Of course, you shouldn't expect me to write about free hosting because you can't get anything near perfect from it. This piece will focus on paid web hosting but a free domain may be attached to it - it's part of the deal. What should you look out for before dropping your hard-earned money for a web hosting provider?
1. Disk space: It is important for you to know the amount of space that will be allocated to you to store your files. Depending on your need, it is very crucial to get enough disk space for your files especially if a blog is part of your website and if you will be uploading a lot of video as well as audio files. If you discover that the disk space allocation will not be enough, you should consider another hosting package that will get you covered in this regard. On the other hand, if the allocation is too much for your need, you can choose a lower package since there is always a room for an upgrade later.
2. Speed of access: Websites open faster than each other and the reasons for this development are many. The major reason is from the hosting provider and I will explain. Anytime anyone types the URL of your website into his/her browser, that visitor's computer will send a message to the powerful computer (server) of your web host requesting for that particular page. Your host's computer must then respond promptly by sending the hosted files (in form of a web page) to the computer of the visitor. As a result of this, if the server of a web host is not powerful enough or due to one reason or the other, it would not be able to respond promptly to requests, which makes a web page to load slower. There are other reasons for slow access like the strength of the server of the computer a visitor is using, the size of the requested file and so on. In order to be on the safer side, you should use a host with a track record of fast access.
3. Reliability: Serious web hosting companies run their servers for 24 hours because the internet does not sleep. While my dear friend, Micheal, is sleeping over there in the U.S, my good friend in India, Ajeet, may just be waking up from bed and be willing to check his emails. Supposing you host your website with a company that runs its servers for 18 hours a day, that means for the rest 6 hours of the day, your website will be unavailable. Hence, it is your responsibility to find out the reliability of a company before dealing with it.
4. Bandwidth: This is the amount of data transfer allowed for your website for a certain period, usually monthly. As I said earlier, your hosted files are data and they are transmitted to the computers of your visitors from your host's powerful computer (server). However, depending on the hosting package you chose, there is a limit to the amount of data transfer allowed for your website every month. Do not be fooled by companies using 'unlimited bandwidth' for campaigning as nothing like that really exists. You can't expect a site with 10,000 unique visitors monthly to pay the same amount for hosting with a site with 10 million unique visitors monthly. So, where is the unlimited bandwidth?
5. Technical Support: If you really want to enjoy your time on the internet, your web host must be able to provide the right technical support for you at anytime of the day. As I said earlier, the business of web hosting is a 24-hour thing and if you are not sure of getting anything closer to a 24-hour technical support, you better keep on searching.
6. Pricing: There are different web hosting packages and they are priced in accordance with their features. It is very essential for you to go through the features very religiously and do not forget to compare the pricing of different companies in order to get the perfect hosting plan for your website, especially the ones offering free domain names.
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