There are now so many I’d be afraid to count them. Every man and his dog owns a web hosting company. Everyone seems to have a server, be it running on a dial up modem providing very bad service and speed to running in a multi link network operating centre with environmental control, armed security guards and escorted entrance. Wow. But with so many providers out there all differing levels of service and products, how can you know which to go with? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are some simple questions and rules to adhere to while shopping for your next web hosting provider.

You need to know about their uptime policy. What uptime level guarantee do they offer? This is quite important. If you can’t offer anything better than 98-99% at least then steer away! Is this high? Not at all. It’s a standard in the hosting industry to offer at least 99%. The high end ones offer 99.999% uptime (roughly meaning that out of an entire year, they are only allowed 5.39 mins downtime total!), while others would offer simply 99% of 99.something%. Uptime and availability are very important. Especially if you had just started a new marketing campaign or been handing out a lot more business cards recently and these new potential clients enter in your website address into their browser and your web hosting provider has overcrowded their systems or has gone down, what will happen? Well simply, it will time out, they wont be able to visit your site and would most likely visit your competitor’s site, which has stayed up trouble free all this time! Is it worth risking your business to a less than competent hosting provider? I didn’t think so,

Bandwidth is important. This is major. Without bandwidth your visitors wont be able to visit you, or even if they do, their visit will be very slow, which could translate into an image in their mind of your business matching (ie: being equally slow!). Another factor in this is bandwidth capacity. Goedkope webhosting If you expect a lot of visitors (and if you aren’t, I’d suggest you’re in the wrong business!), you’ll want to be able to accommodate them all. I suggest starting at a minimum of 1GB (gigabyte – this is how bandwidth capability and monthly allowance is measured on the internet). This will be enough to start out with. Also make sure that your website isn’t cut off if you go over this limit! Most providers don’t cut you off, but you need to make sure they wont! If you have a burst of traffic, and the limit is reached, new visitors wont be able to reach your site! Most providers will let you go go the limit, but bill you extra in accordance with how much you exceeded the standard allowance in your hosting plan. This is fine. You can always upgrade later as you build your site and online presence.

Storage is the next major point. You need to know you’ll be able to fit everything for your site into the allocated space. IF you run out of space, you wont be able to fit any more web pages or images in. This is a Bad Thing(Tm). You need to make sure you have at least 5MB for personal sites, 10-20MB for basic business or 50MB for advanced and corporate websites.

But how about contact? You also need to know about email accounts. How many are you allowed? If you are a sole trader, you could probably get by with just one and having what they call a catch-all facility enabled. This means that no matter what people send email to┬áit will reach you. However, as you introduce more and more services or hire people to help you in the general running of the business, you’ll want to provide individual and separate email accounts to each activity, ie accounting, sales, manager, etc. Make sure you’re able to easily add what they call POP (Post Office Protocol, the internet language used to receive email) accounts to your web hosting package. At least 5. And demand that they have plenty of storage in case you are sent emails with attachments. Or several emails with several large attachments. I’d recommend allocating at least 20MB to each email account for starters.

E-commerce is a big industry buzz word right now. But it’s very important, especially if you’re considering offering products and services on your website. You’ll need to know that your web hosting provider can fully accommodate you here. Things to ask about are shopping carts, what software they offer, digital certificates and credit card processing. There are many expensive solutions out there, and there are many free ones. Please don’t think that the free ones are lower quality or less useful than the expensive ones because that would be misleading. I used a completely free one for many months. The only reason why I stopped using it was because I took the online store down because of job transfer. The offer unlimited number of categories and items. If the software your hosting provider is offering doesn’t offer an unlimited number of categories and items, with pictures, review capability and credit card payment processing integration, then walk the other way. These features are way too important and could be all that separates your online store from looking amateurish to professional. It’s not worth gambling on. For payment processes, try to choose someone local (the currency conversion would eat up a part of your profit) or someone with reasonably low fees, but probably not the lowest. I know that PayPal integrates into osCommerce (free shopping cart and ecommerce software) quite well and they make a decent combination.