The 14 Point Web Hosting Checklist
Copyright 2004 Ed Zivkovic
How To Select A Web Hosting Company When starting out, it is easy to
overlook some of the most important factors when selecting a web host while
paying too much attention on great features which you may not need at the
For example, most new webmasters judge a web host by the amount of disk
space they offer. The thinking is generally, the more the better. There are
many other factors to take into consideration. Each factor can be weighed up
according to the features each specific web hosting company offers. Each
company may also offer several different plans. The features from plan to
plan may also differ.
Some deals may look good at first but if one feature that is important
according to your needs is missing, then that deal may not be so good in
your opinion. This does not cast a value judgment on any particular web
host. The deal in and of itself may be good for me for example but not for
you. So do your research and compare different companies and plans until you
weigh up all the factors that are important to *your* needs.
What factors do I weigh up?
I don't know about you, but I like the feeling of knowing that support is
available when I need it. Test different companies before you sign up by
sending them an email with a question or two. If they respond quickly, this
is a good sign.
The more uptime they guarantee, the better. 99% uptime is the minimum
acceptable standard. I look for 99% plus guaranteed uptime.
3. Disk Space
Decide how much disk space you will require. A web page with one logo does
not take up much web space at all. Calculate how big your web site is in
relation to the disk space allotted.
This factor is usually overlooked until the bandwidth limit is reached. If
you go over your allotted bandwidth, you will get a hefty bill. If you are
running a site with lots of downloads, or a site with lots of images such at
a photo post site, your bandwidth will be a lot higher than a site with
5. CGI Bin
This is now standard with good hosting companies. If you do not have access
to your own CGI Bin, you cannot install scripts and programs.
If you do not have Perl, you cannot run Perl Programs. Many good scripts
that you buy or get for free are written in Perl. In my opinion, it would be
a limitation not to have the latest version of Perl installed.
If you intend to accept credit cards orders directly from your website, you
will need Secure Socket Layer included in your plan. This is one of those
easily overlooked features. You might sign up for a plan that looks
attractive for whatever reason, then down the track, you might discover that
you need this feature. If it is not included in your plan, you might be
gob-smacked if the extra monthly charge is $10.00. To use this feature you
need a merchant account. There is no need to make this a priority if you
have no merchant account because you can use a third party credit card
Server Side Includes are great if you want to spend minimal time updating
your site. Here's how it works. My site contains SSI's. The left and right
nav menus and the little search engine in the left nav menu are "included"
with an SSI command in the master page template. If I need to update one of
the nav links, there is no need to edit all the pages that contain the
menus. I just edit one file which contains the menu HTML and upload it to my
site. It's awesome.
What scripts are you going to run? Some programs require a MySQL database to
run. I had this problem with a particular web host. They wanted to charge me
$10.00 per month for a MySQL database. WOW. I just took out a new plan with
another hosting company for under 10 bucks a month and 5 MySQL Databases are
included in the price. Say no more.
Many new scripts and programs require PHP support. Again, this feature can
be a $10 extra but most good hosts offer it standard. Imagine if you do not
have PHP support but the latest new free Toplist, Blogging script or
Shopping Cart requires PHP. Again, this feature is almost standard these
days. CubeCart is an example of a free Shopping Cart Script that requires
PHP and MySQL:
11. Domain Name
What's the point in buying web space if you cannot point your own domain
name to the site? Some companies will help you register a domain name but
you should compare prices and learn how to register your domain yourself.
This way you are in control of your domain name if you ever change hosts.
12. FTP Access
Unlimited and unrestricted FTP access to your site is essential. You will
need an FTP program to transfer files.
13. Control Panel
Not all control panels are the same. Some are easier to use than others.
Some control panels the learning curve is steep while others are easy. If
you select a plan where you cannot preview your control panel before you
buy, you can always use the 30 day money back guarantee to get out if you
are not happy. If they are not offering a working demo of the control panel,
maybe they are not proud of it. In my experience, I have always been
disappointed with the quality of the control panel when a demo was not
14. Statistics Program
A good stats program is handy if you want to keep an eye on how many
visitors you are getting, where they are coming from, referrers, top entry
and exit pages and so on. Some companies offer excellent stats programs as
standard while others offer basic stats but you have to pay extra for
advanced statistics. If you find a good hosting deal but the stats program
is a bit basic, why not email the company and ask if they can install
AWStats before you sign up. AWStats is an excellent FREE advanced statistics
About the Author:
The author, Ed Zivkovic is a self taught webmaster. His website contains
articles with all sorts of tips for work at home webmasters. Here is the
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