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What you need to consider before buying web hosting

By |  Published: 2010-01-22

  Rating: Unrated
Finding the right web hosting company is critical to any online business. But it quickly becomes a daunting task to sift through the myriad of web hosting offers on the web today. Setting up a hosting company is easy. Running a good one, is not quite as easy. So it is absolutely essential that you find a reliable provider that you can trust with your business.
It is extremely important that you are able to get in touch with your web host 24/7 - and needless to say, they need to act on issues such as a crashed server very quickly.
If your customers aren't able to access your site because the hosting company messed up, you not only look unprofessional, you're also losing money by the minute.
Established web hosts will have 24/7 support and fast response times. There's nothing worse than being left on hold for hours or waiting days for a response to a support ticket. 

You may want to check which types of support are offered. Do they offer email support only? Or do they also offer live chat support and toll free phone support? Make sure that the type of support offered suits your preferences.
You may also want to conduct your own quick investigation before signing up. Prepare a small list of questions and send to them or give them a call. How are their response times? Do they seem willing to understand your unique situation and meet your needs? Also consider calling their tech support just to get an idea how long it will take to get through. Just because you can get someone on the line quickly when you call their sales department, doesn't mean that their tech support is going to be just as quick
Your web host should make frequent backups of all data. A good webhost will offer daily backups so you don't need to worry about losing years of hard work in the event of a technical glitch.
Make sure to check that your web host offers an uptime guarantee. Most established hosts today offer a 99%+ uptime guarantee. You shouldn't settle for less. 
But don't just trust that label on any hosting company website that says 99% uptime guaranteed. You won't find many hosts that advertise with less uptime than that.
When you are just starting out you may not need very advanced features for your website - but try to plan ahead and make sure that the host you decide is equipped to handle the needs you will have down the line. Most hosts provide free e-commerce software such as OS-commerce or Agora cart. These should be sufficient for most starting webshops.
Most established web hosts will offer plenty of disk space, and the best ones will give you unlimited space. Look out for this, as you don't want to be forced to upgrade or pay more if you exceed any disk space limits.
You shouldn't pay extra just because your site suddenly gets a lot of traffic. So make sure that the web host you choose offers unlimited bandwidth, and do also check if there are any restrictions.
Free perks
Most hosts will throw in a wide variety of free perks. A popular offer is free Google Adwords credits. You will find such offers mainly with large established hosting providers. Most will offer $50 in free pay per click, although Midphase currently offers $100 in free credits.
Other freebies include software and script that you can install free of charge. Most established hosts come with cpanel or plesk (web hosting control panels) where you can install popular software such as wordpress, joomla, and much more free of charge. 
Web hosting doesn't need to be extremely expensive. If you just starting out just don't need a lot of expenses, so go for a web host that offers a quality product at a reasonable price. Try to avoid small/unknown hosting companies that offer hosting at rock-bottom prices. Either they are selling an inferior product, or they will be going out of business. It's really that simple.
Domain name
Some hosts throw in a free domain for life - but domains are rather cheap (around $8 per year) so this probably isn't going to be a deciding factor. If you registed a domain through the web host, make sure that there is no fine print that says that you can not move your domain to another hosting provider. 

How long have they been in business
You may want to check how long the company has been involved in the hosting industry. You may find new web hosts that are just fine, but if it is run by inexperienced people it may not turn out very well. If they have been able to stay in business for years, it only adds to their total score. You can check their website for information about the company and you may also want to run a whois check on their domain name to see when the domain was first registered.
In closing - even though a comparison site such as ours is useful, do some fact checking on your own before signing up.
Further reading
The difference between shared, VPS, dedicated, etc
Choosing a Web Host for Your Business Web Site
Web hosting basics
Web hosting 201: Power options 
Buy domain and hosting separately


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