Despite the common misconception, there are huge differences from one web hosting company to another. Don't just grab the first host you come across. Take your time, do some research, and choose a host that works best for you. These hints should help:
Find lots of different recommendations before settling on a host. If you only find a few, you don't actually have a good basis for making a decision. For example, the two people offering reviews may have very different levels of technical expertise or other background.
As soon as you find something about a host that you don't like, start looking for a replacement. If you do this and the problem turns out to be a major one, you'll be ready to move quickly meaning less interruption to your site.
When determining your needs for web hosting, be sure to choose a host that is geographically close to your target demographic. If your target is the UK, make sure the host provider has its data center established in the UK too.
Make sure you, and not your web host, controls your domain name. If you let your host control your domain name, you may be stuck with that host if you don't want to change domains. Some unscrupulous hosts won't release the domain info if you leave on bad terms. If you control the domain, you can point it at another host's nameservers and start fresh.
When choosing a web hosting service, refrain from going with the recommendation of friends or family who are not professionals. Though they may have had a good experience themselves with a certain provider, realize that their needs may be very simple compared to yours. Read reviews and advice from those who have needs similar to your own.
Keep track of how many often outages occur and how long they last. If they are too long and too frequent, you should think about choosing a different service. Most services encounter issues once in a while but if they are not fixed quickly, you are not getting your money's worth.
It is important to understand the refund policy of your potential web host prior to making a commitment. A lot of web hosting packages will require you to sign up for a year at a time, or will offer significant discounts for making a long term commitment. You should make certain that you will be able to obtain a refund if the service is less than satisfactory. Certain packages may not allow refunds, or might have cancellation fees.
Purchase a web hosting plan that offers you more disk space than you currently need. Anticipating this as your business grows is essential. At a minimum, you should get 20 percent more space than you need so that you can improve or add to your site in the future without running out of space.
Find out what other programming services your potential web host offers. You don't want your sites to be limited to CSS and HTML. The best web hosts offer the ability to code sites using PHP and ASP as well. Even if you don't think you need these languages, you should use a web host that offers them. As your knowledge of web design grows, you might want to use these languages to help your site reach its full potential.
Now you really understand the difference between your average host and great companies that have racks filled with servers, all running dedicated memory for hosting your files. Review these tips when your contract is up for renewal, or whenever you're ready to choose a better host.
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