Each host has many great things to offer its clients; however, all hosts are not created equal. The first things you need to ask yourself is, what kind of website do you need hosted? How big will it be? Will there be additional websites? The answers to these questions will help to determine what is important for your website. If you have planned a small personal website or blog, most hosts will meet your needs. If you have planned a business website, you will want to find a host that is very reliable and that will meet all of your needs and expectations.
Here is a list of the basics you will want to know when selecting a website hosts:
What is the monthly cost? Cost is obviously important; however, don’t let it be the sole purpose for selecting a host. The quality of a website host should always be placed over price.
How long is the Contract? When a host advertises its price, there is often a small catch. They require a contract. The length of the contract varies from host to host, usually ranging from one month to 3 years. Make sure that you know the length of the contract before agree to its terms. $5 /month for 3 years can really add up when you were only planning on one month
What is the start up cost? Hidden costs? Most hosts will waive the start up fee if you sign a contract for one year or more. Be very cautious of any hidden costs. Aside from the monthly fee, you should not have to pay anything extra with the exception of additional features like a second domain name. If during the signup process you find that the host is trying to charge you a hidden fee, just stop right there. Look for a new host.
How much storage space does the web host provide? This may not be important to everyone. Sites with large picture, music, downloads, etc… take up space very quickly. If this sounds like your site, make sure that your host provides you with all the space you need. There are many hosting options out there that will give you “unlimited disk space.”
How much bandwidth (data transfer) is allowed each month? Once again, this may not be important to everyone. This is actually very similar to storage space. Many hosts will give you “unlimited transfers.” If your site is large or will have large amounts of visitors, make sure that your host will give you the data transfer you need.
Which OS does the server use? (Linux or Windows?) While windows is a very well known company for building PC operating systems, Linux has been the most trusted and reliable for website hosting. Linux is an open source OS that allows its users to leverage the best and most popular in open-source technologies such as PHP, MySQL, Python, and XML
How easy is the Control Panel to use? If you are new to website hosting, you will want to use a control panel that won’t require you to read 3 inch thick manual to run. One example is Blue Host’s control panel. They use CPanel 11. There are many other versions that are all fairly easy to use. Find out what control panel the host is using search for reviews on that control panel.
How many sub-domains are allowed? This is very important to users who plan on hosting several websites on one website host. There are some that have limits, but most will give you “unlimited domain names.”
How many POP3 email accounts are provided? Website hosts will give you two very important numbers regarding email accounts. The first, number of accounts, you will want equal to or greater than the number of employees you have. The second, amount of storage space for email, will depend on what your plans are.
Is there a guaranteed uptime? Not all hosts have great uptime reputations. The hosts on our list have a 99.9% uptime guarantee. Anything less is unacceptable. If your site is down, no one can visit it. If no one is visiting it, you can’t make money from it. Another down side is that if your host is down, the search engine’s crawlers could miss your site. This could possibly hurt your organic page ranking.
Is support provided 24/7? How is it provided? (i.e.: phone, email, chat)
In the event that something does go wrong, you will need to contact your host. Make sure that you can get a hold of them any time. While email is easy, talking to a real person can get things rolling a little faster.
What extras are provided for free? While extras shouldn’t influence what host you pick, it may be what separates two similar hosts. Many hosts will give you free software, templates, ad credits, and much more. For example, Web Hosting Pad gives you $25 Google Credits, $25 Yahoo Credits, and $50 MIVA Credits to help you drive traffic to your new site.