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All Hosting Services Are Not Created Equal.  Here Is What You Need to Know to Not Make a Mistake.

There are multiple variables that go into choosing a hosting service.  Some are free, some are cheap, some are expensive.  The major categories of hosting services are below.  This is what you need to know about each:

Choose a Hosting Service: Free Website Hosting     Choose a Hosting Service Free

If you want to sell anything or have any sort of commercial website, you should not use a free website hosting service.  There are no free lunches.  There is a very real cost to host a website.  How do free website hosting services survive?  Most don't.

Most free website hosting services have significant drawbacks that should keep the serious website owner from using them.  In order to recover their costs, most free hosting services will insert their own ads into your website.  You don't have control over the ads.  You get no revenue from the ads.  The ads are often poorly placed so as to be as intrusive as possible.  They have to recoup their expenses to stay afloat.  The do so at the expense of your website.  There are no free lunches.

Even more disruptive than uncontrolled advertising, most of the free website hosting services go bankrupt.  When they go bankrupt, they usually take your website down with them.  This needs no further explanation.  You shouldn't take that risk.

With that said, if you are still determined not to pay anything and want to choose a hosting service that is free (at least until you need to upgrade), see this List of Free Hosting Services.

Choose a Hosting Service: Paid Website Hosting     Choose a Hosting Service Paid

Paying for hosting is, in almost all cases, the best option for anyone with a commercial website.  Evaluate each of the Inexpensive Website Hosting Services you are considering in each of these 11 areas.  Keep looking until you find one that meets your needs.  Here is what you want to do and look for when you go shopping for a hosting service:

Stay away from resellers.  Resellers are individuals or companies that sell hosting plans and services on servers that they don't own.  Sometimes resellers can give fabulous customer service and even sell the same services for less than ground-level company does.  However, there are risks involved that usually outweigh the savings you might get from the reseller.  Resellers often are not technologically savvy enough to provide good service when problems arise.  So, they may have to forward your problem on to the ground-level company.  This delays the resolution of your issue.  On principle, it is generally better for the consumer (you!) to cut out the middle man and deal with the source.  That is why I don't recommend purchasing plans from resellers.

Avoid hosting outside the U.S.A.  Unless you live outside of the U.S. and want the peace of mind of dealing with a local company you can personally visit, it is usually best to pick one of the many Inexpensive Website Hosting Services located in America.

Check the payment schedule.  A lot of hosting services will give you a discount if you buy and select a payment plan that is more than one month at a time.  You can often buy monthly, quarterly, annually, or every two or three years.  The best prices per month come with the "buying in bulk" annual or multi-year purchases.

Guaranteed uptime.  Don't choose a hosting service that doesn't guarantee its reliability.  The standard guarantee has become 99.9% uptime.  If a hosting service isn't willing to stand behind its product to that tune, pick a different one.  Without a guarantee (which can cost the hosting service money if they don't live up to it), the hosting service has little incentive to keep your website up and humming.

Upgrade capabilities.  You probably don't have to worry about this since the upgrades cost more and make more money for the hosting service.  But, be sure that you can seamlessly transition your website to a dedicated service plan if you grow big enough and have enough traffic to warrant such a move.  But don't worry, the day you are "forced" to upgrade to a better plan is a happy day.  That means you have so much traffic to your website that you need better equipment to service them all!  Make sure you are aware of fees associated with an upgrade (if there are any).

Bandwidth allotment.  Bandwidth is the amount of data that is allowed to be transferred from the hosting service's servers to people who visit your website.  Whenever someone visits a website, data is transferred from a server that is "hosting" that page to be displayed in a web browser.  There are always limits on this.  Many sites advertise unlimited bandwidth and mean essentially or practically unlimited.  Or, they will redefine "unlimited" in the fine print to mean something not remotely intuitive.  Regardless, on this point, be sure to read the fine print before signing the final dotted line (virtually speaking).  If a website advertises unlimited bandwidth or unlimited data transfer, they usually will get pretty close to it.  Just make sure you know exactly what you are signing up to get.

Disk space allotment.  Be wary of promises of unlimited disk space as well.  Usually, there will be some sort of fine print re-definition making this not exactly as advertised either.  Sometimes the number of files will be limited or the maximum file size will be limited.  Regardless, for any normal, non-deviant person, you are highly unlikely to run into any problems with running out of disk space with a hosting service that advertises unlimited disk space.  Still, read the fine print.

Technology capabilities and compatibilities.  Evaluate the technical aspects of the hosting service.  Make sure it can install and use PHP and Perl scripts.  If you want to add a blog as one of your Website Improvements (highly recommended), make sure MySQL databases are supported.  The hosting service should also privide hotlinking protection (when another site links to your files and uses your bandwidth) and FTP, telnet, SSI, and SSH features.

E-commerce features.  If you plan on selling anything as part of your Website Monetization strategy, you should make sure your hosting service offers a secure server (SSL) and a shopping cart.  SSL is vital if you want to be able to accept credit cards.  Most do offer these features nowadays, but verify that the plan you are signing up for includes them.

Management tools.  The various hosting services will provide different management tools.  If a service doesn't provide you with a control panel (often called a cPanel) or some other means of modifying your website without calling their technical support line, don't use them.  A control panel gives you great flexibility and utility as you refine and improve your website.  You should also select a plan that gives you the ability to use autoresponders (tools that automatically send a pre-written email to anyone who sends an email to a specific email address on your website), set up various email accounts, have the ability to forward all emails to a single email address you specify (a catch all), and even manage mailing lists.

Multiple domains or subdomains.  If you think you ever may want to have more than one website or blog, choose a hosting service that allows multiple (or even unlimited) domains to be hosted on the same account.  Doing this allows you to expand and create new websites or landing pages for sales pitches without having to pay any more for hosting.

Choose a Hosting Service: Devoted Website Hosting     Choosing a Hosting Service Devoted

A devoted or dedicated hosting service is also a possibility if you want top notch reliability from the launch of your website or blog.  This is an unnecessary first step for most people, and many people will never have need of a dedicated server to host their website.  But, if this interests you, see my list of Devoted Website Hosting Services.

Choose a Hosting Service: Conclusion     Choosing a Hosting Service Conclusion

To have a successful and secure website or blog, you need to host it yourself.  And, ultimately, you need to use a paid, commercial service.  This gives you needed reliability.  The dedicated servers that come with a devoted website hosting account is overkill for anyone just starting out.  They are much more expensive and always available if you grow into a website or blog that needs one.  Stick with inexpensive hosting until then.


There are a lot of excellent Inexpensive Website Hosting Services available today.  I use one of them myself.  Click the link now to investigate which of these reliable and popular Inexpensive Website Hosting Services is right for you and your needs.  Then, we'll move on and address Website Merchant Accounts.



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