Choosing the right web hosting service is one of the most critical decisions you can ever make when you plan to go online with your business web site. The reason why this is so important is because if your host goes down, well guess what, your business is offline! Don't forget that hosts will have fine print stating they are not responsible for any loss of business, etc, etc.
Begin With Your Website Needs and What is Important to You
I won't go into a big long story of what your site needs because every web site is different and each will have specific functions requiring specific web hosting parameters. What I will do is give you a list of things to consider before deciding on a host.
It's a big list but it's not a full list as there are many more things to consider - again it depends on the site and business you plan to operate online. Think about these questions carefully and don't rush into hosting too quickly. It's also important to look for cheap webhosting that offers quality hosting at an affordable price.
Your Business is Worth What to You?
Unfortunately, people will decide hosting strictly on price only, or at least they make it the primary choice of a few. This is a BAD way to choose a host! The reason why is because many opt in for the lowest priced offer to try and save money, but what they don't think about is "why is the price so low?" or why is it so low with unlimited features. Granted, it's great to save money but at the same time, your business is being used as collateral. Let's not forget about the "reputation" you want to convey to your customers and clients, because if you lose that, your business is gone! Word on the web spreads FAST!
Long story short, if you opt in for the lowest and the most, only to find out it's a crappy host that goes offline many times (just one issue of many potential scenarios) which then affects the reputation of your business, your business becomes the value of that low price you paid.
I'm not saying you should go for the most expensive either, but you should put some smarts into your host choices.
How do you know if the Host is a Quality Host?
Not an easy anwser, but you should spend some time researching your options. Here are a few methods to find the right one:
Caution about using Affiliate Hosting Companies
Affiliate hosting companies should be used with caution because even though there are probably some good options out there, you will find many are managed by someone sitting in an apartment or the basement of their home.
What happens is that many hosting companies will have an Affiliate Program where anyone can signup and within minutes, you can now start selling hosting packages under your own business name and have your own website. Basically to the average person going to their web site will see what appears to be a normal looking host provider, but what they don't know is that the owner of the host business is actually someone sitting at home and the hosting is actually done through another hosting company somewhere else.
Again, I'm not saying all affiliate hosting companies are bad, but just use caution. In fact, it doesn't hurt to ask the hosting company if they are an affiliate of another host.
NOTE: Also be aware of small setups that run from their homes and have their own servers (basically they are not affiliates but their own host company). Albeit, they can be legit, but do you want to trust your business to run on their servers if you have a site that is revenue generating?
What About Hosting Companies and Domain Name Registration?
Domain registration is another important topic that can be discussed with another article but I will mention a few things here to perk your ears up...
Many will register their domain names with a hosting company because that service is offered. This can actually be dangerous because it reminds me of a situation that happened to a client of mine a few years ago who ran into a very devastating situation. The host they were using at the time was one of these lower quality hosts and had many problems. What really added frustration was that this person (husband and wife business owner) had registered their domain name through this host and a long story short, the host company disappeared and this couple lost their domain name (in addition to the full year of hosting fees they paid).
The domain name is part of your company's recognition and part of its identity. I recommend you use a well known "Domain Registrar" that is ICANN accredited and not through a host who's primary service is hosting. Stick to the official domain registrar companies. I've been asked who I use, and can say I've been using Dotster.com for more than 8 years and never had problems. I know many use Godaddy as well because they offer reasonable pricing, but I still went to Dotster because of a few reasons.
Reading the Fine Print
These Terms & Conditions are written to benefit only one party -- the company itself -- NOT YOU! I have seen so many people sign up only to discover when they get upset and want to leave that they lose all their money or even a % of it and didn't know this would happen because they didn't read the fine print. When you read any terms and conditions, use your best judgement if you feel you can accept their terms or not. It's like playing the stock market, if you can afford to lose your money, then play the stocks, but if not, then don't do it.
What you should know about Hosting Contracts and Length of Hosting
I frown on signing up or paying for contracts, because again, its to benefit the company and not to you. As enticing as it is to save some money upfront if you go long-term or sign a contract, in the end, it won't be worth it.
The alternative, and the best way to try a hosting provider out, is to go monthly for a period of time before you commit to a full year or more of hosting. I think a year of hosting with monthly payments is the best because it will give you enough time to test them out while having enough time to keep track of any issues you may have. If all is well by the end of the year and you are happy with everything, then sure, go for a year term if it saves you some money. But think about this too...is it worth your business to save a few dollars with an unknown, un-tested host during the first year while being trapped in a contract? It's like mobile phone services...they have up to 3 year terms and if you break it, you pay the price!
Again, use your best judgement and try to hold off on contracts upfront until you are absolutely sure the host you are using is the one for you; no matter what they offer you. In fact, many will give you tons of features or extra of something to get you to sign up....ask yourself why are they offering so much to me at start?
Tons of information here but what it all comes down to is to do your homework and don't rush into a hosting company and/or contract too soon. Your business or company is too important to make these kind of sacrifices. Do it with caution and smarts!
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