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Web Hosting Packages - A Few Things to Consider
by Startacus Admin
As we aleady discovered in our Basic Guide to Web Hosting, the term ‘web hosting’ sounds much more complicated and frightening than it actually is. If you are a tad unsure about the concept, and would like to brush up on the basics, then you should take a little wander over here otherwise read on for a few sensible things to consider when choosing your web hosting package.
When choosing a web hosting package, the biggest risk to you and your business is ignorance. Okay, perhaps that’s a tad dramatic, but when push comes to shove, if you don't do your homework on the provider and the package, then you could find yourself in a tricky situation a little down the line.
Unlike many things in life, where the cheapest alternative can tend to seem the most attractive, when it comes to web hosting, this is only one in a great number of factors that you need to take into consideration.
As a quick introduction to the art of choosing your web hosting company and package, we have put together a few of the most basic things you should consider, before you sign on the dotted line.
The specifications are a really important factor to consider when choosing your package because, depending on what functionality / content you want your website to have, this could ultimately determine the quality of the user experience especially when it comes to factors like speed, load time, response and the overall fluidity of the site.
The specifications that you need to consider in this regard can be divided into 2 main sections ‘web space’ and ‘bandwidth’. The amount of money that you will have to pay for the hosting of your website will usually be dependent upon the quantity of these that your website will require.
For a rundown of how to calculate the level of web space and bandwidth that you will need for the hosting of your website, refer to our basic web hosting guide, which will take you through it.
Unless you have a crystal ball or are a time traveller from the future, you don't know what is going to happen in several months or years down the line. Still, you need to be able to adequately forecast the level of growth in traffic, content and functionality that your site will offer in the future before committing yourself to an agreement with a hosting provider.
For many, this issue shouldn't pose too much of a problem, since the vast majority of hosting packages are well equipped to deal the needs of the average small business website. However in the case of websites that are hoping for significant growth, this issue is a key one that you must consider. You need to ask yourself questions like;
Should my website grow beyond the levels catered for by my package, will there be an extra charge imposed for unauthorized excess?
How easy will it be for me to upgrade my package if need be at a later date, and how much will providers charge for this?
How easy is it to change providers, how long will this transfer take and is there any charge for ending the contract early?
What features will I introduce in the future that could potentially affect the load time and fluidity of my site on each package?
Unless you are a tech super genius (and even if you are) it’s inevitable that at some point, or indeed several points, you will need to make a call to your hosting company to resolve some issues, report some errors, or just to have a quick chat about your package.
If you rely on your website for the running of your business then having a constantly available supply of technical support can become absolutely essential. Consider worst case scenarios- what if your site should go down for an entire day, what affect would this have on your business? If the answer is ‘very little’ then you may not be very concerned with the level of technical support available, though in most cases you need to make sure that if worst comes to worst, the support and technical know-how are there, to get you back online asap.
It can be quite tricky to gauge the level of technical support that you will be able to receive, although most companies will have set out their technical services availability in their literature. It is always a good idea to go in search of company reviews which can usually found with minimal fuss online.
We would also suggest that before setting your cap at any particular company, you test their customer service claims by contacting them at various times of the day and seeing if you get a response. This can give you a general idea of whether or not they will be as available to the extent that they say they will be.
Whilst certainly not the only major concern for the vast majority of folks, the price is still something that should be given very careful consideration. Unless your package is part of a special offer or startup / business programme, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
Cheaper services tend to be just that … cheap, and can be lacking in important features, or have much more constrictive terms than their clostlier counterparts. On the other hand you should also be careful that you are not paying too much... and this is where a little bit of independent research can come in very handy.
Don't settle on the first web hosting service that you come across, there is such a wide variety of packages available out there that you should take time to collate the information on the specifications and features of each, compare prices and conditions and make an informed decision based on which one offers you the best value for the things that you require.
Hopefully this quick guide to some of the things you need to consider before choosing your web hosting package has given you some inspiration.