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David Ziguras April 2nd, 2009

Once you’ve decided to get your business online, you need a web site that is accessible to the general Internet public. This means that you need web pages on a computer that is connected to the Internet which can “host” your domain, hold your pages, and have the proper programs for feeding the public your information 24 hours a day.

This is what web hosting companies do and selecting the right host is important because you can waste valuable time and if you don’t get it right your customers may have problems accessing to your products and services on offer. With this simple overview you can avoid many of the pitfalls and make finding reliable web site hosting company a more straight forward process.

First let’s look at our web hosting choices

Free Web Site Hosting Companies:
• Often requires displaying of some of the host company’s advertising
• Might not allow your own domain name
• Usually allows little space and the amount of data you can display in a given month
• Typically does not include your own IP (needed for secure certificates)
• Little to no support
• Usually geared to up-sell into higher priced hosing
• Best for personal pages only, not business

Discount or Budget Web Site Hosting Companies:
• Usually free setup and very low cost monthly fees
• Usually geared toward up-selling or marketing other items to site owners
• Usually limited space and transfer allowances
• Best for personal pages or companies that are not concerned by reliability
• Best for companies not selling products online

Full Service Web Site Hosting Companies:
• Competitively priced within group
• Full time support (24/7) either via phone or live web chat or both
• Tools for managing site such as creating email accounts, statistics, file management
• Additional applications like calendars, message boards, and shopping carts
• Usually clearly defined packages designed around tools, support, space and transfer requirements
• Typically provided as part of a fully customised solution

Why Select A Full Service Web Site Hosting Company?
The answer to that question is clearer when you think in terms of a successful business… both yours and the web hosting companies. Budget and free hosting companies are in the business of marketing upgrades or other items either to you or to your customers. Free hosting companies rarely allow the professional image you will need to establish credibility with your customers and their support rarely, if ever, come close to their claims. Even though there are good uses for free and discount services (like personal hobby sites), if you are looking for the lowest costs you should be sure to have the lowest expectations. As a business owner you may end up frustrated and spending more money to hire your own contracted support.

Budget Web Hosting Company Longevity
We recently reviewed budget sites that we searched for this time two years ago. Nearly half of them are no longer available, meaning they have closed down. We consider our client sites too important to trust to a company that is at a high risk of closure.

Some budget and free web site hosting companies promote special features such as unlimited bandwidth. Be wary of any hosting company that promotes unlimited bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of data that gets transmitted to browsers (web pages, graphics, audio). Bandwidth costs the web hosting company money. Ask them if you will need to upgrade if you have 10 gigabytes of transfer.

Full Service Web Hosting Companies
Which brings us to full service web hosting companies. Full service web hosting companies are so competitively priced these days that there is not much reason for serious businesses to ever consider the budget hosts. We recommend that you start right out with a professional host that focuses their business on satisfying your needs rather than having you go through the lengthy learning process of transferring from one host to another. Merchants not willing to invest a little time and money to get things right may be better served by staying within the bounds of their “brick and mortar” real world storefront.

Business owners need stability in their hosting. Switching web hosting companies is not the end of the world but it is also not something you want to have to do constantly. This can be avoided by selecting a professional hosting provider that has ticks in all the boxes. You want stability in a web hosting company so that you can focus on making your site and business a success.

What to look for in a web site hosting company:
• Operating System and Program Language Capabilities – Look for a provider that has the capability to offer hosting services on either Linux and Windows hosting servers.
• Full Management tools including email setup, file management, web based security (to password protect areas of your site), FTP support (to transfer files), and reporting. See if the web hosting company are willing to provide you with an online demo of their web site management tool.
• Additional applications that can easily be added to your web site, like bulletin boards, shopping carts, calendars, and banner management.
• Fast connections to the Internet, so the public can get to your pages quickly.
• Excellent support and reliability. Some hosting companies actually *do* know that they make their money by keeping their web site hosting customers happy and well supported. Find out how their support works, the reliability of their servers, do they have a disaster plan?

Follow these recommendations and you will be well on your way to finding a reliable web hosting company.

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