How to Choose a Hosting Company That’s Reliable

How to Choose a Hosting Company

Your web hosting service enables your website to have a home on the Net. When you upload all your web site files to the server it goes live for all the public to see. An unreliable web host can cause your website to be offline. This results in losing money through lack of sales and/or obtaining new subscribers from your website.

Ask yourself these questions to choose a hosting company that’s reliable:

  • What type of hosting service do I need?
  • What should I look for?
  • How much should I pay?

1. What type of hosting service do I need?

Shared (virtual) web hosting
This is where you share the same space on the same server with many other websites. It’s the service most site owners use because it’s inexpensive and provides enough space and bandwidth.

Dedicated hosting
This means you have the whole server to yourself. It is not shared by other websites except the ones you own. This is often used for large websites that need tons of space and bandwidth. Expect to pay over $100/month.

Reseller hosting
If you need to host multiple websites or want to resell hosting services to other site owners consider a reseller hosting plan.

Free Hosting
These companies are able to offer free hosting because they include advertising. Others may offer free hosting if you register a domain name with them. You only pay when you upgrade your hosting plan. Free hosting means you get what you pay for.

2. What should I look for?

Windows or Linux
Most web hosts use Linux servers these days because they are inexpensive, reliable and contain many features. Windows servers are used for asp pages however both types of servers accept html pages. If you have php pages make sure host your website on a Linux server.

Disc space and bandwidth
Before deciding on a web hosting plan, check the total size of your files. Do this by right clicking on the folder containing your web site files then go to properties. Look at “size on disc” It will say something like 384 KB (393,216 bytes). Most small websites don’t need more than 5MB of space/month and 500MB/month of bandwidth.

Most large web sites need 100MB-200MB of disc space and 5GB of bandwidth. Make sure you can always upgrade your hosting plans should you need more resources.

Side note
Hosting companies often try to lure new customers by promising unlimited space and bandwidth. Stay away from them as this means they are trying to store as many web sites as possible on their servers. If one web site receives a sudden surge of traffic it could jeopardize all the others including your own.

Reliability
Uptime refers to the amount of time the servers will always be functioning. They should at least have 99% uptime to allow time for server upgrades. Your website will be offline during upgrades. If the server uptime falls below this figure consider moving to another web host as you may be losing traffic and sales (particularly if you’re running a marketing campaign.)

Check how long the company has been in business. If it’s only been a few months or years it may mean they lack experience and you don’t know how reliable they are.

Server speed
A slow server will cause your web site to load slowly. Web site visitors don’t wait for slow loading pages. They will go elsewhere. Check the load times of your web pages. If your website contains lots of images, videos, javascript or html errors it will also cause the web pages to load slowly.

Backups
If the server goes down or experiences a disaster (e.g. fire in the building housing the server) your site will be offline and not available to your visitors. Check your hosting company keeps off site backups so all your data will remain safe.

Technical support

Response time and availability
Check the availability and response times of technical support. If you don’t get a response within 24 hours or less by email or phone look for another web host because you need reliable, responsive customer service.

Side note
Even though web hosting companies display their phone number it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive a response. Check their response times by calling or emailing them.

Technicians should be knowledgeable about servers, websites, scripts, etc. It’s very frustrating when technicians don’t know how to help you thus wasting your precious time.

Features
Check what features you need to host your website. For example if you need to install a Word Press blog or Joomla do they have Fantastico Deluxe which allows a one click installation.

Here are other features you will want to include:

  • cPanel Access
  • Fantastico Deluxe
  • MySQL Databases
  • FTP Accounts
  • Subdomains
  • Domain Pointers
  • POP3, SMTP, IMAP Email
  • Email Forwardings, Auto-responders, Aliases
  • Mailing List
  • FrontPage Support
  • CGI-Bin Access
  • Perl, CGI
  • PHP scripting
  • Server Side Includes (SSI)
  • FREE Shared SSL
  • Site Backups
  • Password Protection
  • Site Statistics

3. How much should I pay?

This will vary depending on the web hosting company you select. Do your research ahead of time by reading the points made above then decide what you can afford.

Related Articles
How to Calculate and Speed-Up the Download Time of Your Web Site

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