Due to the numerous types of Web Hosting companies that exist today, choosing the right one can sometimes be a difficult task. This article is intented to make the process a little easier for you.
The first thing you need to decide is what type of Web Site you want. For example, will it be personal or business related? Will you need ecommerce services such as a shopping cart and a merchant account? Do you have any special requirements such as the ability to run CGI scripts? Do you want your own domain name? How much can you afford to pay? The cost of Web Hosting varies widely, from free to thousands of dollars per month. However, you will find that a typical Hosting account ranges from $10 to $50 per month, depending on the features available. These are just some of the questions that you should evaluate before searching for a Web Host.
Will you need a domain?
If your goal is to build an online business, then it makes sense to get yourself a domain name. The cost is $30 per years and you can register through Register.com. At each of these sites, you will be able to search the Whois database to see if your chosen domain is available. If you find the domain registration procedure intimidating, many Web Hosts will register a domain for you much more cheaply. For example at Avahost.net and ePowhost.com you can register domain for only $9.95 or you will get it for free if you will pay yearly.
How much disk space will you need?
Although it is sometimes difficult to determine how large your Web Site will be, it is a good idea to have a rough estimate. This will allow you decide what Web Hosting account is right for you. As a rule, you can fit about 30 Web pages into 1 MB of disk space. This includes text and one or two images (at approximately 33K per page). Using this as a guide, you should estimate how large your site will be and choose an appropriate Web Hosting plan. You should also be sure to have enough room for future Web Site growth. Be sure to ask any potential Web Host about their upgrade policies in case you outgrow your current disk space limit.
How much Web Site traffic to you expect?
One of the most important considerations you should make is how much traffic you expect to receive. For most Web Sites traffic is not an issue but some receive thousands of visitors per day and this puts a heavy strain on the web server. The method that Web Hosts use to determine how much traffic your site receives is called data transfer. This is not exactly the same as traffic but the more traffic you get, the more data transfer you use. Using the above 33K per page example, 2000 MB of data transfer is roughly equivelent to 60,000 page views. Most Web Hosting accounts allow you to use 1000-4000 MB of data transfer or 30,000 to 120,000 page views per month. You should use this as a guide to determine whether or not you will exceed your data transfer limit. Obviously if you are creating a new Web Site it is difficult to determine how much traffic you will receive but if you have an exosting Web Site, you should have a rough estimate.
Do you need access to ecommerce solutions?
If you are going to be selling products or services over the Internet, chances are that you will need some type of ecommerce solution. By this I am referring to features such as a shopping cart, secure server access and a merchant account if you want to process credit card payment. The shopping cart may only be needed if you plan on having a catalog of products available for sale. This makes shopping much easier on any potential customers. If you plan on accepting credit cards, you will also need a merchant account. This is a basically an account that allows you to process credit card payments from your customers and have the money deposited into your bank account. There are many merchant services available on the Internet, some much better than others. Merchant fees range in price from $25 to $75 per month with setup fees usually in the $100 to $800 range. RodopiPaymentGateway.com seems to be the low cost leader at only $20 per month. Be sure to research companies before making a committment. I recommend you billing service 2CheckOut
One of the biggest complaints that many people have with their Web Host is a lack of customer support. Many Web Hosts offer both email and phone support while others are available only via email. In most cases email support works fine but you should be wary if a potential Web Host has no telephone number available in case of an emergency or if you need to speak with someone directly. Response times to support questions can vary widely from Host to Host. Some may take only a few minutes to get back to you while others take days. It is important to find out what type of support any potential Web Host offers. One good way to do this is to contact them several times and see how quickly they get back to you. However, be aware that some Hosts respond very quickly to sales questions but once they have you as a customer, support response times may drop dramatically. Also note that customer support may not always be available. Some Web Hosts offer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, while others have set hours.
What account features will you need?
Web Hosting accounts vary widely with regards to the types of features included. Be sure to come up with a list of features that you will want. These may include email accounts, email forwarding, CGI scripts, MS FrontPage support, mailing lists, Web statistics, etc. There are many features available to potential Web Site owners, if you have specific needs, be sure to ask if they are available.
Ask about billing and cancelation policies.
Many Web Hosts allow you to pay on a monthly basis, others require a 3, 6 or 12 month commitment. Before signing up for any service, be certain to ask about specific billing policies. For instance, what payment methods are allowed? Some companies only accept checks while others may only accept credit cards. Is there a minimum commitment? Many companies offer discounts for extended payments but be wary of signing a long term contact until you are familar with the services that a company provides. What are the cancelation policies? If you decide to cancel your account, be sure you exactly how to do so. While many Web Hosts are easy to deal with, others may make canceling a difficult process in order to make it difficult for you to leave.
For example good web hosting Avahost.net and ePowhost allow you to pay on a monthly basis and offer 30-days money back guarantee.
Research prospective Hosting Providers
One of the best ways to find a Web Host is to ask other people who they use. If they have had great results from a particular company, chances are that you will also get quality service. At the same time, people who have had bad Web Hosting experiences can tell you who to avoid. Of couse this is not an absolute method for choosing a Web Host since people can have different opinions about the same Host but is is a good way to get more information on potential companies. You can read our reviews section.
Choosing the right Hosting Provider ultimately depends on your individual needs. As a result, what may constitute the perfect Web Hhost for one person may not serve the needs of another. Before you choose a Web Host, be sure to do some research and make sure the account you choose has the features you will need.