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How to Choose a Web Hosting Provider

by David Nemer

Choosing a hosting provider can seem like a quite a headache when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. In general, there are several factors that are common with all hosting providers, and which you will need to consider before making the final choice of which hosting provider to choose. Before signing up with a provider, ask yourself the following questions:

• How much money are you willing to invest in your website? Most websites can be up and running in a couple of days for very inexpensive prices, but consider just how much you are willing to invest in your site before choosing a provider. Remember, hosting might not be the only thing you are spending money on when setting up your site, so budget accordingly.

• How much hard disk storage will your website require? Will your site be a large database of files, or a mostly text based web page? If you are going to be hosting large files on your site, like pictures or music, make sure you know exactly how much space all those files are going to take up so you can have an idea of how much hard drive space you will require from your server.

• How much bandwidth are you going to need? This is a similar question to the storage aspect of your site. If you will be running large files through you site all day long, you will need much more bandwidth than most sites. If your site will be only a couple of basic pages describing your service and asking people to contact you, then you will probably be ok with purchasing minimal bandwidth.

• Will your site require any special software to run correctly, like scripts. If so, what types?

• Do you need a database? Some servers aren’t set up to host a database, and some can only host certain types. If you are going to need a database with your website, make sure you find out in advance what the requirements will be.

After asking yourself these questions, mentally visualize your site and what it’s purpose will be. Get out some paper and write down some of the pages, where they will link too, and what each function of the site will be. Try and work out before hand any additional requirements that your site will require, so that when it comes time to actually set it up on your computer, and your hosting provider, you won’t be surprised by requirements you haven’t worked out yet.

It’s always a good idea to research several hosting companies before making any decisions. Take a look at their websites, and read the technical requirements of their server software and hardware. Don’t just read the sales hype, they will all tell you that they’re the best value, and the best performing of them all. See if you can find some links to sites that are hosted on their servers, and see if those sites are similar to what you envision for yours.

Finally, read up on some of the online forums that populate the net. You can find many forums dedicated to web hosting, and web hosting providers. Just use the forums search function and type in the questions you would like answers for. Chances are, someone else has already asked the same question, and had it answered, in one of the threads on the forum.

Tuesday, Sep 19th, 2006