For many people, if there is anything that makes them feel like they are searching for a needle in a haystack; it is their search for a good web hosting company.
For every website launched, there is need for a web hosting company. A web host rents out space on a web server. The web pages are stored on their server and the host allows other people using the internet, to view these web pages.
With hundreds of web hosting companies to choose from, how does one go about finding the right one?
Word of Mouth
As with any other service, it is not possible to know how good a hosting company is until it is tried. Getting recommendations from others who are already using web hosting companies can be done by asking around.
It is also important to know how long a web hosting company has been in business as well as the reliability factor.
Determining the amount of disk space one needs is important and that is always based on the number of pages on the website. Only a small amount of space is required if one is looking to host a website with less than ten pages. If the website is huge and is going to have thousands of pages, a lot of disc space is required. Most web hosting plans apply limits on the space that is provided, so it is important to make sure that these plans meet the needs.
How many e-mail accounts are needed? Many big websites may need one for every employee as well as one for every department (customer services, accounts, sales etc.) Getting a hosting plan that provides many e-mail accounts is necessary, keeping the future in mind. Also consider if a full POPS access, Web-based e-mail or both are needed. Another think to look for is the e-mail limits the hosts impose. Some hosts limit number of e-mails per hour and this may not work for people looking at building big lists online using auto responders.
What is the data that will be transferred? Hosting plans also limit the data that can be transferred and each month a specific data-transfer is allotted. If a lot of visitors are expected to the site, then the plan should allow for huge data transfers.
The purpose of a website plays an important role in selecting a web host. What is being sold through the website, are they goods? If so, then an e-commerce web hosting services, such as SSL support, shopping cart software and a merchant account are needed.
Database, extension and script support
Many web hosts try to supply a whole lot of unnecessary things to the users and charge for them. The extra features include MS Access, FrontPage, MySQL, MS SQL, PHP support. SSI support, ASP support and Peri support are provided but if these are not required, then it must be ensured that they are not charging for these.
There are two types of hosting plans available; UNIX and Windows. Unix is more commonly used as most web services use this operating system. It is reliable, flexible and stable to use. Windows hosting plans on the other hand, give the ability to use many forms of specialized databases and different forms of dynamic content. Windows hosting plans are useful for sites that use ASP, MS Access databases, Frontpage, MySQL Servers as well as other Microsoft applications.
C-Panel or DirectAdmin
It is a good idea to confirm whether the web host offers c-panel web hosting, as it is extremely easy to work with. They should have a choice between C-panel and DirectAdmin.
A good web host has all sorts of policies and contingency plans in place. How would they react if they receive a spam complaint occasionally? An occasional spam complaint is only natural for an online business and it is important to find a host that does not shut down at the blink of an eye. Also check if they have a policy of letting their customers upgrade from shared web hosting in the initial stages of their business to dedicated web hosting as the business grows.
Last but certainly not the least is the customer and technical support that is provided by the web host. Are they available 24/7? Is it easy to get through to their customer support for any urgent queries? Nobody wants to wait for the customer support to wake up in case of a problem. Having an earning website down for a day means loss of huge amounts of money. It is a good idea to check them out by sending a ticket to their customer service at an odd time and see how fast they respond.
These are by no means the only things one has to look for, but are some of the crucial things. Other things such as how fast their servers are, whether they provide unrestricted CGI access, SSH and FTP access, access to their raw server log, power and daily server backups, no minimum contracts, what is their downtime and a whole lot more can be looked into based on specific requirements. While at it, also check on the number of domains and sub-domains they provide.
It is really not as bad as it sounds, because once the search begins, there are a few good web hosts names that are bound to come up, those who provide everything and top marketers vouch for. The key to finding a web host is to keep future growth in mind.