The secret of successful web hosting research is to understand your own ambitions, how realistic they are and where you want to start and end. You can then choose a service that offers you a simple inexpensive starting point, but can also enable you to expand seamlessly as your online business develops.
Price should not be your first consideration since a cheap or very expensive web hosting service is of little use to you if it fails to meet all your needs or excessively exceeds them. Here are some of the options you should be considering when carrying out your web hosting research.
1. Disk Space
Disk space is amount of hard disk storage your host offers you. This in turn will limit the number of files you can store on your web space. If you use a lot of graphics, these files can take up a great deal of storage space. Anything less than unlimited should be examined vary carefully in case they have other important features not offered by the other options. In general, however, most users should select unlimited web space storage.
The term bandwidth refers to the amount of data you are permitted to upload or download in a given time period. The vast majority of hosting services today will offer unlimited bandwidth.
3. Multiple Domains
It is possible to run a number of websites from the one account. Add-on domains enable you to purchase multiple domain names and run these from their own directories as completely unique websites. So you can own, for example, 5 different domain names, and run these as 5 different websites using the one web hosting account. Look for ‘unlimited domains’ – anything less would limit you.
4. Site Building Software
For those that do not, or cannot, use website building software such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage, site building software will be essential. Such systems are HTML editors that generally also offer WYSIWYG functionality, enabling you to build your own site. Most also offer a template-driven system, where you can modify templates to meet your needs. Even those conversant with HTML find such a package useful for modifying and extending existing web pages.
5. Traffic Analysis
A good hosting service should offer traffic analysis that informs you of your traffic stats: how many visitors you have to each page, how long they stay on each page and which are the most popular pages. A useful statistic to have is the most popular entry and exit pages on your site, so you can optimize the former and improve on the latter.
6. Uptime Guarantee
You do not want to spend time waiting for your service to come online before you can access your website. A minimum of 99.7% uptime guarantee is acceptable, but 99.9% would be better. That means that for every 1,000 hours, there would be one hour when your website was offline.
7. Email Services
You will require an email service to go with your website, an also one for each of your extra domains. Your web host might offer you unlimited email addresses, though this is not needed unless you require a reseller service. You will be lucky if you can service 50 email addresses let alone hundreds. What you should look for is spam protection and webmail. The former will help filter out spam according to rules you can set yourself, while webmail enables you to use a service such as Outlook or Eudora to check all your emails from all your sites using the one webmail service.
8. Customer Support
Customer support is essential, and if you can get live support by telephone then all the better. Most offer an email support system while some may also provide a live chat service. The service should be toll free, and preferably open 24/7 so that it can be used from anywhere in the world at any time.
9. Scripts and Software
When carrying out research in to the best service for you, you should make sure that you understand what ancillary scripts and software services are being offered. For example, MySQL is a personal database system that is essential for running many software applications involving the collection of data. PHP and CGI/Perl support is necessary as is Java and Flash.
If you register with a service that operates using the cPanel control panel system, then all that is included. CPanel also offers many other services such as Fantastico De Luxe that enables you to install applications such as WordPress onto your websites with a click of a button so you can run WordPress blogs from each of your domains.
It is not always the most expensive web hosting service that is the best for you. The above information is generally what you need to know when finding how to choose a service for your needs. When carrying out your web host research, make sure that you get what you want and that you are able to expand your websites at a later date.