Choosing a Web Hosting Provider

By on September 24, 2013

Is there such a thing as the perfect web-hosting provider? Maybe – plenty of people stay with their company for years, loyal, happy customers, content they’re getting good value for money. But equally there will be just as many people with horror stories to report, of websites down for days on end; of promised unlimited bandwidth surprisingly having limits after all, or being forced to place banner ads on their site that clash badly with the overall design.

So what’s the best way to avoid getting your fingers burnt? Careful consideration of your requirements is essential – below are some of the main points to keep in mind. Once you know what you need, comparison sites such as WebHostingBlueBook.com are popular resources for webmasters, and a useful place to start.

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Costs – You can either go for a free service, which will often require you to post ads on your site, or pay for it instead. Costs for a decent web hosting service could be anywhere from $10-$15/month. It’s worth noting that a higher price isn’t necessarily a guarantee of a quality service.

Technical Support, Reliability and Speed – I’ve lumped these together because in my opinion they’re about the most important factors to consider. A site that loads slowly, or is frequently down, is a big turn-off to users. And you need to know your hosting company will provide competent technical support 24/7/365. Imagine the (admittedly highly unlikely) scenario that a site such as Amazon were to crash days before Christmas and they couldn’t get through to their tech support because they were all on vacation.

Web Space –
Is your provider offering you enough space? It depends on the nature of your site really – so long as your pages aren’t heavy with graphics or video clips, then you can potentially keep over 100 pages going with even 5MB of space. But if you need to expand, what is the gradient of increased cost? Similarly, does the host impose any limits on file size or type?

SSL – If you’re operating an E-commerce site then in all likelihood you’ll need a SSL to make sure transactions are secure. If your host doesn’t provide one, or you’re not happy with the options available, make a change. Plenty more advanced knowledge on this type of thing is available on this Small Business advice site: http://www.sba.gov/

Control Panel –
You want your web host to provide some form of control panel so you can do things such as changing your passwords or email addresses, or conduct web analytics, yourself, rather than going through technical support which can be a tedious and frustrating process when regularly repeated.

Bandwidth –
Do you have an idea of how much web traffic you can expect? Does your host allow for growth? Some providers offer unlimited bandwidth for a higher price, but beware, as in many cases it’s unlikely you’ll need it.

There are many other factors at play, depending on how advanced your site needs to be; what it’s purpose is, and what your future plans are, these are just a few of them. One thing I’ve always found useful in the past is recommendations and warnings from friends, or even better, other people and businesses with similar websites to my own.

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