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July 26, 2007

How to Choose a Right Web Hosting Service

Indeed, choosing a right web hosting service for your website is not an easy task especially when there are thousands of web hosting providers all offering almost identical web hosting packages. Therefore, it is important to know few major considerations even before you start your web hosting search. Below are three major criteria for web host seeker:

1Web hosting features requirement

This is probably the most important consideration to start finding a host for your site. You need to decide the technical requirements for your website, this including:

a) Server platform and hardware requirements If you plan to set up a website that uses programming environments such as Active Server Pages (ASP), Visual Basic scripts, Cold Fusion or Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL database, in this case, you will need to find a web hosting service that supports Windows platform such as Windows NT or Windows 2000 servers.

Likewise, if you plan to use programming languages such as Perl, CGI, SSI, PHP or mySQL database, then any web hosting plans that support Unix/Linux platform should be sufficient to meet your hosting requirements. Once you have these server platform and hardware requirements in mind, you can decide the best web hosting plans for your need. For more information, you can read “How to select a web server and server platform?”

b) Disk space & Bandwidth requirement Here is another technical requirement that you need to consider before selecting a web hosting plan, i.e. disk space and bandwidth. If you intend to publish a website that does not have a lot of contents (meaning, web pages), then the disk space requirement may not be a big concern to you. In general, a disk space with 200MB to 500MB should be enough to meet your hosting requirement. In contrast, if you plan to host a website with enormous amount of graphic pictures, mp3 or video files, then you should consider a web hosting plan that provide huge disk space, for example, 500 MB to 1,000 MB.

Similarly, the bandwidth requirement will depend on your site traffic estimation. Obviously, a website that expect to attract high traffic will consume the monthly bandwidth allowance very fast. If so, you will need to find one web hosting service that offer huge bandwidth with 40 GB to 100 GB per month. Depending upon your website requirement, choosing a web hosting service that provide sufficient amount of disk space and bandwidth is crucial consideration to prevent paying extra costs in the future should you overuse the monthly disk space and bandwidth allowance.

c) Other hosting features While the above requirements are utmost important, there are other hosting features that you have to consider too. Can web hosting provider support video clips on your website, if you have? Is the web hosting service compatible with Dreamweaver or FrontPage web authoring tool? Do you plan to set up a virtual store online? Can the host support the e-commerce features without adding extra cost to your monthly payments? On top of that, you may also want to find out the number of email accounts provided, number of FTP accounts, web statistic software (analyze your web traffic), type of control panel supported (manage your web hosting account), database and scripting languages supported and etc.

2Reliability and scalability

A first-class web hosting provider offers reliable server uptime and fast Internet connection. You should only choose a web hosting service that guarantee at least 99% server uptime with high-speed Internet backbones using at least OC3 (Optical Carrier) lines (155 Megabits per second) or above instead of T1 or T3 lines. A reliable web hosting provider usually invests heavily on their data center infrastructure with high performance servers, high speed multiple backbones providers with fail-over redundancy, backup power generators and firewall software protection in place to ensure they meet the uptime guarantee specified in the terms of service.

Similarly, you should choose a web hosting service with hardware facilities that designed for scalability, so that they can grow with your business. For example, if you need to increase more disk space, bandwidth or number of mySQL databases, you should be able to upgrade as needed without any problems.

3Customer service and support

The last major consideration in choosing a web hosting service is to find a web hosting providers that offers excellent customer service and support. You should always search for a web hosting provider that offers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week technical support that fielded with highly experience technicians, so that any web hosting problems will be resolved within a reasonable amount of time. You may also want to consider to test how responsive is their customer support by sending few inquiry emails to the web hosting provider. In general, any response in less than 24 hours is considered acceptable. It is a sign of poor customer support if they take more than one day to response.

In addition, a web hosting provider with excellent support should also provide multiple support channels, such as toll-free phone support, 24/7 email support, live chat, online knowledgebase, Interactive flash tutorials and FAQ.

Above are few major considerations before you choose your web hosting service. In addition, how long has the web hosting provider in business and the number of customers that they currently have are also a good indication of the quality of their hosting products as well as the stability of the company. Even though cost of the web hosting service is also important but it should not be your major consideration. Because the price of a web hosting service has been declining over the years due to competition, as a result, the price of most of the web hosting services offering quality hosting features has been converging to less than US$10 per month. If you can’t afford less than $10 per month, you probably isn’t in the online business for the long haul. Therefore, price should not be a major deciding factor.

On the other hand, it is more important to ensure the web hosting service that you choose is able to meet your website hosting requirements, guarantee your website is always accessible with satisfying speed, provide scalability to grow and expand your website as well as offer excellent customer supports.
Author:  Corey Geer is an author and marketing expert. Other works by Corey can be found at, http://coreygeer.blogspot.com/

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