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In next step we will start to compare all of them in order to choose one that deserves your hard-earned money. This task is being accomplished by simple viewing and testing each of host providers' web-site. How to test and what things to pay close attention to are explained below, but first eliminate all double hosts if there are any.
4. Knowing your potential market will help you to differentiate some of host providers by selecting those who are physically located closer to your market. If your auditory is mainly English speaking people then you should think about choosing servers that are located in US. If you are a German restaurant owner running web-site for local market it is not critical, but preferable to put your web-site to web servers that are located in Germany, not in US. I have mentioned web servers instead of hosting providers on purpose, because hosting provider itself may be located and registered in one place, but having their servers co-located in other city or country, like my own provider situated in Moscow, but web-site they host, physically co-located at their US servers. If you provide universal services (like web-design) and shoot for global markets offering Multilanguage site, then physical location of host provider is subsidiary.
5. Then we will remove absolute "losers". The first criterion they won't pass is look of their web-site. Is it professional or there are amateurish colors with 3 or more banners? If you think price of their site design is not even worth $100 you may close their site and forget about them. By doing so, you distinguish profitable host providers from those that don't even have $300-1000 to invest in professional look of their web-site. You may not even read what they wrote on their sites as their appearances tell ten times more about their businesses than no words can.
6. Check technical specifications of hosting servers that are being offered for your shared hosting. Needless to say that Pentium III 450 Mhz with 1 Gb of RAM, for instance, is worse than Pentium IV 2.2 Ghz with 4 Gb of RAM. Outer channels bandwidth and speed can also give you image of how established host provider is. You may not need to know all specifications of routers, connectors or other devices, just ask for specific numbers that are easy to compare. That analysis will also tell what hosts are worth further testing and what aren't.
7. We also need to reassure that our web-site as well as all possible databases won't be vanished due to power supply overload, virus, fire etc. It is important to check what kind of maintenance conditions they offer. - Do they provide 99,9% uptime guarantee? - What kind of independent power supply they offer? - Is there automatic back up option? - Do they have fire and humidity control systems?
Some host providers wouldn't even bother to tell you about these control systems. You know what to do with them - they go off list!
8. Next stage is to send them a prewritten email asking for some question. It may be some purposeful inquiry or imaginary one just for testing task. Those who failed to response in 24 hours are off list also. Remember, that email, due to "unstable nature" of internet, may not be even delivered, so write for second time, if no response again, than they aren't worth ink to spend on them by crossing their web-site address out of list :0) Just carefully tear them out :0)
9. The last test that we run is to check connection speed of remaining hosts. You should know how fast response of your web-site will be.
Two online services would help us in fulfilling this task, namely: http://www.netmechanic.com/server_check/site_monitoring.htm this one will check a particular server within 8 hours and email you report.
http://www.webhostdir.com oolkit/comparehosts.asp allows to compare 4 hosts simultaneously by entering 4 domain names of respective web-sites.
I would suggest testing each host twice. First time to check response rate of their corporate web-sites, and second time by comparing speed of their clients' web-site as there may be a big difference. Just make sure clients are using approximately same shared hosting plans.
That is all. By now you should have several options, your gold, silver and bronze hosting winners. You can go ahead in setting up your web-site with anyone you prefer more. Don't lose rest though, as they may prove to be useful in case some collision occurs with your present "winner". Last thing. When your web-site is online, don't just forget to create additional page for providing your new service - expert analysis of selecting web-hosting. :0)
Pavel Lenshin is publisher and web-designer, who offers: + Powerful package on how to run Private Info Business + Free subscription to the unique NET Business Magazine + Free Optimization Report of your Website http://www.InfoAlchemist.com