Selecting a web hosting company is like sending one of your children off to college. You may have complete confidence in your son or daughter's abilities but unless they are placed in the proper environment they will not have the opportunity to thrive. Likewise, no matter how sophisticated or impressive the website you have designed may be, if you do not place the site where it can perform optimally you will likely be disappointed in the results.
Selecting web hosting is not simply finding a place where your website can reside. It is finding the company that offers the resources that will allow your website to operate effectively and to grow as the business or public demands. This means that you must be able to store and transfer enough data so that your site functions smoothly but also remains affordable.
Free web hosting services normally require that you allow ads to be placed on your site. These generate revenue for the hosting company by enabling them to display ads to visitors to your website. Only you can determine if the ads are appropriate for visitors to your site. In addition you will have to decide if the amount of storage and the available bandwidth will be sufficient for the type of website that you want to display. A free service may be completely appropriate for a personal website that is periodically modified. But trying to operate a site with significant traffic or a commercial focus may be "penny wise and pound foolish."
All commercial web hosting companies are not created equal. Of course, cost is an issue but reliability and service will likely be major factors in the decision making process. You should expect your host to be up and functioning 100% of the time but you will likely only see guarantees of 99-99.5% uptime. Less than this is unacceptable.
If you will personally be managing much of the activity for your site, make sure that you are comfortable with the Control Panel. Some hosts present Control Panels that are cumbersome and complicated. You want to easily navigate through routine functions.
You will also want to make sure that the hosting company has functionality that you may not be using now but will likely use in the future. These would include PHP, MySQL, SSI, .htaccess, SSL, etc. Examine the offers for email and autoresponders also.
Many web hosting services offer very low rates if you commit to a year or more of hosting. While this may turn out to be an excellent value in the long term, it may be advisable to pay each month until you are confident in the service and, quite importantly, the quality of the technical support that they provide. Getting accurate responses to questions quickly will make your life as a webmaster less stressful.
?Copyright 2004 Online Enterprises
About the author: Terry McDermott is an Internet marketing professional managing a portfolio of websites. He has had adventures with a variety of web hosts and now operates his own hosting website at http://www.alphawebhosting.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org