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Tips for Choosing a Web Hosting Service
The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a web host is your needs: just like it wouldn't make sense to use a smaller web host if you're building a huge website that requires multiple servers, it wouldn't make sense to pay for a lot of storage and features you're not going to use if you're launching a small blog. If you are planning on starting with a small site that will become very large, your best bet is to choose a basic package with unlimited disk space, which will give you enough space for all of the pages you'd like to have and make you to accessible through search engines. When your website expands, you'll always have the option of switching to a large host later to accommodate your traffic.
The more you know about the different features and publishing tools that are available, the more you can make your website an inviting environment for visitors. Also, try to grasp the more complex technological specs of each web host. Even if it sounds like jargon to you now, it will begin to make more and more sense as start understanding the different features each host offers.
Once you feel grounded in these technological aspects, make sure your website has features in place to find the customers that you're trying to reach. Almost all web hosts provide means of reaching consumers through free advertisement credits. Shopping carts and multiple email addresses can have a big impact on how professional you look to interested consumers. Checking security features would also be a good idea if you're trying to set up a small shopping website, as well as CMS availability and integration for each web host. Remember, the more you know, the better website you'll ultimately have.
Web Hosting Prices
Many web hosting services let you choose from several types of packages, each with a different price and slightly different range of offerings. The prices can range from $4.25/month to over $40/month. These price differentials can be attributed to the different features included within each plan and to the eagerness of some newer hosting companies, such as iPage, to grow their brand by offering extremely low rates. In order to help you stay within your budget, we've compared the prices of the best web hosting services of 2012 across all the plans they offer.
Bandwidth and Disk Space
Even if you're planning a small site, you should look for a minimum of 5 GB of disk space and 250 GB of bandwidth from your web hosting plan. While this may be enough for most websites, it's important to note that many web hosts such as FatCow are offering an unlimited amount of both at a price that's comparable to more limited plans. Our side-by-side comparison shows what each host offers to help you decide which plan will best suit your needs.
Ease of Use
Choosing an easy-to-use web host is particularly important if you are new to web hosting. We set up accounts with several web hosting services and used each control panel for a variety of tasks in order to evaluate the ease of use. Since only StartLogic lets you test out their control panel with a free demo, we've recorded our findings to help you determine which control panel will be easiest for you to use.
Both web professionals and novice webmasters will likely need assistance from their web host's customer support staff at some point. Since nearly every hosting company promises impeccable support, we put them to the test to show you how helpful and friendly each support team truly was. We tested the hold times, relevance of the response and politeness of both phone and chat representatives. We also tested the email responses of each web host. Finally, we surveyed the self-help services offered by each web host, in case you prefer to find answers independently.
Standard Web Hosting Features
One thing that tends to complicate the decision of choosing a web host is the large (and often unnecessary) features list that each service provides. Although price, bandwidth and disk space are often the biggest determining factors, it's also important to evaluate what other features and add-ons each host offers. Our comprehensive features comparison will help you determine which host offers the features you want. Or, if you're not sure exactly which features your website will need, take a look at our comparison to determine which ones sound helpful and which ones may not be worth the added expense.
Uptime and Page Load Time
Of primary importance to the success of your website is whether or not your visitors will be able to load your site's pages quickly and to see at a glance what your site is all about. While we found iPage to live up to it's 100% uptime guarantee, we were surprised to see that HostGator fell short of it's 99% guarantee. We tested the uptime and page load time of the best hosting services to help you determine which ones are more reliable.