Website Hosting Providers – What to Look For

Uncategorized 17.7.2012 Comments Off on Website Hosting Providers – What to Look For

This article is aimed at helping you select a website hosting provider by considering the areas where providers differ. Research at the outset will ensure that you get the service you need and help you avoid problems later.

Minimum upfront payment period

Most ads you see for hosting quote a monthly fee but in many cases you actually have to pay six months or a year in advance. Others offer various options, obviously being cheaper the more you pay in advance. If you do not want to (or cannot afford to) pay in advance you need a website hosting provider who allows monthly payments.

How long are you locked in for?

If you do pay in advance you need to check the cancellation terms to see if you get a refund if you need to cancel for any reason. Look for a provider who allows you to cancel at any time and will refund unused credit.

If you pay monthly it is reasonable to expect to be able to terminate at a months notice.

Can you change your mind?

A money back guarantee features in the packages of some website hosting providers who will give a full refund on request within a specified number of days of signing up. Whilst this should not be a major factor in choosing a provider it does at least show their confidence in their service and you might find out how good their support is during this period.

Number of domains you can host

Many of the basic website hosting plans only allow one domain. This may be fine but it is worth looking at the costs for multiple (or unlimited) domains, as once you get started you may well discover a need for another domain.

Does the contract include a domain name?

Some website hosting providers include a free domain. Check if it is always free or just for an introductory period. Before using such a free domain consider if it is the best option for you (it will not be a .com).

What is the limit on bandwidth?

Whilst limits are generally high it is safest to have unlimited bandwidth so that you know that there will not be any issues if your site is successful and attracts a lot of visitors.

How much disk space are you allowed?

Much the same applies as for bandwidth (above).

How good is the provider’s infrastructure?

Loading time is important both to provide a good experience to users of your site and because Google are now taking this into account in the search results. Speed is unlikely to be an issue with any of the top website hosting providers but in any case it is worth looking at feedback from existing users. After your site is live there are services which will monitor its performance. You should also look for an uptime guarantee from your website hosting provider of about 99.9%.

What type of hosting do you need?

Many website hosting providers offer both Linux and Microsoft hosting. I recommend that you go for Linux unless you have a particular reason to use Microsoft (it doesnt matter what operating system you have on your PC). Linux powers the majority of websites, including major sites like Google, and there is a wealth of free software, tools, forums etc. dedicated to it. Many people now use WordPress to build their websites or blogs and about 95% of these installations are on Linux as it is easy and straightforward. I would only recommend using Microsoft where you have had a website built for you and the developers have used tools that require it to run in a Microsoft environment.

Does the Control Panel have all the functionality you need?

You should expect to see:

* unlimited (or a large number) of email accounts and the tools to manage them.

* ability to setup multiple FTP accounts

* access to and control of databases

* tools to backup the site (and databases)

* it is also good to see support for Fantastico – which makes it very easy to install WordPress.

How good is the support?

Although I have put this at the end it is very important. The best service in the world is no good if you cannot get help from your website hosting provider. Look for the support options to include a toll free phone number. It is also worth searching the web to see feedback from real users.

Andy Nataghi is an enthusiast and writer about all things technical and has a particular interest in Website Hosting Providers. To see more detail on the above criteria for assessing hosting providers please visit http://website-hosting-plans.com

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