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How to choose the right web hosting provider

One of the most important decisions about your web site is choosing the right web hosting provider. Web hosting companies manage the web servers where your web site files and data are stored. The web server makes it possible your web site to be displayed on the Internet. Here are the most important things to consider when choosing a Web Hosting Provider:

Price: Can you go with a cheap web host?

Many webmasters search for cheap web hosting providers. At least for their first web site. That is understandable - you do not know how to compare hosting services and you check their prices. Well, once you start a web site, you will see that there are several other things that also count, apart from the price.

In the hosting industry, where there are more than 37,000 companies, you can surely find a great hosting provider with excellent price levels. We will help you learn how to compare hosting providers, not only regarding the price.

Customer Feedback

When you figure about a couple of hosting providers that meet your budget and tech requirements, go and check for customer feedback. There is plenty of information in Google and Yahoo. You will surely see if the provider is reliable, if answers your tech trouble emails quickly, if meets the uptime numbers promised on the index and if customers like it. So, go and check for hosting reviews.

Technical support

Technical assistance is always needed from your web host, at least from time to time. When you start working over your web site questions will arise: How to upload files; Where to click to publish the pictures, This button is not working, what should I do..

Sometimes you will need those questions answered as soon as possible, or even immediately. That is why your web host must provide 24x7 tech support assistance. Your e-mails should be answered within 10 minutes max. Besides the speed of responses, check if the support is technically competent. You do not want to sign up with a host that is run by a bunch of salesmen who only know how to sell and not fix problems.

The figures

The features of web hosting plans are constantly growing. In 2003, the max disk space quota per shared hosting plan was 5MB. In 2005 few providers offer less than 1,000MB web space. Just remember - do not let be tempted with "unlimited" features - where there is an unlimited feature, there is always a fine print, telling you about the price you will pay if you exceed the "quota".

Email, Auto responders, POP3, Mail Forwarders, SMTP, IMAP:

If you have your own site you would probably want to have email addresses at your own domain, for example: info@mydomain.com. You can check for POP3, SMTP (and IMAP) in order to have web mail capabilities. Check out if you can set an email address to automatically reply to the sender with a present message (Auto responder). See if you forward a message from one email to another for example: all the emails coming to sales@mydomain.com to be forwarded to salesmanager@mydomain.com

Control Panel:

This feature is especially important if you want to maintain your site or have someone else to maintain it. From the control panel you will make changes to your site, upload files, change passwords for your account, add/delete an email account, manage databases, etc.

If you follow these basic guidelines, you will have a reliable, efficient and satisfying hosting service that will contribute to the success of your business for many years to come.