Website hosting was a gold-rush business during the late 1990s, when everyone wanted a website and everyone with a spare computer in his bedroom could be a website host. Some of those bedroom businesses actually provided better website hosting services than some Fortune 500 telecommunications firms, and the former grew rapidly into today's best Web hosting sites. Here are some tips on choosing a website hosting company that fits your needs...
How to Choose a Web Hosting Company
Today, the website hosting industry is still highly competitive. That's good for buyers seeking the best hosting companies or discount hosting; you can find a Web host that meets your requirements no matter what they are. But it can also be confusing, because it's hard to tell whether, behind the fancy corporate Web front-end, there is a well-run enterprise or a lone wolf.
WebHostMagazine has tracked the Web hosting industry since 1997. It publishes truly independent website hosting reviews with loads of feedback from both satisfied and unsatisfied customers. Webhosting.info is another site focused on research and statistics on the web services industry -- hosting companies, registries, domain registrars. Beware, though, some Web hosting site reviews you find online are not unbiased journalists, but rather affiliates of many hosting companies who earn commissions for every customer referral. The "top 10 hosting companies" site you found is probably showing you the top 10 best-paying of its affiliates, without regard to how well they host websites or service their customers.
There are several levels of service in Web hosting. Shared hosting means your website shares a physical server with many others. Dedicated Web servers are physical servers dedicated to a single website. It's like owning your own single-family home versus an apartment in a large condominium complex.
With a dedicated server, you are in control of everything from the operating system to the color of the server's case. With shared hosting, you have your choice of software and server-side applications selected by the Web hosting service. But with control comes responsibilities, unless you hire a manager.
Managed Hosting and Services
Managed hosting service means the website hosting company manages the dedicated server for you. The range of management services runs from basic uptime assurance to fulfilling orders placed via your online store. The more managed services you want, the more you pay. Most customers go with managed hosting services of some sort these days; it frees their staffs for developing websites instead of just keeping things running. Unless you're rather geeky, it's especially important to have your operating system and security updates managed by the hosting company. Failure to keep these components updated will almost certainly result in your server being hacked and/or compromised.
The features you need in your website largely determine what features you need in a Web hosting company. If your website incorporates SQL database applications, for instance, you need a SQL server hosting company. Do you want to run a blog? You'll need WordPress or something similar. Planning to sell stuff online? Make sure your host offers a shopping cart application. Most hosting companies offer both Microsoft and Linux based hosting services; the latter supports open source Web tools such as Apache, MySQL and PHP. It's your choice.
Some of the largest Web hosting companies include GoDaddy, Bluehost, ThePlanet and Rackspace. But big doesn't necessarily mean better. Too many Web hosts skimp on customer service, and it can be hard to predict what service will be like until you actually experience it. Here is one way to sample a Web host's customer service.
Park your newly-created domain name with a Web host while you develop the website itself. Parking simply provides a physical location for your domain and a small number of email addresses and other rudimentary services. If you have any technical glitches while parked, the response of the customer service and tech support group will tell you whether to upgrade to a more expensive Web hosting service.
One final note -- you may see offers for "free web hosting" when shopping for a web host. My advice is to steer clear of these, because they tend to be very slow, with abysmal service. You'll also be very limited in the types of web services you can offer your visitors. You can get a quality shared hosting service for under $10/month that will meet the needs of most beginners, and move up to a dedicated server when your website becomes more popular.
Do you have something to say about website hosting providers? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 13 Jul 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Website Hosting (Posted: 13 Jul 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved