Selecting a webhost is one of the most important decisions you have to make and there are a lot of decisions to be made before selecting one. There is a lot of tech talk in the web hosting industry and for those of us that are new to creating websites and new to the web hosting industry this can all get confusing. I understand that this can all be confusing which is why we took the time to explain some very important factors when selecting a web host.
First off I wanted to point out that there are companies that offer free hosting for websites. Ever hear the saying “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” well it’s true. “Free” web hosts place ads all over your website which they profit off of. This can make your website look cheap and tacky which is no good for any website. They are also not the most reliable companies. You should never choose to go with “free” webhosting.
What to look for in a Commercial Host:
- Reliability- Many web hosts have 99%, 99.5%, and 99.9% uptime guarantee. This is usually something that is well advertised on a hosts site, but if its not you should definitely see if they offer any type of uptime guarantee. Also, make sure you check the hosts agreement so you truly understand what they mean by 99% uptime. Some hosts are so confident in their system that they not offer the 99% uptime guarantee, but if for some reason they go below that in a certain time period they will give you pro-rated payment for that time.
- Space- The amount of space a web host offers you is the amount of space they allow you to take up on their server with the web pages and files that make up your website. The amount of space offered by most web hosts is more than enough for most websites, but there are certain factors that you must look at. Shared Hosting is when a hosting company oversells the space on its server because it realizes most users wont use up all the space. This is much like when airlines oversell the seats on their flights. Also many hosts offer unlimited hosting space. This space is not truly unlimited, but it is certainly a lot of space. You have to check the hosts agreements to see the actual size.
- Bandwidth(Transfer)- This is the amount of data that is transferred from the hosts server to a viewers computer when they are looking at your website. Bandwidth is measured in gb/month (i.e. HostICan offers 20000GB of bandwidth per month). Just like with space most web hosts offer more than enough bandwidth per month and there are some that offer unlimited. You must make sure to read the fine print.
- Support- Many web hosts offer a lot of space and a lot of bandwidth with good reliability. One of the biggest factors that set web hosts apart is its support. One thing you check for is that you have access to your host 24/7 through one way or another. They should have multiple ways to contact them such as live chat, ticket, email and phone support. Make sure you test your hosts support.
- FTP, PHP, Perl/CGI, .hta access- These are all important features that your host should have. An FTP is how you upload your files to the hosts server and you want to make sure the host gives you access to this. PHP,Perl, and CGI scripts are how you program your site. .hta is how you control the error pages that show up and also allow you to protect certain parts of your website. You want to make sure host offers access to that.
- SSL-This is your secure server. If you are planning on having a business from your website, taking credit card information, or any other type of personal information you want to make sure your host will store this information on a secure server.
- Control Panel(CPanel)- This is the interface where you control all the parts of your website from your dashboard on the hosts site. This allows you to have great control over your website. There are different quality control panels and this is something you’ll have to find out from doing research and trial and error at the hosts site.
- Shopping Cart- If you are running a business on your site where a checkout will be needed than you should check that the host offers shopping cart software.
- Price- This is not something you should put a lot of weight on. Don’t just go for the cheapest because sometimes they are the cheapest for a reason. You want to look that you are getting the cheapest price coupled with the highest quality service. To make sure of this do a lot of research before you select a host. Also some hosts offer other features such as marketing credits. Again don’t just go with a host because of these, but if it works out and you get these features with a good host make sure you take advantage of these great gifts.
These are some of the major factors that you should look at before selecting a web host. Doing research on a certain web host before you choose them is a vitally important decision. It can prevent a lot of pain in the future. Good Luck and Get Started!