One of the most crucial decisions you will make for your website is selecting your web host. It’s essential to choose the right host or all your hard work could be wasted or even worse, lost!
How do you choose from the plethora of web hosts available today? Will they hold your files to ransom when you come to transfer away? Can you be in full control of your account at all times?
With so many hosting businesses out there how can you ensure you choose one of the more reputable ones? Here are a few pointers that should help steer you in the right direction:
- Get e-mail through the domain name of your website. It’s best to go with a host that provides unlimited autoresponders, pop mailboxes, email aliases etc. These services are needed to stay in touch with your visitors, potential customers and indeed your past customers in the hope of back end sales. Using your_name@your_website_name.com also looks more professional and official.
- Investigate the uploading method. Using an online manager takes a lot longer when transferring large amounts of data. FTP provides more flexibility when managing your website. For the non-techies, always look out for a host that provides a good online manager, too.
- Track your website’s progress with logs. If you are a serious netpreneur, pay close attention to these. All good hosts will provide you with the ability to access your website logs via download.
- Leave room for growth with enough space. The amount of space good web hosts provide would matter if your website grows bigger than allowed. Always look for a host with at least 25GB of space available with the option to buy more space if need be. Moving hosts can be a pain. Avoid this with a little foresight and planning.
- Test the speed of a host’s network to your location by clicking start > run > type in “command” enter, and then type “ping hostdomainname.com” wait for it to finish and look for the average ping. The lower the number the better, and chances are the faster your site will load. Any number averaging around an 80 would be good. Anything over 100 is very bad except, of course, if the host is based in another country.
- Seek good customer service with lots of help pages and FAQ pages, 24/7 telephone support preferably toll free, 24-48 hours reply email support or chat is vital. Avoid a host that has a reputation for poor quality customer service. Check out their average response time and their true uptime guarantee. See the Tips below.
- Enable interactive features with access to your own cgi-bin directory. This is the directory from where scripts are carried out. CGI scripts are the backbone of all the functionality of the web. Every time you fill out a form, buy a product, use a forum or engage in a chat room conversation, you’re running a script of one type or another. This feature is very important if you want your website to be interactive in any way.
- Make transactions with a secure server with https:// capability because your potential customers will expect it. Security is of paramount importance to your customer. Visitors who are concerned about the insecurity to their plastic will never become customers.
- Test a host’s support before joining by calling in. You’ll be surprised how many hosts with a toll free number never answer their phones, or have long hold times. Make sure you call the technical or support department. It’s not unusual for a web host to have incredible response times for their sales department but lousy response times for their technical or support department.
- The cheaper the plan and the more space/bandwidth included, the more sites per server the host will have to pack in to make their money back. Don’t shop for a host based on their plans! Shop based on recommendations and experience!
- Look closely at how your guarantee is defined and if your host will honor it. Most guarantees are prorated and are often worthless.
- Check out how legit the web hosting company is by doing a WHOIS on their domain name. Also look for the creation date of the domain name. If the domain name was created less then a year ago, it’s more of a risk to join that hosting company.
- Using the company’s name, search Google for honest reviews. If they have been around a year, you should find many real reviews of people who use their hosting. The web hosting company’s forum is another good place to check but be warned as they may delete negative posts and ban the user.
- Look for a host with an uptime guarantee of a 99.9%. No hosting company can guarantee 100% uptime. Beware of anyone who does, they are lying.
- Be wary of hosts that include a free domain name with their hosting package unless you are certain they will be putting your information in the WHOIS. Whoever has their information in the WHOIS is the owner, not the one who paid for it.
- Think twice about web hosts with a more competitive yearly rate, forcing you to pay for a year up front. If you have paid yearly and are dissatisfied with their service, you are less likely to swap. It’s always best to only pay monthly!
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