Selecting a web hosting company should be the first step to look at when initiating a website design. In order to feature your website and have it accessible and ready for use in the World Wide Web, you will require a place to host it. A web hosting company provides such a place. The web hosting company creates the space to store your website files, provides traffic to your website and other services like technical assistance, firewall protection, FTP access, email services, website building tools, domain name registration and many other services.
For you to select a web hosting company, you will have to consider the following important factors:
1. Linux versus windows operating systems
Web hosting calls for more than picking out a server type, you will have to make up your mind on whether to choose Windows based or a Linux based server.
Linux based servers are more common and inexpensive investment. This should be the direction that you should take if your server does not require any Microsoft software applications.
A windows based server is expensive but worthwhile for websites with applications written in .NET language .
Try out several web hosts using Windows or Linux operating systems before purchasing any of them.
2. Free versus paid
Price should never be a deciding factor but many webmasters look for free web hosting companies for their first websites. Very cheap or free web hosting companies tend to provide limited services. Such companies do not provide services like technical assistance and advertisements on your web page. Scrutinize all the features offered by your web hosting provider before comparing the prices.
3. Speed and reliability
A good web hosting company should have reliable, fast and a guaranteed uptime. You should select a company with more than 99 percent uptime. The web host should provide a guarantee that at no time will there be any downtime and if downtime occurs, then they should compensate their clients.
4. Bandwidth and storage space
Bandwidth is the number of bytes transmitted between your site and its visitors. Most web providers promise unlimited disk space and bandwidth. Your website will probably not use more than 1GB of storage space unless you want to start your own Flickr or YouTube. Unlimited bandwidth hosts on the other side have to pay for the bandwidth and if you utilize a lot of it, then some of the bills will be passed to you without your knowledge. You can always confirm from the customer care desk of your service provider on the bandwidth and disk space limits. Most web hosts give a maximum of 3GB of bandwidth per month.
5. Online reviews
You should always check out on what other customers are commenting about your preferred web host. There is a great deal of information on Yahoo, Google, Twitter or any other specialized web hosting directories. You will learn whether the web host is reliable, quickly answers to technical issues, meets the promised index and whether customers love their services. Be careful not to always trust some glowing reviews as some customers are new to the web host company. New customers will at times give reliable information but at times give unreliable ones.
Some hosting review websites:
6. Technical support
Choose a web host that provides a 24/7 technical support. Web hosts who do not give a 24/7 technical support might inconvenience you when your site goes down during holidays and weekends. Test your web hosts by emailing them at midnight and during holidays.
7. User interface
Web hosts should provide easy installation of WordPress, editing of files and setting up of emails for new and existing customers. They should also provide Plesk or cPanel to make modifications and updating of websites easier.
Scalability is an important consideration especially if your website plans to grow in the future. A web host might provide adequate services at the present moment but not enough for the near future. If you expect to grow, you can opt for cloud hosting or VPS plan at the beginning and later advance to a dedicated plan. The last thing you need is moving from one web host provider to another.
[image credit bluefountainmedia]