So, you have created a new website and you’re looking to make it available on the public internet. That or you’re considering moving your existing site to a new host. How do you select a hosting company from the seemingly endless list of service providers? Hopefully, some of the tips listed below will help!
Support – In my opinion, support is the next most critical factor in choosing a website host. Make sure the hosting company provides multiple means of contacting support. For example, a good support will list local and toll free telephone numbers, provide instant chat and multiple email addresses. A questionable hosting provider might only provide one email address to contact their support department. Another feature to be wary about would include requiring you to “log-in” to access “full support options.” Before deciding, I recommend you give the support options a test. Call the potential provider’s technical support. How long did it take for them to answer? Did a ‘real’ person answer or did you get an answering machine? Send them an email and see how long it takes to respond.
Reliability – As far as reliability goes, almost all hosting providers are going to state they guarantee a certain amount of uptime, usually right around 99.99%. What happens if they do go down? Is the hosting provider required to be down a certain amount of time before you’re reimbursed for any outages? Are you required to request reimbursement within a specific amount of time?
Bandwidth – Be sure you completely understand how much bandwidth you are purchasing. What are the charges if you go over? Can you modify bandwidth allocation at any time? Without penalty? I recommend you take a look at Unlimited Bandwidth and Overselling by iNetpublication.
Hardware Configuration – Will your website be hosted on dedicated or shared hardware? Is the hardware physical or virtual? There are some pretty huge differences here, but it all depends on your individual requirements. If you are looking for a dedicated physical or virtual server, make sure to verify the hardware configuration, specifically the hard drive configuration. Is there any level of physical disk fault tolerance (RAID)? Another recommendation, no matter what level of hardware configuration you’re looking for is; What is the cost to upgrade to the next level? How long does it take?
Cost – Obviously, cost is going to play a role in choosing a website host. Beyond that, are you required to make a time commitment? Is there penalty if you choose to terminate your service agreement? Just make sure when you are comparing hosting providers, you are comparing apples to apples.
Location – Another factor in choosing a website host would be their location. Is the hosting provider in your same country? Are they in your same time zone? Their location could possibly present some interesting challenges…
Reviews – Finally, research the website host online. Take time to review what others have posted. Besides a generic internet search, you could also look through the hosting providers own forums.
I hope that the information, although not all inclusive, helps you to make a more informed website hosting choice.