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What Features do I Really Need When Choosing a Web Host?

Jul 11, 2008
It can be quite intimidating with all the technical lingo that you will find when looking for web hosting. It can be hard to determine what feature that are really necessary to get. Do you really need unlimited bandwidth? Do you really need 1500GB of disk storage? Probably not. With just a little bit of knowledge you can be much smarter when buying hosting, and not pay a lot for bells and whistles you really do not need. A good rule of thumb is to not spend any time on any web host if you find their homepage confusing. After all, the homepage is their primary marketing tool, and if they screw that up there is no saying what they will do with the things your will rely on to have your page hosted.

Support

What every good host should offer you is without a doubt good support. It does not really matter if this is via email, chat or phone. The important part is if the support answers quickly and if they can actually help you and fix your problems. So try them out - send them a few questions. If they can't answer you before you're a customer, then don't become a customer. Just as important as the actual support the host provides is the support the community can provide. Any good hosting company will have a support forum or wiki where users can help each other. Be sure to check these resources out before deciding on any host.

Bandwidth & Disk Storage

Bandwidth is the amount of data you are allowed to move to and from your hosting account, it is usually counted in Giga Bytes per month (GB/month). This includes all the data you upload to your web site and the data each of the sites visitors needs to download to their browser to see the site. Normal web sites need a very small amount of Bandwidth. Photos, big images, videos and big files (such as software downloads) take a lot of bandwidth, other files requires basically no Bandwidth even of you have quite a popular site. A couple of GB/month is more than enough for most sites.

Storage is the amount of data you are allowed to store on the web hosting company's servers, it is usually counted in either Giba Bytes (GB) or Terra Bytes (TB). Just as with Bandwidth you do not need very much unless you are going to host a huge amount of photos and if you use to much you need to pay for the extra space you use. 10 GB or so is more than enough for most sites. So don't be sucked in by the web hosting providers marketing and buy a hosting plan that has much more Storage and Bandwidth than you will ever possibly consume. Why pay for things you don't use?

Control Panel

You absolutely need a control panel for your hosting, and it comes with 99% of all hosting you will find. A control panel is simply a web page you log into and there you find all the options you need to control your hosting. It is in the control panel you set up new databases, install programs (such as Wordpress) etc. The most common control panel used by web hosting providers is cPanel.

Technical Features

If the hosts you are considering have a good price, good support, a control panel and the bandwidth and storage you need then there are loads of more features the hosts lists to think about. This is the most overwhelming part, and you can ignore most of it. If you are going to develop the site yourself make sure that the web host you are considering has the technical features you need to run your site (such as MySQL databases and PHP5 support). If you will have somebody else develop your site make sure to check with the developer or designer that the host you are considering has the features they need to run your site. One nice feature that many hosts have is one-click installs of various programs, for example the Wordpress blogging software. So if you are going to use any such program you just need to click on one link in your hosting control panel to install it. That will save you a lot of time.
About the Author
WebHostNinja.com is a web hosting price comparison site. There you can search and compare offers from many different web hosting companies, to find the cheapest hosting that has the features you need. It is also a great place to find discount coupons to save money when you buy hosting.
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