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How to Choose a Good Hosting Company For Your Website

Posted in dedicated server, Web Hosting by palcomonline on December 23, 2009

Determining the best web hosting company for you is critical to your web site’s success. Whether it is for business, e-commerce, a fan site or just a hobby, the host you choose plays a large factor on how well you’ll fare in the online world. In such a flooded market with so many different hosting companies and packages out there, how do you know who to trust with your site? You want a reliable company that will make sure your site is always available, you want a support department that actually exists and can help you quickly, but of course it needs to be affordable and fit into your budget, especially if your web site isn’t intended to generate any income.

Knowing your requirements is the first step in finding the best host for you. Try to determine how much disk space your site is going to require, how your site will deliver its content such as static pages like HTML or dynamic automated content via scripts like wordpress or Joomla, and of course how many visitors you are expecting to visit monthly to gauge how much bandwidth you will need. If you already have a website, you should know most of this information, if you are just creating your website and have no idea, don’t sweat it. If you are just starting out chances are you will need less then 500MB of disk space, and 5,000-10,000MB (5-10GB) of bandwidth should be sufficient for a starter. It you plan on running a personal blog or a message board, make sure the package you choose has access to a database, it’s best to pick a host that allows you at least three databases. Most hosting companies have a small basic package that should work well for the time being. If you plan to mass market your website or run a business or ecommerce site you may have a higher bandwidth requirement. Always check with potential web host’s to make sure you have growth potential. So if your website out grows your hosting package you can always move up to something with more room.

Next you are going to need to determine your budget. How much can you financially afford or are willing to spend on web hosting? Figure this out before you shop for a host, don’t let a host decide your budget for you. Remember, you want a reliable web host that gives your site good uptime but offers you support should you experience a problem. Running reliable and stable servers can be expensive and so can staffing a support department 24/7. So make sure you have a practical budget that takes this into account. Do not waste your hard earned money on hosts that offer you the world for a buck or two, it will only lead to heart ache. For a basic plan with 500MB – 2,000MB storage space and 5,000MB – 10,000MB bandwidth you should expect to pay around at minimum $6USD for a good host. However, hosts that sell their plans at this price are not necessarily a good host.

Do not be fooled by marketing gimmicks, flashy web sites or statements made on a web site! The biggest problem in the hosting industry today is the UNLIMITED sales pitch. No host worth their salt is going to offer you up unlimited everything. It’s not possible. Web servers are simply “heavy-duty” computers that use RAM and Hard drives just like your home PC or laptop. When is the last time you bought a computer with an “UNLIMITED” hard drive? As for bandwidth, sure, it could be unlimited, but only if you have unlimited money. Hosts that offer unlimited disk space and bandwidth generally “oversell” their servers. This means they can pile hundreds of customers on one server. They sell the same storage space and bandwidth they sold you, to other customers as well. What they offer you is not dedicated only to you, but to everyone. If you try to start using that unlimited space and store 25GB of files or use that unlimited Bandwidth using over 200GB a month, you will soon find your site shut for “abuse”. You see, a huge secret in the hosting rules is the TOS known as the terms of service. Some hosts will state unlimited on their sites and in the TOS they declare unlimited as 500MB or something similar. They may also limit you to what you can store on your site, saying you are only allowed to have html files. No images, videos, or anything. Sure you can upload these files and use them, but if you use that disk space and bandwidth they will shut you down and claim abuse because you uploaded files that were not allowed. Unlimited hosts have a lot of dirty tricks like this up their sleeves always stipulated in their TOS.

Look for a host that is upfront about your limits. For a personal website, small business or hobby site 1000MB (1GB) is plenty of disk space and you should be more then fine with 10,000MB (10GB) of bandwidth. As your site becomes more popular you will use more bandwidth and when the time comes you can upgrade your package to include more bandwidth. All hosts include a control panel where you can track your disk and bandwidth usage so you know what you are actually using.

Okay so we got your requirements, your budget and what hosts to look out for. Now it’s time to actually find your potential hosting company. You may have a web companies in mind, which is great. If not ask around with friends and family to see if they can recommend anyone or someone to avoid. Do a Google or yahoo search if you are up to it, you will find hundreds of thousands of potential web hosts. Generally in the top results on Google are “Hosting review sites” they can provide you with helpful information in narrowing down hosts, but always take the reviews with a grain of salt. These sites are often paid to post certain kinds of reviews by the hosts themselves or they are linked to affiliate systems where they get paid if you sign up with a particular host. However you find your possible hosts is up to you.

Once you have a list of web hosts you are interested in, it’s time to research them and evaluate them. First make sure they offer a package that meets your budget. Then contact the hosting company, email the sales department or submit a sales ticket in their customer support panels this should be easy to find. Let them know you are a potential client, and you are interested in their services. Ask them any questions that may be on your mind, or to clarify what exactly their hosting packages include, ask about their uptime, response time to support tickets and so on. If all else fails simply ask them that if you out-grew your plan, if you could easily upgrade to a bigger one. Generally the answer should be yes, but what you are actually testing here is their response time. You want to see how long it takes for a host to respond to your inquiry. This is a good test to tell how fast their support could be
Next do a Google search on them, enter the companies name and then add review to the end (example: review) this should pull up at least a few reviews that should help you know what you are getting into with this company. Remember always take reviews with a grain of salt. Even very reputable companies will have a bad or negative review. Try to find as many reviews as you can.

Check out their guarantees, many hosting companies offer a 15, 30 or even 45 day satisfaction guarantee. This means you can try them out for that amount of time. If you don’t like them, you can get a full refund and find a new host! Always make sure to find and read the fine print on these offers to make sure there are no catches that could bilk you out of a refund should you not like their service. Also make a note to find out whether or not a host has an uptime guarantee, this will give you a rough guide on how much downtime you could expect from a hosting company, this means how often your site *may* be inaccessible. Industry standard is generally 99.9% this means your website *could* be down for as long as 45 minutes in a month. Be wary of hosts that say their uptime is 100% as it’s a fact of technology that something will at some point fail and need to be repaired or replaced. Avoid any host that offers a 95% uptime guarantee because 95% means your site could be down for as much as 30hours a month! This is not acceptable it today’s standards.

Look for additional or bonus features. Some hosting companies offer extra’s like a free website builder tool, one click script installation for many useful programs like bulletin boards, word press, and many other things. Keep an eye out for extra’s like $25 or $50 worth of free advertising credits on sites like Google’s adwords or facebook advertising.

See whether or not the company backups your website. Should their server fail or hard drive crash, your site is gone! If they have backups at least you know in an event of a disaster they will have a backup of your site for you. On this note, always make sure you backup your own website. I cannot stress enough on how important it is to backup your own website. Never rely on anyone else to do it for you. Some companies may claim they do this for you then when a disaster hits, they don’t have your backup and your site is gone. Or should you happen to wake up one to find your website and your host has disappear or gone out of business, you will have minimal downtime because you have your site backed up. This is a MUST for EVERY web site owner. Having the hosting company do it for you is only an added benefit and the third backup just in case.

If you follow these steps, use a little common sense and understand that no one can offer you unlimited anything, especially for a few bucks a month, you are well on your way to finding a good, solid host that will serve you well for years to come.


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Locating Managed Dedicated Server Hosting For Your Website

Posted in dedicated server, Web Hosting by palcomonline on December 14, 2009

If you have been online for an extended amount of time, then you probably know a thing or two about blogs and websites. You might also know that blogs are hosted on a web server, which is simply a computer that holds your sites files and is connected to the internet. When someone wants to access your site, they simply type the url into the browser address bar.

Lets say you want to start your own blog about stamp collecting but am unsure what you need to get that blog live. Well there are a couple of routes that you can go with depending on what your needs are.

We need to ask a few questions first.

* Is my site going to use a lot of media?
* How many visitors do you think will visit your site in a month?

Its pretty tough to judge site visitors at the get go because this depends a lot on your marketing efforts and the quality of your content on the site. Its important to know how much media your planning on using because if your site uses lots of video and pictures you’ll have to get hosting that has a lot of memory and bandwidth per month. The next consideration is whether you need dedicated managed server hosting or non-managed dedicated server hosting. Basically, the only difference is whether you take care of the servers or if the hosting company takes care of the servers.

If you elect to go the non-managed route, then you will need to be a little more tech savvy then your newbie computer person. For those of us that don’t have much experience running servers it is best to choose the managed dedicated server hosting. This way if anything goes wrong with the server or there are technical difficulties, they will get taken care of quickly.

Alright, so you know what kind of hosting you need. Now its time to find the best managed dedicated server hosting for the best price. This is not really one of the easiest things to do because there are a lot of choices out there for hosting. A lot of hosting companies give similar packages and comparable rates.