|The first thing before choosing a web host is that you should be
fully aware of your hosting requirements. If you are a beginner
wanting to host a personal web site, then your only concern is
that you get a decent amount of disk space for your web site
with a host that is as cheap as $5 per month. However, if you
are a developer, an online entrepreneur or an online business
looking for e-commerce capabilities or advanced scripting
technologies, then you can determine your requirements in the
(1) Whether you need Shared Hosting or Dedicated Hosting: This
depends mainly on two major requirements, the traffic your web
site is expected to receive and the degree of administrative
privileges you need. If you expect your web site to receive huge
amounts of traffic, then you will need to have a Dedicated
Server which definitely has a much greater bandwidth offering.
Also you should select Dedicated server hosting if your web site
requires customized options, secure information or complex
applications i.e. e-commerce, dynamic content, database and
(2) Whether you need Linux Hosting or Windows Hosting: If you're
going to use server technologies such as ASP, JSP etc or intend
to run Microsoft applications like Microsoft Access or Microsoft
SQL database on your server, then you should use a Windows
hosting provider. Although ASP can be run on the Linux platform
using some commercial applications, there are security and
reliability concerns related to it. However, if you want to use
ColdFusion, it can run on both Linux and Windows platforms.
(3) What are your Space and Bandwidth requirements: Many web
hosts nowadays offer generous amounts of disk space from 1 GB to
3 GB. However, if your web site mainly acts as a download
resource, then your disk space requirements may be 5 to 10 times
greater than this. The second consideration is how much traffic
your web site is expected to receive which will let you estimate
your bandwidth requirements.
(4) How many Parked Domains and Subdomains do you need: Parked
domains are very advantageous and can significantly increase the
amount of traffic to your web site. Similarly, subdomains can
help with your search engine rankings by pointing to specific
directories of your web site. Parked domains and subdomains
occasionally come free with certain web hosting packages.
However if you need more, you will have to pay an additional
price per month.
(5) FTP Accounts and Anonymous FTP Requirements: You may need
more than one FTP account if you have coworkers working on your
web site project at different locations. The Anonymous FTP
permits the general public to access certain directories on your
web server to whom they have been granted permission by you. In
most cases, you will need a dedicated IP address for Anonymous
FTP to function.
(6) Whether you need e-commerce Features: If you need e-commerce
features, you should choose a web host that provides e-commerce
functionality such as shopping carts and the ability to accept
credit cards. You should also check whether their server is SSL
In addition to your own hosting requirements, the following
considerations must be kept in mind when looking for a quality
(1) More than 99.5% uptime: Choose a web host that has an uptime
greater than 99.5% and if there is an uptime guarantee, it's
even better. If your web site is for business purposes, it's
very crucial that your site stays online 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week and 365 days a year.
(2) Fast Servers: The level of connectivity of your web host to
the Internet is very important. So you should choose a web host
with at least a T3 connection to the major Internet backbone.
Analysis has shown that the average web visitor waits for about
30 seconds before your web page loads. So if your web site takes
more than 30 seconds to load, chances are that you will loose a
lot of visitors and consequently sales.
(3) Server Backups: To make your data secure, your web host must
have a power backup system and should backup the data to an
external device in order to prevent the data loss due to
failure. Check how frequently the web host backups the data,
i.e. daily or weekly.
(4) Disk Space and Bandwidth: Choose a web host that meets your
disk space and bandwidth requirements. Most web hosts offer 1 GB
to 3 GB of disk space, so if your web site is not mainly a
download resource, then this factor is not that important for
you. However, as regards the bandwidth, it should be as much as
possible because your traffic can increase in the future thereby
requiring more data transfer. Also check that you have the
option of buying more disk space and bandwidth when required.
(5) Unrestricted CGI, SSH, FTP access & Anonymous FTP: If you
have a professional web site, you will need to run CGI scripts,
have SSH (Secure Shell) access and FTP access. CGI and FTP
access is provided by most web hosts whereas SSH access is
provided by a few. You may also need to check if anonymous FTP
access is provided.
(6) Software/Scripts: Choose a web host that has an extensive
script library that you can use to add guestbooks, forms,
surveys, newsletters etc to your web site.
(7) E-commerce capabilities and SSL: Choose a web host that
provides you with e-commerce capabilities with shopping cart
software and also merchant accounts. The web host must also have
an SSL secure server for safe and risk-free transactions.
(8) Web-Based Administration: Almost all web hosts nowadays
provide a control panel to access and manage web site features.
Ask for a demo of their control panel if possible and check to
make sure that it is simple as well as comprehensive. The
control panel should provide access to FTP, e-mail, databases,
e-commerce and all other functions for effective web site
management. VDeck 2.0 and CPanel are the leading brands of
administration control panels.
(9) Full e-mail services: Choose a web host that provides both
POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts, web-based e-mail, autoresponders,
mailing lists, forwarding accounts and antivirus and spam
(10) Moneyback Guarantee: If the Web host gives a moneyback
guarantee, it's even better because it makes you absolutely
(11) 24/7/365 Customer Support: The web host should provide as
many support channels as possible including an FAQ section, a
knowledgebase, video and flash tutorials, toll-free support,
e-mails support, live chat support and a community forum. Try
e-mailing the web host a couple of times to check how quickly
they respond to your request. The customer support should be as
prompt as possible and should be available 24 hours a day, 7
days a week and 365 days a year. This is crucial because if you
run into problems and the support staff is not receptive or
knowledgeable, you will be helpless.
About the author:
Michael Smith is an expert web hosting analyst. His site Web Hosting Providers
reviews and rates the leading web hosting providers.
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