When you're looking for a hosting company for your website, a web hosting guide can help you compare the services from the various hosts. Being able to do this research in one place will save you a lot of time compared to visiting each host's site separately.
Before you start your research, you should decide on what your hosting needs really are. Do you need 10GB of storage or would 1GB be plenty? How much data are you really likely to transfer in a given month? Do you need to choose Unix or Windows for some reason, or does it not really matter?
Having an idea of your needs ahead of time will make it a lot easier to narrow down the right hosting plan.
Some of the other factors you should consider include:
- Email accounts, forwarding and aliases
- URL redirects
- FTP access
- FTP accounts - both public and private
- Web-based control panel
- Shopping cart software
- Pre-installed software (blogs, forums, etc. )
Once you know what your needs are, you can start comparing hosting plans. You can use Google, Yahoo or another search engine to find a good comparison site - just search for “web hosting comparison" or something similar. (And if you're not sure what your needs are in the first place, take a look at a site like www.hostingreport.org to help you work out your requirements. )
Once you find a decent hosting comparison site, you can compare packages from multiple hosts to see which ones meets your need at the best price.
Most of these comparison sites also include reviews, both by the people who maintain the site and often by users as well. These reviews can be invaluable when choosing your hosting company because they come from real people who have had experience with the host.
If the host has a history of problems, the user reviews will reveal that to you. This is something you would never find out just by reading the hosting company's website.
Hosting comparison sites also sometimes have speed test results from the various hosts. This will help you to see how good the host's performance is, and will give you an idea of how scalable your site will be if hosted there.
You want to be sure that your site can grow effectively as you get more visitors and more traffic. Choosing a host based on price and features alone can cause a lot of headaches down the road if you have to change hosts when you outgrow them.
John Lenaghan writes about low cost web hosting services and other website hosting topics on the Hosting Report website. Find out more at http://www.hostingreport.org