If this were going to be a Top 10 list, most of the items would be fighting for the #1 position. Everything is important, and few details are unimportant, when it comes to finding the best Web hosting plan for your situation. Whether you are a sole proprietor, have a small firm or work in a Fortune 5 multinational, you need to consider the same basic things, only differing in a few specifics for the most part. The challenge is getting good information about the various Web hosting firms, since you certainly don’t want to trust their sales messages or Web site come-ons.

The key, then, is to do some objective research. If time is of the essence, however, you can augment (or even replace) your own efforts by availing yourself of some independent reviewers and rating sites. They go by various names, and offer different kinds of information, from a simple four-star rating system to a thorough discussion of all facets of a Web hosting plan. If you are finding good reviews of a particular host on several different rating and review sites, you are probably going to put that one on your short list. If you want to know the plain truth about Web hosting, of course, you need to know a bit about what is being rated. If you are in the dark on this topic, this introductory article will help.

First things first

The most important thing, just a bit more deserving of a #1 spot than other considerations, is reliability. This is measured in what is called uptime. A reliable, fast and stable hosting solution will guarantee at least 99% uptime, while adding a decimal point a few more 9s after it is becoming common for hosts. If the host is really serious about this uptime claim, you will see a guarantee for it.

Disk storage and data transfer (your traffic load in and out) are two other top considerations. Although many plans say they are unlimited, you have to read all the fine print to ensure this is true. If you will not be storing large video or audio files, and/or running a huge database with multiple sales checkout options, you are not likely to need completely unlimited storage. You may be able to get an even lower cost plan if you calculate your storage requirements and are certain you can keep below the limit you are paying for. The same holds true for your traffic (data transfer). If you don’t foresee needing an unlimited amount, find out just how much you do need before you shop around for a host.

Technical matters, service and support

Things like FTP, PHP, CGI-BIN access, SSL, etc., were once luxuries but are now necessities. If you need your host’s permission to install PHP or CGI scripts, that can slow you down. You will need these capabilities if you want to create your own special error pages, maintain online databases, add extra security measures and so on. You not only need to confirm the use of these tools, you need to know (right away) about any usage restrictions. The server type is another technical decision, since your desire to use, say, ASP will require a Windows server. Unix- and Linux-based hosts using the Apache Web server software give you much of the same flexibility without your needing to get approval to install anything. Make sure you understand why you would pick one server type over another, and if you don’t get it, get help and learn.

Unless your hardware and software is kind enough only to crash during normal business hours (not yours, the hosting company’s), you should opt for a host that has full-time, around-the-clock tech support with real people on the lines. Some claims of 24/6/365 support are based on the host having a FAQ page and an e-mail contact. You will also want to ensure that you can manage your site on your own, too, so some sort of browser-based control panel (like the popular cPanel) should be offered. This will allow you to manage e-mail and e-mail accounts, block spam, use various tools and maintain a level of control over your site.

Bottom line

It is not just a matter of assembling information. It is a matter of using your best judgment to get an objective, accurate review of potential hosts for your all-important Web site. That is the reason for the brief overview here, so that you know what things an independent reviewer should be telling you. When you start shopping around for a Web host, you also need to shop a bit for the best, most independent reviews, too. And that’s the plain truth!

Web Hosting at ReviewItOnline.net is a large team of experienced webmasters, web users, site owners and company leaders here to help you – webmasters of the future with all of your website hosting needs. Together we have years of online experience in creating successful websites and online products.

Related Articles