Selecting the Right Web Host: What to Look for During Your Search
Searching for a web host can be a hair pulling experience. This is especially true for someone who is gearing up to run and maintain their very first website. There are so many companies offering the service in so many variations that it becomes easy to find yourself lost with no clue of how to proceed. When factoring in all the glitz, glamour and technical jargon, you might start to rethink just how bad you really need a website.
It can be a frustrating ride, but there is no need to worry. Selecting the right web host is all about determining your needs and knowing what to look for. We will leave the determinations up to you while revealing what you need to keep an eye on during your search.
You will notice that the price for web hosting varies greatly from one host to another. In one corner of the web have the company offering a plan for ten dollars a month, and in the other, you have a competitor charging $20 a month on what appears to be the exact same package. The most important thing to take away here is that neither cheap or expensive always equals the best value for your money. Knowing this, you should look for a web host that has packages within your budget and offers exactly what you need. If the low cost plan is lacking, it may be worth it to pay a little more to get everything your website requires.
Length of Commitment
Web hosting plans are very cheap these days. And even though you can easily find a solution without paying a lot of money, there is sometimes more than meets the eye in regard to price, and it often has to do with commitment. For example, a package could be advertised at the low price of $5.99 per month, but you may be required to commit to a certain amount of time in order to get that low price. Signing up for three years may not seem like a big deal on first glance, but do you really want to lock yourself into a service for such a lengthy period of time? Before agreeing to anything, it is very important to find out what kind of contract you are getting yourself into and how long it is asking you to commit.
Most of the premium web hosting plans you encounter are rich in features. These features range from multiple email accounts and scripting languages to free site builders and entire software programs that can be added onto your account. While many companies are essentially offering the same features, it is important to seek out the exact features you require. For instance, MySQL and MS SQL databases are quite similar in functionality, but some applications specifically call for one or the other in terms of backend support. In a situation such as this, specifics definitely matter.
Bandwidth is perhaps the most critical resource you need to look out for when searching for a web host. This is because it not only has a direct impact on the performance of your site, but its availability as well. All throughout the web, there are sites that cannot be accessed because the owner exceeded their monthly bandwidth limit. You do not want to find yourself in this situation, so bandwidth allotment must be taken into consideration during your search.
So how much bandwidth do you need? It all depends on your requirements. The average website uses no more than one gigabyte per month, but if you anticipate high volumes of traffic or plan to use a good number of media-rich applications, one gig may not be nearly enough. Now several companies on the market offer “unlimited” bandwidth, but keep in mind that such an offering may come with some undesirable tradeoffs, with the main one being the high chance that they are overselling and putting you in situation where there is not enough to accommodate your needs. For this reason, you may want to consider going with a host that offers a guaranteed amount, and allows you to easily upgrade as your needs increase.
Disk space is another important resource that deserves attention when evaluating web hosts. This particular resource is simply the amount of space you are allotted on the hosting company’s server, similar to the space available on the local hard drive of your computer. Most websites only require a minimal amount of disk space, but similar to bandwidth, the actual allotment all depends on your needs. If you have a need to store a number of large files, you will obviously need more than the average user. Again, your best bet may be to look for a host that lets you upgrade based on your needs.
Customer Service and Technical Support
Two factors you cannot afford to overlook during your search for a web host are customer service and technical support. This is crucial because there is always a chance that something could go wrong. Maybe there was a billing issue, or you simply have a question about your bandwidth allotment. Whatever the case, you need the peace of mind of knowing your concerns will be addressed in a timely manner. To assure that this happens, look for a web host that offers customer service and technical support on a 24/7 basis. Phone and email are great, but you may also want to find a company that has community forums, online documentation, and other resources you can use to help yourself.
Money Back Guarantee
When shopping for a web host, you should approach the situation in the same manner as you would when shopping for consumer products. Hopefully this means looking for a money back guarantee. If a company you are evaluating does not offer a money back guarantee of any sorts, cross them off your list and move onto the next. With that out of the way, let’s look at this matter a bit more closely.
In the web hosting marketplace, the money back guarantee can be a tricky to say the least. For example, you might find one company offering a full or partial refund that can be redeemed at any time, and another that only offers a refund within 30 days. Every web host has a different policy, so make sure you understand the terms of the guarantee before signing up. A money back guarantee is in place to alleviate the risks involved, but it will not do you any good if that guarantee turns out to have different terms than you initially believed.
One of the most important aspects to look at in your quest for a web host is reliability. This is something that cannot be stressed enough because even though most firms claim to be reliable, not all are successfully living up to those claims. A reliable company is one equipped with an infrastructure that will ensure you an optimal performance, great security, and the highest level of availability, which means your site is up and running far more often than not.
How do you assess a web host’s reliability? Well, without test driving the service for yourself, there is really no surefire way. You could go by the advertised uptime, but with 99.9% being the industry standard and a type of marketing ploy, even this is not enough to go on these days. This leaves you with limited, but highly recommended options, which are seeking out feedback from consumers who are current or past customers, and looking for a web host that has a track record for delivering a reliable service.
You can spare yourself a lot of heartache by choosing a web host that has a good reputation in the industry. Although some companies have been in the business for years, others are just emerging on the scene, and this is major factor that warrants consideration. Of course every company has to get their start somewhere, but are you willing to take a gamble on one that has little to no track record to speak of? If they do not have a history of providing a quality service, how can expect quality when you sign up? This is definitely something to think about so keep reputation in mind when you go out hunting for a web host.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
There are literally hundreds of web hosts on today’s market and this makes choosing more difficult than it probably should be. While it is a tough decision either way you slice it, your journey does not have to be the frustrating experience you often hear about it. When you fully understand what it takes to achieve the goals you have defined for your online presence and know what to look for in a good service provider, it can actually prove to be a stress-free process. The experience you end up with is all in your hands.