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Web Host: Selection Criteria & Features
Published: Sunday, November 23, 2003

What to look for when choosing a web host?

If your website consists of HTML pages and images only (no dynamic content), you do not have to worry about the operating system (Windows, Unix, Linux etc.) to use for hosting. If the website contains dynamic content (such as reading data from a database), you probably have already decided on the technology to use for your website.

Choosing the correct web host: The following points will help in deciding whether a web host is appropriate for your website.
  1. Operating system (OS) - Are the servers using the operating system (Windows, Unix, Linux) of your choice?

  2. Disk space - How much space is provided with the hosting? It is measured in bytes, such as mega bytes (MB = 1024 KB or kilobytes) or giga bytes (GB = 1000 MB). For a small website with up to 100 pages with no large image or media files, a server space of 25 MB is sufficient.

  3. Bandwidth - How much bandwith is provided with the hosting? Bandwidth is measured as the quantity of file transfer that occurs when visitors access your website pages. For a small less known website with very low traffic, a bandwidth of 1-2 GB (1000-2000 KB) per month is enough.

  4. FTP Access - FTP access is a convenient feature to have to upload files to the web server. Some web hosts (usually the free ones) donot provide FTP access.

  5. E-mail - Almost all web hosts now provide some form of email service. In case you own your domain name, an email with your domain name is necessary. Also look for other email features like auto responders, mailing lists, POP access (using email clients like MS Outlook Express), web email access (when you travel) etc.

  6. Customer support - This criteria is very essential when choosing a web host. Send email or call them (if they provide a support number) prior to signing up and see how quick their response times are.

  7. Uptime guarantee - A minimum of 99.5% uptime gaurantee is essential for your website. 100% uptime can be costly, however, less than 99.5% guarantee should not be considered.

  8. Money-back guarantee - Most web hosts provide a 30 day money-back satisfaction guarantee. Avoid those that do not.

After you have made a list of web hosting companies that suit the above requirements, spend some time on the internet to research each of these web hosts. Spending some time now will save a lot of headache later. See what other users have to say on independent review sites. Ask recommendations from other users based on their experiences.
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