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Choosing a web host

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/7/2006 | Business and Finance

The registration of a domain name is the first step in getting a web address. The second and more important is to find a web host who can provide you hosting space on a server that is connected to the Internet.

There are hundreds of companies that provide web hosting facilities. Most of them are very aggressive and offer cut-throat packages to lure the customer. You have to see which company suits your interest more.

The first thing that you need to find out is the reliability of the company. How long has the company been in business? How many clients does it have? What is the feedback of these clients? If possible, you must visit the company to see how it is run.

You next need to look at server uptime. Dont settle for anything less than 99 per cent. Todays high-end servers are capable of high performance. You would not like your site to be on a server that breaks down repeatedly.

You should also find out if the server is connected to a T-3 line, and has sufficient bandwidth to let your traffic flow freely. The company must offer a strong support system which means a 24/7 live telephone support. You can check it by making a call at an odd hour to see if your call is attended by a customer service representative.

Security is another important aspect. A host should be able to offer a secure site. There should be a firewall to keep away hackers and viruses. Also, all files should be backed up daily so that there is no data loss in case of a server collapse.

The web host should offer technology that is scalable. It should not be that you have to look for a new host once your customer base grows. Also, the web host should be willing to upgrade technology, and introduce new value-added features.

The difficulty arises when the host shuts down suddenly, goes bankrupt and puts you in a quandary. During such a time you have to ensure that your contract with your web host clearly states that you own all your web content; all backup copies are made available; and there is no confusion over domain name ownership.

Very often web hosts get the domains registered in their name. This becomes a problem for you because then you have to approach the domain name registrar and get your name back. Often, this leads to complicated cases.

Some of the signals that should alert you of impending problems are: sudden dip in the quality of service; inordinate delays in reconnections after web crashes; change in support staff; and introduction of recorded service. When this happens, you must start looking for a new host.