Choosing a Website Hosting Company

There are a number of important factors to consider when deciding on a web hosting company.

1 – Price – Web hosting services come in all different prices, including free. While free hosting may sound tempting, it’s not a good idea for any business that takes its website seriously. Using a free hosting service will typically result in slow loading pages, limited disk space and bandwidth, very slow support (if any) when you need help, and sometimes outside advertisements on your site.

On the contrary, many hosting services are overpriced when compared to the competition. The best approach is to compare several hosting services to find the one that provides the best service with the most features at the lowest price.

2 – Contracts/Commitments – Most hosting services will require you to commit to using their service for a specified length of time, usually one year. Agreeing to a contract can sometimes reduce the monthly fee, but it also prohibits you from leaving if you are not satisfied with the service.

If you are not committed for a certain amount of time you are likely to receive a better product with better service in order to keep you as a customer. If you are going to choose a hosting provider that requires you to agree to a contract, be sure to find out what fees are involved if you decide to end the contract early and go to another service.

3 – Support – Inevitably at some point you will need support from your hosting provider. You may need help setting it up or dealing with an issue down the road. If service hours are limited or if service is only available via email, it may be difficult to get the help you need.

If you do use email support, how long will it take to get a response? It is a good idea to call before signing up for the service. This lets you see how difficult or easy it is to talk to a real person that can help you solve your problems.


4 – Disk space and bandwidth – Each hosting company will limit you to a specified amount of disk space and bandwidth. Disk space will determine the maximum size of your website. Always allow enough space for future additions to your site. Remember that audio and video files take up much more space than plain html files.

Bandwidth will determine how much traffic your site will be able to handle. Again, remember that visitors downloading audio and video will use up a lot of bandwidth. There is a very broad range of disk space and bandwidth provided by different web hosts, and most companies will offer multiple packages to choose from.

5 – Downtime – Every web hosting service will at some time experience difficulties. Even just updating their servers can occasionally cause your website to be momentarily inaccessible. The amount of downtime should be a significant factor in your decision. Your website does no good when it is not functioning, and it can even leave a customer with a bad impression of your business.

Always look for a hosting company that provides statistics on their downtime. The most trustworthy statistics will be provided by an independent 3rd party. An example of this type of report is the one provided by NewWebsite.com.

6 – Email address – Your web hosting service provider will give you email addresses at your domain name. The number of email addresses will vary greatly from one host to the next. Determine how many email addresses you will need and be sure that you choose a hosting plan that will provide enough to meet your needs.

7 – Statistics – Tracking the visitors to your website is a significant contributor to having a successful website. Almost every hosting company will provide you with a statistics program. If not, there are several free programs (including AwStats) that you can use.

A statistics program should at a minimum provide you with: the number of unique visitors, the number of visitors for each page, the length of time that visitors were on your website, which site sent the most visitors to your site (search engines and inbound links), what search terms people used to find your site, and what pages visitors exited your site from. You should also be able to organize the data by day, week, month, or year. Without this information it is impossible to know much of anything about your visitors.

8 – Extras – Along with the basics of the web hosting service, you will also get other extras that will add value to the service. Because each hosting company will have its own set of features, it is a good idea to compare and make sure that you are getting the features that are most important for you.

Some common extras include: contact form creators (allows your visitors to contact you by filling out a form on your website), polls and surveys, email forwarders, auto responders, mailing list managers, forums and blogs. Some of these features will be more important to you than others. If any of them are critical to what you are trying to accomplish, you should be certain that any hosting service you are considering will provide these features.

9 – Multiple Domains – some hosting services allow you to host multiple websites (domains) on one account at one price. Without multiple domain hosting, adding new websites can be very costly. Having more than one website may help you to reach more people and to funnel traffic to your main site. Creating additional websites can help to promote specific products or services.

10 – Upgrade/Downgrade Options – If your hosting provider offers several different packages, you should ideally be able to upgrade or downgrade at any time. If you are under a contract this may not be possible.

11 – What do their clients say about their service? – Be sure to read testimonials provided by the web hosting company and consult any friends or colleagues that use the service.

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44 Responses

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  • haneef, July 18, 2007

    sir.great suggestions.i am haneef from india.i am into web .can u advise me the best cheap domain reseller account rebrandable as well as best cheap reseller hosting accounts rebrandable with control panelavailablepresently.any advise will be thankfully appreciated

  • Vandelay Design, July 21, 2007

    I don’t really know much about the subject of reseller hosting. I know newwebsite.com and hostgator.com both have good prices on their reseller services, but I’m not sure about the other features you are looking for. I would start with them.

  • Mason from SmallFuel Marketing, September 6, 2007

    After monitoring several sites for a 3 month period, I decided on MediaTemple. Despite some of their earlier GridServer issues, they have been nearly perfect quite a while now. And they have quite an excellent community and interface.

    – Mason

  • Vandelay Design, September 6, 2007

    Mason,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  • Gazduire Web, September 16, 2007

    Nice criteria! Also keep your eyes wide open when you hear about “unlimited” bandwidth…

  • Vandelay Design, September 17, 2007

    Gazduire,
    Thanks for reading and for your comment! Yes, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

  • hosting.geanie, October 4, 2007

    From an SEO standpoint it is good to choose the location of your server to match the location of your audiences, that will help you for better ranking on local search engines

  • Web Hosting Buzz, October 29, 2007

    Those are really good tips!

    If all points are equal when you’re selecting your web host, number 11 – what their clients say about them, would likely be the best indication of service level.

  • Chuck, November 21, 2007

    Excellent article. I recently went through this process, although I first had to decide whether or not I wanted to host the site myself. It seems like a great deal of work up front, which is what deterred me from attempting it at this time.

    I wrote an article after my experiences that provides some advice as well for those interested in reading more. It can be found at http://www.chuckmckenzie.net/2007/10/how-to-choose-a-domain-name-and-hosting-solution. Cheers!

  • Zero, November 24, 2007

    This is a great article I love the information. many people need this kind of guidance and this is a great resource.

  • Selbourne Designing, November 30, 2007

    I guess the speed also plays an important part of choosing a hosting provider. There are some hosting providers which offer a reasonable rate, but oversell. So on a single server there would be many sites hosted.

  • Yasmin, December 9, 2007

    Great post…currently I’m updating my website and checking out new hosting companies. Are there any companies you recommend? Who is your host company…I would like to check them out.

    yasmin
    http://www.apooo.org

  • First of all, I’d just like to say that choosing a hosting company is one of the most important decisions you will be facing as a webmaster. As such, there is little room for compromise.

    I have written an article recently, “123 Aspects You Need To Be Aware Of Prior To Choosing A Web Hosting Company”, which I hope you will find useful in making your decision.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.theratingblog.com/123-aspects-you-need-to-be-aware-of-prior-to-choosing-a-web-hosting-company

    After going through my article, you will have learned everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision, a decision which you will not regret later on.

    Hope you’ll enjoy the article,

    Alan Johnson

  • Rizwan, January 2, 2008

    i like the article and work for a web hosting company myself. i have been supporting reseller hosting products. In India the market is huge for reseller hosting but has not been tapped well (with ref. to haneef’s post)

    Your post is good and I must say that you have covered all of the points necessay while choosing a web host.

  • Rizwan, January 2, 2008

    i like the article and work for a web hosting company myself. i have been supporting reseller hosting products. In India the market is huge for reseller hosting but has not been tapped well (with ref. to haneef’s post)

    Your post is good and I must say that you have covered all of the points necessay while choosing a web host.

    This is the first time I have come to your site…..:) keep up the good work.

  • dotservant.com website hosting, January 10, 2008

    Every webmaster tends to have their unique requirements, it is good to list down all your own questions and send them to the shortlisted web host, then check through their responses, this can help filtering out those that seems good but does not really fit.

    It is a good practice to go through the TOS of the shortlisted web host to have a thorough understanding of the usage limits.

  • Best Web Hosting Reviews, January 10, 2008

    very well written. there are several things to consider when picking a good host. i’m sure your visitors will find this info helpful

  • vivekdewan, January 16, 2008

    zymic hosting is free and the best

  • hariprasad, February 6, 2008

    i want to build my webspace with fully latest design

  • Amanda J, February 18, 2008

    Very nice article on choosing a host. I personally use http://www.sharkspace.com and highly recommend them.

  • Tapan B, February 20, 2008

    Hi,

    As far as I have experience I would like to suggest that you buy web hosting from your local hosting provider instead of far away companies to which you have to pay in advance, you cannot bargain, you cannot do anything. But with local provider, you can call them, you can visit their office, and you will get better services from them as they are all local to you.

    So its better to choose a local provider becuase in the longer run it will be low cost yet high quality.

    Thank you.

  • Restaurant Pos, February 21, 2008

    Very nice article, I would however like to add our experiences to your site. We are a hospitality software development company and have around 20 websites hosted with various hosting companies around the world, we have tried many different packages and found one company in particular who give very good value for money and have live support available at no extra cost, the company are total choice hosting, they are Linux based and good for beginners and experts alike, its worth checking out there pricing structure, unfortunately many of our sites are in .net and need windows hosting which as of yet is one thing they currently do not offer. For new users looking to purchase a hosting package, use a host who has either telephone contact details or live support or both. When an issue does arise, you will find yourself at the mercy of email, waiting for a reply not knowing when any issues will be resolved. We would never use any hosting these days that does not offer live support and a contact phone number.

    Regards David, (RPS) Hospitality software Developer

  • Honest Web Host, March 12, 2008

    The web hosting industry is an $18-billion industry. The growth is phenomenal. The competition is becoming stiffer. But that will end when Google will enter the arena. Watch out.

  • Zelot, March 25, 2008

    Thank your. very useful post. You can also try http://www.000webhost.com. it is free and gas a lot of features

  • Web Hosting Review, March 28, 2008

    I do think 247 Customer support is most important, Live chat is a must, too.

  • Epos, March 28, 2008

    A contact telephone number is an absolute must that any good hosting company worth it’s salt should offer. Some of the larger hosting companies are now offering live support 7 days a week, twenty fours hours a day. And for clients who operate global websites that are permanently active require 24h service and support. Hosting without good support is like a car without fuel, as good as useless for the purpose it was purchased for.

  • Host Color, April 8, 2008

    I would say taht bandwidth and disc space are not a part of the “important list” anymore. With a bunch of overselling web hosts out there they are just “plenty of”. I think that popular web site businesses don;t have an issues with space and bandwidth at all.

    At the same time they still need a good service, responsive support and to be served by web hosts that implement new technologies into service. There are many quality web hosts out there and many other that just claim to be good. How to find which ne is authentic?

    Just see point 11 above: “What do their clients say about their service?”

    Best Regards
    A.

  • Biodun, May 21, 2008

    Nice article thanks for the tips. also its good to also know if the hosting company include a FREE SITE BUILDER with which you create your very first websites quickly in minutes.

  • Rebate hosting, June 9, 2008

    I do think the most important thing is the support and multiple domain supported. Lately all the hosting offers ,offering us VERY VERY BIG space and bandwidth that I think most of use don’t use.

  • Toto web Hosting, July 11, 2008

    I think the price,the up time and the customer support service are the top features you should look more.
    I post a site that offer some great packages.
    http://www.totoidc.com/en/

  • Фанат, July 16, 2008

    По моему неплохо!

  • Reliability Reliability Reliability Reliability are the most important for web host. I have play arround for many companies just for this point. Finally I land my site with my domain registration company. They offer cheap domain name registration hosting service and very stable. Price is not cheap but reasonable.

  • Hostermonster.com, July 25, 2008

    Thank you for these information ! I think the most important thing when you choosing a hosting company is the speed, it’s very boring waiting for web page loadings…

  • Whonami domains, July 26, 2008

    hi,
    I think that reliability and speed are both important for web host.
    Good speed but get down very often is also very bad for visitor experience. And the same for reliability case.

  • Write Articles Make Money, August 12, 2009

    I can tell you right now to stay far far away from Xygenhosting. Those guys are bad news. I really like HostGator

  • Web Development India, August 27, 2009

    Hi, this nice sharing, i am very happy to know the web hosting and designing services.

  • Company Registration India, January 17, 2010

    Thanks for valuable information on how to choose Web hosting company.

  • colo, March 6, 2010

    Lots of good companies out there.. Do your research.

  • Resimleri, June 15, 2010

    telephone number is an absolute must that any good hosting company worth it’s salt should offer. Some of the larger hosting companies are now offering live support 7 days a week, twenty fours hours a day. And for clients who operate global websites that are permanently active require 24h service and support. Hosting without good support is like a car without fuel, as good as useless for the purpose

  • Afam, October 5, 2010

    Thanks for the writeup. I’d go for a hostgator any time anyday cos they have all what you mentioned.

  • Rewards Generator, December 2, 2010

    Hostgator may seem the best option but in fact there are many other good reliable hosts (though I use hostgator as it’s difficult to move everything over).

    Justhost and FatCow Hosting are 2 GREAT companies and you can even find some great coupon codes by searching google.

    Hostgator Coupon: “ilovehostgatorhosting” without quotes gets you the first month for $0.01!

  • Rokabear vps hosting, April 15, 2011

    Cannot agree enough on the commitments. Unless you are ordering customer gear, they shouldn’t need to lock you in. A hosting companies performance should keep you, not a contract.

  • John Foerster, December 5, 2012

    I was about to say that this post seems a bit limited. But then i noticed it’s from 2007, and that’s a while ago. While all the recommendations here are solid, we might add a few thoughts:

    GO WITH ONE OF THE LARGER, WELL KNOWN HOSTS. Yes, you’ll find negative reviews about them here and there, but that’s because they’re large and serve a lot of people. If you’re actually doing research on this, you’ll see the same names come up over and over – GoDaddy, Bluehost, Hostgator, SiteGround, InMotion, iPage, Fatcow, 1and1, Dreamhost, etc.

    CHECK SUPPORT CHANNELS. Do they offer phone support? Do they offer 24/7 support? In this day and age, there’s no reason you should go with a host that doesn’t offer both. You might even try calling their number and see how the quality of pre-sales support is.

    CHECK SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS. If you look at Twitter, FB, and G+ account, you can see how many followers and fans each company has, and you can also see the tenor of customer feedback directly. Is it mostly negative, or exuberantly positive?

    CHECK BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU RATINGS AND FEEDBACK. At least for US companies, the BBB will show how many complaints a company has and how the company has responded.

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