Web Hosting Tips For Beginners

Web Hosting Tips For Beginners

If you are thinking about setting up your first website or​ registering your own domain name, there are a​ whole host (pun intended) of​ companies out there lining up for​ your business. This is​ a​ double edged sword because although it’s great for​ consumers to​ have choices, the​ greater they are, the​ more bewildering they become.

In your attempt to​ make a​ decision you will negotiate a​ minefield of​ headlines clamoring for​ your attention and​ probably baffling you beyond belief, so here are a​ few ground rules for​ those first venturing into the​ world of​ web hosting.

Before you do anything, it​ is​ wise to​ have a​ good idea of​ exactly what kind of​ user you are – will you be setting up a​ personal website or​ blog on your domain or​ are you a​ business user? if​ you are setting up a​ business website your priorities will probably be somewhat different and​ likewise your needs. Think carefully about what you want as​ you research the​ best deals. I have concentrated more on business users here, as​ a​ lot of​ the​ issues are perhaps not as​ vital to​ many non-commercial webmasters, although they are certainly no less worthy of​ consideration.

The first thing to​ remember, as​ with most things in​ life, the​ general rule will be that you get what you pay for. Big numbers and​ low prices do not always constitute a​ good deal. When you see companies offering a​ terabyte of​ storage for​ a​ dollar a​ month, remember that most websites need nowhere near this amount of​ disk space – it’s a​ hollow offer because the​ company knows that you will almost certainly never need it, but big numbers look good, particularly to​ the​ uninitiated.

If you have some idea of​ the​ amount of​ space you will need, all well and​ good, if​ you don’t, you will probably not need more than most companies offer you in​ a​ decent package.

If you are a​ business user, decide what kind of​ website you are hoping to​ run and​ what features you are likely to​ need – for​ example, will you want e-commerce facilities for​ online ordering? a​ good idea is​ to​ look at​ the​ websites of​ your competition as​ you will probably want something along similar lines. Make sure that the​ hosting company you choose can support the​ features you need.

At this point, a​ quick word about people who are engaged in​ online marketing – you will have certain requirements that some hosts may not be prepared to​ accommodate. Some hosts will not allow certain scripts to​ be hosted on their servers, so once again, buyer beware – if​ you want to​ set up a​ traffic exchange perhaps, or​ safe lists for​ example, you need to​ check before you buy your online space. Some hosting companies are geared far more towards certain markets than others so be sure to​ position yourself with a​ service that is​ sympathetic to​ your requirements – this applies to​ everyone, not just online marketers!

Returning to​ the​ numbers game, there are some that are very important. Look at​ the​ amount of​ data transfer or​ bandwidth that you are being offered. if​ you are expecting a​ high volume of​ traffic and​ a​ lot of​ activity (for example downloading of​ files, particularly large files like sound and​ video) your bandwidth requirements will be far greater than a​ personal user with their low traffic site about their daily life. There is​ nothing worse for​ business than to​ see a​ ‘bandwidth exceeded’ error when someone tries to​ access your business online – it​ looks very unprofessional and​ people are far less likely to​ return.

The other vital number is​ uptime. Once again, for​ business users in​ particular, downtime is​ a​ credibility and​ business killer, so the​ reliability of​ your host is​ paramount. Nobody can genuinely offer you one hundred percent uptime guarantee – that is​ just the​ nature of​ the​ technology, but you should be looking for​ ninety-nine percent upwards.

This leads us to​ support from the​ hosting company – it​ is​ almost a​ requirement nowadays for​ them to​ advertise 24/7 support, but remember that talk is​ cheap, and​ the​ definition of​ 24/7 support can be a​ very loose one. for​ you, when things go wrong, you need to​ be able to​ contact someone right away, but you also want problems fixed in​ the​ minimum amount of​ time – just having someone around to​ answer the​ phones out of​ office hours does not constitute 24 hour support. if​ you need technical support, particularly important to​ new users and​ less “techie” types, will your host have the​ people and​ the​ time to​ assist you and​ answer your questions? it​ is​ difficult to​ know which hosting companies perform in​ this area so again, do your research – ask around, visit forums online and​ check any testimonials from existing customers. You will probably hear many horror stories, but hopefully some good feedback too, and​ forewarned is​ forearmed as​ they say.

Many web hosts rent their server space and​ although this is​ not necessarily a​ bad thing, it​ is​ another area where not all hosting companies are the​ same. if​ a​ company owns its own data center, you are often assured of​ far quicker response times should there be any hardware problems, there being no middle men to​ slow down the​ communication process.
Hardware problems tend to​ be solved far more quickly by a​ host who has direct access to​ its servers.

As far as​ a​ lot of​ hosting features go, the​ numbers figure prominently in​ advertising, so know what they mean and​ you’ll understand if​ they are important to​ you. as​ an​ example, I have the​ capability to​ set up unlimited email accounts, or​ at​ least 999. Do I need that many? Certainly not, but for​ some businesses this could be a​ very important feature – particularly if​ you wish every employee, as​ well as​ every department, to​ have an​ email account on a​ given domain.

Talking of​ domains, how many will you want to​ host on your web space? if​ you are only just beginning the​ journey, you’ve bought your domain name; can you foresee ever needing unlimited domain name hosting? How many will your business need in​ the​ future? How many names do you want to​ pay for? How many sub-domains do you anticipate wanting to​ set up? So again, think about your needs before being blinded by marketing excess with the​ “big numbers” game.

Most hosting companies now offer a​ range of​ add-on services, for​ example, website building software – that sounds great to​ anyone new to​ the​ web but sometimes all it​ amounts to​ are a​ few templates. This might be fine if​ you have experience in​ web authoring, HTML, CSS……but if​ you’re inexperienced, some host’s web building software won’t be of​ much use. I have heard from any would-be website builders who have spent money on a​ template, only to​ be completely lost as​ to​ how to​ edit it!
If these kinds of​ extras are important to​ you, be sure to​ understand what you are buying before parting with your money. There are some web hosting companies who provide a​ lot of​ support to​ new webmasters, both from their own staff and​ from other users of​ their hosting services – if​ you think you’ll benefit from extra help in​ the​ areas outside of​ hosting, finding such a​ company could be invaluable to​ you.

I haven’t gone into too much detail here because, after all, it’s a​ general article aimed at​ beginners. My resource box at​ the​ foot of​ this article contains some useful links and​ leads to​ a​ lot more information so please check them out.

If you find a​ good hosting company straight off the​ bat, it​ will save you a​ lot of​ frustration and​ worry further down the​ line, so do shop wisely. Cheap may be just fine for​ many people and​ there are plenty of​ cheap web hosting offers around today, but if​ your business is​ going to​ depend on your web presence, it​ may not always be the​ wisest move to​ cut corners.

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