In setting up your website, choosing the right hosting company is one of the most important keys to your online success. With so many hosting providers to choose from, how do you go about selecting the best company and plan for your website? There are four main questions you should consider before selecting your hosting company.
1) What scripting language are you using?
Most websites these days are dynamic, data driven applications, so answering this question first narrows the list to which companies support the technology your website will be using. If your site will be using scripting languages such as PHP, Perl, or CGI with MySQL databases, then you will need to choose from web hosting plans that support these Unix/Linux platforms. However, if you plan to utilize ASP.NET or Cold Fusion and wish to use Microsoft Access or MS SQL Server databases, you will need a hosting service that supports these Windows technologies.
2) How much diskspace and bandwidth do you need?
Since web hosting is the storage of your website files, you will need to consider how much space you actually need. Most hosting companies offer plans with over 100 gigabytes of diskspace, but is that enough storage space? Usually it is. Most websites, consisting primarily of text and images, use less than 50 megabytes on average. Web hosting providers are fully aware of this fact and offer almost “unlimited” amounts of storage space, knowing you will never use all of it.
Bandwidth is another important consideration in choosing the right plan. Bandwidth is how much data your site can transfer. Many packages offer 500 gigabytes or more of bandwidth, which is usually sufficient. An easy way to calculate your bandwidth needs is to multiply your average page file size by the number of hits you expect per month. So if your average page size is about 100kb, it would take 5 million hits per month to reach the 500 gigabyte limit.
3) How reliable is the web hosting provider?
Two main reliability factors to consider are server uptime and customer service. Uptime is the amount of time, usually in percentage, that the provider’s servers are online. Only choose companies who guarantee 99% server uptime, this is the industry standard. Anything less and your website may not be viewable when a user navigates to it, which will have a negative effect on your search engine page ranking.
The other factor in reliability is customer service. Do they have 24/7 support? Most hosting companies have this level of support now. See if they have live chat and phone support along with quick e-mail response, less than 24 hours. Also make sure their technical support team is made up of technicians, not just sales people.
4) Is the price within your budget?
This is also a very important question to answer. What good is A++ service if the price is too expensive for your budget? With more than 30,000 service providers competing for your business, you should be able to the right hosting plan for around $5-15 per month.
The smartest thing you can do for your website’s success is to start with the right hosting plan. Answering these four main questions first should assist you in narrowing down the list of providers to choose from. Finally, as with every purchase, shop around! Armed with the knowledge of what the exact requirements for your website are, you should be able to select the best plan with the lowest price.