What to Look for in Hosting
When choosing a hosting provider for your new or existing website, try to look at the future growth of your plan for web dominance. It would be very wise to ensure such a critical function of your web presence is properly maintained and secure to ensure stability and consistency and responsiveness. We suggest you take these ten points into consideration.
1. Disk Space
The required disk space depends on the size of your web site. You should always get 20% more space than what you currently have or plan. This extra space allows you to further expand your web site and plan for growth. If you plan to add multimedia and ecommerce or databases of images then it is best to have it ready now. The cost is so minimal that it is truly negligible.
Bandwidth is the amount of data transfer that your web site can use. If you plan on having a massively popular site with a large amount of files, then you should have high bandwidth. For casual web sites, bandwidth is not as big a factor. Always plan to have more bandwidth than you need, not less. It is also important to check the Internet peering and hop distance of your Internet Service Provider or Hosting Provider for effective local and overseas traffic.
The speed and responsiveness is a key factor that is seldom taken into consideration. If your hosting provider has a slow backend connection or is using older hardware, software and dated unix/linux configurations then it would be best to reconsider and look elsewhere. Reminder: You only have 3 seconds to hold a visitor captive and if it is too slow or unresponsive they will be bounce away quickly.
4. Database / Programming Language support
Open Source Database and Programming Language support are critically important if you plan to have a dynamic website that interacts with your customers. Most web hosting providers support open source databases and programming languages such as PHP. Having said that, make sure they have the latest versions and you can install other open source packages that you may require.
5. Technical Support
A qualified technical support representative should be able to communicate with end-users of any level or experience, any personality, and any level. This requires presenting technical information to non-technical end-users and acquiring relevant information from those unable to explain the problem clearly. Skilled technical support representatives also take the time to explain why the problem occurred, how it can best be avoided in the future, and what to do if nobody is immediately available to help. Technical support representatives also document the issue, any communication made, and a solution so that future representatives can communicate even better with end-users the next time around.
Critical to ensure stability is the Hosting Providers Service Level Agreement (SLA) and the uptime they guarantee. 99% uptime is the minimum acceptable standard. You should look for 99.999% plus guaranteed uptime.
7. FTP Access
Unlimited and unrestricted FTP access, otherwise it will troublesome to maintain your website.
8. Control Panel
Most web hosting companies will provide a web based control panel for you to maintain your web site. You should look for one with an easy-to-use interface like CPanel and WMHost.
9. Statistics Program
Hosting providers all have web analyzing systems that can track logs of data and visitors, etc. However using a solid Analytics program integrated into the web site coupled with the web analysis tools the hosting provider has implemented is your best avenue for tracking and adjusting your needs and success. Keeping an eye on how many visitors you are getting, where they are coming from, referrers, top entry and exit pages, etc., can greatly improve your goals.
Very often the adage "You get what you pay for" is good advice. In the case of a hosting provider quality equipment and redundancy along with state of the art facilities and secure environments make the selection process easier. A good Hosting Provider will cost upwards of $25.00 per month. All the unlimited this and unlimited that for $3.95 a month is very misleading but nonetheless true as well. As stated earlier you will get what you pay for.