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Choosing a Webhost

When it comes to choosing a webhosting company for your website you will find that there are a huge number of companies to choose from. Choosing the right one can seem a bit daunting. There are a number of simple steps to follow which will make the choice easier.

To Buy or not to buy?

It is possible to get your website hosted for free, many ISPs (Internet Service Provider) offer free webspace while you are with them. However, there are usually severe restrictions on the amount of space and the amount of traffic allowed. Another potential problem with the free account is that the domain name you choose may appear as a subdomain i.e www.mydomain.someWebhost.com rather than www.mydomain.com . If you are wanting to create a commercial website this can have a negative impact on the way potential customers regard it.

Domain name

Most webhosts include a free domain name in the package. Be careful here as the free domain name is usually registered in the name of the webhosting company rather than yours. This can cause problems if you want to move to another webhost as you may not be able to transfer the domain name. If you have any doubts about this check with the webhost. If they will allow you to transfer your primary domain name so much the better, if not then either find another webhost or alternatively use a different domain name for your free one and then add the domain name of your website to the account. 

How much space is included in the package?

Many webhosting companies offer either Windows or Linux (these are the two primary rival operating systems used by the webhosting companies) based hosting packages. Linux based packages generally have fewer restrictions on space and traffic. Some webhosts using Linux based servers no longer have any restrictions on the amount of space or traffic allocated your account.

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Are there any restrictions to the amount of traffic your site can receive?

Depending on what you are using your website for this may or may not be an issue. If your are setting up a commercial website you definitely do not want any traffic restrictions.

Is your website is going to be using a database?

Most databases use one of two formats of SQL(Structure Query Language).Check which format is supported by the webhost i.e. MSSQL (Microsoft) or MySQL (an opensource or free version). As a general rule there are severe restrictions on the number and size of MSSQL databases allowed and if you want more than one you may well have to pay for it but many webhosts allow unlimited MySQL databases

Company background

Before signing up with any webhost it is essential to do some background research on them.

  • How long have they been around? The longer the better as this indicates financial stability. You don’t want to find your website disappearing because the webhost you signed up with has just gone bust.
  • Many webhosting companies out there are resellers i.e. they do not own the servers or provide the actual technical support themselves, they sell space on another webhosting company’s servers. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this but I would recommend that you go direct to source rather than via a third party.
  • How good is their technical support. If they offer 24/7 support, test it out by calling them in the middle of the night (their local time not yours) and see how well they respond.
  • Do they automatically backup their servers? Some companies may charge a small fee to do this. Ideally you should go for a company that does this as part and parcel of their operation.
  • When you have an established domain name with a good web hosting company, you can get reports on your traffic and which of your pages your customers are visiting most often, as well as many other statistics.
  • Depending on the sort of account you finally decide on the cost can range from a few dollars an month to several hundred. Most webhosts will also offer a range of add-ons to your basic account. Don’t give in to the temptation of signing up for a bunch of extras until you have established your business and then carefully review the add-ons and see if you actually need them and if they are actually worth the extra investment.

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