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If you are in e-commerce business, or providing support services through your website, down time can be very expensive. Larger hosts will provide redundancy for drives, power supplies and bandwidth. If your site produces revenues, donít scrimp on host. Security of your data and your customersí data is a sensitive issue. While your host is unlikely to guarantee security of any system, they should have in place adequate assurances that their environment does not contribute to risk. They should also be willing to guarantee turn-around time on installation of patches and security fixes as they are released by vendors (like Microsoft!).
Selecting right host for your company requires taking a hard look at your needs. Issues that must be resolved and prioritized include your need for ongoing maintenance and physical support services, network quality and speed, contract terms, and of course value for money. Letís not forget that current market, with its slough of bankruptcies, has also taught us that financial stability of firm is a factor.
For most clients, level of hostís customer service is key to satisfaction. Poor customer service is commonly cited as a reason for moving from one host to another, so make an effort to assess any firmís abilities in this area. Several sites now focus on rating web hosts and these should serve as a good starting point for your investigations. Try Hostsearch.com, with its wizard interface, and Web Host Directory. Make a point to ask around - word of mouth is a strong persuader in customer service game.
Other issues that will inform your decision include your preferred operating system Ė Windows, Linux or Unix -- and your database needs. The additional services area is where a lot of firms distinguish themselves, offering incentives in form of unlimited email addresses, or free domain name re-directs. Look carefully at fine print and add up cost of additional services. You may well find that more expensive package bundles a lot of items marked as additional expense in budget packages. But, also never forget that company will be more than happy to let you upgrade to a bigger package if your needs change in future.
author: Ric Shreves, www.waterandstone.com
Ric Shreves is an Internet consultant and author specializing in web technologies. He is a partner in Water & Stone, a web design agency focused on Mambo, osCommerce, and other open source tools. Read more of his work online at: http://www.waterandstone.com.