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Web Hosting for the Rest of Us

A client of mine paid for a solo advert to promote his website in the newsletter I publish at e-bizministry about two months ago. As I was about to send his advert to my list, he called me up on phone and told me not to send it yet. Naturally, I asked him why. His reply shocked me out of my wits. He said he had just discovered that his website had disappeared from the net. He even said the same thing had happened to the same website earlier in the year when it disappeared in January only to reappear for just one week in May. I could not help but laugh because I knew his problem. He had made a wrong choice of web host. Your choice of web host can either promote your business or ruin your business. You have to be very careful when choosing your web host or you will be consistently losing up to 80% of your income due to your web host's inefficiency. Here are a few quick tips on how to know which web host is reliable, affordable and right for your website.

1. Check if the web host has a web presence. Face it, if a company claims to be a web host and they don't have a functional website of their own, then they have no business hosting other people's websites. Any web host you will use must have a functional website where you can check for domain availability, get support and order for their hosting services. Additionally, you should conduct random checks on their website. If you visit their site randomly ten times and the site is not available more than once in those ten times, forget about that company except you want your own website too to be unavailable almost all the time.

2. Any web host you will use must have an appreciable level of relevant experience. A minimum of a full year of operation. A new web host will only experiment with your website and the result may not be good for your business. Visit the web host's website and read about them. If they don't talk about their experience, then they don't have it. Just leave them alone.

3. Look out for their present clients' testimonials on their website. Call or email the clients and ask them questions. If they confirm that the web host is good, then the company has passed this test. However, if you don't even find a single testimonial on their website, they probably don't have any satisfied client. What to do? Just leave them alone.

4. How fast or how well does the company respond to support emails? You can find out by conducting this small test. Visit the web host's website and submit or email an enquiry to them. If you don't get a response in 24 - 48 hours, please run away as fast as your legs can carry you. Why? When you host your website with them and you have a problem, it will take them more than a month to respond to your support emails or requests.

5. You should not forget to check out their prices. The prices must be within reasonable limits and their packages must have the features you desire; adequate monthly transfer, email addresses, MySQL databases, CGI bin, FTP access, control panel etc. Very high prices don't necessarily translate into very good services. Don't be fooled by high prices. It's a common trick, please don't fall for it.

6. It must be easy and secure to make payments to your web host. It is not advisable to fill in your credit card details when making your payment. You should rather use a web host that accepts other forms of payment that do not require you to fill in your credit card details e.g. paypal and egold. If you are in a country where you don't have easy access to credit card facilities, it is even better to use a web host that accepts payment in your local currency. This will ensure that you won't have any problems when you want to renew your domain and your hosting accounts.

7. Use only web hosts that give 24 hour online access to your account. With that, you have total control over your domain and your website and you can change anything including your name servers (DNS)whenever you want.

8. It is better to use a web host that offers additional web services such as web design, website promotion, search engine submission and website management. They can be of help to you in future if you have any problems with your website or you need any additional services.

9. Before you make your payment, read the terms and conditions of the company carefully. If you don't understand or agree with any of their terms contact them for more explanations.


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