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What to Look For When Choosing a Web Host

Aug 17, 2007
The purpose of your web site determines what you need to look for from a web hosting service. A hobby site has very different needs to that of a business site such as Amazon.com. For example, the hobby site would possibly be able to be satisfactorily hosted on a free hosting site whereas Amazon.com would need a dedicated server with 24/7 support and eCommerce capability as a minimum requirement.

For the purposes of this article, the focus will be on web hosting requirements likely to be required for small business or home based business people.

The most important requirement is reliability. You need a hosting service that has 99.9% up time to ensure that your site visitors can do business with you at any time. Check what is being offered by the hosting provider and ensure that they have a guaranteed up time and also strong support.

Make sure that the support is included in the cost of the hosting plan. It is worthwhile to check the terms of the support offered to ensure that it suits your business.

Next, you need to consider affordability. Hosting on a dedicated server is usually quite expensive and may only be needed for the larger small business operation. The other option is a virtual server. This is an arrangement where a server is shared by a number of sites. These web hosting plans are a lot more affordable for home business people and small businesses and are usually more than satisfactory for their needs. A disadvantage of shared arrangements is that you don't get to choose your neighbors.

The need for eCommerce capability is also an important consideration. Check that the host provides SSL secure server. Some hosting plans also provide a shopping cart. Check this for ease of use and that the software meets the needs of your business.

Your choice of plans will mainly be dependant upon how much disk space you require and the amount of bandwidth you will be using. Disk space is relatively cheap these days and you can get plans with quantities well in excess of your needs.

However, bandwidth is more expensive and needs more careful consideration. Sometimes, late in a month, you will try to visit a site and a message comes up saying the site is unavailable as it has exceeded it's bandwidth usage for the month. Unless you are monitoring your site, you may not even know that this has occurred. Therefore, to ensure access to your site is always available, it is recommended that you choose the plan with the most bandwidth that you can afford.

Plans will allow you to choose between operating systems. The common ones are Windows, Linux and Mac. In reality, there is not a lot of difference between them and you should choose based on your personal preference or on what platform runs the applications you need on your web server.

Databases are becoming more common as a part of content management systems as well as scripts. Most web hosts these days will cater for these and often provide a range of scripts already available for your use.

You will also need to check how many domain names you are allowed in the hosting package you are considering. If you use sub-domains, check how many as allowed as some providers place limits on these. Check the quantities allowed for parked domains, FTP accounts, and email accounts. Are there enough to meet your current and future needs?

The control panel is your interface with your web hosting service. You need to be comfortable that it is easy to use and that sufficient help is available when you need it to ensure that you can set up and maintain your site.

Don't be afraid to check out various forums for good and bad comments on the web hosts you are considering. It is also useful to do some searching through the search engines for any information on the companies providing the hosting services to ensure that they are likely to be around for a while.
About the Author
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of besuccessfulnews.com , a site that provides information and articles on how to succeed in your own home or small business.
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