Web Hosting Company - Choosing a web hosting provider
Today is much easier to be online, than it was a couple of years ago. The web hosting has become more affordable and more and more people and businesses realize the benefits of having an online presence. You as a customer have a wide range of choices if you want to buy a web hosting . The question is how to choose a good web hosting company ?
There is no simple answer to this question, but Iíll try to answer it to the best of my abilities or at least to tell you what to look for.
Service, Service and Service again!All web hosting companies offer web space and data transfer, so what differentiates them? What really set apart a web hosting company from the others is the level of service it offers. When choosing a web hosting company , try to find the answers of the following questions:
- Do they offer 24/7 technical support? If the answer is no, then run for the hills, this company doesnít deserve your business.
- Is their technical staff certified, qualified and competent enough to help you when you need assistance? Ask the company if they have certified professionals on staff (for Windows hosting Ė Microsoft Certified System Engineers and Microsoft certified Professionals, for Linux Red Hat hosting - Red Hat Certified Technician and MySQL Core Certification). If they answer no, run again :)
- What is their average response time for your support requests? A reasonable response time is 12 hours or less. If it takes them longer to respond, then itís time to look for a new web host.
Do they treat you with respect and are they willing to take an extra mile to
make you a happy customer? If you donít receive human response to your support
requests, but some canned auto-response messages then just walk away.
In conclusion, when you buy a web hosting you donít simply buy some web space and data transfer, but you buy a service also.
Hosting Account features - web space, data transfer and additional features.It is important to know how much web space do you need for your website files (images, html pages, databases, scriptsÖ) and how much data transfer does your website need, in order to choose plan suiting your needs. This is not always easy if you have a brand new website and it hasnít seen any visitors yet. An average website uses less than 50MB of space and less than 1GB data transfer per month, so donít get too impressed by all the 100sGB "deals" you find on Internet. Again it all depends of the website, for example a personal website might need just 5MB of web space and 100MB data transfer per month, while a business directory website might need well over 1GB web space and 100sGB of data transfer. Donít be too concerned with the amount of data transfer and web space that you get if you are just starting out, just make sure your web hosting company will allow you to grow. Of course there are lots of other features that you might need depending on the website functionality you want. For example if you want dynamic database driven website youíll have to look for a hosting plan offering scripting support (ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, Perl, CGIÖ) and database support (MySQL, MS Access, MS SQL ServerÖ). If you plan of creating an e-commerce website then most likely you need a shopping cart software and SSL support. You might need a browser-based email to access your mail from any computer with Internet connection. Last but not the least important, test the server speed and make sure the web hosting company has a redundant Internet connection.
OK now, you have found the web hosting company offering the features you need (web space, data transfer, scripting languages, databases). The third answer you need to find is: How reliable this web hosting company is?
ReliabilityIf you have found a web hosting company for your website, youíll want to make sure that it is reliable, well-run company. Most of the time itís not easy to say if a web hosting provider is trustworthy or not, until you have been with them for a while. Here are the questions, which answers can give you a general idea of the state of the company:
- What do customers have to say? One of the most important indicators of a web hosting company health is what the customers have to say about it. Search on Google.com for the companyís name and find if there are any reviews/feedbacks about the companyís performance and service. If you find decent amount of positive reviews (make sure that these are independent), then give them a try, if not skip to the next hosting provider on your list.
- Does this web hosting company offer something too good to be true? Be very wary of anything saying unlimited and/or unmetered. Never trust your website and business to a web hosting company offering unlimited web space, unlimited data transfer or in general unlimited anything. This type of companies bank on the customerís ignorance to make a quick buck. Do you expect to pay $5 in the grocery store and to get unlimited amount of candies or anything else for that matter? I knew you didnít :). Unlimited deals just donít exist! For more information check http://unlimband.com.
Are the prices for they hosting plans too low? If they are, then just walk away
and find something reasonable in terms of price. Why? Imagine the following
situation. You buy a web hosting plan including 500MB space and 10GB web
transfer per month for $4.99/mo. You are the happiest person on the Earth;
youíve made an excellent deal or have you? In the first week of service you
notice something is not right, the server where your website is, is slow and
even down for prolonged periods of time. You have sent a support ticket 2 days
ago and you are still waiting for response. One beautiful day 2,3 or 4 weeks
later you find out that the server is down again and you say to yourself Ė
"They will fix it soon". Two hours later the server is still down and nobody is
answering your frenetic emails. 8 hours later the situation havenít changed a
bit and you have lost a couple of $100s in sales from your website. After 2
days waiting and countless un-answered support requests you realize that the
"web hosting company" is not coming back. They have vanished with your money
without delivering what theyíve promised. Why did this happen? Well, the old
saying "You get what youíve paid for" is more than valid in this hypothetical
situation. Because the web hosting company offered low prices, they were forced
to pack 100s of customers on each one of their cheap servers, which resulted in
slow server response and significant downtime. Because of the low prices again,
the web hosting company was not able to afford adequate # of support personal,
thatís why you didnít get your requests answered. And the last question is, why
did they disappear? The answer is simple Ė They were barely making any profit.
So choose wise, if you can afford server downtime, slow website and risk your money (It doesnít matter how little have you paid) then by any means go ahead and buy a cheap hosting plan, but if you need your website up and running 99.99% of the time and you expect real support be prepare to pay reasonable price. After all you want to make sure, your web hosting company will still be around in 3 months, right?
Money back guaranteeAfter you have found the answers of the question above, you might think that itís time to buy, but there is one last question deserving some attention. Does the web hosting company offer money back guarantee? OK you have seen many positive reviews, they offer great features at reasonable prices and you are ready to move your website to their servers. But is the web hosting company confident enough that youíll be a satisfied customer and are you convinced that this is the right hosting provider for you? The answer is Money back guarantee! If they offer it, then they sincerely believe in full customer satisfaction! If not, my advice is to stay away from them. The standard in the hosting industry is to offer 30 day money back guarantee.
If you follow the simple steps above, you will save yourself time, frustration and money! Good Luck!
© Peter Todorov 2004
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