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The Best Web Hosting Service - What Will It Offer Me?

May 22, 2008
If you are looking for the best web hosting service, what factors should be the most important?

Usually when someone is looking for good web hosting they will compare the same sort of things for each hosting service - the monthly price, the bandwidth and disk space available, features like MySQL, good statistics, domain parking, FrontPage extensions and so on.

While these are important, and everyone will have different requirements depending on the scripts and software they intend to run for their web site, there are a couple of things which if done well can turn an average web host into the best web hosting service available. These are issues which are not apparent from the hosting feature lists which hosting services use to entice you to sign up.

The first of these critical issues is reliability. There is nothing more frustrating than finding that a web site you have been building and promoting for months is regularly not available, either to visitors or to search engine spiders, due to server downtime. Most hosting services will prominently feature uptime guarantees, but there is no industry standard for what 'uptime' actually means. Some hosts consider the server to be 'up' is the power is on, even if is not serving pages. In addition 'scheduled maintenance' time is often excluded from the guarantee. If the company's guarantees are meaningless, how to you assess the real reliability of a host?

You can only do this by getting information about a given host by its actual users, by searching blogs and forums, or by looking for reviews. If you are just starting with hosting for the first time, check how long the host you are considering has been in business too - poor hosts don't usually last long. The best web hosting service is the most reliable hosting service.

The next critical issue to consider is the support on offer. Here we are talking only about shared hosting (the most common type). With dedicated hosting, you are likely to be paying for support at various levels anyway.

You may believe that you have sufficient webmaster skills to cope with most issues already, and that support is not vital. But consider this: most support issues which affect hosting customers who are not absolute newbies are to do with server configurations, downtime, file paths, file permissions, and hosting restrictions, which are all specific to the particular host service itself. You will inevitably need the help of a human being with your hosting at some point; if they don't reply to emails or answer the phone your website or your business will suffer.

The best web hosting service will have the best support, and will be putting just as much effort into keeping customers happy as they do into recruiting new customers. Again, it is hard to assess what the support is going to be like before you sign up with a web host, but you can get a sense of how good it is by doing some research on the hosting service's name.
About the Author
Now read on - see my recommended web hosts page for my own idea of who offers the best web hosting. Don Break writes about web hosting and finding the best hosts possible.
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