Choosing a Web Host

Whether you like it or not, if you are going to have a presence on the web you will need web hosting.

There are literally thousands of web hosts out there and picking the one that is best for you is a crapshoot at best.

There are many options regarding web servers such as Virtual Private Servers, Dedicated Servers, and Reseller Accounts but for this article, I will focus on individual plans for single websites.

So, let’s try to trudge through the quagmire that is web hosting.

The Basics

A web host service provides space on a server to store your files, HTML, CSS, graphics and multimedia files. A web host links the server to the internet with high-speed connections that are extremely reliable and available to the world 24/7.

When a user types in your domain name www.yourcompany.com, the files (HTML, graphics etc.) are downloaded or streamed to the user’s browser (IE, Firefox etc.) for viewing.

The transfer of this data is known as bandwidth and the storage of the files consume disk space, both are discussed further below.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is simply the amount of data transferred to and from your web server in any given time period. The period differs from host to host but it’s usually measured monthly.

It is always wise to plan ahead and buy more bandwidth than you think you will need. If you are thinking of providing video or music files, the need for bandwidth increases exponentially.

Beware of hosts offering unlimited bandwidth, because there is always a catch so read the user agreement carefully.

Disk Space/Storage

Disk space is the amount of space you have to store your files (HTML, CSS and Multimedia files). These files take up space on the hard drive that is connected to the internet. It is much like the hard drive on your personal computer, when you add music files or graphics, space on the hard drive decreases.

Again, it is always best to get more space that you think you will need.

Support

Customer support is the number one factor that goes into choosing a web host. Poor support will cost you time, money, and a ton of headaches.

Some things to look for are 24/7 availability and multiple ways to contact the host i.e. phone, email and live chat.

Be sure to do your research and ask others about the reliability and response time before you commit to a web host.

Read reviews/Customer Feedback

I don’t know how to stress this enough, do your due diligence before you commit to a host. The time and effort you put into this alone will save you money, time and heartache that could have been avoided.

As with any service, there is good and bad in all hosting companies so the trick is factoring in what is most important to you and taking the lesser of two evils.