How to Choose a Hosting Plan for Your Site

So you think you want to start up a website.  In prior posts I discussed choosing a domain name and creation of web pages.  Which brings the subject of hosting into play:  One of the critical decisions you will have to make is what type of hosting plan to use and what hosting provider to choose.

Once your website has been created, it is time to make it go live on the internet.  To have your website seen on the internet you will need to choose a hosting plan.  A hosting plan is different from a domain name.  You own your domain name but you rent a hosting plan.  With a hosting plan you will be paying a service provider to publish your website on the internet for all to see.  This article covers what to look for in a hosting plan.

SERVICE  The number one thing to look for in a hosting plan is service.  No consideration, including price, should supersede Good Customer Service as the criteria for choosing your hosting provider.  If your website is not available on the internet you are losing opportunities to connect with customers.  Strategically the best thing you can do for your website upfront is to choose a hosting company that is reliable in terms of customer service as well as “uptime”.

UPTIME  When shopping for a hosting company, find out if they have an uptime guarantee. The better hosting providers will offer up to 99% uptime.  Even at 99% average uptime it can mean that your website will be off the internet for over 7 hours per month. If at all possible, choose a host guaranteeing up to 99.9% uptime.

SIZE  How large will the website be?  The amount of disk space all of your website’s pages takes up will determine the size of the hosting plan you will need.  Most websites do not require much space but if you’re planning on having a large site with a lot of multimedia content or an ecommerce site selling multiple items, you’ll probably need additional disk space on your hosting plan.

LINUX OR WINDOWS  This question refers to the operating systems available for hosting and which one to choose.  This question has no relevance to the brand of operating system you are using on your computer.  The determining factor here is what programming language was used to design the website.  For example, if CGI or PHP programming language was used, the best choice for the hosting operating system would be Linux.  For a website designed with ASP, the best choice would be Windows.  Note that if you are simply publishing a basic html website, the choice of hosting Operating system won’t really matter as much until you get into more advanced languages such as PHP or ASP.

TRAFFIC  How much traffic or how many visitors do you expect monthly?  Most hosting providers sell their hosting plans on a sliding scale according to bandwith usage.  The more visitors or traffic you expect on your site, the higher the bandwidth you will need, and the more the plan will cost.  The best advice here is to start off with a low cost, low bandwidth plan and upgrade it later as the traffic to your website grows.

SHARED OR DEDICATED HOSTING  Whether or not to choose shared hosting over dedicated hosting comes down to the following:  A shared hosting plan is exactly as it sounds, and means that your website will be stored on a server along with lots of other websites.  In this hosting format you generally have no ability to make changes to the resident software on the system, meaning you cannot change or upgrade the operating system, or the database management system, etc.  You will have to work within the software structure provided by the hosting company.  Using dedicated (or virtual dedicated) hosting means that you have full control over the server your website is stored on and that only your data occupies the space on that server.  In other words, you would determine what operating system to use, what type database management software, what type of blog software, what type shopping cart, etc., etc.  This type of hosting is definitely geared to the more advanced user, and usually you won’t be able to get as much customer support because it will be a custom setup.  The bottom line:  start off with shared hosting if you are a beginner, until you are advanced enough to progress to your own controlled dedicated hosting environment.

Lunarpages.com offers 99.9% guaranteed uptime and customer service 24/7.  We’ve used them for years and have never been disappointed. They also have a selection of shared, dedicated, and virtual dedicated hosting plans to suit all budgets and sizes and types of websites.

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