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Selecting A Web Host

Jan 20, 2008
The following is a check list to use when selecting a web host that offers the services needed by an ecommerce business. There are some basic things to look for. Is there a trial period or a money back guarantee? Can you sign for a short period, instead of signing for a full year.

1. RELIABILITY - this refers to the percentage of time the hosting service is working. They may advertise 99% up time, but if they cannot respond to emails almost instantly, within an hour, any time of the day or night, then do not believe the claim.

Is there a support button? How long does it take you to get in contact with them? It is important to sign with a company who makes it easy to get into contact with their support personnel. Test the theory before signing.

2. SEVER SPACE AND CPU LOAD - tons of server space even 500g is no good if your CPU usage is limited. The average web page is 10 - 50K. The average site has 15 page. However, find out if there is 'shared servers' and if the CPU load is limited. A content management system that uses MsQsql databases, shopping carts, and chat rooms all have heavy CPU usage.

The server should also include updated versions of MySql databases. Do not register with a host that uses outdated databases.

3. DATA TRANSFER - Some sites offer a certain amount of bandwidth, with the opportunity to purchase more. The amount of bandwidth used depends on the number of graphics, and more importantly, videos, on the website. It also depends on the number of people who visit 'at the same time.' It is important to find out what happens when you run out of bandwidth.

No web business wants to have a 'run' or a special chat only to learn that they ran out of bandwidth and the host 'unpublished' their website for the last 4 days of the month.

4. SECURE SERVER - There is nothing worse than having a website, and more important email hacked. Some web hosting companies will not help a web owner protect themselves from spam companies who 'steal' your ____@hotmail.com so they can mail their spam without being tracked. Other web hosting companies will help protect customers.

Understand that 'secured' server space often costs more than regular. Hack-proof web hosting is not always included in the package. Secured or encrypted server space is vital if the ecommerce business expects to accept credit card information and keep sensitive data on their website.

5. FTP access. There are many way of uploading web pages. The quickest is FTPFile Transfer Protocol programs. You can buy a good one, or get one free at a site like www.webceo.com. It is important to make sure it is easy to upload the website.

6. POP- These allow users to password protect mail sent through the website email address. This lets you keep the emails between different sections of the company to remain private. Do not sign with any web host who charges extra for this.

7. INCLUDED SOFTWARE - There should always be included software. Most admin panels now have Fantastico or other 'push button' software installation programs on the site. Do not sign with any host that does not include, free, Cpanel, Plesk, or Direct Admin - although Cpanel is the most popular.

While you can end up with problems using Fantastico to upload more complex software such as forums and content management sites, it is perfect for blogs, chats and other web applications.

Software tools often include web statistics, auto-responders, forms, guest books, online orders, polls, search, chat rooms, bulletin boards, web management, backup, and shopping carts. However, these shopping carts shouldn't be used by a business that expects to have more than a few products.

8. SERVER SIDE SOFTWARE - This would include FrontPage extension and compilers for using programs on your site. This is no longer important as Microsoft has stopped releasing FrontPage.

9. CGI bin access - is not universal. If the host does not allow access, then do not sign with them. CGI bin allows the addition of quizzes, contests, and surveys on your site.

10. DOMAIN HOSTING - You should be allowed a main domain name, and a few parked ones. You should also be allowed to make several sub domains. This will increase your keywords, and search engine optimization.
Finding a host who meets these ten criteria will enable you to build a useful, visitor friendly, web business.
About the Author
Mark Walters is a third generation entrepreneur and author. He offers free training and investing videos designed to speed you towards financial independence at http://www.cashflowinstitute1.com/Articles.html
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