Selecting a Good Web Host
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To select a good web host for your purposes, you need to make two assessments: First, you need to assess your own needs, present and future. By doing this, you'll be able to choose a host that you can grow with. Second, you need to assess and compare well-regarded hosts that not only provide excellent service in general but also meet the hosting requirements you have established that you need.
What Do You Need From a Web Host?
What you need from a hosting provider (besides the basics) depends on what kind of a website and how large a website you are going to build. You need to have a server, and the server software may be important if you want to use particular programming languages or applications. The main choice is between Windows servers, on the one hand, and Linux/UNIX servers on the other hand. You need a certain amount of disk space, the storage space for all of the files and documents that make up your website. You need a certain amount of bandwidth for you and your visitors to interact with your website.
In addition, you will need a means to build your website, if you are not using a boxed software solution, as well as other features, which may include programming languages and applications. For example, you may need access to shopping cart software, blogging software, MySQL databases, PHP, etc. Or you might need a drag-and-drop website builder or a pre-fabricated shopping cart.. Specialized requirements include affiliate or reseller programs that put you in a unique relationship with the hosting company, different than other customers.
Web hosts offer four main types of hosting:
- Shared Hosting, in which multiple accounts share space and bandwidth on a single server;
- Virtual Private Server Hosting (aka Virtual Dedicated Server Hosting), in which your site exists on a separate server partition where it is more immune to the activity of other accounts and websites;
- Dedicated Server Hosting, in which you have a server to yourself, and for which, additionally, you may undertake the management; and
- Colocation Hosting, in which a server that you own is located in the host's facility, giving you access to their security systems, air conditioning, and power supply.
As you move down the list, the costs, in general, increase, but so does the level of choice and control you exercise over the server itself and how it is managed. If you already have a website, you will already have some idea of how these types of hosting work. Some hosts only offer shared hosting or offer only VPS/VDS and Dedicated Hosting, so if you think you want to start with shared hosting, but expect to grow into another type as your business and website grows, you may want to start off with a web host that offers all three so you won't have to switch web hosts at some point.
Assessing and Comparing Web Hosts
Once you've settled on a type of hosting and the features that you need, ask around among colleagues and friends for web host recommendations. Add to this reviews from sites that are not affiliates of the web host and that do more than gloss over the service. Look for sites that deal with web hosts in-depth and that are written in standard, grammatical English.
Review the websites of the web hosts you are considering. Look for an uptime guarantee, technical support that is offered via Live Chat and Telephone, as well as email, and 24/7/365. You may be more satisfied with web hosts who choose to use North American support staff for customer service and technical support, a feature that some web hosts offer. Check how long they've been in business, and use the various support methods to ask them some questions. Check their Help Center to be sure it is really helpful.
A look at the features list should give you an idea of the type of customer the host is catering to. If there's very little technical language, or technical info is hidden and you have to click on drop-downs to see it, then they're aiming at an audience of beginners or non-technical people. If this is you, you'll know that they'll be able to explain what you need. If you're a techy, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.
Be sure to try out any demo or trial that's available.
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