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How To Choose a Web Hosting Company

INTEGRITY & CUSTOMER SERVICE
One of today's biggest problems in choosing a web hosting provider is that there are so many to choose from, and they all basically offer the same thing.

The problem that becomes inherent is that people try to differentiate hosts, but sometimes choose the wrong factors. Some things people begin to focus on:

  • Pricing
  • Speed and Reliability
  • 24x7 Support claims and
  • Abundance of Features Offered

For instance, many people simply go with the cheapest player in town. Occasionally, those people may luck up and find a good deal --where they experience little downtime and decent support. This is not the norm, though. Anyone that spends enough time researching (or maybe learning first-hand) will find that these low-cost leaders have severe issues with service and support. Some web hosting directories that allow customer ratings will show this quickly.

I remember perusing one site and finding a company that offered $2/month unlimited bandwidth/unlimited email hosting. Upon further inspection, that company had been rated nearly 79 times by their customers --ALL of which complained and gave that company an average rating of 1.3 out of 10.

You also need to take into consideration any setup fees and minimum contract requirements when ordering. Most of the successful web hosting companies now-a-days are using tactics to make their monthly cost seem lower. This includes boasting of $6.95/month plans that -upon further investigation- require a 2-year committment. Alternatively, those same companies typically offer shorter term committment in lieu of higher monthly costs and setup fees.

Speed is an important factor, but does not tell the whole story. Speed is not completely objective because current speed does not show trends. There are stories in the forums of web hosts that "had great speed at first," but then become bottlenecked in the end. This is typically due to the fact that they add more and more users, but do not have the ability to expand their infrastructure to support them all. In some cases, web hosting companies will tout high bandwidth limits to get customers attention, but in reality, if these customers ever come close to these limits; they will be terminated (for whatever reason is convenient at the time).

This is because many companies OVERSELL their bandwidth -playing on the fact that MOST websites won't use 1/20th of the bandwidth claimed to be available. Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way to defend against this happening. The best advice is to read customer reviews -preferably of long-time customers- and determine if they are happy or if they mention specific issues of which to be aware.

Reliability is a very important factor, as it will give you an idea of what to expect. If a company had a single outage over the course of a year that lasted for an hour; that's not bad. It means that they probably had a severe hardware failure where even the built-in redundancy couldn't recover the device. This happened to us once, and things like that are bound to occur. However, if you find that the company has had 32 outages in a year (no matter how long they lasted), it would be advisable to steer clear of them -unless your website's availability isn't critical.

Also beware of 24x7 support claims. Many companies tout this feature, but few deliver. Most of the time, experience will show (read the reviews on web hosting directory sites -like www.findhosts.net) that people often find that they take forever to respond to email requests and never answer the phone. In some cases, it takes days (in worst cases -NEVER) to get a response or solution. If you decide to go with a company that only has email-based support, you should always test them before signing up.

Send an email or fill out their support form and see if they answer. At what hours do they answer? How long did it take to get a response? One cannot always expect to immediately get through every time, but if the support is busy; do they allow you to leave a message ...and do they get back to you quickly? If they respond to your messages in a timely manner, then it is probably a good host to go with -assuming everything else is also in order.

Features are fairly important -especially if you have a special need. But, don't be blinded by the features and overlook the basics. We have numerous value-adds with our plans, but we encourage our prospective customers to test us in every aspect of service. Many times, our customers will test us before they order -just to see how quickly we respond. And, we LOVE that, because it gives us opportunity to prove ourselves!

CONCLUSION
So, if these items are all checked off as "acceptable" on your list of potential hosts; how do you further distinguish which one is right for you? For personal users, it's probably best to research in the web hosting directories (search in google) and choose the best price to offerings ratio. For business users, it may be a little better to go ahead and dig a little deeper. Some companies:

  • target niche markets and offer special services (automatically updated content, template-based sites specific to an industry, etc) and
  • intend to become business partners -not just another web hosting company.

Those companies can evaluate your exact need, go above-and-beyond, and provide your company with a total package solution. They may even try to quickly learn if each company offers a product or service their other customers might be interested in. That way, you both can generate cross-selling and help every one of their customers make more money!

Hopefully we have armed you with the tools necessary to find and choose a great web hosting firm. We wish you luck and hope that you'll consider 1site.net in your search for the perfect host!

 

Article By: Brandon Elliott

Brandon Elliott is a highly respected consultant who has attainted CISSP, CCNA, MCSE, and several other certifications. However, Mr. Elliott's skillset transcends networking and security as demonstrated in other technology ventures that utilized his talents for coding, design, user interface, and strategic planning.

Visit Brandon's Hosting Company at: http://www.imagion.com

 

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