How do I know a good web hosting service from a bad one? What features should I be looking for when choosing a web host? What is bandwidth or transfer? How much storage space do I really need? What tools should they offer me and which ones do I need?
In this article I will attempt to give you the short version of answers to those questions for you to use as a reference. A lot about choosing a web-hosting provider depends on what your website needs and every website has different needs.
First question was “How do I know a good web hosting service from a bad one?” Before doing business with anyone on the web that is going to be as important to your business as a web hosting company, you should do a search on the name of the company and look for criticisms, complaints, etc. Keep in mind no one has 100% satisfied customers and finding just one complaint on the web doesn’t mean that the company is a bad one. However if you find a lot of complaints, I would move on to the next provider.
Now about the bandwidth and transfer question I mentioned above. Bandwidth and transfer are basically the same thing. Some tech guy might know a difference I’m not aware of, but it won’t be much difference. This is the number of times each file in your website is downloaded for the web host’s server to the visitors computer.
In other words, the size of you webpages in kilobytes plus the size of each graphic or other type of file that is served to the users computer is the amount of transfer you are using. If your website will have a lot of graphics, movies, downloads, etc., make sure you choose a web-hosting plan that offers you a lot of bandwidth. The average website doesn’t need more than 2-5 gigabytes of transfer per month.
How much storage space do I need? The storage space is no different than your computer’s hard drive. If the web host offers 100 megabytes of storage space that is just like having a 100-megabyte hard drive. If your files are not more than 100 megabytes then that is plenty of storage. Most web hosting companies offer plenty of storage space, more than the average website will ever use.
The question, “What features should I look for and which tools do I need?” are ones that I can answer together.
What about the web host’s support policy. Do they offer 24/7 tech support? Do you think you will need 24/7 tech support? This is one area that is important for you to consider. The Internet is 24 hours per day. Your website is online 24 hours per day. So it is possible you might need 24/7 tech support.
How do you contact tech support there? Just email? Is there a phone number? Do they use support tickets? Do they have a chatroom or forum for tech support? How accessible your web hosting tech support is will determine how fast things get fixed when you have a problem. See if you can send in a tech support query before signing up. See how fast you get an email back or if they answer the phone when you call them.
Those three important issues, bandwidth, storage space, and tech support are not the only things you need to consider. Do they offer Cpanel or an easy-to-use control panel for managing your website? Can they show you a sample of the control panel before you sign up? If you choose a web host that does not have an easy-to-use control panel are you tech-savvy enough to get around in the root files?
How many databases can be created on your web hosting plan. How many do they allow? Do they offer instant-install or install-on-demand features like picture galleries, content management systems, forums, blogs, or other website enhancements?
These are all questions you need to ask before you sign up with any web hosting service. If they do not give you all that information on the automatic signup page, email them and ask them questions. Their response may be all you need to know about whether to choose them as your web hosting provider or not.
I hope this article has helped you to learn about some of the things you need to consider when choosing a web hosting service. Cheap is not always good. This is your online business. Treat it well and choose a web hosting serviee that makes things easier for you.