So you've decided about your website design and now you are ready to have your website hosted!
When choosing the right web host, they are several factors to consider:
I. How often is the web server up?
II. Does the server provide SSL?
III. Does the server provide for server side scripting? (e.g PHP, ASP?)
IV. Free or paid?
V. What is the upload limit? What is the file limit?
VI. Customer support?
Appendix A - Web host provider reviews
I - How often is the web server up?
Once you've signed up with a web host provider, you don't want your website to be down or taking forever to load. This can have a serious dent in traffic as it could turn off potential returning visitors.
Search engines also do not rank web pages that are always down well, so you should expect next to nothing traffic from Search Engines if your website is down most of the time or takes forever to load.
A good way to find out if a web server is up usually is to check out reviews by different persons who have already used the web host. I've included a link to a web host review website at the end of this article in Appendix A.
II - Does the Server provide SSL?
If your website is a hobby website, and you won't be doing any transactions on your website, SSL protection is not needed.
However, if you plan to do any transactions in the future; its important that you choose a webhost which provides SSL protection upfront.
SSL is an encryption method which helps to encrypt any sensitive information like credit card info, names, etc
If you signed up with a web host who does not offer SSL protection; it's usually more costly if you then decide to get it installed than if you signed up with a web host provider who already provides SSL protection for transactions.
Examples of web host providers who provide Automatic SSL do this are www.powweb.com and www.ipowerweb.com
III - Does the server provide for server side scripting? (e.g PHP, ASP?)
Most web host providers provide for server side scripting but it's still important to make sure that they do.
Server side scripting allows the webmaster to create pages which change in realtime.
For example, if you are running a business, and you have all of your products stored in a database, a server side script will generate the pages that the customer sees according to which category/product the customer chooses.
If a web host provide does n provide functionality for server side scripting, it's dated and you should stay far away from it :) www.powweb.com, www.ipowerweb.com and www.lunarpages.com all provide functionality for Server Side Scripting.
IV - Free? Paid? Which one?
Another important factor to consider is whether you want to sign up with for Free or Paid web hosting. Companies such as www.geocities.com, www.tripod.com, www.freeservers.com offer free hosting.
The main disadvantage with free hosting is that the hosters usually run ads on your home page;
some like in this example http://www.pac-dodger.tripod.com (see near the top)
I suggest a free hosting website if you budget is very tight and you don't mind ads running on your website.
The paid option for website usually offers better customer support that free web hosting. Some packages are next to nothing.
I've found www.powweb.com to be exceptionally reasonable($7.77 a month last time I checked). Both www.ipowerweb.com and www.lunarpages.com are also top web host providers at great prices.
Lunarpages has a reputation of reliability and great customer service. Powweb has the reputation of being the largest and offering the best of every (most web space, most bandwith, etc). Ipowerweb is generally good.
V - What is the upload/bandwith limit? What is the file limit?
Upload and bandwidth limits are important if you are going to be hosting large image files or if you want to provide downloads to your users. If you are just making a simple hobby or business website, www.powweb.com, www.ipowerweb.com, and www.lunarpages.com can all handle your bandwidth requirements.
If you are looking for more space; I suggest www.powweb.com.
VI - Customer Support
Customer support is very important when signing up for a web host provider.
I'm an experienced webmaster, and on signing up with a web host provider I usually still have questions which need to be addressed.
Some web host providers even provide forums where customers like yourself can log in and post questions to other customers and web host staff.
I find this very valuable; the only place I've found this so far was www.powweb.com
VII - Suggestions
There are thousands of options to choose from but my top three are below:
I would suggest www.lunarpages.com if you are looking for great customer support.
If you need lots of webspace; consider www.powweb.com
If you want general all around good service, sign up with www.ipowerweb.com
Other GREAT solutions are:
Apollo hosting ? www.apollohosting.com
ValueWeb ? www.valueweb.com
Globat ? globat.com
Great website for web host reviews. Reviews all web host providers listed in the article above
Kevin Allman is a webmaster with over ten years Internet experience. He runs a Search Engine Optimization
website at http://www.pzeta.org/seo_global/ which contains many articles on how to optimize your website.