Finding a reliable web hosting company for your business isn't a chore to be taken lightly.
Since I started online in 1996, I've tried about 10 different web hosts. [UPDATE 2011: Quite a few more now.]
The following information contains everything I wish I'd known before I made the critical decisions on where to host my web sites.
Web hosting services fall into four categories:
- Free, no frills, on someone else's domain, usually only a few pages or a few megs of storage, usually no real support.
- Budget, free set-up, under $30 a month. If you choose your web host wisely, this can be a good option.
- Full service, nominal set-up fee, $35+ a month, 24-hour, 7-day live response support. For very serious cyber-business owners.
- Complete package, which provides much more than just web hosting – sometimes for the same prices as good web hosting.
At first glance, there's no simple choice, especially for the newcomer. You may be tempted to select the cheapest web host you can find. (I was until I learned from my mistakes!) Let me explain why this decision deserves careful consideration . . .
Choice one above is excellent for personal, family, hobby or club, and “for fun” – NOT for business. To operate a profitable business online, you'll need much more file storage space and ownership of your own domain name. Without a professional appearance, a business loses credibility instantly. Remember, you get only one chance to make a good first impression.
I still own a site built in 1996 which has a free web host and it generates about $200 to $400 a month, so it IS possible, although I don't recommend it. The site has an URL that's impossible for people to remember.
Choice two is a good choice for many. After all, most of the low-cost web hosting companies “promise” free tech support. However, there's a big problem with many of these companies which you do not learn about until it's too late. Unfortunately, they simply can't deliver on their promise. Their low rates and constant customer turnover simply don't allow for the proper staffing required to deliver on this promise of “support”.
Many budget web hosts have a very high “churn rate” as customers leave, looking for somewhere more reliable.
What you're left with is a level of support and assistance far below what most small businesses require to prosper online. (I know this first-hand. With one such low-cost host, the entire AssociatePrograms.com website was dead for a whole weekend.
That happened twice!
On another occasion, a hacker froze my message board – because my cheap, amateurish web host had inadequate security features.
The simple fact is, web hosting companies of this category may actually COST you more money in downtime and time-consuming non-support than you could ever save with their low rates.
However, if you hunt carefully, you CAN find professional, high quality web hosts which are also inexpensive.
At AssociatePrograms.com for quite a while we used pair.com. It offers a good service, with helpful, prompt support.
However, when we reached the stage where we needed own own dedicated server, we switched from pair.com to Liquid Web. In our experience, it offers a very good service at a more competitive rate. If you have a high traffic site and need serious hosting, have a look at this one.
Our LifetimeCommissions.com site has been hosted for about a decade by Rob Marlborough's Web Wizards. Without being too expensive, Rob provides all the bells and whistles you'll need AND friendly, helpful, prompt support.
Over the years, Rob has been VERY patient answering all my questions.
“I am not a reseller, and I don't resell anyone else's hosting services,” Rob says. “I do lease rackspace in a data center (allowing me to choose the BEST data center!), as it is much more cost-effective than building my own data center.”
The data center, in Baltimore, Maryland, has ultra-high-speed backbone connections that bypass the telecom circuits completely, and have great private peering arrangements so they are unaffected by any telecom bottlenecks or rush-hour periods. “They also have, like all real data centers, redundant battery systems, fail-over gas-powered generators, etc.”
Rob is always friendly and helpful. If you need help with a script or anything like that, he'll be there for you. If you're running scripts on your site and you're not a techie guy, it's VERY reassuring knowing you have someone like Rob ready to offer help whenever it's needed.
Several of my affiliate websites are hosted by Site Build It!, which is a complete package. It's a website building, web hosting, web marketing suite of tools, with brainstorming and keyword research functions and all sorts of extras – all for the same price as good web hosting.
It also has a “training wheels” system for people who are completely new to building an online business. You can use the templates they provide if you wish.
It's fantastic value. I strongly recommend it.