If you have a website or would like a website you’re going to need a website hosting company. The good news is there are tons out there to choose from. The bad news is you’re going to have to learn a little bit about web hosting to be able to choose the right one for you. That is what we are going to discuss in this article – to help you choose the right web host for your company/personal website.
What is a web hosting company?
A web host provides the service that allows you to store the information that makes up your website. A web host stores your website’s information on a web server. Each time you type a web address into your browser, the browser asks for your website’s information from your provider’s server and then the browser displays it on your screen. Basically, if you don’t have a web host or your own server, you don’t have a website. Some ISP’s (Internet Service Provider) provide web space but this is not the type of web hosting we will be discussing.
Types of hosting plans
The next thing you are going to need to know is that there are different types of hosting available to you. First there is virtual/shared hosting. What that means is the web host company hosts more than one account on a server. Second there is dedicated hosting, which basically means you get your own server. Another type (which is not as common as the first two) is VPS (Virtual Private Server) and what it is, is ‘virtual’ servers on the actual server and the user can add different modules within their server. The user can also allocate how much CPU usage or memory each module gets. Most users will generally only need shared hosting unless you have a large website with over 5,000 visitors per day and large scripts. If that is the case you will need dedicated hosting.
Types of Operating Systems
There are three different types of operating systems for servers. There is Linux, Unix, and of course Windows. Just because your computer is a PC doesn’t mean you have to opt for Windows web hosting. The operating system you use on your desktop has little to do with your choice of web hosts. As long as you understand how to use your FTP or web publishing software, you can use either operating system.
When it comes to Web hosting, Linux has for some time been widely considered the best Operating System for Web servers. It’s typically found to be the most reliable, stable and efficient system. If your website, like most web sites, is what might be termed “brochure-ware” then Linux servers are ideal. A web site housed on a Linux operating system will have very high up-time and very low downtime.
If you intend to create your website using ASP, FrontPage, the .NET environment, Windows Streaming Media, Access, MSSQL, or any of the other Microsoft proprietary technologies then you probably need to use a Windows host. All other languages are able to be hosted on either platform. Basically, unless you are specifically using features that are unique to one platform or another your time will be much better spent looking for a really good quality host than a really good quality server.
If you have your own site, you would probably want to have email addresses at your own domain, like email@example.com. Does the host provide this with the package? Does it allow you to have a catch-all email account that allows firstname.lastname@example.org to wind up being routed to you? Will you have the option to send auto responses for your e-mail accounts? Can you retrieve your mail with your email software? Can it be automatically forwarded to your current email address? Can you check your e-mail on the web? These are questions that you should ask when searching for the right web host.
This is extremely important. A website that is frequently down will lose a lot of visitors. If someone finds your site on the search engine, and clicks on it to find it is unavailable, they will simply shop somewhere else. Slow access is also very frustrating for visitors. How do you know if a web host is reliable or fast? The best way to find information about a web hosting company is to search the net. Once you have decided on a web host to check out, type their name in Google. As you look through the results, you will see that some of the pages that come up are actually reviews of that company. Now look at the review websites to see what everyone else is saying about potential web hosting companies. Remember to take reviews with a grain of salt as reviews can usually be posted by anyone anonymously and you can’t please everyone all the time!
Traffic or Data transfer
Data transfer is the amount of bytes transferred from your website to visitors when they browse your website. Always look for details on how much traffic the package allows. To give you a rough idea of the typical traffic requirements of a website, most new websites are likely using less than 3GB of bandwidth per month. Your traffic requirements will grow over time, as your website becomes larger and more popular. You will need to check to see if you will automatically be charged for going over your bandwidth limit or are you expected to pre-pay for it. Personally, with my web host I have 30 GBs of data transfer and I host 7 domains and one sub-domains. I currently only use 750 MBs /month. My websites have a total of 30,000 visits per month and have about 2 million hits/month.
Unfortunately price is always a factor. You should realize that you often get what you pay for, although it’s not necessarily true that the most expensive hosts are the best. Your best bet would be to go with a web host with a middle price point.
Does the web host company’s technical support function 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year long? Make sure you get a response for the web host company quickly, not just the next day. Another thing to check is that the phone number they provide is actually answered by a real person. Make sure it is not an automated system that eventually ends with an answer machine that asks you to leave your name and number. Besides speed of responses, check to see if they are technically competent. You wouldn’t want to sign up for a host that is run by kids. Would you?