Choosing a Web hosting provider is perhaps the most difficult task for the new webmaster. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of web hosting providers in the Internet and the sad truth is a vast majority of these are not very good. Additionally, we all have different criteria on judging whether a host is good or not. Here are some questions to ask to help you make this very critical decision:
1. Quality of Service/Uptime Commitments – Do you need your site to be 99.99% up? Or are a couple of days of downtime in a year perfectly ok? Hosts that provide up-time commitments are typically more expensive than those that do not.
2. Technical Support – Do you expect/need phone support? Or are you happy with just e-mail support? Regardless of your preference, make sure your hosting provider gives a fast reply to any technical support request. Response times of over 24 hours when your email is down is UNFORGIVEABLE, regardless of how cheap you’re paying your provider.
3. Shared vs. Dedicated – Another critical question you need to ask yourself is whether you need a dedicated server space or you’re fine with shared hosting. Dedicated server essentially means you have a server all to yourself while shared server space means you share a server and its resources with several other clients of the company. For sites with heavy traffic, resource requirements or unique applications then a dedicated server would be more logical. However, sites getting only a few hundred visitors per day would usually do perfectly fine on a shared server.
4. Company Reputation/Reviews – It is absolutely critical you research hard before settling for a web hosting provider. Ask friends their experience with their hosts, and google heavily for reviews and commentary on hosting providers you’re eyeing. Note that EVERY hosting provider has its good and bad points and it is really a question of what your own priorities are that will ultimately guide your decision. Luckily, sites such as Web Hosting Choice provides a helpful start for those of you looking for a new web host.