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How to Choose a Web Hosting Company

Copyright 2002 Herman Drost

Ok, you have your web site built and are now confused as to all the choices you have in order to find a home for your site.

It is good to make a right choice the first time, because if you have to move to another hosting service, it will cost you time and you will lose some of your valued customers due to the downtime setting up with another host.

You will also have to pay set up and hosting fees for a new account.

Here are some basic things to consider when choosing a Web Hosting Service:

1. Speed and reliability of the servers and hardware
Make sure they have a high-speed connection (preferably T3 or higher) to the Internet.

*Effective Bandwidth Management – opt for unlimited bandwidth for your site.

*Backup Systems – good hosts will have back up systems in place to guard against power failures, which will cause you to lose data and customers.

2. Features
Compatibility with existing Software and Skills
Is your host’s server, software and support services compatible with the skills and software you are using? For example if you are using FrontPage to create your site, make sure they have FrontPage extensions installed on their server. Some of the basic features of a hosting service should include:

  • Domain name registration

  • At least 5MB of allocated space

  • Unmetered bandwidth

  • Free Technical Support

  • POP3 E-Mail Accounts

  • Email Forwarding

  • Email Auto-responders

  • Email Aliases

  • FTP Access

  • FrontPage Support

  • Own CGI-Bin Access

  • Free Perl, CGI

  • Server Side Includes (SSI)

  • Password Protection

  • Reseller/referral program

  • 30 day money back guarantee

Flexibility and room for growth – Keep in mind the future needs of your web site. If the traffic to your site explodes, or in the future you may need a database solution then your host must be able to accommodate the changes.

Quality of their support services
  • Quality of existing customers – ask for any BIG current customers that are hosting with that service.

  • Opinions of existing customers – ask for any testimonies of existing customers to get feedback from them concerning reliability and support.

  • Stability – you do not want your hosting service to go out of business (like what happened to many of the free hosts) and leave you stranded. Check how many years they have been in business.

  • Support and Responsiveness – Make sure you can contact them 24/7 by phone or email. Test the quality and efficiency of response by sending them an email pertaining to some question you may have before you sign up.
3. Types of Hosting Services
Free Hosting:
Free sites are for people whose sites are small and do not expect much traffic.

It’s Free
For small non business sites

No usage of domain names
Limited technical support
Unreliability of servers, software
Limited web space, technical support
Host may shut down due without notice

Virtual Hosting: (also known as domain or shared hosting). This is the most popular and cost effective form of hosting.

Low cost
Great for the average business sites
Good technical support

Multiple sites on server
Sometimes slow updates
Limited security and control due to the large number of sites on 1 server
Use your own domain name (

What can you expect to pay?

Expect to pay $5 - $50/month for a small web hosting package of 20-50MB of allocated space for your site. This will be enough for up to 20 pages with a few graphics on each page. You may find less expensive ones if you are lucky.( Most small web sites use only 2-3MB. Make sure you can upgrade your hosting plan, should your site expand.

When you sign up for a monthly service, there is usually no fixed length contract, so you can terminate your contract at any time. Your commitment is month to month although you often will get a discount if you sign up for 1-2 years.

If you follow these basic guidelines, you will have a reliable, efficient and satisfying hosting service that will contribute to the success of your business for many years to come.
Herman Drost is a Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) owner and author of Low Cost Hosting and Site Design
(with FREE comprehensive web traffic analysis)

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