Website Hosting Companies, Buyer Beware

Website Hosting Companies, Buyer Beware
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Website hosting is probably the most important decision you’ll make when launching a new website. The good news is that there are plenty of good low cost web hosting companies available to choose from. The bad news is that there are just as many bad website hosting companies out there to choose from. Before starting your search for a hosting company for your website, you need to ask yourself what are the features that you require? How much disk space and bandwidth will your website need? Will you need access to programming languages such as PHP or PERL? Will your website require a database? Will you need access to the cpanel to create email accounts or to review your website statistics? If all of this sounds like foreign language, I will attempt to explain them one at a time.

Hosting Disk Space

The amount of disk space offered by most web hosting companies is sufficient for a new website offering mostly information and some images. The textual content on your website will usually take up the least amount of disk space on your account. Unless your website has thousands of pages, it probably won’t put you over your limit. Images however can increase your disk space usage much easier. An image properly optimized for the web should be no more than 50 Kilobytes. It takes approximately 20 images to use up one Megabyte of disk space. This is if all of the images are 50Kilobytes. Some of your images may be smaller and some may be larger. If you plan to have several photo galleries on your website, disk space might be a concern, but most web hosting companies will give you enough space for a few image galleries, about 100 to 250 Megabytes should be sufficient. If however your website will be offering audio or video, you will definitely want a Gigabyte or two of disk space from your hosting account.

Hosting Bandwidth

The amount of bandwidth your site will need is closely related to the amount of disk space you require from your website host. Bandwidth is the amount of data your allowed to send through your web hosts connection to the Internet. If your limit is only 1 Megabyte and your images are 50 Kilobytes, you can download about 20 of them before you are near your limit. Fortunately, host hosting companies offer amounts of bandwidth that are in the thousands with there accounts. Again, if your site is only offering text and images, this should be sufficient. Although if your site is offering audio or video, you will need as much as you can get to avoid having your site blocked due to being over your limit. If your budget doesn’t allow for as much bandwidth as you need, you might want to consider having your audio and video files hosted by You Tube or another similar company and embedding them in your pages from there. One other thing to keep in mind is that as your site becomes more popular, your bandwidth usage will also increase.

Access To Programming Languages Databases

If your website uses a scripting language such as PHP or PERL, you or your developer will need a hosting account that allows access to the desired language. Some website hosts are more restrictive than others. A few things to look at is if the web host support will install modules that may sometimes be required to work with some scripts. If they don’t, then you might want to find one that will. Some hosting companies have a few standard setups that they will not modify for a single customer. It it also important to understand that many scripts created for websites require the use of a database so if your planning a site that uses a scripting language it’s also important to know what type of database the host supports and how many you’ll have access to.

cPanel access

The cpanel is something offered by most website hosts, although some have their own version of it. I would recommend using a hosting company that uses an actual cpanel. This will make things easier if you need to switch hosting companies. The cpanel is a program that allows you to access your hosting account features such as databases, email accounts and website statistics. Depending on your account, it can give you a great deal of access. If you’re developing your website yourself, you will need access to the cpanel. If you’re using a developer then they may need access. If you don’t know much about website development, a warning, with cpanel access can you can run the risk of breaking your website. This is why many developers are hesitant to give their clients access to the cpanel.

Website Hosting Prices

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, There are plenty of affordable web hosting companies. For a shared hosting account a good price is about $7 to $12 per month. Many hosts will offer bargains if you commit to a year or more. I usually won’t pay for more than a year at a time. If you’re wondering what shared hosting is, it means you won’t have the server to yourself. Often it also means your site won’t have it’s own IP address. This is common. Unless your site is very large and gets a great deal of traffic, shared hosting will give you what you need without eating your budget.

Technical Support

Some web hosting companies are great as long as things are running normally, but if there is an issue you will need to have a hosting company that will respond in a timely manner. For example, I used to host many of my websites with iPowerweb, and everything was fine, but over the past few years their technical support became almost useless. If I posted a support ticket I would hear from them in 24 hours if I heard from them at all, and my last phone call to them lasted for three hours, I was on hold for most of it. The point is the technical support must be easy to get a hold of and the must know how to resolve your issue. If you’re checking a hosting company out, be suer to visit their forums to see what customers are saying. If they don’t have a forum or don’t allow access until after you purchase their services then that could be a hint of things to come.

Website Hosting For The Future

Thinking ahead to save time and money is always a good idea. You want to assess what your goals are and how they may affect your web hosting needs as you reach them. Some hosting companies will allow you to upgrade your account when it becomes necessary. This kind of service allows your hosting account to grow with your website and should not be overlooked. Before you purchase a web hosting account be sure to ask if this is possible. Also, when the hosting company increases their features for new customers will they also increase them for existing clients. You’d be surprised how many won’t.

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