Choosing the Right Web Hosting Company

Wikipedia defines, “a web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their own website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server they own or lease for use by their clients as well as providing Internet connectivity.”

If you want to communicate, share or sell something today you need an internet presence.  Some companies lure you in with low hosting prices.  Like with all things you get what you pay for.
Not all hosting companies are created equal.  Some thought needs to go into the type of company that will host your website.  If your website goes down because of any server downtime your customers will be lost and so is all your effort of promoting your website.  So what should you look for in a web hosting company?

Support
This should be one of the most important factors in choosing a hosting company.  Support should include at least contact by email and phone.  Another support tool that is becoming popular is live chat.  Email response time should be reasonable.  This is something you wouldn’t use unless you need it, but you want to make sure someone is there for you if you have a problem.

Reliability and speed of access
After you send the time and money of launching a website you would like to make sure that the site is always running and is accessible to the internet.    Hosting companies should guarantee a minimum of 99.5% to 99.9% hosting uptime.  Anything lower than that I would steer clear of.

Servers that are underpowered will affect you site’s load time.  For example, you don’t want your site to take 20 to 25 seconds to load when it should take 2 to 3 seconds.  This maybe a little technical but the hosting company should provide a list of the equipment either on the site or on request.

Also, look for hosting companies that offer a reimbursement if they don’t meeting their guaranteed uptime percentage.

Services
Make sure the company has all the services you require for you website.  Email support (POP 3/IMAP/SMTP), FTP, supported developing language, databases (MySql or MS SQL), .htaccess, telnet, operating systems, etc.

Bandwidth
So how much bandwidth do you need?  Well it all depends.  Since bandwidth is tied into a hosting companies price plans you should determine how much bandwidth is right for your site.  Hosting companies measure their bandwidth in months so you would be able to do some simple calculating and get a good idea of what you need.

Here’s a simple formula:

 

  • Average Daily Visitors x Average Page Views x Average Page Size x 31 x Fudge Factor

Don’t believe web hosting companies that advertise unlimited bandwidth.  Bandwidth is a cost to these companies and if you utilize allot of it they won’t bear your costs for very long.  High traffic sites have been billed for bandwidth usage exceeding some stated amount usually found in the fine print of a hosting company’s agreement or policy statement.  These companies rejigger the meaning of the term “unlimited” to mean “limited.” (http://www.thesitewizard.com/webhosting/unlimited-space-bandwidth.shtml

Disk space
Some hosting companies have different packages for different feature sets depending on your needs.  You need to determine how much storage you’ll need for the site.  It’s better to have a little more storage than you need.   Again, like with the bandwidth, watch out for companies that offer unlimited storage.  These companies pay for the disk space for you to use and if you exceed their storage policies you may pay for it in the end.  The average web site doesn’t use that much disk space so make sure you’re no paying for something you’ll never use.

Another alternative for hosting is Free Web Hosting.  This type of web hosting has an upside of being a free service.  The downside is limited web space, unknown reliability and access speeds, bandwidth limitations, limits on file types and sizes, no FTP access and advertising all over your site.  These types of hosting providers are more gimmicky than a serious hosting alternative.

Choosing the right hosting provider isn’t purely dollar based.  Paying top-dollar for a web hosting plan won’t guarantee a good host.  On the flip side, you can be sure of that a $5 to $7 a month plan will not get you top-notch support.  At those prices these companies couldn’t hire enough quality tech support.  It would be ridiculous to spend $45 a month on a small 3 page personal site and have 250K+ per year e-commerce site carp about the downtime and shabby technical support on their $5 a month plan. There needs to be a balance.

There are other factors in choosing the right hosting company depending on what your exact requirements are.  This will give you a good start in determining the best hosting plan for your site.