Web Hosting: Selecting the Right Host!Written by Joelene Wickens-Orlando
Choosing a web hosting company is a very personal decision based on your own unique needs. Web hosting is what places your website into World Wide Web, where anyone can access to it 24 hours a day. In other words, without placing your site onto a web hosting service, you won’t get visibility you want. Most small business owners will most likely go through a web hosting company rather than invest in acquiring their own servers, which is very expensive and difficult. On top of expense that is involved with having your own server, you need to have a strong educational background to be able to deal with technical aspects of implementing your own server, or having your own technical computer staff on hand to deal with process. (And those programmers don’t come cheap either!) If you’re a new online business or looking for ways to expand your market reach, web hosting is definitely way to go.
Which web hosting service do you select? There are two key things to keep in mind when you begin your search for an appropriate web hosting service: (1) Find a web hosting company that meets your needs for today, (2) Make sure that this web hosting company you choose can grow with you as your business expands. Another important factor you want to know up front about hosting services, is that once you choose one, and decide it doesn’t pan out for you, to switch to another service will be a very painful and a lengthy process. It’s just not worth mistake to make!
Check out these tips in how you can select a web hosting service that has most qualities such as flexibility, service, and growth capabilities along with a strong background in technical abilities that you’re seeking, at a price you can afford.
Shop and Research Do your surfing on net. Shop around and compare services between different web hosting services. Ask other businesses what hosting companies they’re using. Make sure you check out businesses that have made statements in testimonials about particular web hosting company they’re using. Follow up by contacting them and have a series of questions to ask, and see how they respond to your questions in regards to those services. Still don’t know where to start? Check out web hosting directories on net, which will save you hoards of time, because real good ones will be ones on first, few pages, www.webhostingrebates.com could be a good place to start.
Cost and Fees of Web Hosting This is a pretty good area to begin as well. You need to know what you’ve set aside to pay for this service, since it’s a vital part of your business, therefore, it needs to be part of your marketing plan. Make sure when you’re doing your homework on web hosting services, get a clear cut picture of what fees and upfront cost of everything you can possibly think of. For example, is there a set up fee? Are there extra fees for having a ‘secure transaction’ feature? Will it be extra to have multiple URL’s? Auto-responders, additional email addresses, how much more will it cost to upgrade to a better plan? Once you decide, just have it in writing and be specific as possible as what your expectations are from any particular web hosting service. You should know exactly what you’re shelling out for.
Contract Length Many web hosting companies will offer a cheaper rate for longer contract timeframes. If you decide to go with a two-year contract, since they know they’re getting a commitment from you, may offer you a deal. The only risk with that, if you find that you’re not pleased with their service…it may be tough to get out of a contract you are obligated to follow through duration of contract. Just be clear about length of your commitment and how often you are required to pay on your contract. Some do it monthly, quarterly or bi-monthly. I would recommend that when starting out, hoping you never change web hosting services, that you settle on a one-year contract. Just understand what you’re getting into before you sign any dotted line.
Disk Space Depending on type of site and business you’re in will determine how much disk space will be required for your website to function properly. You can pretty much estimate your disk space needs on amount of space your site takes on your own computer. The reason why this is important to know, is for example, if you’re an online store that offers free movie downloads, you will need lots of space for all those large video files.
Assess Service and Support A good web hosting company will have excellent customer service and a support center where you can call to trouble shoot your concerns about your site. Without good customer support, you can smell trouble for yourself and your business down road. You don’t want to ultimately hamper your business growth because you overlooked on customer care and technical support from your web hosting company. A good way to test web-hosting services, before you make that splurge, is to send them a test email, and see how quickly and professionally they respond to your email. Make sure you send out emails on weekends and evenings to see if they respond to those off-peak inquiries. Think about it, you’re not going to run into problems only from Monday through Friday, from 9 to 5, right? See how accessible and how they address issues that may arise during off-hours is a good way to see how serious they are about customer care and support. There should be a technical support phone number on their site, and some hosting companies do not list their phone numbers…so who do you call when you’re site is down? Not those ones! I think you get gist of that one.
Your Most Important Online Business DecisionWritten by Barbara Camisa
Your web business depends on your site's uptime around clock. When you want to make a purchase online, you most likely take time to check credentials of that business. Yet, how many of you actually bother to check out credentials and competency of a web host, which is absolutely stronghold of your web business?
I've been in hosting industry as a reseller for almost 5 years. It's become a zoo out there. With so many hosts coming and going, or sites constantly going down or getting cracked into from lack of security measures (very common), how can you really know for sure if you're going with a reliable and competent host?
Emailing to test their support response is NOT a good indicator of their response time. Some will be very fast for pre-sales questions, but extremely slow or non-responsive for support once you are a customer. On other hand, sometimes very slow for pre-sales and fast for customer support.
Here are a few important tips to keep in mind when shopping for a web host:
First of all, be sure they have a phone number posted on their site. There's no reason why they shouldn't be reached easily via phone.
Phone them and ask questions. It's preferable to get a technically savvy person to call for you. You need to be assured that host's staff is competent and security conscious. There are so many variables in securing servers. Only a competent technical person would know key questions to ask, but importantly, can also tell by conversing with host how competent they really are. I may sound redundant, but you'd be surprised at how many hosting providers wing their way i.e. they learn as they go along, thus, causing downtime and/or slowing down speed of your website.
Also, discuss with them what your needs are for your business.
If you need any of following, it's vital that you find out if host can accommodate you:
Streaming Media - for live audio and video feeds
SSH (secure shell) - SSH is a secure telnet - Some programs need telnet access for installation. Also, if you want to add more data to data base that may be too large to install using a web-based data base system like phpMyAdmin (a common program provided by most hosts), it will require telnet access. If a host provides unsecure telnet, run other way!
SSL (secure sockets layer) Certificate -This is needed if you'll be using a merchant account to take payments from web.
If you use an SSL Certificate, it is mandatory that you get an IP based account, whereby you get your own IP number instead of sharing same IP number with several other accounts on server.
Mailing List Accommodation - Many hosts are not equipped to accommodate large mailing lists on their email servers. So, if you have a large list and use your own list software, get specifics on this.
Data Bases - Think about how many data bases you'll need to start with. For instance, if you'll be running a forum using php software, it will require one data base. You may decide to use a program to make your site data-base driven, that will be yet another data base needed.