Compare Hosting:

How to Effectively Compare Hosting Providers
To properly compare hosting providers, it is important to research several web hosts before making your decision. Your customers' impression of your website and their experiences with it will be directly related to your success as a company. The value of a first impression cannot be overestimated. Learn how to compare hosting providers and soon you will see that choosing your web host isn't a daunting task after all!

Ideally, when you compare hosting companies, you will shop around, asking preliminary questions that will qualify or disqualify a web hosting provider from your selection list. Consider questions in the following categories as you compare hosting providers and make initial inquiries:

Pricing Structure: Don't simply look for the lowest price. You need to know how much web hosting provider's prices will grow as you expand your services and customer base.  Ask about a variety of scenarios when you compare hosting providers. For example, a small business owner who knows he will only need a small site to get started should ask about web hosting prices for medium sized websites with a larger number of visitors. Prepare for growth now so that you are not caught off guard by unexpected costs when you go to expand your services.

Technical Support: Critical to success, you'll need a web hosting provider that can help you resolve problems quickly with the least possible disruption to your site activity. Compare hosting plans to see if each web hosting provider offers help on a 24/7 basis? If so, is it by phone, fax, email, or live chat? Is the support free or will there be charges involved? Also inquire about consulting. Compare hosting providers and the plans they offer to see how each web hosting provider defines "consulting" versus "technical help". Technical help may be offered free, while consulting might come with a price tag.

Domain Name Registration: Compare hosting plans to find out if your desired domain name is available. You'll want to know how much the web hosting provider charges initially and the maintenance charges thereafter. Ask each web hosting provider questions regarding the portability of your domain name. Will you be able to take it with you if you change web hosting providers? Are there any related contractual provisions?

Offered Services: Various web hosting providers offer a variety of services. Make a list of what you know your website must be able to do so that when you compare hosting providers you will know whether it offers the features that you need. Examples of services include visitor counts, email forwarding options, real time chat, shopping cart functions, and web statistics. The list goes on. With a predetermined needs list in hand when you compare hosting providers and hosting plans, you won't forget to ask important questions.

Speed: You need to know how fast your web hosting provider can provide access to your visitors. As part of your research, you should visit the websites hosted by the companies you are considering. Vary the times of day you visit, focusing on the times you believe your target audience is most likely to access your site. Find out some of the clients of each of the web hosting providers you're considering when you compare hosting providers, and how many they have. This will impact your site's performance.

Uptime: An efficient web hosting provider will not have disrupting downtimes. When you compare hosting plans, ask each of the web hosting providers if it provides an uptime guarantee, or if you will be notified of any impending downtime. Does each of the web hosting providers have a related system of reporting and documentation?

In most cases, your website is your only chance to make that first impression. Knowing this, you need to select a web hosting provider that will be reliable for both you and your customers. When you compare hosting providers and web hosting plans, ask key questions to avoid getting involved with a web hosting provider that will cost you time, money, and perhaps even your reputation. Once you compare hosting providers and have a list of those that are qualified according to your basic needs, contact each of them for a more detailed discussion.

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