You have probably sweated and toiled creating the best web site you can. Now that it’s ready to launch, you can’t afford to take any chances with the web hosting company. If anything goes wrong and your website is unavailable or loads slowly, or the audio and video files that are part of your site take a long time to access, no one will remember that it’s the web hosting company’s fault. All they will recollect is that they had problems with your site.
It’s a competitive world and if people have difficulty accessing your site, they will keep looking till they find what they want. No one will wait for you or come back to you after the problems have been resolved. That business is lost!
The first thing you need to do is check out the market and get an idea of how much the web hosting will cost you. There are three broad options:
1. Free hosting – the web hosting company will make their money by placing ads on your site. This may put off visitors, so if you can afford to pay, this is best avoided.
2. Shared hosting – If your web site is small you can share a server with others sites. This reduces your costs, but the space available to you on the server is limited.
3. Paid Hosting – The most expensive, but remember you are paying for reliability, service, support and space on the server.
Obviously this option is the best one, but often in the start up stage funds are tight and you may have to go in for either of the first two options. Whatever option you choose, there are some basic factors to be kept in mind when deciding what’s best for you.
How reliable is the company? What kind of reputation do they have? Start reading the online reviews of hosting companies in the category you have selected. Once you have seen what other people have to say, make a short list and start checking up on them.
Call the company’s phone number - it will be given on their website. Call it at odd hours and on weekends to see if they are really available as much as they claim to be.
Shop around for the costs. It’s a competitive market and even the best companies offer discounts and special prices. Just don’t let the cost influence you too much.
What kind of additional services does the hosting company offer? For example – how many email addresses will they give you? Will there be an auto responder and mail forwarding? Can they guarantee additional space on the server later on, if you need it? At what price? Is there a 24/7 support hotline you can access whenever there is a problem?
Keep in mind that the types of service will be limited in the free web hosting option and the best is the paid option. If your budget is tight and you have to go with a free web hosting company, enquire about their policy regarding ads – how many, how often, what type (you don’t want “adult” ads on a site for family products) and so on. Check what kind of support they offer and what the services available are. Go in for the free option only if you are sure that you can live with the ads, limited support and services available.
Remember first impressions are important and if your hosting company lets you down and your site is not accessible, the impression you will be creating will be negative, to say the least.