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How to Choose a Website Hosting Company

Nowadays, anybody can afford to order a feature-packed web hosting plan for next to nothing; however, affordable price is not the only criterion which should be considered when purchasing web hosting services.

In this article, I'll explain the basics of what you should look for in choosing a web hosting company, not just concentrating on the best price and features, but also on reliability and honesty. You're investing your money and effort into finding paying customers and you wouldn't like to lose them in order to save a few dollars per month on a web hosting service.

When looking for a web hosting company, it doesn’t matter if this is just for the inception of a web or the move of an established site; you need to consider a large selection of criteria to determine which company to go with.

Customer support - Website hosting service isn’t just storage or bandwidth. Based on personal experience and that of others, even a top-notch service is worthless without customer support. If you own a business website, your hosting provider needs to be there for you 24/7 and give you instant access to the technicians you need to solve your problem; otherwise, you may end up losing customers and money.

Downtime guarantee and service monitoring - Having a personal website go down is a minor inconvenience; having a business website go down is a serious matter. What amount of profit would you lose if your site had been down for a week? Long downtime may be very harmful to today's companies which spend large amounts of money on advertising their websites. Essentially, there are two rules regarding reliability that one should look at:

1. You should check if there is an uptime guarantee offered. A truly service-oriented provider will also give a money-back guarantee, offering a discount or free service as compensation for downtime. Any company which avoids taking responsibility won't put much effort into the service.

2
. I definitely wouldn't go with a company claiming 100% uptime, as there is no such thing as a server with 100% uptime. If anyone ever claims their server has a 100% uptime they are either lying or they don't perform the necessary upgrades that prevent a machine from being compromised. Reputable web hosts will post statistics on their site: What is the frequency of interruption? How about the average percentage of downtime? If these aren’t posted, ask; if the answer isn’t forthcoming, that should be a warning sign. If you still go with a host which doesn't monitor servers, you'll have to do the monitoring yourself. I recommend http://www.siteuptime.com, as it's one of the best monitoring services available for free in the market today.

Backups - There is no host which is safe against different types of technical and programical failures, so make sure that the company runs scheduled backups. The other advice would be always having a backup of your website yourself, as you never know what might happen. cPanel, which is the most popular web hosting management software at this time, has a very comfortable backup-making tool. It allows you to backup files and databases quickly and easily, so backups are no longer a problem.

Acceptable use policy - Web hosts may have 200-300 or more clients per server; there is no exact number, as companies have different hardware and each hosted website has different resource usage. There always is a possibility that a few of those customers host illegal content. There are web hosts who have had their servers unplugged, resulting in their clients’ websites going down. I'm sure you don't want to put your business at risk and have your website hosted on the same server together with illegal pornography and software sites, so check host's acceptable use policy to find out, if the host takes care of what's hosted on their servers.

Hosting your site on an uncared-for server will also result in a low speed. If somebody on the same server sends spam, the server's IP address will be blacklisted and you'll have serious problems as recipients stop receiving your emails. Use the "Spam database lookup" feature on www.DNSstuff.com to check if a web hosting company is blacklisted. Spam is being sent almost everywhere, so having one or two red records isn't that bad; but, if there are more, it may become a problem later on.

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