Choosing a good web hosting company can be a challenge, especially if you don’t know what you should be looking for. In this article I will give you an overview of what you need to consider when selecting a host for your site.
Free or Paid?
First, you need to decide if you want to go with a free or paid hosting company. Free hosts can be ok for individuals who just want to create a website as a hobby. Those who want to make money with their site however should always choose a reliable paid hosting company. Why? First of all, a business site hosted at a free service, without its own domain name does not look professional. Also, most free hosts will put advertising on your page, which will distract from your own products or services. Besides, with hosting so cheap these days, there really is little reason to use a free host.
The best free hosts are usually blogging services like Blogger.com or WordPress.com. They are very easy to use and do not put ads on your pages.
Uptime is a term you will see a lot when looking at different web hosts. It simply means the percentage of the time that your site will be available. Obviously this is very important. You need to choose a host that offers at least 99.5% uptime. Most hosts offer a guaranteed uptime.
The traffic or bandwidth refers to the amount of data you are allowed to transfer from your site to visitors. Most new and smaller sites will not consume a lot of bandwidth, unless they suddenly become hugely popular or contain lots of self-hosted videos. You will have to start worrying about your bandwidth once your site becomes very popular. Many hosts will offer “unlimited” bandwidth, which usually means that you will not have to worry about running out, unless you use a huge amount of it. In general, a new site will not have to worry too much about this and most basic hosting packages will offer enough bandwidth for your needs.
Most new sites, that do not host their won videos or music files don’t need more than 20MB of web space. This is not a lot and again, most basic hosting packages will offer more than enough space for your needs. As your site grows, you can think about upgrading your disk space.
This is very important. If you ever run into problems when using your hosting account or just need information when setting up your site, you should always be able to get the support you need. It may be a good idea to look online and see what others have to say about the customer service of the host you are interested in. A good technical support service will be available for you 24/7
In order to upload HTML or other files to your host, you will need FTP access. Almost all hosts will offer this, but you should make sure anyway. Most hosts also offer you the ability to create extra FTP users. This can be good if you want others to access certain parts of your site.
If you want to use WordPress or other scripts, your hosts needs to support MySQL databases. You won’t need this if you want to create a static HTML site though.
How many e-mail accounts do you get? How will you access your mail? Does your host support POP access? POP is basically the ability to download your messages to your computer using a client like Outlook or Windows Live Mail. Do you get autoresponders (the ability to send automatic replies to when someone e-mails you)?
The way you control your hosting account will vary from host to host. You will find though, that most use a variation of CPanel, the most popular hosting control panel around. CPanel has many cool features, including the ability to install scripts like WordPress with one click and more.
If you want to host several different sites on a single account you need the ability to add several domains to it. Try to find out how many add-on domains you get. If you just want to create a single site, this won’t matter.
You will find that most hosting services are very affordable nowadays. You can find packages from as little as $1 a month. You will not get many features with these packages, but for simple, small sites they can often be enough.
I use and recommend these hosting companies: