There are many important issues to bear in mind when looking for a company to host your web site. If you’re a beginner putting up a simple site that uses no programming or advanced features; then you would likely be fine with the starter packages offered by most hosting providers. Service, support, reliability and value added features like free PHP or java modules are probably most important to you. However if your site is for business and/or involves programming languages and/or ecommerce features, then you should be concerned with other issues:
– do you need unix or windows hosting ? If you site is written in .Net or Active Server Pages then you definitely need windows hosting as those technologies only work with Microsoft operating systems. It’s the same if you use Microsoft databases like SQL Server or Access. Otherwise you would probably be OK with either platform. As it turns out, most companies offer both.
– do you need shared or dedicated hosting? If you expect very large amounts of traffic, or you need a lot of administrative control over your web site, or your site involves a complex setup of scripts, databases, multimedia content etc then you might need a web hosting company with dedicated hosting.
– how many domains and subdomains do you need ? Hosting companies all differ in the amount of domains and subdomains you can have within your web hosting plan. Think carefully about whether this is or will become important to you. Its good to have room for expansion for your web activities without having to switch your web hosting service if you decide to host a new domain, for example.
– disk space and bandwidth – make sure you have a good idea of the space and bandwidth requirements for your site. Most often, disk space isn’t a big issue since the average web hosting company typically offers lots of space with even the starter web hosting plans. However if you’re storing lots of data – video for example – than this will be something to look out for.
– do you need ecommerce features such as shopping carts or credit card processing ? These tend to differ by hosting provider, as does whether there’s an extra charge involved.
– do you want custom PHP modules or other scripts? Some companies offer a selection of very useful PHP modules for no extra charge, typically with a simple installation menu. This can be great if you want to add a blog, MYSQL database, guestbook, or other PHP feature to your site.
– support – are there good resources available to you to help you out? Can you reach a live person at the web hosting company for assistance at no extra charge?
– reliability – do they claim 99.5% or greater uptime ?
– speed – If the hosting company’s home page takes quite a while to load – then your site probably will to ! See that as a bad sign and move on.
– email services – think of your needs and make sure that you use a web hosting service that can provide you with the email solutions you want, such as POP2 based or web based, auto responders, number of addresses, etc.