Tips for Picking a Web Hosting Provider
Selecting a web hosting provider can be challenging. This article provides tips for selecting hosting and improving your chances of a successful hosting experience. I cover what to look for, what to watch out for, how to do research and due diligence, and include some actual stories.
Web Hosting Software Needs to Support Your ApplicationsThink about what you will do with your site. Check which versions of PHP, MySQL and Apache you require (what I will refer to as system software.) Identify configuration settings you might need for Apache and PHP. For example, I was working on a CakePHP site that required changes to php.ini to enable shell_exec, exec, readfile, ini_set, set_time_limit and getmypid. Will your prospective web hosting allow this?
If any web hosting provider does not meet your needs, move on. Some web hosting companies do not upgrade system software often. This is partly because it can wreck havoc with existing customers by breaking their apps which causes much trouble for their expensive and limited support staff. No matter what the sales folks say.
Web Hosting Server SettingsServer settings refer to settings that apply to all sites on the web hosting companys server. Server settings are preset by the web hosting company. This includes which Apache modules are loaded, the Apache config, which PHP extensions and options are compiled into PHP, and the php.ini settings.
Look again at what you will run on your site. Be aware that many apps and tutorials assume you have total access to the web hosting server and can configure it however you want. If you need a different setting, option, extension or module, you are doomed. Dont count on the web hosting provider changing any settings you request. Even if the customer support rep says they would change a setting for you, the tech staff might have real reasons why they will not change it. Look at this from the web hosting company's perspective: there are a great many customers getting web hosting on a single server and the server needs to be secure, stable and provide good up-time.
A story from my personal experience is that I wanted to do something that required CURL for PHP, but my web hosting company at the time did not compile it into PHP. My fatal issue was right there in the apps readme:
Forunately, CURL is provided more than it used to be. My point is to check and not assume something you want is available. Here are more real examples to illustrate the importance of getting web hosting that has the settings you require at the time you sign up.
Downside of Cheap Web HostingGenerally, you get what you pay for with web hosting. Decide how important your site is. Web hosting for a personal or hobby site can afford more downtime and problems than web hosting for a site you are trying to make money with. Beware. Most free web hosting companies put advertising on your site. You have no control over what ads or pop-ups appear. That said, servers are cheaper than they have ever been and cheap web hosting can work out.
Number of Sites Hosted Per ServerHow many sites are on a single server? More customers and sites on one server reduceds costs, but under heavy loads, server response times are slow. Look closely at package deals where you get web hosting for unlimited sites at a flat-rate price. I learned the hard way about this issue. I once had a web hosting provider that loaded to many customers onto a server. The server went down often. When it was not down, it was painfully slow.
Traffic (Bandwidth)This is less an issue than it used to be as hardware costs have come down. If a hosting provider gives you different prices for different bandwidth tiers, here is how to consider this issue. You likely will have less traffic than you think when you are getting started. I suggest going with a provider that offers lower traffic plan that saves you money now and that allows you to upgrade if, and when, you need it.
How much bandwidth to sign up for depends on such factors as the nature of your site. For example, is your site mostly HTML, or are there lots of PDFs, large Flash files, photos, videos, podcasts, etc.? Blazonry can get alot of visitors, but because the site is mostly HTML, the bandwidth needs are relatively low. If you do have high bandwidth needs, you can consider hosting the high bandwidth files to sites like YouTube for video.
Web Hosting ReviewsDo a Google search of the web hosting companies you are considering. Also, visit forums like WebHostingTalk and WebmasterWorld. Youll likely find lots of postings. Use sites that review and rate hosting.
SupportI like web hosting companies that provide:
The Standard Stuff (Applies To Any Web Hosting)
Web Hosting SummaryWith web hosting, jump in. Just do it. Its not that hard to move to a new web hosting provider if you are unhappy. Better to have web hosting for your site than to keep your development efforts limited to localhost. Hope my years of experience with web hosting, ranging from good to bad hosting, help you.
Test Google Ads Ver. 2
Free Linux Admin Books
Free Linux Books for Programmers
Free Books for Linux on the Desktop
Free PHP Books
Free Java Books - Advanced
Free Java Books - Basic
Free Perl Books
Free Python Books
Quote of the Day (PHP)
Debugging Part 2
How to Test Google Ads
Most Popular Pages
Baby Name Generator
U.S. Name Generator
Wu Name Generator
Upload and Resize an Image (PHP)
How To Install Apache + PHP + MySQL
Intro to Web Databases (PHP, MySQL)
Least Popular Pages
iNews Applet (Java)
Site Monitor (Perl)