The Internet has become part and parcel of modern-day living. In fact, most people would find it difficult to imagine what life would be like without it. Most of the things that we normally do offline can be done online much faster and to a worldwide audience at that! From selling to buying to researching to working to keeping in touch to having fun, the Internet has become a world all its own that we find indispensable to our way of life.
In much the same manner as putting up a brick-and-mortar business or building your home, setting-up your own “home” in the Internet requires the services of certain providers. Offline, you’ll need to engage the services of an engineer, architect and a contractor to build your buildings or your homes. Online, you’ll need a Web hosting provider to build your virtual space.
Marketingterms.com defines Web hosting as “the business of providing the storage, connectivity, and services necessary to serve files for a website.” Simply put, it’s the process of making your website available to the multitude of users over the Internet. Individuals or companies who provide web hosting services are called Web hosts or Web hosting providers. Whether you want a personal website or a company website set up on the World Wide Web, these Web hosts give you space on their server and the Internet connectivity you need, usually for a monthly fee.
But not all Web hosting providers are the same. There might be thousands offering this service in the Internet, but choosing the best require a bit more effort on your part and lots of asking around. To get you started, here are a few tips:
1. Choose a company with a good reputation. Ask around because referrals will often lead you to the best. Check if they have a background of dependability, honesty and professionalism. If you hear a lot of complaints from previous customers or in forums on the web, that’s your warning sign even if they offer cheap services (that’s another red flag too).
2. Make sure that the Web host you choose offers good technical support. This means that you’re ensured that they know what they’re doing. This might seem a little too obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many providers out there hire people who lack the necessary technical knowledge when glitches occur. Factor in the support hours they’re willing to give- 24 hours, 7 days a week is ideal.
3. Choose a Web host that assures you little or minimal downtime. Most Web hosts aim for 99.5% uptime (percentage of time the host is accessible online). Look out for a company that promises to give 100% uptime. This could be a potential scam since legitimate Web hosts will always have downtime for site maintenance. Ensure that the service level agreement you sign includes a provision for refunds or reduced monthly payments if uptime goals are not met.
4. Make sure that their hardware is up to the challenge. If you expect large volumes of traffic for your site, you have to choose a Web host that have redundant connections to the Internet and have high-quality fast servers.
5. Opt for virtual hosting. This allows you to register your own domain rather than make it a sub-directory of a host’s site. You’ll pay more for your own domain but it will be well-worth the investment if you want your site to command credibility.