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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Best Web Host – For Your Money

Shopping for a web host can be a difficult and confusing process, especially if you’re new to it all - the different prices and packages offered by web hosting companies can make your head spin. For instance, shared, reseller, and dedicated web hosts often have different prices for similar products. You’re probably wondering, “What’s a good package for me?” and “How much should I pay?” The answers to these questions really depend on your individual requirements.

First, it’s important to understand the basics of what goes into the pricing of web hosting packages:

Disk space. This is the maximum amount of space the account you purchase is allowed on the server. This is similar to a folder that holds files on your hard drive, which takes up a certain chunk of disk space.

Bandwidth. Essentially, this is the maximum amount of times the files on your site can be viewed by visitors. For instance, a 1 MB file with an allocation of 100 MB of bandwidth means visitors can view that file 100 times. Sometimes called data transfer, bandwidth is an important consideration when selecting a web host.

Extras. Items that fall under this category may include MySQL databases and email accounts, among other things. Because these extras don’t cost the host more money, a reputable company will offer them to consumers free of charge, as part of the whole package.

In addition to the basics, other elements contribute to the price as well:

Support and Service. These two items are more difficult to accurately price. In the end, a good support center is really what you need, so test out a company’s inquiry response times before you sign up to get a feel for how they deal with customers.

Hardware Configurations. Because some servers cost more than others, the server employed by a particular web host will determine the ultimate cost of the service as a whole. The hardware configuration of the server, in particular, affects price as well as performance.

Overselling. It’s a well-known fact that many shared hosts oversell – if the company has a server that can handle 100 accounts of 1 MB each, they take the chance that most people won’t end up using all their allocated disk space, and sell accounts to 150 people. Companies that have a habit of overselling don’t provide the best performance and the price may not match the quality of the service.

What’s the right package for me?

So you’re up to speed on what goes into the pricing of website hosting, but the question still remains: how do you find the perfect company to host your website without spending money on features you don’t need?

First, figure out your budget and plan to stick to it. Once you know how much you’re willing to spend each month on hosting fees, you can narrow down the playing field significantly.

Next, determine what features you really need. As a starting point, send a description of the site you plan on creating to more than one host and ask for a package recommendation. Don’t forget to mention what you require in terms of support – if you need help every step of the way make sure you mention this to the host. After receiving the companies’ recommendations, review the attributes of each package and shortlist the ones that provide the services you need for the lowest prices.

Conduct research. Knowing your needs and the type of package you should purchase, do more research on your own. Look for hosts that offer the highest quality service, support, and anything else that tops your list of good features. Read independent reviews to learn the pros and cons of all the companies in your list.

After narrowing down the prospects, verify that the company you want to choose really does offer what you need for the right price.

Before signing up, test out the company to see if it really does suit you. You can do this by emailing or calling them, perusing the website, and browsing the customer forums. Read the fine print – discover what the money back guarantee is and know its details inside and out. Ask yourself, was the company helpful when you had a question? Did they reply quickly and politely? Does everything appear professional and trustworthy?

Lastly, go for it. Sign up with the company that gives you the best impression and offers the services you require. After a few days, before the money back guarantee is over, seriously think about whether or not the company has satisfied your needs. If you feel confident in your decision, you’ve probably made the best choice.

As long as you follow these tips and don’t choose the first web host to come your way, chances are you won’t pay too much for a good hosting service.

By: Katerina Mitrou -

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