How do I choose an ideal web hosting provider? Which are the specific features and options to look for when selecting a web hosting solution? What are the key criteria to be used when selecting among multiple competing hosting services?
Photo credit: Robin Good
If you are new to the web publishing world, you should know that a web hosting provider is a service company that provides you with the:
a) storage space for your web site pages and data,
b) the connectivity and bandwidth to let anyone access your web site,
c) additional complementary services, and technical support.
Hosting is therefore a service you must use if you want to publish your own web site without relying on a free platform like Google Blogger or WordPress.com.
In this MasterNewMedia video shot in Rome's wonderful Villa Borghese, I explain in a simple and easy-to-remember fashion, what are the key criteria that you should use to select and identify your ideal hosting provider, as pricing and disk-space, frequently among the first items a novice web publisher scrutinizes, are often not the most critical ones to take into consideration.
To find out which are the other 12 points, you need to put serious attention into when choosing your first hosting provider, check out my video-on-the-lake guide to selecting your best hosting provider here below:
Duration: 10' 41''
by Robin Good
Hi, this is Robin Good, and today I want to help you out and understand which are the criteria you can use to select your best, ideal hosting provider.
When you have to put up your website, you need a hosting provider. Some place where you can put all of your files, all of your documents, videos, MP3 files, the ones you don't put on YouTube, on some kind of server.
There are a lot of solutions out there, and if you go and Google and you search for "hosting provider," you're going to find an infinite quantity of ads and search results that are relevant for hosting providers. So, you want to make sure you have some criteria ready to use to make a selection among this.
This is what I'm going to do today.
I'm going to take you out for a little tour and showing you in a nice, outgoing way, what I think are the key criteria you should use to select your hosting provider.
1) Online Reputation
Number one is: Find out what their online reputation is.
Are these serious guys, or are these guys that you cannot rely very much upon?
Go find out.
Search in the forums. Check out in the social buzz. Is anybody talking about this company?
Are they serious people, or are they just freaks, surfing during the day and giving you hosting providers in the cantina of their houses?
You've got to find out what their online reputation is.
That is number one.
2) Customer Support
Number two: I think that you may want to pay some attention to some other important factors.
For example:"Hello guys, are you there? Are you going to help me? My site is down. It is two hours that it's down, and I'm losing thousands of visitors."
- Is their customer support working?
- What do you get?
- Do you get phone support?
- Do you get email support?
- Which hours of the day and which days of the week do you get it?
You maybe live in a different time zone from where their offices are.
Find out exactly what kind of customer support you get from them, because this is going to be very important, especially if you are a non-technical person.
3) PHP, Perl, MySQL Support
If you are a non-technical person, you may want still to customize very much your website, and so your webmaster may need to put up a database or create some scripts that do some specific things for you.
The type of things that these people need, normally are having some kind of Perl support code, or having the ability to use PHP - which is another programming language - or even going down with MySQL database work.
Remember, three technical things that may be very useful if you don't want to have just a blog: the ability to customize the technical side of your site.
How do you do that? Three elements will promise you, will guarantee that you can do that.
Search for feature support on PHP, Perl, and MySQL. That's what I suggest.
"What else Robin, do I need to pay attention to if I want to select the proper hosting provider?"
4) Analytics Tools
One thing you want to pay attention to, not many people know that they can get from the best hosting providers, is the ability to look well inside the traffic data that is going to get on your website.
You want to make sure that your hosting provider is going to provide you with some analytics tool.
Yes, there is Google Analytics, but sometimes you want to check the source. You want to actually download the logs of your server. You want to be able to know what is the data, right at the source.
Make sure that all of this is possible, that you can download the logs and you have access to some basic analytics information, also from your hosting provider.
5) Your Online Publishing Platform
Next, I would pay attention to something that has to do with your publishing system.
You may be using:
Many hosting providers today offer you the ability to actually match your publishing system by selecting something that works.
No matter what you do, it's good to check whether your hosting provider can match the publishing system, the CMS - the content-management system - you would like to use.
Do the two systems make a clack? Are they able to work together?
Check on the features of your selected, ideal hosting providers and see if they provide direct support for WordPress, Movable Type, Drupal, Joomla, or the type of publishing system you would like to use, depending on the type of site you want to build.
Having the hosting provider support that guarantees you that if you have some trouble with that system, they can fix you, and probably that you can find it already pre-installed on your server, which makes your life so much easier.
6) Pricing Plans
Another element you want to pay strong attention to when you select your hosting provider, is to make sure that they don't pull out all the money from your little pocket once in a year.
You don't want to pay advance for a whole year to a hosting provider.
You want to make sure you can pay by the month so that anytime you're not satisfied, you can stop getting service from them and move somewhere else.
This is always possible.
It's not something that is really something I would do lightheartedly, but you can definitely move your website anytime you want from a hosting provider to another one.
Make sure you're not being billed by the year, but actually by the month.
7) Money-Back Guarantee
Talking about money, I think it would be essential that you also take into consideration a money-back guarantee.
Are they going to give you back money if things don't work like promised?
Are they going to give you an official guarantee if there is downtime that you don't expect to have, If there are going to be troubles, if things are not going to work out the way you expect?
Check out whether there is a money-back guarantee.
8) Monthly Bandwidth
Something else you want to check about - and not many non-technical people are familiar with - is how much bandwidth your hosting provider is giving you, that is the amount of data that you can send in and out from your website.
Anytime somebody comes to your website, they're going to suck up some data. They're going to send out from your server some bits of data to send out those pages and images.
Same thing happens, but the other way around, when you upload stuff to your website server, to your hosting provider.
How much data can you send in and out? Some providers today say they give you unlimited bandwidth.
Check out if there are any fine print below that, because any serious hosting provider normally gives you some very specific bandwidth limits.
Check out what those are, and make sure you know them.
9) Guaranteed Uptime
Something that I just mentioned is also your uptime.
You want to make sure you don't have to recharge something and that the site is going to go down when you least expect it.
Check for guaranteed uptime of at least 99.9 percent, because even that 0.1 percent of downtime during a year - that's where they count it on - can correspond to quite some time of your website not being accessible.
Make sure uptime is guaranteed 99.9 percent if you're looking for a serious provider.
10) Persistent Backups
Make sure they guarantee you also to do backups. This is quite important because you may not have the resources or the team to do this yourself on a systematic, periodical basis.
Make sure your hosting provider - even if it costs a little more - does manual or automatic backups on a systematic, periodic basis.
Since you have to interact with that hosting provider, one thing you want to make sure of, is also that you can access this hosting provider without having to get an engineering degree.
I hope you don't have to confront yourself with stuff that is way too technical for you.
11) Friendly Control Panel
The feature you need to be looking for is that there is an easy-to-use, friendly control panel.
CP, they often call it. That stands for control panel.
You want to have a control panel that is easy-to-use and which should allow you to:
- Upload files,
- delete files,
- rename files on your servers quite easily, without needing to have a certification of webmaster degree.
What do I have left?
12) Disk Space
I think it is important to keep under control how much disk space you have available.
If you're getting some shared web server with other websites, how much space do you have there to upload stuff?
If you're having just content and text and a few images, probably this is not an issue, but if you're going to upload over that server many videos and other heavy content, then you may want to know ahead of time what is your disk space.
13) Separate FTP Accesses
If you have some technical people or collaborators working on your team and uploading stuff, they're going to use FTP. That's "file transfer protocol", the ability to upload directly to the server some needed files.
How many FTP accesses do you have? One? Three? 10? 20?
The more the better. Especially, again, if there are going to be the needs to give special access to some other people to bring up stuff on top of your website.
14) Email Support and Management
Last but not least, check out for email support and management. That is, when you get a web server and a hosting provider, you certainly can also get the ability to create emails for your users.
- How many email boxes can you use?
- Can you filter them?
- Can you spam-protect them?
Check out what are the offerings there.
With these 14 different tips, I'm sure you can select a hosting provider with much greater awareness of what are the critical items you need to be looking at to make a relaxed, safe, and reliable choice.
This is Robin Good, from the lake in Villa Borghese. I hope you select the best hosting provider out there.
Originally written by Robin Good for MasterNewMedia, and first published on November, 23rd 2010 as How To Select And Identify Your Ideal Hosting Provider
Online Reputation - Clipart
Customer Support - Clipart
PHP, Perl, MySQL Support - Norebbo
Analytics Tools - Andrey Burmakin
Pricing Plans - TNNhost
Monthly Bandwidth - Jiri Kabele
Guaranteed Uptime - Alhe
Persistent Backups - Kirsty Pargeter
Disk Space - Notebook Italia
Separate FTP Accesses - Clipart
Email Support and Management - Eduard Kachan
Originally written by Robin Good and first published on MasterNewMedia.Robin Good -