Choosing A Web Hosting Company

It used to​ be that choosing a​ web hosting company for​ your small business web site was a​ difficult and​ confusing exercise. Thankfully, those days are long gone. Today you can do an​ online search for​ web hosting companies and​ be presented with a​ fantastic selection of​ cheap hosting packages, all of​ them offering a​ wide range of​ features.

Choosing among all the​ alternatives still takes a​ bit of​ research. Many people focus on impressive technical specs -- available bandwidth, storage capacity, number of​ email addresses, and​ so on. But the​ truth is, web hosting has gotten very inexpensive. You can now get cheap web hosting for​ as​ low as​ $1.95 per month that includes many of​ the​ features you find in​ much more expensive plans.

So how do you go about choosing a​ hosting company? Here are some suggestions.

**Determine what you need

If you have a​ bit of​ web experience, choosing a​ host can be fairly simple, but if​ you are without experience, then it​ might be a​ good idea to​ discuss your requirements with a​ friend, business colleague, or​ a​ consultant.

There are also lots of​ good articles available online that can help. or​ you might try contacting the​ support or​ sales staff of​ the​ different hosting companies on your short list. Tell them what you want to​ do and​ ask for​ their recommendations. Then compare notes after talking to​ three or​ four different companies.

Bandwidth, and​ storage capacity requirements may seem critical, but in​ fact, it​ is​ more important to​ find out if​ you can upgrade your service if​ and​ when you need more capacity. Every reputable hosting company is​ prepared to​ sell you more services when you need them, so don't make this the​ determining factor in​ your search.

Determine what "extras" you need. These could include extra space for​ storing lots of​ photos. or​ you may want database support so you can run a​ blog, a​ photo gallery, a​ forum, e-commerce software, or​ any number of​ other add-on programs.

**The Basics to​ look for​ in​ a​ web host

* 24/7 Live Support by e-mail and​ Live Chat - There is​ nothing more frustrating than not being able to​ get quick response from the​ technical people at​ your hosting company. Every reputable host has 24/7/365 support by email. Many now have 24/7 Live Chat as​ well.

* the​ ability to​ easily upgrade your hosting plan - as​ your business grows you may need to​ upgrade your plan. This should be a​ simple, transparent process that does not involve any downtime.

* a​ web-based control panel - You need this to​ add or​ modify email accounts, work with databases, change site configuration, and​ do basic editing of​ files.

* 24/7 FTP access - You will want to​ make changes to​ your site at​ unpredictable times, so you will need FTP access to​ the​ site at​ all times.

* Web-based e-mail - Your colleagues and​ employees will want to​ pick up their email from anywhere, not just from their primary computer. Webmail is​ the​ easiest way to​ give that feature.

**Extras to​ take you beyond the​ basic business web site

1. Shared space or​ dedicated server - as​ your online business activity increases your web site will have more traffic, and​ may require more space. That is​ when you may think you should move from shared space -- where your site is​ hosted on the​ same server as​ potentially hundreds of​ other sites -- to​ dedicated space, where your site has its own dedicated server.

Since making this move can be very expensive, it​ is​ something you should discuss with your host provider. They may have an​ intermediate solution with a​ limited number of​ sites per server. for​ example, some business packages (see below) limit the​ number of​ sites per physical server processor to​ 50. This gives you something much closer to​ a​ dedicated server, with a​ huge monthly data transfer rate, but without the​ high cost.

2. e_Commerce capability - Shopping carts let you display your products to​ customers and​ allow them to​ purchase items online. Some hosts provide free shopping cart systems with integrated payment "gateways", that let you get your online store up and​ running for​ minimal cost.

3. Other Extras - Some hosting packages include free scripts such as​ blog software, content management systems, forums, picture galleries and​ much more. One of​ the​ best free packages is​ called Fantastico. it​ contains more than 40 free programs, each of​ which can be quickly installed from within the​ site Control Panel.

Choose a​ web hosting company you can grow with

Price and​ features are important, but they are only part of​ the​ story. Find a​ web hosting company that has a​ solid track record, offers reliable, technically advanced services, and​ gives you room to​ grow in​ the​ future.

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