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Finding a Good Host

article by: Matthew Fair

Finding the right company to host your website is extremely important. Not only will the right hosting company display your web site 24/7/365, but they will also be critical in allowing your web designer to develop your site quickly and efficiently. As we all know time is money, and if your web host is unreliable or has poor customer service, it will likely add to the amount of time and therefore the cost of web development. Be sure to select your hosting company based not only on price but on reliability and customer service too.

Here is a list of things to evaluate when looking for a web host:
  1. Size and Transfer. Web hosting is provided based on the amount of space a web site takes up and how much information is accessed on a monthly basis. For most small to medium businesses, space of 25MB is more than enough. If you exceed the limit you can simply upgrade your hosting plan to include more transfer or space.
  2. Mailing List Management. Mailing lists are becoming integral in almost every web site. Be sure that your hosting company allows you to create mailing lists and has easy to use tools to manage the lists.
  3. Database Interactivity. Make sure your web host allows the use of secondary programming languages like Cold Fusion. Consult your web designer to ensure that your web host is compatible with the secondary language they have chosen.
  4. Stats Analyzers. An often overlooked portion of web site hosting is the statistics analysis software. Be sure that the statistics reports available are user friendly and archived for at least one year. Having good stats allows you to make important business decisions, like how and when to advertise, or did your last ad work?
  5. Email. Find out the number of mailboxes and methods of retrieving email. Good host companies will give you a minimum of ten email boxes with multiple aliases. They should also provide web based email access so that you can get to your email even if you are using a another computer from another location. (Similar to hotmail)
  6. Domain Aliases. Be sure that your web host will allow you to point more than one domain name at your hosting account. This is very useful when trying to expand the market of your web site.

If you are planning to switch host companies, be careful and protect your data and your financial situation before deactivating your existing hosting account. Some host companies have tried many scams to delay a customer who is leaving. In one such situation a host company held my clients data and domain name for ransom causing the web site to be down for 3 days. The client was leaving the host company because they billed him for services he did not order and did not use. In frustration the client canceled his hosting account. The host immediately deactivated the account and then charged him another $90 to retrieve the data.

Another consideration when choosing a hosting company is the physical location of the company. If absolutely necessary, are you willing to travel to North Carolina to resolve a problem?

Happy host hunting. If you have any questions regarding hosting or web design please feel free to contact me at matt@interkingston.com.

Matt is the owner of Inter Kingston Web Design