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How To Find The Perfect (or at least good enough) Web Host

Apr 4, 2008
Looking for a perfect web host is kind of like looking for a perfect partner. We want to believe they exist, everyone else seems to have found one, but the search is long and it's easy to get discouraged.

Of course, we all realize that no person is perfect and just like us no web host is perfect, either. Web hosts are really just a mix of people and technology and either or both is likely to fall down just when we want them up. That's why I think it makes sense to apply the same rules to finding a web host that we apply to finding a mate.

First, start with yourself and your motivations. To really know what you're looking for you need to know why you're looking. What is it you really want out of a web host? Are you interested in creating your own blog? Forming a forum on the plight of escorts in New York? Creating your own brickless storefront?

The list of web hosting services can be narrowed by determining what kind of site you have in mind. Do you plan on a full-blown e-commerce site with dynamically generated pages, shopping carts, and lots of database activity? You should consider going straight to a dedicated server. Just want a site to share pictures of your favorite felines with your cat club? A shared host will be more your cup of tea.

Are you new to the whole web hosting scene? Avoid the desire to be a wall flower and look for somebody that will treat you with tenderness and respect. Focus on customer service, look for reviews indicating great communication and support along with lots of ease-of-use features. After you've made a choice, test their support services early on before you have a lot of time and effort committed to your site. Send emails, make phone calls, use the online support to see how quickly they respond and how helpful they are. If you're not satisfied don't stick around hoping they'll change...they never change.

Try to have some idea what software you will need before you start searching for a host. Many hosts provide free and easy to use software packages for things like blogging and forums. If you are planning something more involved, make sure the host can support it. If you're a PHP type and your host is strictly ASP, you will never be compatible.

Been there before? Use your prior experience to look for those things that have worked for you in the past. And, although I shouldn't have to say it, stay away from the things that have burned you before. If you've learned the hard way that a terabyte of storage doesn't always mean a terabyte of storage, use that experience and read the fine print this time.

Undertand yourself and your current situation first, then seek out a web hosting provider that meets your needs. Research thoroughly before you dive in, remember to read the fine print, and don't be afraid to end a relationship that isn't working.

So, there's no such thing as a perfect web host. If you're careful in defining your objectives and do some conscientious research you can find one that you will be happy with for the long term.
About the Author
Dan Scott is a Computer Scientist with over 25 years of experience designing, building, and supporting computers and computing applications. Make sure you check out his web hosting analyses covering the top affordable web hosting sites.
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