The Web Hosting Advice section gives you expert advice on web hosting. It covers all the ins and outs of choosing a hosting company such as the need to avoid free hosting services, things to know before choosing a web hosting provider and the essential attributes of a good hosting company. Choosing the right web host is very important because the success of your online business is directly related to the quality of your web hosting provider. And it's also imperative that you should be aware of your hosting requirements and features you need. This is possible only if you're familiar with web hosting terminology such as ASP, PHP, Perl, CGI, SSL, SSI, ColdFusion, MySQL and so on.
How to Choose the Right Hosting Company
If you are tempted by free web hosts and have started thinking that you will be able to save a few extra dollars by choosing a free hosting service, you are making a huge mistake. Because there are many disadvantages associated with free web hosting services. As the saying goes "there is nothing as a free lunch in this world", the free web hosting services cover their costs in an analogous manner. They advertise on your web site and you have no control over the kind of advertising and where it appears on your web site. Secondly, a great majority of web visitors perceive free hosted sites as amateur and nonprofessional. You spend your advertising efforts promoting a URL which is not your own because you always get a free hosting service as a subdomain of the form yoursite.freewebhost.com. And above all, if your free web host goes out of business, of which there is a great probability, you will be left with nothing. The same is true of cheap hosting services, i.e. hosting services for less than $5 per month. Here the phrase "You get what you pay for" really applies!
Before plunging to utilize the services of a particular Web Host, it is inevitable that you should be completely aware of the web hosting requirements. If the website to be launched is not expected to be requiring a high level of functionalities, the only concern should be to get a decent amount of storage space for the website with a Web Hosting Enterprise that is as cheap as $5 per month. As opposed to this, if highly sophisticated as well as shopping cart functionalities are needed, then the accompanying procedure can be adopted to find the web hosting needs:
(1) Whether you need Shared server web hosting or Dedicated server web hosting
Two main requirements dictate the selection of this option, how many visitors are expected to interact with the site and the level of functionalities required by the site. If the website is expected to consume lots of data transfer, then it is highly recommended that the website should be hosted on a dedicated web server which can sustain the data transfer load. Another reason to choose a dedicated server is if customized functionalities are a must-have for the website such as encrypted information or high level applications i.e. e-commerce, changing content, database as well as multimedia applications.
(2) What type of hosting is required? Linux web hosting or Windows hosting
If the site makes use of Microsoft applications such as Microsoft Access or SQL database, then you should use a Windows Hosting Provider. Although Active Server Pages can be run on the Linux platform by making use of a few commercial programs, yet it is never safe because of some security and reliability issues. Contrary to this, if the use of cold fusion is required, both the platforms are capable of supporting it.
(3) What are your disk space and data transfer requirements
Disk space is no longer an issue, thanks to the fierce competition between web hosting companies. However, if your website mainly acts as a download resource, then your disk space needs may be 5 to 10 times more than this. The frequency with which the site might be visited is the next essential factor which will let you calculate your data transfer requirements.
(4) Estimate of Parked Domains and Subdomains to be used by the site
Traffic to a site can often be increased by utilizing parked domains. Likewise, long URLs pointing to particular directories on your site can also be replaced by subdomains which are extremely advantageous from SEO point of view. There are a few hosting plans that offer free parked domains and subdomains. Parked domains and subdomains can also be purchased later if deemed necessary.
(5) What are your FTP Accounts and Anonymous FTP requirements
You may require more than one FTP account if you have coworkers working on your site project at different locations. If website visitors are required to have access to certain server folders, this can be accomplished by use of the anonymous FTP functionality. Anonymous FTP almost always works if there is a dedicated IP address.
(6) Estimate of e-commerce features to be used by the site
If you need e-commerce functionalities, you should choose a Web Hosting Service that provides e-commerce functionality such as shopping carts and the ability to accept credit as well as debit cards. In some cases, it might also be necessary to check if the server is SSL secure or not.
Having an idea of your hosting requirements is an initial thing but the quality of a Hosting Provider cannot be estimated unless the following essential qualities have been verified.
(1) What is the Web Host average uptime
The uptime of the Host should be as high as possible and choosing a Host with an uptime guarantee is an added advantage. If your site is for business purposes, it is very crucial that your website stays online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.
(2) High Quality Servers
The next important thing is that the Hosting Service should be connected to the Internet in a secure fashion. Because of this, it is advisable that a Hosting Provider connected to the Web through a T3 connection should be selected. Recent surveys have proved that an average website visitor waits no more than 30 seconds for a site to load. So if your site takes more than thirty seconds to download, chances are that you will loose a lot of visitors and resultantly sales.
(3) Data Backup Arrangements
In order to increase the level of data security in the event of disaster, it is important that the Web Hosting Enterprise must have a mechanism for regular backup of data. Check how frequently the Host backups the data, i.e. daily or weekly.
(4) Disk space and data transfer Quota
The greater the space and data transfer offered by the Web Hosting Provider, the better. Most hosting companies offer 1 GB to 3 GB of storage, so if your web site is not mainly a download resource, then this factor is not that important for you. However, there is a greater increase in data transfer requirement as the popularity of the website increases over the course of time and more and more visitors access it. It is always a plus point to be able to purchase additional storage and data transfer later on.
(5) Commonly used web technologies such as CGI, PHP, SSH
If you have a professional web site, you will need to run CGI scripts, have SSH (Secure Shell) access and FTP access. The rare functionality out of all these is SSH access whereas the other technologies are offered by all good quality web hosting companies. Additionally, check to make sure that the Hosting Service offers anonymous FTP access in case you needed.
(6) Included Software
A good Hosting Company includes many of the commonly used scripts in its hosting packages so that customers can use them in their websites right away.
(7) Shopping Cart capabilities and SSL
Select a Web Hosting Company that provides you with e-commerce capabilities and also merchant accounts. The Web Hosting Service must also have an SSL secure server for safe and risk-free transactions.
(8) Versatile Control Panel
A high quality Web Hosting Enterprise must include a state-of-the-art control panel in its hosting plans in order to allow its customers to administer their site effectively. It is always advisable to try the hosting control panel through a demo where ever available as it helps to get an idea of what it is like. A high quality control panel has a variety of options systematically split into appropriate categories and also has a quick loading time. Two of the most widely used control panels having good reputation within the Internet community are VDeck 2.0 and CPanel.
(9) Full Mail Functionality
Select a Web Hosting Enterprise that provides both POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts, web-based e-mail, autoresponders, mailing lists, forwarding accounts and antivirus and spam filtering software.
(10) Moneyback Guarantee
Check to make sure that a moneyback guarantee is offered by the Hosting Provider as it is a strong indicator of Hosting Provider quality in that they are confident about their level of service.
(11) 24/7/365 Support Personnel
The Hosting Service should provide as many support channels as possible including an FAQ section, a knowledgebase, video and flash tutorials, toll-free support, e-mails support, live chat support and a community forum. A good way to determine how quick the Web Hosting Provider responds is to send a message through e-mail and then see how long it takes to get a reply. The customer support should be as prompt as possible and should be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. this cannot be overemphasized because the more knowledgeable and receptive the support staff is, the more relaxed will the customer feel with them.
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