Low Cost Hosting
Opting for Low Cost Hosting does not necessarily mean you need to forfeit professionalism, reliability, support or features but you do need to know certain things before opting for a cheap hosting option...
Whilst by opting for an affordable hosting plan does not mean settling for poor support or less features, it is however important to be able to differentiate the cheap hosting companies from the cheap & nasty hosting companies that can cause you financial harm as well as damage your reputation ...
Choosing the Right Web Host14 Things to Know Before Selecting a Hosting Service that is Both Affordable & Reliable
Before choosing a web host the following questions need to be considered;
- What makes a good web host & what makes a bad one?
- How can the wrong web host harm my business & reputation?
- What are the different types of web hosting services which one would be the most appropriate for my needs?
- The Web Hosting Company's Credibility, Reliability & Track Record
Probably the worst thing to happen to a website owner is for your Web Hosting Company to disappear from the face of the planet overnight.
Not only are you are left totally in the dark, without email, without an online presence & without a website but your only choice is to look for a new host (a reliable one this time) and start from scratch again.
So please make sure the hosting company is financially stable, has a sound track record and is in the web hosting business for the long term.
Therefore a company that is well known with a high profile & trusted track record would probably be a better choice than a company that is not well known & does not inspire confidence.
For instance any reasonable person would probably choose a well known hosting name over a name like "Bubba's Red Hot Web Hosting"
Therefore the higher the profile of the company, the more trust you will have in its services & be safe in the knowledge that you won't be let down...
The following considerations would also enhance or detract from the web host's credibility & reliability;
- How long has the host been in business?
- Is current ownership the same as always?
- Are they profitable and cash-flow positive from operation-generated revenue?
- What Type of Hosting Plan & Features Are Needed?
Generally hosting companies provide the following sort of hosting options;
- Shared Hosting - cheap options as many accounts & sites are hosted on one server
- Reseller Hosting - also shared but allows you to create unlimited web sites under your own packages, prices, and brand.
- Managed Hosting - similar to dedicated hosting but with fully managed solutions - much more expensive than shared hosting
- Dedicated Hosting - provides a higher level of security, speed, and uptime.
When deciding on a hosting plan all plans should include (but not be limited to) all of the following features;
- Disk Space (Min 350gb)
- Bandwidth (Min 3,000gb)
- Number of Domains Allowed - Unlimited
- Email - POP3 Accounts - Unlimited
- Site Builder - Included
- Instant Backups
- AWStats (Real Time Updates) - Website Statstics
- ECommerce Features - osCommerce
- Latest cPanel with Fantastico Features
- 45 Day Money Back Guarantee
- Free / Instant Setup
- MySQL Databases
- PHP 5
- Ruby On Rails This list is not comprehensive but should be the minimum provided by any reputable web host.
- Find Out What Their Former/Current Clients Say About Them
Can your prospective host provide you with success stories for clients with similar configurations to yours? Are they able to provide references from clients who can tell you about their experience using that company?
- After Signing Up with your Web Hosting Company, How Quickly can you have your Website Up and Running?
You need to be able to start uploading files to your website's server within a few hours to minimize your site's downtime.
- Does the Web Host Continually Backup all the Websites on their Servers?
Your host needs to create backups continually so that your data is secure in the event of a hard drive failure - no backups can be a nightmare when things go wrong.
- The Importance of the Server Environment where Website will be Hosted.
Make sure that all the failsafe backups are in place - Uninterrupted Power Supplies, Airconditioning and redundant lines - Make sure that your site will be hosted in a safe and secure data center.
- Make Sure That You Have Complete Control Over Your Website's Server & Email - CPanel
Ensure that you can add or delete email accounts & addresses as & when required - if the web host provides CPanel access you will have all the tools (and more) that you will need to manage your site & email accounts.
- What Extra Value does your Web Hosting Company Provide in Addition to the Web Hosting?
Make sure that you have access to features to monitor your website traffic, that you are able to add interactive features like chatrooms, bulletin boards, shopping baskets as well as image software, website builders and more, all at no extra charge.
- Quality of the Web Server on which your Website is Hosted?
The quality of the host's servers can impact severely on the performance of their clients' websites.
Ensure that the specifications of the server are up to date and that it will be able to deliver your website's data fast and securely.
- What is the Web Hosting Company's Priority & are Their Clients Their Number One Priority?
To ensure that the Web Hosting company is dedicated to putting their client first in all that they do, don't just take their word for it (they will say they are committed to quality service blah blah blah) but ask them to provide their track record of pleasing clients as well as their client's comments about their service - both good & bad.
- Control Panel
This is the webmaster's interface between the web server & the website.
Control Panels (arguably the most popular one is cPanel) go by various names but essentially they all allow you to manage many different aspects of your web account yourself. cPanel will allow you to do things like add, delete, and manage your email addresses, change passwords for your account, check web traffic statistics, add interactive features and much more.
Definitely do not opt for a host where you have to go through their technical support each time you want to change a password or add/delete an email account - the cPanel control panel is very easy to use & does not require anything more than a basic level of computer literacy to use.
You can test drive a cPanel Demo here »
(Once the page opens you can access it under "Web Hosting Control Panel" on the right hand side)
- Technical support
Ensure that the hosting company's technical support is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all year around.
Be aware that a host may advertise 24/7 support but in reality may be found wanting if you request urgent support after hours or on a weekend.
So you would be well advised to put them to the test by emailing or logging a support request at on a Saturday night & see how long they take to respond how technically competent they are.
- Disc Space & Bandwidth Requirements
Disc Space is the amount of space measured in MB that your site's files use up on the host's server.
Beware of hosts that advertise "unlimited web space" as somewhere in the fine print the host will have a provision to charge for exceeding a certain amount of space.
However, having said that, most websites use less than 10MB of disc space & that is probably why hosting companies feel comfortable selling the "unlimited disc space" feature - many low cost hosting packages offer at least 500MB of disc space though.
Data transfer or bandwidth is the amount of bytes transferred from your site to visitors when they browse your site - or simply put the combined total of bytes uploaded to or downloaded from your site.
Again many hosts offer unlimited bandwidth but again this is a sales pitch that may not really exist in reality - but again many hosting plans come with sufficient bandwidth allowance.
- Server Speed & Uptime
Whilst the web host's server should be reliable & fast, it should also guarantee its uptime - as opposed to when it is down which means neither your website nor your email will be operational.
It is therefore important for the web host to provide an uptime guarantee which should be in the region of 99.9%.
To enforce the guarantee the host should provide some sort of refund for not adhering to the uptime guarantee.
Whilst the "perfect" web hosting company probably doesn't exist, even at any price, as even a high priced web hosting plan in no ways guarantees that it will be any good or will provide you with what you require.
In fact in the web hosting industry, high hosting charges do not necessarily yield quality hosting & support and conversely, affordable hosting does not necessarily yield poor quality hosting, support & features.
PS - Our Web Host of Choice
For affordable hosting from a reputable hosting company (Hostgator - this website's web hosting company) that provides prompt, competent support you can get all of the important features mentioned above, and much more, with this hosting company's
Affordable Hosting options from $4.95 per month »