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August 16, 2007

Web Hosting Options : 5 Critical Things

So how do you go about choosing a web host? Pull one out of a hat! Not really! Unless, of course, you’re a magician and can pull out the right one! Hey, who knows maybe with a little practice! Just kidding!

Now for those of you who aren’t Merlin the magician, the task is made even harder due to the fact there are so many website hosting companies. I mean, there’re a bunch of them and they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. It’s pretty safe to say most people don’t even know where to begin.

And just where do you begin? Well, faced with so many choices you need an efficient way to narrow down the field. The best way, I’ve found, is to start searching based on RECOMMENDATIONS and EXPERIENCE! So ask or look for recommendations from people you trust and find out what experiences they’ve had with the web site host.

Once you’ve built a small list, say 10-12, you’re after quality not quantity, put them through the tests. Here’re the 5 critical things you must look for!

1. World-Class Service. This is Numero Uno for a very good reason. Picture this scenario: It’s 3 a.m. and you’re in a bind. You’ve run into a technical problem! And it must be fixed pronto! Now answer these two questions: Do you know where your support is? How accessible are they?

Your answers are crucial because you need quick and easy ways of getting a hold of your customer service or technical support people anytime of the day or night. Even at 3 a.m.! This means your web hosting company must guarantee telephone and email support 24/7/365.

And not only round the clock support but your web hosting provider must be staffed by knowledgeable and helpful people. It’s not going to do you any good at all to get incredible response time if they aren’t able to fix the problem. In other words, they’ve got to know what they’re doing!

Live chat service adds another way for you to get a hold of your support team. The more ways the better!

Stay away from web hosts who provide support only through email. You could be waiting days for a response. You can’t afford to wait! You want prompt answers to your questions and technical problems fixed quickly! Your business and livelihood depend on it!

Even though email support is the preferred method for resolving technical problems you still want to be able to get on the telephone and chew on someone’s ear if the situation calls for it.

When it comes to technical support, experience really matters! I mean with a capital “E.” So find out if they have actual experienced systems administrators on board. They’re the one’s responsible for making sure all the different components of a computer system fit together and work properly. This is extremely important!

2. Hacker safe. Hackers are intruders who would like nothing more than to get their rotten hands on your information and do nasty things to it. So your web site hosting company must provide you with top-notch security. They should have all the important security issues covered, especially what hackers are up to, and God knows, they’re always up to something.

So you know what this means, don’t you? Yes, firewalls should be running all the time to protect your web site from hackers. A firewall is a security device, (it can be either software or hardware), basically acting like a barrier to secure your server from possible hacker attack. Make sure they have the latest software installed and top of the line computers, too.

OK, now what’s the bottom line here? For your peace of mind, your web host better know how to protect their system! And your website from unauthorized access!

3. Click away! This is what your customers are doing when they get tired of waiting for your web page to download. They aren’t going to wait forever. In fact, your customer is only one click away from going to your competitor’s web site. So having quick loading web pages is extremely important!

Another key factor is your web host has to get consistently reliable connection times to ALL your customers. What I mean is your customer may have to wait 5 seconds to download a web page one time and then wait longer to download the same page another time. So what’s the crux of the matter? Your customers won’t wait so your website hosting company has to download fast!

In turn, fast download time is affected by how good the connection is your web host has to the Internet. So if your web hosting company has a poor connection to the Internet then you’ve got a major problem on your hands in getting consistent and reliable connection times.

Here’s a simple formula for you to remember: Long download times = click aways! Click aways = lost customers! Lost customers = lost sales!

It impacts your bottom line! Your livelihood! You can’t afford it!

4. Backbone, baby! No, I’m not talking about intestinal fortitude. I mean Internet backbone or fiber optic networks. Your web host should be “multi-homed” or connected to multiple backbone carriers.

Each connection or line coming into the data center from the backbone carrier must be separate. This way if one backbone carrier goes down your host will maintain connectivity to the Internet and your customers will still be able to access your web site. Most web hosts don’t have this continuous service capability. Level of connectivity is one of the most important aspects to consider.

Being a “multi-homed” web host has its benefits because the router, a computer switching program, is able to monitor each link and identify the best one to use to get your data to its destination by the most efficient path possible. The bottom line: Fast web page download speed! Allright!

Be certain to look for a web host with at least a T1 connection going to the main backbone carriers. A T3 connection or faster is better yet. T1 and T3 are high capacity phone lines capable of transferring data at high speeds.

5. Stability. Make absolutely sure the web hosting company is stable and secure. The last thing you want to happen is for your web host to go belly up or go out of business. Cover yourself and ask some key questions. How long have they been in business? How many owners have they had? Is it making money and cash-flow positive from hosting-generated sales? In other words, is it financially sound?

To recap, rely on recommendations and experience. Put these recommendations through the tests and find a web host you feel comfortable with.

Author:  Mario Lerma is an article author. He specializes in the web hosting area and has been a successful Internet marketer since 1999. If you’re looking for a web host or aren’t happy with the service your current one is giving you, send an email to = = >