Small Business Websites

How to Choose a Web Hosting Service Part 1

Written by Charles Mburugu for Gaebler Ventures

Care, curiosity and caution are advised when choosing a web hosting service. Don't be quick to jump at any web host available. Shop around for one that offers most of the qualities you are looking for, and at a price you can afford. What guidelines can you use when selecting a host for your website?

When choosing a web host for your website, it is vital that you choose one that fits with what you expect to achieve. The following are guidelines you can use when searching for a suitable web host.

Look around

Browse the internet. Ask around. Get an idea of what's available, what's out there, and what are the general parameters and specifications. There are many hosting directories on the internet which can save you a lot of frustration and time. These directories list hundreds of web hosts, as well as their descriptions. You will also find reviews and articles which will help in searching for the specific host that meets your criteria.

Determine your needs

Everyone has varied needs. Decide what your needs are before contacting any web host. Are you searching for a business host or just a place to host your personal homepage? Can you use a free service or will you require a dedicated server? How much traffic do you anticipate and how much storage space will you require? When you start looking around, you will know which options are available and which you will need. There are many forums around that you can visit and question potential web hosts about your requirements.

Make a short list

Using search engines, web hosting directories and referrals, make the shortest list possible of potential web hosts that you are considering. More hosts can be added to this list later, but at least you will have something to work with.

Look for integrity

Now that you have a short list of webhosts, visit their sites again and look closely. How easy is it to access information and find your way around? Is the interface poorly designed or clumsy? While visiting these websites, read the fine print carefully to see what they say about issues of refunds and reliability. A web host is useless if it is not up 99% of the time serving your pages to your site's visitors. The web host should offer some kind of refund if it does not attain the stated uptime. Find out what you need to do to get the refund. Find out if there are any kind of trial periods offered and what would happen if you were not satisfied.

Check the general specifications

Find out what packages are offered and what it will cost you for the specs you require. Think about not only what you need now, but what you could need later as your website and business grows. For instance, you may not have need of e-commerce now, but you may tomorrow. Find out the 'scalability' of their services. How easy will it be to upgrade your package as your requirements and needs change? How much disk space do you require? Many average websites use no more than 5MB of web space, so you may not need a package offering 200MB or 500MB. Other more technical features to consider include CGI-BIN access, FTP, SSI, telnet, .hta access, PHP and crontabs.

Charles Mburugu writes for us from his home in Nairobi. He has a graduate degree in Business Management from Kenya Institute of Management. He is interested in writing about branding, CSR and intellectual property.

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