Reliable Hosting: 5 Considerations When Shopping For A Web Hosting Provider
Choosing a reliable hosting service is a critical decision if you are setting up an eCommerce site to sell your videos (and we recommend that you do sell them this way).
As in most things in life, you get what you pay for. You can find hosting accounts that range from free to $4.99 per month on the low end and up to $20 or more on the high end, so the cost is so small it’s not worth cutting corners in this area.
When you first start your business you may be tempted to use one of the so-called free web site hosting companies available. However, keep in mind that free will probably have strings attached. They may place branding on your site or limit your bandwidth, and they’ll certainly try to upsell you.
Paid hosting services are not all the same either. You should carefully evaluate any web hosting service before signing on. Here are some things to consider when comparing and shopping for web hosting providers:
The amount of bandwidth you have in your account is important for several reasons.
One of my best friends, Joe Clokey, whose dad created Gumby, has a website that is about to be hit – this is reliable information and I’ll tell you the story after it breaks – with as many as a million hits in one day.
Bandwidth is like a regulator on the hose of digital information flowing from his site. If it is too small, he’ll lose many of those valuable hits, which he intends to capture through an opt-in box. They’ll simply not be able to reach his site and it is unlikely that they’ll come back later. He has chosen a more expensive site with tons of bandwidth and the promised ability to handle that kind of traffic.
Even if your cheapo account says you have unlimited bandwidth, they probably would not be able to handle millions of hits on one day, and maybe not even thousands. They often promise unlimited bandwidth knowing full well that your traffic will never be that great, but in reality they are not prepared for traffic like my friend is expecting.
My friend’s big event will last only one day, so you can imagine how critical it is that he has a very robust hosting service to meet that sudden spike in traffic. It is really a once in a lifetime opportunity and he’s planning accordingly.
Secondly, if you are selling videos, you’ll want enough bandwidth and server capacity to show video samples on your site. You don’t want to rely on free video hosting services for these types of videos. (They are a must for driving traffic to your site though.)
This is an area where you’ll see wild promises of 20 gigabytes of storage or even unlimited storage. The hosting companies use this as bait, but in reality the majority of businesses will not create websites that even require one gigabyte of space, that is unless they don’t know how to do it correctly. The hosting companies know this, so in a way it is an empty promise. Don’t be suckered in by these kinds of promotions.
Another key concept is the kind of storage you get. You can have shared storage or a dedicated server. Shared storage is exactly that: you and dozens or even hundreds of other customers share one server. If you have one real bandwidth hog on your server it can affect your response time, and if the server gets really close to being full it can cause problems.
A dedicated server is a single server (and that is a specialized kind of standalone computer) that is all yours. These are considerably more expensive than shared servers. I would not start out with a dedicated server, but if you have a seriously big business then this is a good choice.
Reliable hosting is crucial for an online store. If you site goes down, your shop is closed and potential customers may never return. Before you sign up with a web hosting company, do some research online and find out if they have a lot of complaints. If so, that’s a red flag and I’d keep looking.
Customer service is also key.
When I first got started, I used a really inexpensive site and had a horrible time communicating with them. I don’t think the tech support team really understood English, either that or they were being intentionally vague so as to avoid addressing my concerns. That was frustrating and drove me away.
Whatever you do, make sure your web site hosting service doesn’t place unwanted ads on your site. Many free services do this. Your visitors will be bombarded with pop-ups and other annoying advertisements that do not relate to your business, that you get no revenue from and that you can’t remove. Think about it…you want them to stay on your site. Not only is there a chance they will get incredibly irritated by these, if they click through, they’ve left your site! And they may not come back!
Other Limitations To Consider
Another reason not to use a free service is that some of these services place limitations on what you can and can’t do. If you want to build web sites that include pictures, icons, videos and large amounts of text, you may be barred from doing that. Or you can’t have more than a five page web site. You’ll probably be amazed at how quickly your site expands.
So what do I do?
At this point you’re probably wondering who I use, right?
I’ve been using HostGator for about six years and have had great service from them. In fact, I resell hosting with them and have many satisfied customers. I’ve also signed up to be an affiliate because I highly recommend them.
The few times I’ve needed to contact tech support they have been very prompt, professional and accurate in solving my problem. Their live chat is incredible and they have a very active forum.
There are other good companies and if you do your research you’ll find a handful of names that repeatedly come to the top of the list. With the information I just provided, you’ll be able to find a reliable hosting company that is worth your investment.
HostGator – This is the one use and trust.
BlueHost – Another affordable and reliable hosting service we’ve heard good things about. I’m an affiliate based on the recommendations of other highly successful internet marketers.
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