14 Things to Check Before Buying Web Hosting
How To Select A Web
When starting out, it is easy to overlook
some of the most important factors when
selecting a web host while paying too much
attention on great features which you may
not need at the start.
For example, most new webmasters judge a web
host by the amount of disk space they offer.
The thinking is generally, the more the
better. There are many other factors to take
into consideration. Each factor can be
weighed up according to the features each
specific web hosting company offers. Each
company may also offer several different
plans. The features from plan to plan may
Some deals may look good at first but if one
feature that is important according to your
needs is missing, then that deal may not be
so good in your opinion. This does not cast
a value judgment on any particular web host.
The deal in and of itself may be good for me
for example but not for you. So do your
research and compare different companies and
plans until you weigh up all the factors
that are important to *your* needs.
What factors do I
Tech Support - I don't know about you, but I
like the feeling of knowing that support is
available when I need it. Test different
companies before you sign up by sending them
an email with a question or two. If they
respond quickly, this is a good sign.
Uptime - The
more uptime they guarantee, the better. 99%
uptime is the minimum acceptable standard. I
look for 99% plus guaranteed uptime.
Disk Space -
Decide how much disk space you will require.
A web page with one logo does not take up
much web space at all. Calculate how big
your web site is in relation to the disk
This factor is usually overlooked until the
bandwidth limit is reached. If you go over
your alloted bandwidth, you will get a hefty
bill. If you are running a site with lots of
downloads, or a site with lots of images
such at a photo post site, your bandwidth
will be a lot higher than a site with mainly
CGI Bin - This
is now standard with good hosting companies.
If you do not have access to your own CGI
Bin, you cannot install scripts and
Perl - If you
do not have Perl, you cannot run Perl
Programs. Many good scripts that you buy or
get for free are written in Perl. In my
opinion, it would be a limitation not to
have the latest version of Perl installed.
SSL - If you
intend to accept credit cards orders
directly from your website, you will need
Secure Socket Layer included in your plan.
This is one of those easily overlooked
features. You might sign up for a plan that
looks attractive for whatever reason, then
down the track, you might discover that you
need this feature. If it is not included in
your plan, you might be gob-smacked if the
extra monthly charge is $10.00. To use this
feature you need a merchant account. There
is no need to make this a priority if you
have no merchant account because you can use
a third party credit card processor.
SSI - Server
Side Includes are great if you want to spend
minimal time updating your site. Here's how
it works. My site contains SSI's. The left
and right nav menus and the little search
engine in the left nav menu are "included"
with an SSI command in the master page
template. If I need to update one of the nav
links, there is no need to edit all the
pages that contain the menus. I just edit
one file which contains the menu HTML and
upload it to my site. It's awsome.
MySQL - What
scripts are you going to run? Some programs
require a MySQL database to run. I had this
problem with a particular web host. They
wanted to charge me $10.00 per month for a
MySQL database. WOW. I just took out a new
plan with another hosting company for under
10 bucks a month and 5 MySQL Databases are
included in the price. Say no more.
PHP - Many new
scripts and programs require PHP support.
Again, this feature can be a $10 extra but
most good hosts offer it standard. Imagine
if you do not have PHP support but the
latest new free Toplist, Blogging script or
Shopping Cart requires PHP. Again, this
feature is almost standard these days.
CubeCart is an
example of a free Shopping Cart Script that
requires PHP and MySQL: http://www.cubecart.com/site/home/
Domain Name -
What's the point in buying web space if you
cannot point your own domain name to the
site? Some companies will help you register
a domain name but you should compare prices
and learn how to register your domain
yourself. This way you are in control of
your domain name if you ever change hosts.
FTP Access -
Unlimited and unrestricted FTP access to
your site is essential. You will need an FTP
program to transfer files.
Control Panel -
Not all control panels are the same. Some
are easier to use than others. Some control
panels the learning curve is steep while
others are easy. If you select a plan where
you cannot preview your control panel before
you buy, you can always use the 30 day money
back guarantee to get out if you are not
happy. If they are not offering a working
demo of the control panel, maybe they are
not proud of it. In my experience, I have
always been disappointed with the quality of
the control panel when a demo was not
- A good stats program is handy if you want
to keep an eye on how many visitors you are
getting, where they are coming from,
referrers, top entry and exit pages and so
on. Some companies offer excellent stats
programs as standard while others offer
basic stats but you have to pay extra for
advanced statistics. If you find a good
hosting deal but the stats program is a bit
basic, why not email the company and ask if
they can install AWStats before you sign up.
AWStats is an excellent FREE advanced
statistics program: http://www.awstats.org
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