How to Choose a Web Host

    November 25, 2003

Now that you’ve got your cool new domain name, the next step is to select a web host that will provide you with the service and features you need. An important thing to remember is not to choose your web host based solely on cost alone!

Choosing the right web host is a decision that will affect your online business in a big way. For example, a poor hosting company that has a lot of downtime ends up costing you in lost profits.

Some of the things you want to consider when choosing a web host include:

Fast, reliable connection to the Internet.

Your site must load fast – one of the major reasons visitors click away from a website is slow loading time.

Excellent uptime.

If your web host’s servers go down, then your website also goes down! That translates to lost profits. Find a web host with an excellent uptime record.

Site/data backups.

It would be pretty devastating to lose all your hard work. Find a web host that performs daily backups. [On that note, you should also be backing up your own data on a regular basis … it only takes a few minutes!]

Plenty of storage space.

How much you need will depend on what you envision your site to be. Make sure you leave room for growth; be sure to have more than enough space for both your current and your future needs. This includes your normal web pages, graphics, scripts, and anything else you may want to use for your website.

Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as ‘unlimited space’. There is ALWAYS a limit to the amount of space a web host can offer; this is not a bad thing – you just be sure that it’s enough to cover you and your future needs. Storage space by itself is not a deciding factor.

Adequate transfer space.

Read the fine print in the contract to see if you are limited to a certain percentage of system resources.

CGI scripts.

Many web hosts will provide you with some standard CGI scripts for things such as counters, forms, and passwords. Also make sure you have the ability to create and upload your own CGI scripts – you should not be restricted to what the web host offers.

Secure server capability.

Secure servers allow you to transmit pages in an encrypted format. This is necessary if you plan on selling something directly from your website. Look for a web host that offers secure server capability for low or no additional costs.

Free autoresponders, email aliases, and mailboxes.

How many of each you’ll need depends on your business. But look for a host that will provide you with a least a few of each. Autoresponders should be unlimited in size. More information on autoresponders is available from .

Free mailing list software.

Many web hosts offer a feature where you can create your own mailing list. Handy for when you want to start your own newsletter!

Visitor demographics.

Analyzing your traffic is an important part of doing business online. Your web host should offer some demographics – the more, the better! Look for number of hits, number of unique visitors, referrers (where your visitors are coming from), browsers, and other such information.

Unlimited, free, and responsive customer service.

Make sure you can get the help you need, when you need it. It can be very frustrating if you run into a problem and can’t find anyone to help you! With a good web host you won’t need support services very often, but when you do you want to be able to contact someone right away. Be sure that you can contact them by phone, too – it’s must easier and faster to resolve a problem over the phone, rather than emailing each other back and forth.

Online management toolkit.

This is handy for when you need to do administrative tasks, such as setting up autoresponders, email aliases, uploading/downloading files, and so on. Instead of being forced to wait for your web host to do it for you, you can do it yourself anytime you like.

Money-back guarantee.

You should be able to try out your web host and get your money back if you are unsatisfied with them for any reason. Many web hosts offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

No minimum contracts.

Are you required to ‘lock-in’ a contract for a year, two years, or more? Look for a host that will let you pay month by month, if at all possible.

Take your time and select the right web host. Doing it properly now will save you time and frustration later – you’ll be glad you did!

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Angela is the editor of Online Business Basics, a practical, down-to-earth guide to building an Internet business on a beginner’s budget. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love the book! Visit or request a series of 10 free reports to get you started.