to do a quick call to your provider's host team is a real lifesaver.

Tip #3: Understand your bandwidth requirements and determine how much disc space you need: One of the most important variables that will affect the price of your hosting plan is bandwidth. Depending upon the provider and plan you select, bandwidth - the amount of data your site is allowed to exchange with the Internet within any given time period - varies significantly. Bandwidth is measured in gigabits and can range from 300 GB/month to 3,000 GB/month. Determine your bandwidth requirements by sharing with your provider more about your needs or by consulting with an Internet hosting expert.

And: is your site going to be storing multiple files and/or very large files? If so, be sure to pay attention to the amount of disc space (storage capacity) afforded to you for your hosting account. If you will be offering site visitors a lot of capacity-consuming media files such as movie, image and music files, consider signing up for an account with a large amount of disc space. Disc space is measured in gigabits and can range from 10 GB to 300 GB for most providers.

Tip #4: Determine the hosting speed: High-speed hosting gives your visitors a shorter response time when they surf your site. If your site takes too long to load, visitors can run out of patience and leave; or worse, they can mentally rate your site as being of low quality. Given the low cost of hard drive space these days, speed has really become one of the major factors in differentiating among hosting companies. The speed of your site for users depends upon a number of factors, including the connection speed between the Internet hosting company and the backbone network, the number of sites sharing the same server, and the server's CPU speed. Before you sign up for hosting, ask the hosting company sales rep to allow you to run a test download. Although running such a test will not yield for you an absolute measurement of the hosting company's speed, it will give you a good overall sense of things in this regard.

Tip #5: Think about many e-mail accounts you will need: Your hosting provider will also set up e-mail accounts for your company. Midsize and large corporations may require 100 or more e-mail accounts, while for small businesses, 1-5 may suffice. The number of e-mail accounts you actually order will vary by hosting provider, as well.

Bonus Tip: Most hosting providers will require some sort of contract, although some "value plans" will allow you to sign up for a month-to-month plan as well. If you are not sure about how many e-mail accounts or how much disc space you will need, you can always start small: most hosting providers will allow you to upgrade an account mid-contract. However, the opposite is not always possible.

Orange County is ideally situated for Web hosting, given its convenient proximity to large Network Access hubs. However, the multitude of hosting provider choices in Orange County makes choosing the right one all the trickier, and price is not the only factor you should consider. Cut through the maze by focusing on what is most important and make the best decision possible.
About the Author
Andy can help you simplify the hosting process. Get your free, no-hassle quote for hosting, Web design and more at iConvex. (First-time customers: mention coupon code AT0048 to get 10% off any single order).
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