Web Hosting Company - Research Before You Decide
1991 was an important year in the development of the internet. Already an entity in its own right, it was about to get a lot bigger. It started with the National Science Foundation (NSF) when they decided it was time to lift commercial restrictions on the web.
This, in turn, opened the internet up to limitless commercial possibilities. Electronic commerce was born, and with it came companies who were starting to think there might be a future in website hosting services.
Later that year, the folks at CERN unleashed the World Wide Web (www) onto the world, which incorporated Tim Berners-Lee's new HTML computer Language. HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language and uses specifications for Uniform Resource Locators URLs).
Aside from giving the world a mouthful of new abbreviations to memorize, it also became the universal standard for locating website addresses.
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The internet was no longer simply a playground for universities and computer enthusiasts. With each new addition to its format, it became easier to use and easier to explain. At the same time, it grew in complexity. The business world saw the potential of the medium and seized on their chance.
Website hosting, once expensive and complicated, is now cheap and only somewhat complicated. It began with large companies renting out extra space on their servers and has now become big business in itself. There are at least as many companies that offer web hosting as there are companies that provide internet service.
As computers continue to evolve, the internet itself evolves. And with each new change come new changes to the way the business of website hosting is packaged to potential customers.
So where do you want to go today?
Hundreds of hosting providers are competing these days to attract customers in different ways. In most cases, their offers look very similar, especially to those who are new to web hosting, making the selection of a good hosting provider a very difficult and confusing task.
Sources of information that can support your evaluation process can be in:
1. At least three honest and unbiased review sites.
2. Several reviews in more than one web hosting forum.
3. Direct feedback from real customers of the candidate providers.
Web Hosting Review Sites
Hosting directories and review sites are useful in the process of narrowing your search, especially those who provide an automatic search utility based on price, space, bandwidth, OS, etc., which can save your time and effort in this aspect.
Avoid review sites with "top 10" sort of recommendations. Go for those which provide user reviews, and read the reviews carefully. Compare reviews and user opinions from as many review sites as you can, at least three.
As stated above, be careful when reading customer reviews as some hosts might encourage their new customers to write favorable reviews by offering some advantages.
Web Hosting Forums
Open forums are an important source of reviews and customer experience. They are open places where customers can write their reviews and opinions about their hosts.
However, they can have the same problem as review sites: a provider can write very positive reviews about his own company. The opposite might also happen: competitors can write very negative reviews about their competitors. In some forums, this activity is not permitted.
Moderators are strictly monitoring the forums for such activities and deal with them in a way that preserves their honesty and credibility, but this cannot guarantee that all the reviews are 100% accurate and honest. Keep in mind: what fits with other users' needs might not fit with your needs.
Search for "web hosting forum" in any search engine, and you will get hundreds of them. Almost all forums have a search service from which you can search for your candidate hosting provider's name or URL.
If you get results for your search, read as many related threads as possible. If you don't get results, you can post a thread asking for customer reviews about the intended provider(s). Again, don't base your final decision on one opinion. Read reviews in different threads on more than one forum.
Feedback from Customers
Some web hosts list samples of their customers. Others have forums on their websites for support, where you will see examples of issues raised by real customers and how the company deals with them.
On those forums, you might get addresses of some customers. Try to contact those customers to find out what they think about the service and support.
At this point, you can make a decision based on a combination of the gathered information. You will most probably be satisfied with the host you choose.
Many variables should be considered when selecting a web host. Does the host provide the right features, databases, price, etc.? The quality of a web host can make the difference between a lifetime web visitor for your website and an annoying first-timer who will never return.
If the web host has a slow connection to the internet or a poor uptime percentage, then a web surfer would experience a boringly long delay waiting for the pages to load.
In the worst case, they may simply get an Error 404 page not found! Nevertheless, there are a few steps that can be taken to find that great host and to help avoid web hosting lemons.
Before you even begin to consider locking in and purchasing a web host, be sure to visit a number of random web hosts. This will allow you to get a feel for pricing standards and understand what features go with what price.
Be sure to pay attention to the following:
1. Price per GB of bandwidth
2. Price per GB of storage
3. Number of databases
4. Number of domains and subdomains allowed per account
5. Standard features - FTP access, Email features, hotlink protection, etc.
After getting an idea for the standards pricing for these key items, move on to quality research.
Now that you understand what features and prices are offered by certain hosts, how do you decide if these particular hosts are of exceptional quality? Ideally, you would have several recommendations from friends and associates that you could pick from.
However, if this is not the case, then you will have to research yourself. This step is extremely difficult because many websites earn a huge commission by offering excellent reviews for certain hosts.
Hosts may advertise "lightning-fast speeds" and "99.999%" uptime, but you can check for yourself how fast their servers are by doing a simple "ping" against their server.
Ping sends a small packet of data and calculates the time it takes to get a response from the server. Ideally, you would ping a website that you know is hosted by the company to test the host's actual performance. To ping a web host on Windows XP, just follow these instructions:
1. Click Start
2. Select Run
3. Type "cmd" (without the quotes) and click OK.
4. In the command prompt, type: ping www.sitenamehere.com
5. You may also ping the IP address, for example, ping 127.0.0.1
The ping will then be executed four times (default value), and a small report of average, minimum, and maximum response times will be displayed. Note: if you are constantly getting a "time out" message, even though you can access the website via a web browser, the server may have pinging disabled.