Finding the right website host
Selecting a host for your website can be a pretty big decision, especially if you’re new to web hosting. Most webhosts are affordable; but there are some that are not. If you’re just starting out, you really don’t need a lot, so going for a cheaper package is perfectly ok. You can always upgrade at a later date.
Web hosts: What should you look for?
What kind of control panel does the website host offer? This is a hard one to gauge. Some website hosts will offer a tour or video demo of their control panel. Check it out and see if it’s user friendly. If you’re new to web hosting, a control panel can be pretty daunting. Lots of new toys to play with.
How do you plan on building your site? Are you building the site on your own or hiring a web designer? Then you need to make sure the site offers FTP access, because this is how you will publish your site. If you’re HTML challenged, then you may want to use a site builder. Site builders are generally used online. Ideally, a website host will have both.
Disk space and bandwidth. Make sure you have enough of both! In the beginning you don’t need tons of the stuff, but you want enough to do what you need to do. You also need to be aware of hosts that offer “unlimited” bandwidth and space. When was the last time you saw an unlimited harddrive at Best Buy? There is no such thing. Keep this in mind when researching website hosts.
Server security and reliability. Expect to have some downtime. Most hosts are up and running 99% of the time, but things happen. A good website host will warn you if your server is going to be down for scheduled maintenance.
Think about what you need for your website. Are you planning to sell? Do you plan to advertise? Most website hosts allow this but you need to double check. Look for statistics packages (you want to track your visitors), email (if they don’t offer email, run!) database
access, and shopping cart software. You may not need it immediately – if ever – but it’s good to know it’s there.
Tech support. Do they have tech support 24/7? Is it email or phone support, or both? I prefer email myself, because then I have a record of the conversation. Some hosts also have live chat.
Research website hosts
You want to make sure your website host has a good reputation, so some research on this is important. Google is your friend. Look for user reviews, complaints, pros and cons of the host. Beware of resellers: a reseller in general does not offer nearly as many features as an actual webhosting company, and it may be difficult, if not downright impossible to get support.
A legit company will have easily accessible contact info – which includes a street address, phone and email addresses. Look for, and read the Terms of Service (TOS), privacy policies, disclaimers, anything legal. It affects you as a customer.