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How Do I Choose a Host?
There are currently hundreds of web hosts, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, and often it is difficult to tell one apart from the other. So how is it possible to determine which host is right for you needs? In order to be successful in picking the best web host for your needs you should consider each of these aspects of hosting.
The most basic decision you will need to make when selecting a web host is what sort of budget do you have to work with. Hosting can be found for as little as a few dollars a month and can also exceed thousands of dollars a month. Be cautious though when selecting simply off the lowest price. There are a number of factors which should weigh in to your decision such as server location, how much bandwidth you think you need, what sort of space does the host provide, and what is the feature set of the host. Plan for the future - moving a website to another host can be a difficult and costly event if you haven't planned well.
One of the biggest complaints you will find about web hosts is that their support is lacking, or in the worst of cases non-existant. If you are serious about your website it may be worth your time to try calling the support line of the host at differnt times of day before you ever sign up for the site. See first hand what their response times are. Most hosts also list their support hours online - if they don't have 24/7 call centers you might be asking for some really long, frustrating nights. Also you should consider the knowledge and the speaking skills of the support personel. I few minutes of effort here will pay off dividends in the future.
Reliability and Speed
Every web host has different capabilities and often these will fluxuate over time as the host grows and expands. If you're website needs to be lightning fast at all times and have near 100% uptimes you're going to have a pay a pretty penny. However, if you can handle the industry norm of ~99.85% uptime and some slowdowns on occasion you should be ok with most options out there. Again the cheapest isn't always the best solution, but there are some very stable and efficient options out there.
Knowing what your website needs to be able to do is critical to your decision process. If you're going to be using a lot of scripting to manage things or need access to a specific database type you must find out beforehand if your intended host supports these features. If they don't you're probably going to have to find another option. While most hosting companies would love to support everything each feature has additional support, security, and financial ties to it. Luckily most of the features you'll be needing are quickly becoming commonplace. Unless you're deploying a website for a fortune 500 company most hosts will offer you pretty standard set of options for scripting and other features.
One final thing to consider is what sort of tools does the web host offer. Again the best hosts will have solid toolsets for you to use which will include all sorts of mangement tools that will automate many of the common tasks of a webmaster. If the web host you're looking at doesn't have a nice control panel and you aren't a web guru you should probably be finding another hosting option.
As was mentioned earlier there are hundreds of web hosts to choose from. Many are so similar it's hard to know which to pick. Using the guidelines above you'll increase your chances of picking a host you'll really be happy with. Naturally we advise you to also make use of the Best of the Web Hosts Top 10 list as well! Happy host hunting!
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