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How to Research and Choose a Reliable Web Hosting Before Signup



There have been many stories about losing website traffic because of frequent website downtime. Choosing a good hosting company is your first step to online success.

The only way to evaluate a host is by research, research, and research. Consider the following points and find out more about each.

  1. Email the web host company to find out if there is a daily bandwidth cap. If there is, what action the company takes if it is exceeded.

    Some hosting companies advertise bandwidth in monthly term but enforce a hidden daily cap and your site will be suspended for the rest of the day if your usage is over the daily limit.

    You would normally see your whole site becomes Bandwidth Limit Exceeded victim.

    Bandwidth Limit Exceeded

    The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.

  2. Email the hosts to find out if there are any restrictions on filenames and file sizes.

  3. Email the hosts to find out if they own all the hardware.

    Some cheap web hosting companies often don't fully control their servers. They may have a dedicated server that is co-located in another company's premise in order to reduce their running costs. So they are sometimes forced to rely on others to perform some physical tasks like replacing some hardware on the server or cold reboot the server.

  4. Check out WebhostingTalk.com for heaps of host reviews from first-hand customers.

  5. Find out if the hosting company you are researching on has a web discussion forum. If yes, check out if the forum has many fresh posts on daily basis.

    These are normally indicators of a well-operating hosting company with big customer base.

  6. Check Alexa ratings and read reviews.

  7. Email the hosts to find out if there are any MySQL database restrictions such as the number of queries per second, table types supported, etc.

    Some web hosting companies have restrictions about certain technologies they use. For example, some companies don't support MySQL InnoDB table type. InnoDB table type does record-level locking to guarantee database transactions. Using InnoDB makes your database less likely to encounter deadlocks than MyISAM (table level locking) and BDB (page level locking) table types.

  8. Always consider the possibility of your site growth. If a host only has one plan, you'll have to move to another host when your site has grown so quickly that it requires more features and resources. This is normally not a problem for new sites.

  9. Find out how long the company has been in the web hosting industry. Shared host industry is a very competitive market. If the company has been doing well for a couple of years, it is potentially a good indicator.

  10. Carefully read Terms of Service (TOS). Some hidden charges or penalties are only stated there such as daily cap restrictions.

  11. If you want to test a hosting plan or company, don't sign up for one whole year. Signing up for one or two months is the way to go.

Bandwidth Usage

Knowing how much bandwidth (the amount of data transfer from your hosting account, including both download and upload) you are using with your hosting plan is important. Web hosting company normally charges a few bucks extra for every 1 GB when you go over your allotted amount.

Monthly bandwidth usage (monthly data transfer) of a site is determined by three factors (here we don't consider any downloads you may have):

  1. Average size of web pages
  2. Number of visitors per day
  3. Number of pages each visitor views per day (Page Views)

Monthly bandwidth usage can be proximately calculated by multiplying these three factors and the number of days in a month. This is how Online Bandwidth Calculator Wizard is built upon. Actually, any one of the factors can be calculated if you know the value of the other three. (Assume the number of days in a month is fixed to 30 days)

If you offer file downloads, you should also add total monthly download size which can be calculated by multiplying (1) the downloadable file size; (2) the estimated number of downloads per day; and (3) number of days in a month.

In addition, you should periodically check the control panel's bandwidth usage meter. Some hosting companies automatically charge you the extra bandwidth usage without giving you any alternative solutions or prior notice. Stay away from those hosts. There are plenty to choose.


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