Guide to finding a good web host

Mostly people who are new to web find it extremely difficult to locate a good web host. By “good web host”, i mean a web host who is affordable, provides reasonable services, has good after sales support. And those who don’t find it difficult, mostly end up buying “pathetic” service. Yes, that’s what they call it later.

There are many types of web hosting services in the market and so are the providers. Going by my experiences in the industry, I usually don’t recommend a free web host if your are even 1% serious about your website or unless you have plans to spam. For a small business shared hosting should work wonders however if you have large web space requirements, you may well choose to go for dedicated servers. I am assuming that most of the people who come here to read advise on hosting will be small businessmen who are not looking to host very large sites. Therefore will primarily bias my suggestions towards shared hosting services. However keep in mind, the points I am going to mention do apply in general as well.

So, I am here to make you aware of what things you should check with the service provider before you choose to buy their web hosting services.

Your Requirement
First you need to pen down what you need for hosting your website. Make a rough list of what YOU expect from your web hosting provider. Trust me, this helps.

1. What type of pages you have in your website?
Take look at what type of pages you have, weather they are static html pages, or dynamic ones like asp, php etc. If you have only a few static pages, then you do not need high end hosts that provider features specially for website done in php/asp etc. For a static html pages, Linux web hosting is good enough whereas for dynamic languages like php and asp, you need to consider hosting services that matches the language specification. For example, sites run on Windows web servers and php can easily run on either windows or linux web servers. And since linux web servers are cheaper than windows, they are better choice for sites done in php.

2. What services the host offers?
Okay, so the host claims to provide [put-the-features-list-here] for “cheapest rates”. Alright, may be ! But do you really need those services? Consider this : If you have a static html coded site, there is no use for a database that comes with the hosting package. If there is a hosting package that doesn’t not include the database, that will be probably be cheaper and match your requirements. Make a list of such features that you don’t need and sort out packages that closely match your requirements. However keep in mind that you will rarely find the exact match to your requirements, so try making it as close a possible. And if a host provides custom web hosting package, you should try it first.

3. Do I get value for money?
There are lots of claims about services the web hosts provide, and needless to say, you need to verify their claims first. For example, inquire about their server configuration. They may be really the cheapest in the market, but so could be their servers. You might well end up hosting on one of those “pathetic” servers. Be careful with that.

4. What is their reputation for after sales services?
The best way to know what kind of service you will get is to search in web hosting forums. Search Google for their brand name and you may well land on precious clues of what will be your future hosting look like. However I must say, in case of new and small web hosts, you may not get some good clues, and that may not necessarily imply of bad service by them. You should try to infer from your pre sales discussions with the service provider. That’s the best in such cases.

Today, most of the hosting providers allow monthly payments for the service. If the host offers trial service or monthly payments, you can try their service and know what they really provide you with. That’s the closest you can get.

24 July 2009 | Web Hosting | Comments