Finding the best hosting service for your website can be complicated. There are almost endless options all clamoring to be the top hosts or the least expensive service, and this can make it almost impossible for webmasters to sort fact from fiction. The best way to select a quality web host is to take the selection process one step at a time:

Assess Your Needs

The very first item to address in selecting the best hosting service for your needs is to actually identify what those needs are. What sort of website are looking to host? Small personal homepages will have very different hosting criteria from large company websites. To find the best hosting service for you, it is important to determine exactly what you plan to host now, and ideally take into consideration anything you are planning to host in the immediate future.

Rate

Different hosting companies offer a large variety of rates. Companies offering dedicated servers will be substantially higher than others offering budget hosting with limited bandwidth. Competition from overseas is priced temptingly low for many, but there are many factors to consider. Don't stop at price, and if you plan on using your website in a professional capacity, it is important to move beyond free web hosting. Free hosts are great for small family or fun sites, but are not suited to the needs of internet marketers – even those just starting out. Rate should not be a top determining factor until you have narrowed a list based on other criteria such as:

Reliability and Speed

The best hosting services will offer uptime of over 99%. This should be a guarantee to motivate the company to keep all servers up all the time. Of course, visitors should also be able to access your site quickly.

Data Transfer and Disk Space

Bandwidth requirements grow with your site. Web hosting companies pay for bandwidth, so you, the one using that bandwidth will be billed accordingly. It is far better to pay for the required amount of data transfer upfront rather than get a surprise bill in the mail for having gone considerably over your allotted amount. By the same token, be sure you have an appropriate amount of disk space reserved. Most websites require less than 3GB.

Technical Support

It is very important to be able to reach the hosting company if your website begins experiencing problems. The best hosting support one can hope for is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Most companies know this, so take their stated hours with a grain of salt. Always spot check the companies with email at random times to see if they really have someone available to help 24/7.

Scripts and Special Features

Different websites have different needs, and the best hosting service for you should accommodate those needs. Email addresses should be standard as well as the capacity for a variety of scripts. Be sure to see if other features like shopping carts and secure servers are available or standard.

Control Panel

How much control does the hosting company offer webmasters? It is inconvenient to work through customer service every time to modify a password or to change email addresses. Be sure hosting companies offer some form of a control panel accompanying hosting.

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