With so many hosting service providers it is difficult to select the one which suits your needs properly. You can shorten this process by seeking some answers. Before venturing out into the market you should introspect and see if you can do it yourself? I.e. host your own site.
If yours is an online business and hosting a site is crucial for your enterprise it is not a good idea. Remember that hosting a site is not as simple as getting connected to internet. If you plan on hosting your own server you will have to employ an IT team which works 24/7 and it is simply not cost effective for small businesses. Hence outsourcing is the best option.
Remember that your website has to be available to browsers all the time. There are several companies which offer very cheap and even free hosting. But remember the old saying “When you pay peanuts you will get monkeys”. Don’t even contemplate about hosting your site on these servers. These servers don’t give any 24-hour up time warranty and are most of the time very weak in terms of security.
I agree that you need to choose the most cost effective option but you should never compromise on quality and security of the server which hosts your site.
One of the other important questions you need to decide is whether to go for shared or dedicated hosting. In the former the server space is shared by several similar companies like yours and works out quite affordable. Costs in shared hosting servers vary from $8-35 per month depending on the space consumed. But the downside of this is speed or rather the lack of it. Because so many sites are hosted on the same server, there will be lot more people accessing it and all the sites will get slow in loading.
If you lease a server exclusively to host your site then it is dedicated hosting. This will ensure that your site is fast and reliable. But it is expensive and may cost anywhere between $150-300 per month.
There are thousands of hosting companies, how do we decide which is the best? It is very difficult, even experts get taken for a ride. One of the best ways to decide on this is to research online, browsing your prospective hosts websites. Decide on the one’s you like and write to their webmasters and seek their opinions on the host. Another source of information could be review sites where you can read about the service quality of various hosting companies. Hand-pick one which is best suited for you in terms of pricing, space, security, after sales support etc.
Contact all the short listed hosting companies and discuss with them at length about their services and warranties. Put difficult queries and present hypothetical scenarios like how they will ensure uptime if there is a natural disaster like an earthquake, power failure etc, how they combat hackers etc. Ask for references from their existing customers and interact with them to verify the hosting company’s claims.
Moving from one server to another is even more difficult, there will be technology issues, environment issues, space etc to be combated with. You should find a hosting company which will patiently work with you till the transition is complete.