Finding a good and reliable web hosting company is like looking for the right husband. The word 'right' and 'husband' don't belong together in the first place, many insists! Well, how can I argue with something to inadvertantly correct and incorrect at the same time?
So, you've decided to have your own website but don't have a $3000 budget to set it up. You'll be surprised. My first few months into this 'freelancing' world cause me to jump quite a couple of times. One of those times have something to do with web hosting....yeah, they wanted to charge an arm, a leg and 1/2 a kidney to set up my domain name, hosting and also setup no more than 10 pages of my website for the hosting account. Gee, thankfully I have a friend who is in the web hosting business and knew the ropes. So, I got away with a good price for my first website.
Anyway, here are a few things you should consider looking out for when you're out web-host-hunting.
There are loads of bogus web hosting companies out to rip the hearts of genuine home business owners. Their main intention is to get people to sign up for their web hosting accounts and then run with the money. Simple enough strategy but you'll be surprised at the kind of people behind this. Some of them are barely out of puberty. In this Internet and CD age, nothing suprises me anymore, frankly. But kids know the way on the Internet. The way I look at it, if they can find their way to buy foreign wives by cheating about their age and using their parents' credit cards, they can easily get others to pay for a 'bogus' web hosting account without so much as lift a finger.
So, advice is: look into the company, if they have an email, email them. If they have an address, check it out *better still if they have a map to their place. If they have pictures of their founders of the web hosting company and personnel, all the better. At least you a face your can refer to when you're dealing with them on the web hosting facility.
You cannot start a business without knowing your budget and the kind of money you would need to start a business. Similarly, you cannot find the right web hosting company without knowing how much you're willing to pay for the web hosting facility and web hosting service.
So, be practical about the needs of your web hosting requirement and be frank about how much you're willing to pay for it.
The customer service
But there's one advice that I can give you. The web hosting industry is a relatively competitive one. There are tons of good web hosting companies, small and big ones alike, out there. Don't jump on to the first web-host-bandwagon you see. Look around and make sure you like the web host. Communicate with the people in the company and ask them lots of questions. If their customer service is good, go for it.
As their web hosting client, you have to expect them to give you nothing less than PERFECT hosting customer service, although frankly, their profit margin for hosting is quite slim.
Don't pay monthly
One thing I know is that paying on a monthly basis is not a good idea. It's better to just book and get the hosting account for the whole year. So, make sure you find the right one right from the start! Otherwise, you're stuck with the web hosting company for the whole year. Why not pay for web hosting on a monthly basis? Easy, it costs more!
You see, if you can get a web hosting account and domain for USD$105 or a whole year, why pay USD$14.95 per month? BECAUSE USD$14.95 per month works out to be USD$179.40 per year!! That's USD$74.40 more! So, don't be enticed with their monthly payment schemes.
Let's look at it this way, if you find the right web hosting company from the start, you'll be more than happy to stay with them for as long as you're still in business, right?
Yes, if you're paying it online. You HAVE TO ensure that the activation is immediate. You want to know that if you're paying them instantly, you should get the account activated instantly as well. The longest time I would tolerate to get my website up and running is 24 hours - if I was paying them online. There's no reason for a delay since everything done online can be done instantly.
Build it yourself
If you're a quick learner, you can definitely do everything up by yourself. No problems to it. If the plan comes with a site studio (a DIY system), then it's great! You're getting value for money. What's a site studio? Well, it's a web based program that allows you to create your own websites online. Some of them are really quite simple to use. It's almost like working with a Microsoft Word program - copying, pasting and writing all into the web browser and then saving it.
If you know basic HTML, you probably won't be using the site studio but it's worth having it around in case you need something up really quick. Besides, most site studios come with quite a huge database of templates that you can use for your website. This saves you time, effort and money in hiring a graphic designer and writer like me.
On the site
You should be getting some side dishes along with your new web hosting account. Look out for free blogs, forums, scripts, ecommerce shopping carts, cgi scripts, newsletter forms, enquiry forms, customer support tools like chat system, free images, audio, buttons...etc, and php nuke. This works mainly to enhance your web hosting service and website. You'll lose nothing if you decide against using them but if you do, it's wonderful tools to enhance your web site.
Tutorials and Training
Like I said, the web hosting business is really competitive these days. Everyone is offering some form of rock bottom prices for their web hosting services. I know some web hosting companies are actually offering site building trainings, search engine optimization technique and trainings, insights into the web promotion world training and free courses. If you get any of these and the price is reasonable, for for it. They will help you build a more credible web site from your web hosting service.
Marsha Maung is a freelance work at home graphic designer and writer who resides in Selangor, Malaysia with her husband, Peter and 2 boys, Joshua and Jared. She is the author of "Raising Little Magicians", "No Products to sell" and other popular books. Please visit her website at http://www.marshamaung.com