Saturday, 16 February 2013

What to look for in Web Hosting

If at all you're planning on building a website for your business, personal use or maybe even a place to showcase your portfolio; you're going to need a hosting service. However, picking a web host isn't something that you would be able to complete within a few minutes.

You may need to spend a few hours in order to check out all your available options, as this is one of the most important steps towards building a successful website.

Why is it a hard choice to make?

Well, you may be wondering what makes the entire process of picking a web host a tough decision. Probably you're current question is "What to look for in Web Hosting" - right? If you've taken a look at various hosts you've definitely noticed that they all offer similar features. That's what makes it a hard choice!

What to look for in web hosting services

Now, let's take a look at individual features that you would need to look at before you pick a particular host:

Do they place ads on your website?

If at all you happen to use a free hosting service, there are chances that they would place ads on your website, usually a banner or pop-up ad which is very irritating to a visitor. Therefore, before you pick a free host, put yourself in the shoes of your clients as not many people would want to see totally unrelated ads.

Moreover, some hosting services place their ads in positions that aren't suitable for SEO purposes and hence your website may not rank very well on search engines which in turn would result in low or no traffic to your website or blog.

Therefore, as far as possible stay away from hosts that place ads on your website. If you love the free templates and services that they offer, upgrade and use their services instead. They're not expensive and it's totally worth every penny if you're aiming for success.

Support must be top notch

Support - what to look for in web hosting
If at all you're going to be using a particular web hosting service, make sure that the technical support that they offer is top notch. No matter how much you try, there are going to be times wherein your website crashes or just goes offline.

Of course, if you're capable of fixing up your own site, there's no need of support. But, most businesses are going to need someone to call upon 24X7 in order to tend to their problems. To make sure that the services they offer are unbeatable, check out reviews written by people who already use the particular service.

Regular Backups

Well, this may not seem relevant, but having my own site (not this blogger hosted one) using the WordPress CMS platform, I definitely know the importance of backing up files. In the very beginning I never backed up regularly and once when a plugin updated, it was faulty and broke (literally) my whole site. Deleting the plugin couldn't fix it and I couldn't do anything else.  That's when I contacted my host's support team and they gave me a backup of my site which was 2 days old, using that I restored my entire site.

You may say that you would create backups yourself, but believe me when I say that there are days wherein you just forget about doing it and realize only when something happens. And the days we forget about backups are usually the days when problems arise - that's the sad truth.

Parking - Not all offer this for free

Parking your domain names
When you begin a new website, you're definitely looking forward to the day when it becomes successful and people throng to it. But, if this were to happen, you would also find the need to park domain names.

Parking of domain names basically is buying other domain names related to your own domain and storing them for yourself so that others don't use them. If you're using a .com site you may want to buy the .net, .org, .co.uk, .co.in and various other extensions.

That's not all, you may also buy domain names which consists of misspellings of your parent domain name and point them all to the main site using redirects. Therefore, before you sign up for a hosting service make it a point that they offer these services, because even if you don't need it today, there's going to be a day when you'd want it.

Storage Space

Check out bandwidth for web hostingWhat to look for in web hosting if it's not storage is what most people say. Well, I do agree that this is one of the important factors that you would need to consider; but, there are plenty of other important considerations too.

When choosing a plan make sure that you go through the terms and conditions, as there are a few hosts that do promise unlimited file storage, but only up to a certain amount of overall site usage - never opt for such services unless you're planning something on a small scale.

Bandwidth

When it comes to bandwidth it's not just website visitors that would be using it, there are plenty of bots that crawl your site - some would be search engine bots, whereas others are just random bots created by ordinary people.

There's a way to block them, but if you don't know how, you may notice that most of your bandwidth is being used up by unwanted visits. Therefore, as far as possible pick a host that offers you unlimited bandwidth usage.

This need is all the more important if you're going to be hosting a website with plenty of self-hosted videos and maybe pictures.

Do they allow sub-domains?

Does your web host allow you to create sub-domains, and if yes - How many? There are plenty of reasons as to why you may want to use sub domains. Usually you'd use them for your blog, forum, contact form or maybe even different sub niches of your website.

One Click Installations - Well, they're amazing

If you're planning on using a CMS platform such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or any other platform it would be great to have a one click installation process wherein you use Softaculous or any other service to install the platform on a particular directory of your site.

Magento and various other e-commerce platforms, forums, contact forms and a lot more can be added this way and hence the entire process of setting up your website would be a lot easier.

What about e-mail accounts?

If you're building up a business website, you're definitely going to need email accounts with your domain name at the end [@yourdomain.com]. Therefore, make sure that the service you pick offers you this facility.

You may need different accounts for different services that you offer and therefore, find out how many email ids' they allow. There are a few hosts that allow unlimited accounts and hence you'd be able to add a new id as and when the need arises.

Up-time guarantee

Most web hosts have an up-time guarantee of over 99%. They do live up to this expectation and I've got reports from the service that I use which showed that my site had an up-time of 99.46% I use Pingdom Alert (Just in case you were interested).

Do they offer an easy exit?

What to Look for in web hosting
One thing's for sure - everything changes and you may need to switch hosts sometime in the future no matter how good things may seem at present.

Therefore, before you sign up for a particular hosting service and build your site, take a look at the exit strategy that they offer you.

If at all the hosting provider makes it difficult for you to find what you need in order to move your domain to a new host, then it's probably because they're not confident in the services that they offer their clients. Hence, you must stay away from such providers.

If you're looking for a complete tutorial to get your website up and running, take a look at this post titled "SEO for Dummies"

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