Choosing a hosting provider can be a daunting task with the many hosting providers and options available. It need not be an exhausting exercise though, if you know how to look for the features that are important for your website. Below are some of the more important aspects you should consider when choosing a hosting provider.
Probably the most important consideration for South African companies is the cost and limitations of bandwidth. Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be transferred to and from your website at any particular time. With websites being accessible to many users simultaneously it is important to consider what your peak demand on your site could be and choose a bandwidth allowance accordingly. Also a factor is the location of your website. If your target audience is mainly South African then it makes sense to host your website with a local hosting provider even if an overseas provider is cheaper. It is easier to deal with a hosting provider that is familiar with the local online environment and is easily contactable should you have any queries or problems. Another reason is that South Africa occasionally experiences international Internet connectivity issues and so your site would be unaffected if were hosted locally.
Most hosting packages also include a monthly traffic allowance which means that your website is only allowed to transfer a certain amount of data each month. It is important to weigh up the cost of the package and the traffic allowance to find a balance that will suite your website needs. A good option is to choose a hosting package with a provider that allows you to start with a smaller traffic allowance at a lower cost but allows you to scale up your package easily should your website begin to need an additional traffic allowance.
It is important to consider what features you would like your website to have before choosing a hosting package as your hosting provider will need to offer certain services in order to be able to make use of various web technologies. If you would like to be able to change your website’s content dynamically by using a database then you need to ensure that you hosting provider will provide the features you need at a reasonable cost.
Often an overlooked feature of hosting packages is the way that a hosting provider allows you to access your online file space. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a common method because of its simplicity and efficacy when it comes to transferring files online and it is well supported in many software packages and operating systems. There are also high quality, free FTP applications available on the Internet.
In a market with so many providers offering similar hosting services it can be difficult to assess who can provide you with a reliable service. Websites need to be accessible 24 hours a day as it does no good when someone has taken the time to view your site and they are unable to access it. Choose a hosting provider that has a reputation for consistent uptime or can provide a service level agreement (SLA). Be careful of very cheap hosting packages as these hosts may be hosting websites on bargain basement servers with unreliable Internet connections. A good place to start researching hosting providers is on the various forums where IT discussions take place.
With these aspects in mind when choosing a hosting package and provider for your website, you can eliminate the options that will not be suitable and choose a host that is right for you.
Article by Donovan Abrey of IT Solutions