As discussed in Choosing A Website Developer, there are some options when deciding how to begin developing your online presence. Depending on the initial direction you take, your developer may or may not include hosting in the services they propose. But whether you are making the “hosting decision” as part of the initial consideration, or it is something you won’t evaluate until the actual site development is done, there are several things to bear in mind regarding the selection of your hosting provider. Here is a fairly comprehensive list that covers the bases:
1. Technical Support – Does the company provide technical support via the phone? Or is it available via email only? Is there an extra fee? Is the support unlimited, or do the technicians have quotas or a limit on the time they can spend on each call? Consider all the details. For example, Company A offers 24-hour support and charges extra, whereas Company B provides support during normal business hours for free. Will you typically need support at 3am every night and be willing to pay extra for it?
2. Security – You do not need to be an online security expert to ask about a hosting company’s record regarding online security. Your developer can help you find a reliable company that had a track record of exceptional performance. You should not accept anything less.
3. Traffic / Bandwidth – Are there limits to the amount of traffic your website can handle? Are there limits to the amount of bandwidth your website is permitted to use each month? Inexpensive hosting often involves hidden glitches you may not recognize until after you have signed on with a provider.
4. Additional Services – As your business grows, will the needs of your web presence? What does your hosting company offer in terms of what you may need in the future? For example, are they providing full support of your email and ecommerce/shopping cart needs? And what is their history and track record? Will they continue to be around for you?
In the case of web hosting, you definitely get what you pay for. Cheap hosting is often just that…cheap. Make sure you find out why a deal may seem better than the rest, and use the above information as a guide.