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December 18, 2008

Small Business: Picking The Right Web Host

You created an ecommerce website on your computer and you’re ready for the world to see it. There are tons of options for you to choose between. You could use a computer in your home that is dedicated to your website, but to be frank doing this can be very technical and it will definitely be time consuming and expensive.

What you need is a web host. A web host is a company that stores all the parts of your website such as: the pages, the html, and the scripts and they also connect your site to the internet so the world can see it. There are webhosts that provide free hosting, but they put ads all over your site and have restrictions on things like space and bandwidth and usually there is little if any support.

Your best bet is to go with a commercial web host. They are more geared towards the small business/ ecommerce world. You have literally hundreds of web hosts to choose from and all them offer different space, reliability, and price packages. Here are some good questions to ask when selecting a web host for your small business website.

Is Your Hosting Reliable? Reliability is a major concern among small business website owners. You never want your website to be down because if your sites down that means you’re not converting traffic into sales. You want to look for at the very least 95% uptime guarantee, but many hosts offer 99% and up uptime guarantee.

What type of Space/Bandwidth do you offer? You will want to make sure they offer enough space to hold your website in the plan you’re looking for. You will also want to make sure they offer enough bandwidth per month for the amount of visitors you will have. If you go over the limit there will be a charge. Watch out for oversellers who promise a ton of space and bandwidth but don’t deliver. Make sure you check the host’s terms of service and resource usage policies.

How good is your support? Support is an extremely important part of any host. They should have multiple ways to contact them including ticket system, live chat, and phone. They should be able to be contacted by either live chat or phone 24/7/365. Make sure you test the support and call in and ask them questions to test their competence.

How do you Handle Security? Ask them how they secure their datacenter and if they have secure servers and SSL certificates. Security Socket Layer (SSL) is a protocol that allows the secure communications to take place over the internet. This is important for doing business transactions over the internet.

How do you backup your servers? The web host should back up the data you have on your servers. You will want to make sure that if something happens to your website for any reason you will be able to recover the information that is lost. Make sure that the information is yours and not the hosts. This is an important question to ask the host.

Do you provide shopping cart software? Many hosts provide shopping cart software as part of their package. You’ll want to make sure the host you pick has shopping cart software as most ecommerce sites will need this software in order for their customers to buy products.

How much control do I have? You will want to make sure you are able to use a variety of background applications like PHP, PERL, and CGI Scripts. These allow you to truly create forms and a website that are tailored to your business.

How much will it cost? Shared hosting should not cost more than $20 per month. With that being said you don’t want to put too much weight on price because you want to worry about the factors above in a host than you do about the price. You can also use rebates and coupons to make the same hosting cheaper. Either way hosting can be one of the cheapest parts of starting a business.

What type of perks do you offer? Many web hosts have deals with other companies especially when it comes to marketing tools. Some perks are credits for Google Adwords or Yahoo! Search Marketing. There are also things like free Sitepal characters. You don’t want to put any weight on the perks when selecting a webhost but if all else is truly equal than it can’t hurt to take advantage of the perks a certain hosts offers. Also some hosts offer other services like web design and this is something to look into if you do not want to create your own site.

There are many things you have to do when creating a small business. Do not overlook choosing a web host. Don’t jump quickly into this because you could regret it. Do the research, ask the questions, and choose the host that is right for you.

About the Author- Steve Quatrani is an expert in the hosting industry and operates a site which helps people select the best web host. If you are looking for hosting and enjoyed this article you can check out more articles at Don’t pay as much as everyone else use the Rebates and Save!