How to Choose a Web Host

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Choosing a web host can be a challenging task. With the number of hosts available, picking the right company can seem nearly impossible. Those new to web hosting are also often confused by the number of options and incentives offered to try to get your business. Claims like "unlimited bandwidth" and "free advertising credit" may lure you in, but interestingly, many web hosts that offer all these incentives don't deliver on their promises. They often have slower service speeds, may have very poor customer service, or find other ways to cut costs. In turn, this could result in frustrating experiences as your site might be slow, or you may find yourself unable to contact the host should problems arise. As such, when researching hosting companies, there are three primary issues that you should analyze before you make your final purchase.

1. Reliability

Check reviews to verify a hosting provider's reliability. Virtually all companies offer unlimited uptime, but few actually provide statistics to verify that claim. Look for reviews and try to look for any reliability issues. Were there any times when the customer's site was down? If so, look at when the failure took place. If the company had a history of failures a few years back but now seems to be pretty stable, then it might still be advisable to consider them. However, if there are recent complaints about site unavailability, it would likely be in your best interest to stay far away from that host.

2. Customer Support

Having quality customer service is vital to any hosting provider's success. If they have a live chat option, start a chat and ask a few questions. Be aware of how the operator responds to your inquiries. Do they respond knowledgeably and politely, or does it seem like the chat support has just been outsourced to another company? Search for others' experiences with the company's customer service team. As you're reading the reviews, keep in mind that no hosting provider has a perfect track record with customers. Some clients will be naturally pleased and some will have unrealistic expectations. Others will have had genuinely frustrating experiences with the support team. It's these complaints that you need to watch out for. Too many of these could signal trouble with the company.

3. Duration of Business

Hosting is a peculiar business in the sense that many mom and pop providers appear every day, but seldom can they withstand the pressure and succeed in the long run. Web hosting is a very, very competitive business. As such, you're well advised to pick providers that have a long history of being in business. While there is no absolute rule of thumb, being in existence for at least a year or two is definitely a good sign. The internet is still a relatively new invention, so you're not going to have companies that have been around since 1980. However, looking for providers that started their operations a few years ago will greatly improve your chances of picking a quality host.

Conclusion

Providing web hosting is a competitive business. As a result, companies have resorted to engaging in deceptive advertising practices to try to entice users to register with them. Unfortunately, a lot of gullible users register and find that the host is defunct within a few months. However, there are ways to spot bad web hosts. First, look at the reliability. Lots of reviews complaining about web sites going down or being unable to contact the host are definitely signs that you should avoid hosting with that company. Secondly, verify that the average user has relatively positive experiences with the customer support team. Finally, check that the web host has been in business for at least a year or so. This will help ensure that you don't register with a host that shuts down before the expiration of your contract.

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