Web Hosting Guide: Selecting a Web Host
Here are the things to consider for selecting a host.
Disk Space and BandWidth
If your site contains mostly text pages, you don't need much space and bandwidth. Most of web pages with a few images take between 10KB to 50KB disk spaces. If, say, your web site will have about 30 pages with an average size of 30KB, then the space needed is no more than 1MB. If in average you will have 200 visitors to your site daily with 5 page views, then the monthly transfer is about 30KB x 5 x 200 x 30 = 0.9 GB. You got the idea, and be sure to leave some room for growth.
If your site contains images, sound files, movie clips, etc, you need a lot more space. Check the size of your multimedia files on your system to get an idea how much space you need.
A space of 10 to 100MB and a bandwidth of 1 to 10GB would meet the needs of a small site with light traffic. Business sites may need 100 MB or more space with 10 to 30 GB or more monthly transfer, depending on the expected traffic. If you have a database for your site, estimate how big it can grow.
Servers and Network Speed
CPU speed and number, RAM size, hard disk type, etc. are the main parameters to check for the servers. Most of the hosts are shared, which means you share the same web server with other web sites. Consider dedicated servers for high-traffic sites, strong security need, or specialized software.
Most servers run on either Unix (Linux) or Microsoft Windows NT/2000 platforms. Unix operating system is more reliable and stable and less expensive. Windows are less stable, and more expensive to maintain. If you need a lot of Microsoft technology for your web site, you may consider Windows. Compare a few examples to see the feature differences at Unix/Linux Hosting and Windows Hosting.
Network speed depends on the capacity, but traffic load also affects the performance. A few bandwidth references are list below:
What features you need for your web site? Do you need scripting languages like CGI, PHP, ASP, etc.? Do you need multimedia support, email support, etc.? What database you will use? Do you need E-commerce support?
Remember some features are only available on Windows, for example, Access and SQL Server databases. If you used FrontPage to build your site, make sure a Unix host has FrontPage extensions installed.
Support and Reliability
It is very important to get the type of support you need when you need it. E-mail support, chat support are common, you may need a phone number in case of emergency. A 24/7 toll free phone service is also an indication of a large hosting company, since there are tons of hosts these days, and many of them don't have phone support. Check out the hour restrictions on support. Also browse the host's web site for technical questions or FAQ pages to determine the support and professional level of the host. You need best and fast web hosting support.
A web server can go down, most host has 99.9% uptime guarantee, make sure there are some sort of monitoring available, and what are the backup scheme. Also check if the host has security features.
You get what you paid for. There are free hosting, but many require advertising on your site, and don't provide reliable support. Be ware 'unlimited', that's more a marketing term, be sure to read the term and conditions of the host, usually you will not get unlimited space, for example. Also, remember that quality support is expensive, while disk space are very cheap. Also, don't overlook set up fee and domain fee. Think how long your site will be hosted with the host, then decide if a setup fee is worth it.
After determining the features you need for you site, find several hosts that fit your need, go to their sites to check the details, get a feel for their professionalism, and check out some of their customers and test customer service if possible. We'd like to recommend a host in the top ten list.
There are web hosts that don't specify space, bandwidth, and all the features, instead starting by helping you to build a web site. For example, BuilderSpot or ReadyWebsites. Those are normally targeted to small businesses that need nice look web sites, but don't need much features like databases, and don't want to go into much technical details. If your business is complex, and will grow bigger, be sure to ask the limitations, while most of the hosts in the top ten list, as well hosts in other categories in our web site, also have online tools to help you build your web sites.