December 13, 2011
A web hosting service allows you to make your website accessible to the world wide web. You generally upload your site files via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to your host and they go “live” and become a part of the internet. There are free web hosting services for personal sites but if you have a business site, you will want to pay for a better hosting service. There are countless hosting services on the web but there are things you need to look for when shopping for a good host. Below are ten things you might want to check before choosing your host.
1. Support System – One of the most important things to look for in a host is a good customer support system. When you are having problems you don’t want to wait days for answers. Test the support system of the host before you purchase. See how friendly, helpful and fast they are. Do they have an email, support forums, phone number? They might even have a live chat option available.
2. Disk Space – You want to make sure the host offers a good amount of disk space but you want to also make sure they do not offer too much just to charge a higher price. An average business site might use about 50 MBs of space but if you offer images, ebooks or other downloadable files, you will probably need much more than that. You will need to consider what you will be offering on your site to determine how much disk space you will need.
3. Bandwidth – Bandwidth is the amount of data transfers that occur on your site. This would include visitors downloading your web pages to their computer, you uploading files to your site and any other data transfers. Again, if you offer downloadable items on your site you will need more bandwidth than the average site. As your site gains in popularity, you will be using more bandwidth. The average business site will probably not have to worry about bandwidth, but it is best to check it out thoroughly including what the penalty will be for going over the allotted bandwidth.
4. Programming Services – Websites can be built just using HTML and CSS but most sites will require additional programming languages and database capabilities such as PHP, CGI, MySQL and SSI. Be sure to check to see if your potential host is compatible with these programming languages and services.
5. FTP Access – FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is an easy way to upload files faster and more efficiently then through your control panel. The easiest way to access your ftp is by using your domain as your FTP. Not all hosts have this easier FTP access.
6. User-Friendly Control Panel – Control panels can be very intimidating and frightening. Your potential host should be able to provide a demo of the control panel they provide. Check to see that it is easy to use, navigate and understand.
7. Site Builder – Web creation tools can be a big help for people building new websites or additional sites. Most hosts will provide these website building tools but always check to be sure.
8. Web Statistics Tools – You will surely want your host to have web analytics because you need to know how many visitors you are getting, when you are getting them, to where they are going, how long they are staying and more to produce a successful, efficient website. These tools are invaluable in helping you to find out how to improve your website so it can grow!
9. Email Accounts and Mailing List Feature – A good web host should offer you numerous email accounts. You might also want to check for a mailing list feature to help you build an email marketing mailing list.
10. Uptime – Another very important service a good host should provide is reliable uptime. One thing you do not need is for your site to be down more than it is up. Most sites will claim 99.9% uptime but do some research and find out if it is actually true.
Web hosting services are a dime a dozen online and sifting through them all to find a good one that provides you with everything you need can be a daunting task. See if you can get someone you know and/or trust to recommend a good host. Do a search for web host reviews and read some real experiences of people who have used the host. Find out everything you can before choosing a host because that can be one of the most important choices you make in building your website!
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