No one wants to pay too much to get their web page posted on the ‘net, but you don’t want to get ripped off, either. If you have decided that the best way for you to manage your hosting setup is to outsource it, it’s important to choose a web hosting service wisely.
Some web hosting companies will make big promises about 99% up time and unlimited hits for only a few dollars per month. Beware: you may find when you read the fine print that they will only host a small (less than 50MB disk space) web page. You may also find that, during peak hours, your page is not easily accessible.
They may lock you into a long contract that includes hidden service and maintenance fees. They may go down unexpectedly for several days at a time, not returning your emails or calls during the downtime. They may not take proper security precautions, allowing your site to be hacked. –Or worse!
If you are going to start a home based business on the Internet, you will want to avoid these pitfalls. Therefore, here are some guidelines to finding inexpensive reliable web hosting.
When you are starting out, you may have a modest web site and not need much space. That does not matter! Go with a provider who can give you several hundred MBs of disk space and at least five GBs of bandwidth. You may not think you need much now, but, as your business grows, so will your website. –And you will need that extra bandwidth as more and more customers discover your site.
Check a trustworthy third party for web hosting reviews. Before signing a contract and spending your money, you can get an indication of whether you have chosen the right company. Be careful of glossy, sales-oriented web sites that offer “top ten” web hosting services based exclusively on user reviews. Sometimes these “user” reviews were written by an ad agency paid by the host company to make itself look good.
If you are offering several lines, or even running more than one business, you’ll want a web host that will let you have multiple domain names under a single contract. You should even be able to add on new domains later as your business grows, with no additional charge.
See if you can find a company that includes daily backups as part of their service. Not all do, and some do for a small extra fee. Even if you have to pay a little extra, it may be worth it. If the server crashes, the hosting company can restart your web page from its own backup, saving you the time and trouble of setting it back up yourself.
You should also make sure your company offers you certain basic services, such as FTP access, email forwarding, auto responder service, media streaming, site statistics, and so forth.
Examine the control panel your web host provides for you to control and update your web site, gather statistics, manage add-ons, etc. Is it intuitive? Convenient? Easy to use? Are all the controls you think you will use most frequently prominently displayed? Shop around and compare! You should be able to view screenshots or even tutorials for the control panel before you sign up for service.
If you have looked at a potential web hosting service carefully, you should be able to find one you’re happy with. Just to make sure, though, it never hurts to hunt for a money-back guarantee! Many web hosts offer 30-, 60-, or even 90-day money-back guarantees. This allows you to try out the service and, if it does not live up to your expectations, you can cancel your contract and get your money back.
Do not be penny wise and pound-foolish: when choosing a web hosting service, make sure it is reliable. Fortunately, a growing number of providers realize that the best way to make money in the end is to offer great service at a reasonable price.
There are still plenty of less-than-optimal providers out there, though. You still have to study potential web host providers carefully to make sure they suit your needs. The good news is, you will definitely find one.