If you do a simple Google search for web hosting companies, you’ll find that there are a lot of them online. A LOT of them.
It takes a little bit of experience to tell which ones are the real deal and which ones aren’t. If you have no clue about which company you should choose, let me give you some suggestions to make the decision process much easier for you.
First, ask yourself what you need in a web hosting company. Are there particular features you want your site to have? Are there any particular programming languages you want to use? Do you already get a lot of traffic to your site? Will they host unlimited domains? Do they provide POP3 email addresses? These are just some of the basics features that you’ll need for your site.
Second, be realistic in your search for the perfect web hosting company. You’ll find that there are many companies out there that claim to offer “unlimited bandwidth” and then they will try to charge you for any bandwidth that you use. The truth is that bandwidth costs web hosting companies money and they will pass that charge on to you. Pay special attention to the company’s terms of service and don’t fall for this trap.
Third, always test the web hosts’ support services. This is a great indicator of what your relationship will be like if you choose to do business with them. Simply send them a support question about a basic feature and see how long it takes for them to reply to you. If it takes them a long time to reply to you for a basic support issue, how long do you think it’ll take them to reply to a more serious support issue?
Fourth, find out how reputable the web host is. Go to web hosts forums and see what people are saying about the web host that you’re considering. If they have a page on their site dedicated to testimonials, try to contact some of the clients and ask them questions. See what they have to say about the company. Find out all that you can about the company before you give them your credit card number.
Once you have answered all of the above questions and thoroughly researched the web hosting company, it’s time to get started. When you sign up with a web host, be sure to allow your site some room to grow, so allow your site more size in megabytes for that growth. If you’re currently only using 5 megabytes, upgrade to 10 megabytes. Be sure to provide adequately for you needs. If you host a lot of images, be sure that you add more size to your site because you can use up a lot of bandwidth quick. In most cases, a normal HTML website with a few images will be fine with 15 to 20 megabytes and 2-3 gigabytes of bandwidth.
Be sure that the hosting company that you choose will be able to support your domain name. Most hosting companies will allow you to host unlimited domains on the same hosting account and this is a great way to take care of all of your sites in one place. Also, most hosting companies will allow you several (100 or more) custom POP3 email accounts on your domain for no extra charge. This will allow you to have several email addresses for specific things and help you to keep your email organized.
Most companies use either Windows or Linux as the programming language for their hosting service. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two and how they will affect you.
” Usually much cheaper than Windows. PHP and MySQL should be offered as well (at least PHP).
” Telnet accounts may be available for little or no additional cost.
Linux is a free operating system, so all Linux based databases and languages are free to install and this affects the bottom line with lower costs to you. Perl should be supported with sendmail support for any formmail scripts. SSI is nice, along with .htaccess. Most budget conscious web designers use Linux. Also, Linux is more secure than Windows and allows more configuration options and advanced customizations than Windows does.
” Supports ASP. Costs more than Linux.
” Cold Fusion, Access, and SQL Server support are usually provided at an additional cost.
Prices are usually higher with Windows because Windows based servers are more expensive to purchase and the costs are passed on to the customer. If you have any important database work to be done, do it through SQL Server. The extra features that come with a Windows host are going to cost you, so be prepared to pay a bit more for it.
So there you have it. If you’re new to all of this, you may find that a simple Linux based host will be all that you need and you’ll save some money with them. If you’re using Microsoft Access databases for the web, you’re going to need a Windows hosting company with Access support.
Take your time, test the support services and response times, get comments and testimonials from other customers, and make sure your requirements match what the company offers. By following this advice, you’re going to have a much easier time finding a web hosting company that fits you and your needs. Good luck!