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Top 10 Considerations for Web Hosting Selection

Given the myriad of webhosting companies that offer a plethora of services online, it is not surprising that many of us are confused about their differences in the services they offer. This article hopes to demystify the product offerings of webhosting companies, enabling ordinary consumers like you and I to consider beyond prices only.

Top 10 Considerations for Webhosting Selection

1. Usage
2. Reputation
3. Storage
4. Bandwidth
5. Web support
6. User-friendliness
7. Guarantee
8. Price
9. Location
10. Other Goodies

These are described as follows:

1. Usage
Nope. This is not on ‘how much you use it’ but rather ‘why’ you use it.

Knowing the reason for the existence of your website is key to understanding your webhosting needs. It’s like buying a computer. A hardcore gamer would have different needs from a word-processing officer worker.

So before you look for a webhosting service, ask yourselves these questions:
1) Do I want only one domain?
2) Am I graphic intensive?
3) Will it be for blogging only or for commercial use?
4) What is my anticipated traffic?
5) Am I a beginner in web design and hosting?
6) Is uptime for my website absolutely crucial?
7) What other service is important to me? (email accounts, auto-responder)
8) Which OS I am using?
9) What is my budget?

With these questions answered, you can ponder further on the rest of the 9 points below.

2. Reputation
Most of us go for branded stuff or buy something based on people’s recommendation. I don’t see why not the same for choosing a good webhost. The odd thing is that some people do not place huge importance in knowing what is out there or what people recommend and decide purely on price and the declared services provided. best hosting sites canada like BlueHost have good reputation.

Moreover, many webhosts have similar services or give identical product offerings. So how do we choose? Here are some ideas:
1) Ask friends who have webhosting experiences
2) Read their website throughly (and see how fast they load. heh.)
3) Search online for reviews
4) Look out for trusted independent party reviews and “stamp of approval”

3. Storage
Most people think that this aspect is one of the most important part of deciding a webhost. This is indeed true if you are a space-hogger, podcast broadcaster, graphic and video intensive manic. Well, if you use your website to put videos from your own storage space, have an e-commerce catalogue, it might be a little understandable to have a little bit more space than the rest. Else several gigabytes ought to be sufficient for a few lifetimes of blogging text only. Let me give you a little perspective on how much space an average person needs.

Gmail itself offers more than 6GB of space for storage. For me, I have been hoarding videos, huge attachments and tons of emails (19658 at this point of time) since 7th July 2005 and it only occupies 21% of it (1.544GB). A typical webpage page like this only occupies 200 to 500Kb. Let’s say taking the webhosting company with the least storage space below, LiquidWeb, that has 2.5GB, I still can store all my personal emails and have another 2500 over Squidoo-like pages for my webhosting. And if I choose a company like Bluehost I can have 2500 Gmail-capacity accounts or a max of 30,000,000 (that’s 30 million) Squidoo-like pages. That’s if you can ever email that much or put up so much lenses.

So, if storage is not a huge concern if you are an individual player. Consider more if you are thinking of hosting for your company with tens of employees, or if you have it for your family.

Besides, storage space offerings will always keep increasing.

4. Bandwidth
Certainly this ought to rank higher than storage capacity as a consideration. Why?

For one thing, bandwidth is something you cannot control and would love to increase all the time. More traffic into your website is always great – that’s the point of having a website in the first place right? And storage, you can control it and would always love to use as little of it as possible.

The only thing is how the heck does one find out exactly one’s minimum requirement for bandwidth? Well, sad to say, there’s no hard and fast rule to decide but only guidelines. Here are some:

1) An absolute minimum benchmark would be to get a bandwidth at least 10 times your total storage space.
2) If you can, estimate how many visits your website would get in a month. Multiply them by your homepage loading space and that will be another minimum gauge.
3) Get as much bandwidth as possible if you stream videos from your website. Or if you are a podcaster, even more!

If your website needs to be up for important reasons, you won’t want a bandwidth restriction to block your site out. Do find out about additional policies that help you pay for extra bandwidth in a particularly “difficult” (good in most cases) month.

Just beware of “unlimited” bandwidth plans because it’s usually a ploy to get customers. For me, by listing so puts a dent on their reputation. Read their disclaimers in the terms and conditions for “unlimited” bandwidth so you can understand their offering better.

5. Web Support
What happens if your website is down of that you’ve no idea where your homepage has gone too even though you have saved it many times? Or you just want to exercise your 30-day money back guarantee? (I often think that webhosting companies that does not have a proper web support would be unlikely to adhere their money back guarantee clause.)

This consideration comes into play when you have problems and it’s important especially if you get frustrated easily. Often, you need someone to yell at as soon as possible.

So look for webhosting companies that has AT LEAST a email support. If not, a telephone line which you can call to. There are other good support lines like streaming video tutorials, good FAQs and even webcasting to solve problems. Those are the freebies if you might want to look out for it you need to be guided hand-in-hand.

A good litmus test for this consideration would be to call them up and ask them to troubleshoot a problem. If they are nice, polite and able to solve your question in a split second, I would highly recommend the webhost.

I use BlueHost and they have fantastic support in both telephone and chat.

6. User-friendliness
This consideration is for both experts and beginners alike, but more for the latter. Note that user-friendliness can be subjective so it’s important that you have to visit the website and decide for yourself. Best if there is a free trial.

For beginners, you can look out for webhosting companies that provide good online site builders. Most ought to have intuitive features that allow drag-and-drop, point-and-click functions, allowing you to explore and learn more about website building. Try some free demos offered by companies like ixWebhosting.

For more advanced players, we usually look at databases provided, emails features, scripting and all other hosts of glibberish and what-nots. As this is a walkthrough for noobs, probably I’ll leave this advanced stuff to another article.

If you are a avid blogger on WordPress, you might want to check out BlueHost. They have a service, Fantastico, which allows a less-than-15seconds set up for WordPress.

7. Guarantee
Most webhosting companies have moneyback guarantee so make sure the company you are eyeing does not lack this aspect. Good companies do not need money-back guarantees if their service is good, however it’s a safe exit for any consumer who would like to just ‘try’ the product.

There are varied forms of guarantee too. One of which is an up-time guarantee. This ensures that your website will not suffer excessive downtime. Such a guarantee is always good for commercial websites.

8. Price This consideration is the most looked at but yet the most over-looked with respect to other factors. If you make a scan of the product offerings by most webhosting companies, they are about the same price. The importance, as I would stress again and again, is to know what you are paying for.

You can go as cheap as paying $4 for a simple webhosting but they can just offer several GB of space and a pathetically low amount of bandwidth. Of course don;’t get ripped off by paying over $50 unless it provides things like dedicated servers to your website, extensive support and the likes.

The average cost should be below $10 a month if you are an average joe on website creation. For example, BlueHost offers a mere $6.95/month, throwing in a free domain as long you subscribe to their services.

9. Location

Avoid areas where their data centre lies in a the earthquake zone or are prone to natural disasters. That ought to be obvious. It would be great if the webhost company spreads out their servers over different locations.

The closer the servers are to your country, the better. Not that the services might be bad but rather, ISPs(Internet Service Provider) of the 2 countries might slow down data transfer. This applies to where the majority of your visitors are situated too.

10. Other goodies
In order to stand out from the crowd, these web hosting companies throw in many other services and freebies to attact more customers. Some of them are good-to-have but others can really add-value to what your intentions of hosting a website(s). Here are some of the many things they are offer:

1) Domain registration or Unlimited domains – one domain is a must but more the merrier if you are doing business or have multiple websites.
2) Free advertising credits – this is good for internet marketers who require credits from advertisers like Google or Yahoo!
3) Ecommerce features
4) Security system – this is usually implemented for most webhosting

I hope this article has useful. Now you can start looking for a space to call your own.

*Choose BlueHost as your partner now*