Web Hosting is a service. Auto mechanics also provide a service. How would you decide which mechanic is best for you? Price? Experience? Reliability? This is the same line of thinking that should go into deciding which company should host your website.
It is very common to see choices centered around price, especially with so much competition in the hosting business. It is not uncommon to see hosting plans range from free to upwards of $50 per month. However, if you happened to see a sign on the street that said "$2 mechanic inside" you would probably drive right by, right? How good could a "$2 mechanic" possibly be? Why would a mechanic with skill and experience charge next to nothing for their service? Certainly, it is worth paying a mechanic. You don't want to be overcharged, but you do realize an experienced mechanic has value.
This example is very similar to the hosting world. Some may argue a car is more important than a website. Tell that to the bed and breakfast owner who does 90% of their booking via their online reservation system. If your business depends on a website to either completely drive or supplement sales, you know how important a website can be.
When it comes to choosing a host, there are not enough choices centered around experience and reliability. These are the foundations for any good company. A mechanic who has worked on cars for 10 years is going to be more familar with his trade than a mechanic who only has 2 years experience. If you were deciding on a mechanic, wouldn't you lean towards the one who has worked on cars for a longer period of time and perhaps comes on a good recommendation?
Okay, enough talk about cars, let's talk hosting. When you are looking for a company to provide the service of web hosting, try placing price aside for a moment. First, look for a company that has been in businesss for a number of years. Any host that has been around for over 5 years is probably doing something right. That's not to say a host of 2 years can't help you, but at least begin your search with the most experienced.
After you've found a few candidates, write down about 10 questions you would like to ask your future host. Even if you know the answers to some questions, that's okay. The reason for the questions is to see how long it takes to get answers and the quality of those answers. If you don't like what you see, scratch them off your list because that is exactly the type of response you will get when a support issue arises.
Try to get the web addresses of 4 or 5 sites they host and visit over a period of a week or so and see if you notice any downtime or blatant sluggishness. You may even want to email the owners of these sites and ask what they think of their host.
This may seem like alot of work just to decide on a host for your website. It's certainly more involved than simply looking for the cheapest price. When you only look at price you overlook some essential factors, such as experience and reliability. If your website is important to you or your business, you will come to rely on that experience which translates into quality service.
Copyright 2005 Anthony Vita
Anthony Vita has been helping businesses and individuals get an online presence ever since starting his own successful web hosting business, Web Feat, Inc., in 1997. Contact him at http://www.webfeathost.com