In order for your website to appear on the web it will have to be published to a publically accessible server. This is where web hosting services come in, and there are hundreds of them out there for you to choose from. Although all of them offer pretty much the same service they do try to compete with different options, gimmicks, and pricing.
When selecting the right host for your business, don't get caught up in all the hype of unlimited resources, free software, free domains, etc. Web hosts that offer unlimited disk space and bandwidth generally "oversell" their servers. So if you are not using all of your allowed storage space or bandwidth, those resources can be shared with other customers. This allows them to continue to pile up as many clients on one server as they can fit in. If you are serious about your website and online presence, don't be cheap, and do not go for any free services. As with everything else in life you do get what you pay for. There is no way you are going to get good, reliable, service or any kind of support for free! No way. Instead make your choice based on some sound common sense ideas and information like,
1. The Web Host & Website Hosting
First, you should try to assess your needs. An average informational website probably uses less than 500MB of space, and even with decent traffic only 1 to 5 GB of bandwidth. Chances are that starting out you will not need much than that but you should ask yourself the following;
- Are you planning on hosting just one website or more?
- Will you be trying to upload large amount of images, videos, or other multimedia files? If so, they can definitely eat up space and bandwidth in a hurry so a more robust hosting plan may be necessary.
- Do you have any special needs for PHP, ASP, Pearl scripting, or use of a Database? If so, make sure the host you choose offers these options.
- How many email accounts do you need?
- Will you need ecommerce capabilities?
2. Reputation, Reliability, and Speed
Choose a web host who has been in business for a while and has a good reputation. Make sure they provide a reliable and secure network with fast servers. Make sure they also offer at least a 99% up-time guarantee. These two factors are critical to your websites success. Internet users and search engines alike prefer a website that is fast to load and comes up every time. If your website is hosted on slow servers and takes too long to come up, people will quickly move on. Search engines also give higher rankings to websites that are fast load and respond.
3. Customer Support and Responsiveness
Good customer support is essential. Seek good customer service with lots of help and FAQ pages. Although a toll-free number is always a good sign, most web hosting services tend to outsource their phone support which is limited to just standard server support. Its almost better to know that they are available via live chat or have a ticket system with a guaranteed response time. You will find that email support is actually more efficient, effective, and you always have a record of your communications in case of any disputes arise.
A good way to find a reliable web hosting company is to search for "web hosting forums". Many people leave messages on these forums explaining in detail their experience with a specific company. These comments can be either negative or positive. By taking the time to explore these forums, it can give you a better idea of what kind of companies are out there, and which one is best for you.
In the end, if you are fairly new to building a website and dont have a lot of experience, we would recommend using a website builder service. As we will discuss in the next section on how to create your website, website builder services are much easier to use when it comes to designing a website, and most of them include web hosting as part of their complete website solution. They usually provide better support.
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